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Thoughts for Women's international day

March 8th will be the annual celebration of Women's International Day - a focal point in the movement for women's rights. It's a good time to reflect on what being a woman means in today's society - especially given the latest news stories, and social-media induced movements.
I grew up in Romania. To some extent, I credit my childhood and my strong mother for the woman I've become now. As an immigrant to Canada from a young age, the first thing I noticed when I started school is the difference between girls my age and myself. At only 11, their focus was on boys and drama. Mine? Was more on books, learning and helping out my parents. Throughout high school, despite changing provinces, that particular aspect of myself didn't change. And the fact I was so independent, so "unlike" the rest of the crowd, led to a sense of isolation. I was a loner, yes, but not what you see in the movies. I was happy to have choices - of what to do with my time, where to invest my money, and what my life path would be. Boys never ruled my world - I ruled my own. And in the end, that's what women lose sight of.

Recently, I read a piece on Japan's Girl Day - Hinamatsuri. This lesser known holiday in the West takes place on March 3rd. A seasonal festival, it's as beautiful as it is meaningful. It's a day where each Japanese household with a young daughter decorates its home with ornamental dolls (expensive hina dolls) on red-cloth covered platforms. The dolls are said to be representing the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period, and are used to pray for the daughter's prosperity, health and, traditionally, a stable and successful marriage. These young daughters grow up with good visions of what's in store in the future, with a positive outtake on life, and with their self-worth already much embedded in their mind.

In a world where social media is predominant, where a woman's self-worth is based on how many "likes" a Facebook post gets her, how many "hearts" her Instagram feeds gets, how is a woman supposed to be who she really wants to be? Rather, they tend to navigate as sheep towards the same goal: be likeable, but still special; be full of personality, but not too much; be sexy, but not slutty; be pretty, but without looking like you put on too much makeup. It's a contradiction at every turn, and more often than not, women tend to model themselves based on what guys want of them.

As a writer, I focus on writing strong women characters. I want whoever reads my books to feel empowered, to know they can be as snarky, sarcastic, nice, mean, beautiful, crazy as they want. So long as they are comfortable in their own skin, that's the only thing that matters. And the male characters in my books? They're no Christian Grey fake-macho men who oppress their women. They fight for their girls' freedom as much as the females do.

As women, it almost seems like we forget what our ancestors fought for... And it's rare that I hear Women's Day being truly celebrated in North America. Rather, it's something marked on every calendar, for which we sort of know the history. It's easy to scream "feminism" at every corner, but rather than put labels on their personality, women should focus on what's really important: self-love. Treat yourself as you would like others to treat you. If nothing else, let that be the lesson this Women's Day... And less of the social media propaganda.

by Alexa Whitewolf    3/8/2019


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