Today was just a day like any other for me. I got up and put on a pair of jeans and a blouse that flatters my figure, tied my hair back in a ponytail, and left the house. I went to the bank and withdrew a significant sum of money from my account because I needed to replace my broken, battered old car with an unbroken, slightly less battered old car. We picked up and paid for the car, a little Hyundai hatchback that’s almost as old as my son, and then I spent the two hours or so I had before work arguing about politics and then watching sexy videos with my partner.
I drove my new-to-me car to work, then handed the keys to my hubby so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking and so that he could run his errands. I have a part time job at a bookstore (which I love) and then a couple of days a week I do Tarot readings there, which means I often have space between clients to snoop around the store (where I spend an amazing amount of my paycheque, but thankfully I have an employee discount,) and work on my blogging or other writing while I wait between clients. When I got there, my co-worker showed me pictures of her brand-new granddaughter on her cell phone, and then my boss told me she’d inventoried some Patrick O’Brian books, since I’m collecting them. I went into the back room, picked up the books and compared them to my list, and paid for the ones I needed.
I was in a good mood; tonight after work, I’m walking over to the public library, where I’m going to take out a book that’s on hold for me, return the one I have, and then write for a couple of hours while I wait for the writer’s group that’s starting at 6:30 pm. I’ve never been to it before and I was a little disappointed when my NaNoWriMo friends, who were going to go with me, Facebook messaged me on my cell phone to cancel. But I’m going anyway because I’ve been looking forward to it.
I settled in to the table at the back of the store where I receive clients, and then stepped out to the coffee shop two doors down to get a soy latte. I was delighted by the sign they had on the counter: “Happy International Women’s Day! All women get a 10% discount today!” Cool, I thought; I could use a discount. I made my order and chatted with the baristas. It’s a regular haunt of mine so I know them well.
“So what are you doing for International Women’s Day?” one of them asked me.
“Probably I’m writing something for my blog,” I laughed. She then asked me if it was hard to start a blog, and I said it wasn’t, and she said she’d have to buy me a coffee sometime and ask me about it, because she wanted to start a blog to help women like herself. She promised to tell me more about it later but I think I might know what she wants to write about.
“And what are you two doing for International Women’s Day?” I asked.
“Working!” they chorused.
And that’s when it hit me. “Well, at least we have the right to do that, right ladies?” I said. To which they nodded, smiled, and gave me a thumb’s up.
How little I appreciate my blessings.
I live in a country where I have the right to wear jeans, and outfits that flatter my figure. I can wear my hair free or covered or tied back as I like.
I can leave the house. I can take money out of my bank account, with which I can purchase cars, books, and other real property on my own. I can own a car and drive it myself to wherever I like.
I can read! I have a right to buy whatever books I want, and read whatever I like. I am able to write and make a living on it. People read what I write and they take it seriously.
I have the right to work. I can receive clients without supervision. I can refuse to serve them if I want to.
I can walk unescorted on the open street to buy coffee, which I can drink if I wish to. I can go unescorted to events I’ve never been to before and introduce myself.
I own a cell phone. My friends own cell phones. We can communicate with whomever we choose to communicate with as we please or don’t.
My coworker can interact with her brand new granddaughter whenever she likes. My friendly acquaintance, the barista, can write her story so that she can help other women who have suffered as she has.
I can have an opinion on politics because I have the right to vote and I have a responsibility to be conscious of how I use it. If I don’t like what the politicians are doing, I have the right to protest.
I can watch erotic videos if I want to. No one has the right to forbid me to view certain kinds of videos either. And perhaps most significantly of all, I can live with two men as equal partners, without being treated as a lesser creature and without being stoned to death.
Millions of women in the world do not yet have these rights. Right now, while I am enjoying what is, for me, an ordinary day, women are routinely murdered all over the world for daring to claim these rights which I blithely take for granted. To me, International Women’s Day meant that I got I discount at the coffee shop and that I should probably write a blog post.
So I wrote this. Because now I’m thinking about it. And I hope now you are too.
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