By James Jefferies.
Part of my role as a Student Engagement Project Worker is to help run and organise events, so when I was asked to be involved with an event that LiFTS would be holding in conjunction with International Women’s Day, I took it on like any other project. I began by researching into the history of the event, learning what it was about and also what it aimed to achieve. I soon began sharing ideas with colleagues and the cogs of the project started rolling.
Guests were invited, activities planned, paperwork written up, meetings conducted and posters made and distributed. The roller coaster of organising the event was now moving fast along the rails of time and after growing a plethora of fresh grey hairs, and at times considering emigrating to the North Pole to live as a penguin, everything soon began to fit into place and the day was suddenly upon us.
The day started with sorting leaflets and placing posters up with directions to the room. The worry that nobody would turn up for the event kept tapping me coldly on the shoulder. People did turn up though. A good number of people in fact, who were giving me feedback about how wonderful the event was and soon I was feeling rather proud of what the Department had achieved.
We listened to people share inspiring stories and the guest speakers highlighted some very worthy causes and subjects. The whole day made me realise what a wonderful concept International Women’s Day was. The event we were holding was doing something very positive and progressive. I found I was having my mind opened up to a number of new worlds I knew very little about, and I felt quite humbled at what I was discovering.
One thing however had perplexed me since the very beginning. Whenever I told people about the event, I would receive comments such as “but you’re a man!” or “it must be weird for you as it’ll be an all women thing won’t it?” To be frank I hadn’t thought about this at all. Was it such a big deal? Was that really the case? Was it….weird because I am a man?
I had been fully aware for some time before the event that I was built of an “X” rather than a “Y” chromosome so therefore “male”. But gender is not quite that simple (as anything rarely is). It goes far beyond just “women and men”. And indeed a great part of International Women’s Day is about highlighting and embracing that fact. It didn’t matter that I was a man involved with an event such as this; I would support it and do my best to promote it. I was proud of it.
During the whole process I learnt a lot about many things I had no previous knowledge of. Whether that be the amazing work the charity Women’s Refuge conducts, or learning about the first woman to be a lead editor for DC comics. Learning these things made me very proud to have been a part of this event and an ally to a wonderful cause. Men should be allies to such causes (indeed I “pledged” to do so). It wasn’t “weird” as people had asked me a number of times; it was actually very rewarding and quite liberating. I think it’s a complete misconception that an event like this is an “us and them” situation or that men should feel uneasy about being involved. It goes against the whole concept or aim of the event. Fellas, if you’re reading this, support it!
Amongst the many things International Women’s Day does, it reminds us of the struggle of inequality that has been going on for far too long. It should inspire both men and women to continue pushing for a fairer world and to work together to achieve this. Both men and women belong to a remarkable species and I was certainly inspired to learn more and to contribute to similar causes in the future. It is something that, as a human being, I am more than proud to have been a part of.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!