It is not about congratulating the women in your life for being women. Or about bringing them flowers. Or doing the dishes today. Thinking of it as a second Mother's Day or Valentine's Day is rather missing the point.
It is a day in which we band together to fight the patriarchy.
The patriarchy is not a group of scheming men. While it is tempting to point to the many grey haired, white men in board rooms and say they are it, they are not. Imagine how simple it would be if they were. They are, however, one expression of patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a system. It is not a group of people. Men are not oppressing women, and when I say "fight the patriarchy", I do not mean "fight men" or "beat men" or "exclude men from all the fun stuff". I mean, there is a system that is making all our lives less than they could be.
It is a system that is invisible unless you know to look for it. Like some deadly infection. And it kills. Patriarchy kills. Both men and women (in case you were wondering).
Patriarchy is what tells women to become princesses, what tells them not to ask for a higher salary, what tells them it is their job to make sure things progress smoothly. It is what tells women they should be nurturing, that they should seek a protector, that they should be sexy but not sexual, that they should not be smart, and that they should not play video games (or do maths, or go out at night, or eat).
But it is also what tells men that they have to be strong and not cry, that they should not go to the doctor, that they should not seek help when they are struggling with depression. And it is what tells them they are entitled to women's bodies, that they cannot wear pink, that they should be rational, not emotional, that they have to protect and provide and in return they will be rewarded with pliancy.
Patriarchy lies to us all. It is a sneaky system which has banded happily together with the systems reinforcing racism, homophobia and all the other bigotries of the world. They keep telling each other how right and natural they all are, reinforcing each other every day. And telling people who are not men, who are not white, who are not straight that they are not quite people.
It is why women keep being killed by the men in their lives; it is why white men going on shooting sprees where they kill women or muslims or someone else that is not white and male and straight are simply considered aberrations rather than part of a system; it calls what women do when they make male friends "friendzoning", as if their natural state is to be sexual partners; it blames women for being raped rather than rapists for raping; and it tells men to send probes to outer space while telling women to bed the men who send probes to outer space. Or rather, let themselves be bedded by them. Because god forbid women have agency. And it tells women who are not white, who are not middle-class, who are not straight that they might as well not exist. Because being one type of "other" is bad enough; if you fall into two of those categories, your chances dwindle towards zero.
I don't like it. Which is why I am going to shout at it today.