That my daughter - and everyone else's daughter - can grow up without fear of violence or oppression: this is what International Women's Day means to me. While we can cheer ourselves with the thought that things in this day and age may be better than they once were, the fight is certainly not over.
But why? Because those of us who are not minorities, racially or culturally, don't always appreciate that we have a better time of it than those with a smaller voice. Not that everything is a bed of roses for English-speaking, educated, middle-class white women - but it's certainly better than our sisters who represent minorities, especially those who live in less progressive areas of the world.
In her poem "Warning", Jenny Joseph famously wrote, "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple". This was a musing on old age rather than on feminism, but the colour purple has been inextricably linked with womanism (a word coined by Alice Walker to make a more inclusive sisterhood). And what women wear is often an outward symbol of our oppression, or lack thereof.
This objectification has two extremes, and I object to them both. At one end is the absurdly crippling idea of Western beauty - focusing on body shape above all else and driving even very young girls to depression, lack of self-worth and self-harm.
At the other extreme, most often seen in the Middle East and places influenced by Muslim culture, we have the non-person of the woman completely covered, wearing the uniform of every other woman, indistinguishable, chattel.
I stand by the right of any woman to wear whatever she likes, even to these two extremes. But here is the rub: it's her choice.
You're not going to see me in a burqa any time soon, and nor are you going to see me in a bikini top and short-shorts. But that doesn't mean others can't. It has to be her choice, not one that's foisted upon her by society, family or laws.
Hamilton is home to women from all corners of the world. We all deserve to be safe, to be ourselves. We all deserve to achieve our best and live happy lives.
So wear what you like. But today, March 8, International Women's Day, make it purple.
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