EYE mainly celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day by ordering Caitlin Moran’s new book as a present for Mrs Bloke but I thought I also might as well test the temperature on a little equality project I left simmering over the winter.
I know that some will consider it sacrilegious (possibly even illegal) to commit some time on March 8th to the purpose of progressing a project primarily promoting International Men’s Day but, in fairness, it is a project genuinely aimed at promoting harmony between the sexes and, in truth, my motives are as much about championing equality for women as it is about anyone comprised of frogs, snails and puppy dog tails.
And when I say women, I do mean all women.
Besides women’s rights is far too important a subject to leave to the current crop of eccentric fourth wave networked feminists. So with that thought in mind, I quietly went about my day and dedicated my efforts to the resilient young student who was told to burn in hell last week and assaulted on a crowded street in downtown Vancouver. All because she spoke her truth about her sex.
Last year I decided to support International Men’s Day by riffing on Richard Herring’s International Women’s Day ‘joke’. For the uninitiated, this involved committing a large amount of time on the 19th of November to searching for members of the twitter community expressing the opinion that ‘every day is International Men’s Day’. EYEthen pithily pointed out one of over 300 obvious flaws in this argument.
Obviously there is a monumental element of pedantry involved in this activity but, like Herring activities in March, I do this for a reason. Quite a few reasons in fact, one of which is to try and hold a mirror up to Herring’s inability to mask his obvious disdain for the very notion of an International Men’s Day.
He clearly thinks that his own actions can be justified by the unwritten comedic rule of always ‘punching up’ and EYEsay good luck to him.
Last November I reached out to him across the political divide because I believe that Herring has positioned himself into a relatively unique space in relation to the two campaigns. As a consequence he could potentially do a lot to encourage his audience to support both campaigns.
EYE never got a response and, given the opinions he shared with fellow Guardian readers on the day, my main hope for 2016 is that he might find the decency to take a break from insisting that every day is International Men’s Day just for one 24 hour period in November.
Because ‘punching up’ is a nuanced and complex business and in the wrong hands the very notion can be twisted in an attempt to justify mocking rape victims or assaulting women in front of thousands of witnesses.
As the following exchange hopefully demonstrates, ‘punching up’ can sometimes lead to people believing that they can deny other people very basic common law rights and even talk themselves into the sort of corner where they leave themselves vulnerable to an accusation of sexism.
Especially as far as the relatively straightforward equality laws of the land are concerned and most especially if they are promoting a commercial venture that they plan to profit from.