Caught in a binary? We´re all in it together.

International Women´s Day on 8 March has got me thinking again. I never really knew how to handle the words, “feminist” and feminism. I never consciously felt myself hindered or helped because I was of the female gender. I never could understand why we just couldn´t be people.´ Looking back now, I didn´t burn my bra, but for a while I went without one, at least until I failed the pencil under the breast test. But that wasn´t about feminism, vanity more like it, the start of ageing perhaps. For a long time I didn´t trust women apart from one or two best girlfriends. They just weren´t much fun and they were so competitive.

Men helped me get on in my work life, although I thought I was doing it all by myself. Men helped me, not in the horizontal way, but more in the fatherly one. I guess they never perceived me as a threat. I can´t recall a woman ever helping me in the early days, and no wonder. I wasn´t one of them. I remember when quotas came in and I puzzled at how they could really know if two candidates were equal. No one is equal. When someone said that women and men would be equal when we have incompetent women in high positions, I couldn´t help thinking of the Peter Principle.

That was then. Let me update incompetent to downright scary. We have lots now – there´s the Bulgarian lady who ran for EU commissioner, the lipstick-wielding hockey mum from Alaska, the current Right-wing candidate for the Austrian presidency who´d like to unwrite the history books, and there are the girl gangs, the girl-crims, the girl-killers, all in the name of equality. And where are the men? I guess they´re keeping their heads down trying to find ways to pay themselves bonuses while everyone watches the women. The man has always played the role of the villain. Stop! Is it just me, or is this what this binary thinking is doing?

What about the principle of equal pay for equal work? What about treating all human beings with the same respect? There are men with feminine streaks and women with masculine ones. Not all men want to be hunters and not all women nurturers, and nor do they all want to be the other way round. Let´s not forget that in the background and in everyday life, women and men are getting on with trying to heal the world in their own ways, just trying, and in doing so, making more or less anonymous and sometimes superhuman efforts for a common good. Fiction loves villains, but real life loves the good guys and gals, maybe even the squeaky clean ones as long as they end up with grubby cheeks and a bit of a dent in their halos.

Women´s Day, Men´s Day, People Day. Can´t we just be good to each other?