By Maren Panzirer – International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8. To some, it provides the opportunity to speak out about the gender pay gap and achieving gender parity, as this year’s campaign was all about. Some use it as a way to thank the women in their lives who have inspired them or impacted their lives in a meaningful way. Regardless of what the day means to you, International Women’s Day acts as a starting point for a larger discussion about feminism and women’s rights.
I refuse to rant on this subject, because I know many anti-feminists will use it as ammunition against the movement that simply calls for equality between the sexes. But this issue needs attention and this issue demands to be talked about. There is a perfectly good reason as to why we need an International Women’s Day, and, luckily, some boys I went to high school with provided the perfect opportunity to exemplify the importance of raising awareness for women’s rights, as well as showing how far we still need to go in order to gain the equality we deserve.
It all began when someone posted in our Class of 2015 Facebook group (despite the fact that we have all graduated and moved on) about Donald Trump. When a girl spoke up against the presidential candidate, two male students responded with the following comments.
The entire post has since been deleted, and I have blurred the names of the posters, but clearly misogyny and ignorance is still alarmingly present in society. Then some girls in the Facebook group fought back against the insanely sexist comment, some of the guys in the group refused to acknowledge the validity of their arguments. The boys responded with sarcastic comments and general bigotry and ignorance.
What happened next was something degrading to not just women, but to everyone. A male student posted a porn video of a female porn actor advocating for a woman’s right to speak up, only to be interrupted by a male porn actor shoving his penis in her mouth. The fact that someone looked this video up and posted it in a Facebook group that was originally created to relay school-related information is astounding.
Both male and female ex-classmates of mine liked this post, though the administrators of the group (former student government members) took it down. What shocked me most was the sheer number of students who liked this post, and the fact that when others asked for it to be taken down or posted about the offensive nature of the pornographic video, more hatred and misogyny came from these same few boys.
This is why we need International Women’s Day, why we need to talk about feminism and equality, and why we need to teach everyone, regardless of gender, that no one deserves to be oppressed and degraded and treated as less than.
To those who think that feminists have no sense of humor, the only time we don’t laugh is when our rights are being violated— we can all have a good laugh at a funny joke, but let’s be clear: there is nothing funny about a rape or consent joke. And I want to make it clear that not every boy I went to high school with, or every boy I have ever met is like this, but those few who’s views of women are so skewed and honestly just wrong often have the loudest voices.
Next International Women’s Day, vow to speak up either on social media or in real life, and contribute to an important fight for equality. Or even better, make every day a day where we can honor and respect everyone, male and female, as we progress as a global society.
I want to thank and acknowledge my amazing friends and former classmates who have the nerve to stand up to these boys. You ladies are an inspiration to women everywhere and I admire you all so much for taking a stand.
About the contributor
Maren Panzirer is a freshman Criminal Justice and Psychology major at Northeastern University. She writes for Odyssey, a social content platform, and is the Editor in Chief of the Northeastern Branch.
This story originally appeared on Odyssey and is republished on Women You Should Know with express permission. Lead image via creative commons license C/ Embajadores. Lavapiés, Madrid.