Today is international women’s day. And while I understand why we have to have such a day, it is sometimes hard to celebrate its existence. Just yesterday I was listening to MP Mhairi Black reading out vile and misogynistic abuse she receives day in day out, because she is a woman. MP Diana Abbott’s staff say reading Ms Abbott’s correspondence brings them in contact with the N word with alarming frequency. Also, yesterday, I read some harrowing stories of sexual violence visited upon Nigerian women. I was distressed, but not surprised. Not surprised that many people think our bodies are lands to be conquered, invaded… owned. I have held too many broken bodies to be surprised at the attitudes that foment violence. These attitudes persist because deep down we do not truly believe that women have inherent value. But we do. We, women have inherent value.
We talk about women’s empowerment, but we fail to acknowledge women’s disempowerment – the persistent presence of the patriarchy that dispossesses and strips women of agency. And this presence morphs, it changes form, evolves, speaks many languages. It speaks with a fist, and speaks politely, speaks the currency of capitalism and logic. But always it speaks to disempower. Always. So, let us stop talking about women’s empowerment and start speaking about women’s undisempowerment. Disempowerment and undoing it places the onus on the patriarchy to stop being patriarchal. Because we women have inherent value.
Women have value not because of how we look, not because of how we fit into whatever evolving and misogynistic standards of beauty people ascribe to. We have inherent value not because of who we are attached to romantically or by marriage, not because of whose name we bear, how many children we can bear, whether we choose to have children, whether we can cook or not, whether we choose a career, whether we are soft-spoken or loud, full-bodied or slender as a reed, whether we like makeup or not. We are women. And women have inherent value. Because we are women. Because we are. Not even because we are human. Because human is often unconsciously defined as the male of the species and his other. No. No. We are valuable. Priceless. Beyond price. Beyond estimation. Of immeasurable worth. Incomparable. All this and more. Because we are women. We have value because we are. Full stop.