“Ooh! I’m looking forward to reading your International Women’s Day post.”
That’s what someone said to me this week. My second reaction was a little internal *beam* that this human likes my writing, has been reading my blog long enough to know that I write about feminism and gender politics, and genuinely associates IWD with my thoughts and musings. That was my second reaction. I wish it had been my first.
My first reaction was a whole body deflation. A ‘oh my goodness I haven’t even considered IWD, or writing anything about it, or even being aware of it being March already, or eating food that doesn’t come out of a foil packet, or showering on a semi-regular basis, or, or, or…’
Readers, it’s been one of those
days, weeks, months, 2020’s. Everyone I have spoken to since January has had bad news to tell me. It’s exhausting and it’s depressing and then I look out the window and oh yes, it’s raining again.
“By the age of 15, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men.” This is a quote by Dr Ruta Nonacs, an expert in mental illness. In her book, she talks about how as kids, boys and girls are about equal when it comes to depression markers, and somewhere around puberty the scales shift. She also says that the greatest time of vulnerability is during a woman’s childbearing years.
“From a psychological standpoint, this is a time when she is faced with many life-changing and potentially stressful transforming events; her education, career, marriage, childbearing, and child rearing. These changes provide the emotional context within which depression may take hold. [on top of this, consider] the demands women face as they occupy multiple — and often conflicting — roles within the family, in the community, and at work.”
I don’t know whether the gender disparity is because women talk about their emotions more than men, and are more comfortable asking for help, and putting that data on the record.
I don’t know whether it’s biological, the result of different hormones and different levels of those hormones than men.
I don’t know whether it’s societal, that the extreme pressure put on women to ‘have it all’ and to kill it, both at work and at home, is killing nothing other than their spirits.
But, GUYS. THAT DOCTOR LADY SAYS ITS MEANT TO BE WELL HARD RIGHT NOW.
A lot of the articles you read on this International Women’s Day will talk about amazing women and their achievements. They will say how much we can do if roadblocks are taken out of our paths, how without the glass ceiling our progress is unstoppable. That’s all true. But I’m not going to talk about those truths. I’m going to try another, just as true thought.
Equality shouldn’t have to prove anything to will itself into existence. We don’t have to be making waves all the time, or nailing it both in the office and at home, or even one or the other, to be afforded the same rights as men.
The right to find it tough and give ourselves a break. The right to voice that we can’t do it all. The right to fall down and not to get up again right away just to make a lasagne, design a PowerPoint presentation, practice some times tables with a 9 year old, and send off a quick email to the boss, all while trying to keep the surfaces clean enough to stave off a raging Coronavirus epidemic in your household.
So, this International Women’s Day, I’ve stopped. I’ve taken a moment for myself, to write about how tiring life is right now. How I’ve had lovely things happen lately, but they’ve still come with their challenges. How I’m doing the best I can as a parent, but my kids haven’t had the best of me recently. How part of me is truly grateful and excited to be thriving and busy at work, but a (right now, slightly bigger) part of me would really just like to take more naps and watch more Netflix.
We’ve spent a long time fighting for the right to do more, to take on what men often take for granted. Let’s not forget that’s not what equality hinges on, and that we also need to fight for the flip side of what men often take for granted – the right to do less. Women, our mental health depends on it.