My daughter throws her bag in the car and hides her face under her hat. I can hear her crying and its not like her. I give her some space. Then.
“Are you ok?”
“It’s just so …..”
“It’s just so unfair.”
It’s hard to get the words out sometimes, when you’re nine, and you don’t have “relentless gender inequality” or ” blazing masculine ego” in your vocabulary.
She is red in the face but it’s not from shame.
“I can run faster than all of them. But the boys are so …. they say I can’t run as fast as them, when I can.”
“I know you can.”
“Then why do they laugh at me. Why do they call me stupid?”
“Because that’s what boys do.”
I sigh and remember the day I cut off all my hair. The same age. Addicted to Overalls.
I am momentarily amused to find that this incident co-incides perfectly with my plans. To speak to my daughters about the whole thing. International Women’s Day. The path ahead. The fact that this year, on Women’s Day I have been reminded all day in the media about the importance of taking into account how men feel…about Women’s Day…so as not leave to them out.
But my usual righteous tenacity has lost its shine and I am weary.
Instead, I calmly explain what this dynamic is all about. To my relief my daughters seem already to know what I mean. My 7 year old chimes in with a few cheery suggestions for a special Women’s Dinner tonight. The comforter. The mediator. 7 going on 25.
As evening falls I regard the day with an unexpected sadness. Because there is so much
still to be done. Because I’ve barely heard the word Feminism since I wrote my thesis. On Angela Carter. In 2002. Because a woman dies from domestic violence every week, in Australia. Because I have two growing girls and I am tired. But tired will pass.
To all the courageous women who have gone before, I can still see your footprints and I will not let them fade. I am always, as I must be, close behind.
Anna O’Faolan is a freelance writer, poet, editor and children’s author.