International Women’s Day isn’t a big deal in Rome, which is unsurprising considering the sheer amount of tolerated gender discrimination going on. A common misconception especially here in the ‘developed world’ is that all the battles for women have already been won. Women can vote, women can work, women are legal entities— what else could we possibly want? Well, a lot more, I tell you!
I would start with the fundamental right of being able to walk down the street at night without fear of being harassed, followed, grabbed, or worse. Or even being able to do this during the day! According to UN Women and the World Health Organization, more than a third of women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime— but personally that number seems to be extremely low as out of all my female friends I cannot name any who have not been sexually or physically harassed, and all of us have yet to hit 30.
I can vividly recall one of the first times Italy came across my radar: it was in 1999, I was twelve, and we saw on the news that the Italian court acquitted a rapist because they reasoned that it was impossible for a rapist to forcibly remove tight jeans “without the collaboration of the person wearing them,” proving without a shadow of a doubt that the rape was consensual. This brought about a new ‘jeans rule’ in many schools which allowed female students to wear jeans in order not to be raped.
This was reasonable to me then, but now, not so much. Putting aside the ludicrous association between the removal of tight jeans and consensual sex, why encourage female students to wear jeans so not to get raped? Why not, say, educate men not to rape?
I am of the opinion that we need days such as International Women’s Day to remind ourselves and the world of these little cruelties that hundreds of millions of girls experience every day, and of the statistics that perhaps get forgotten during the rest of the year. We need this day to remember that we are raising our children in a world where violence against women is acceptable, and female subjugation is the norm.
Honestly, we need more than just one day.