Can we redirect the spotlight please?

I’ve been trying to write something for today, and I’m not getting anything. It’s a strange sort of irony that has made International Women’s Rights Day coincide with the international bleeding hearts for Meghan Markle day. The international outpouring of support for an extremely rich, extremely privileged woman who feels she’s been incredibly badly treated.

Feminist ideas used to be simple, basically that the only differences between men and women are physical—men are generally stronger. If the fridge needs moving, I admit, it’s beyond me, though I know women who can shift fridges and more power to them. The important things though, like teaching, leading a team, building bridges, designing buildings, inventing a can opener, piloting a space ship, running a country, understanding why people get sick or lonely or depressed, are all within a woman’s scope.

That is what feminism means to me. That you will assume that I can do, and I do know, rather than that I can’t and I don’t. Feminism used to be simply about women, all women, and our (equal) place in the world.

I don’t understand what it means anymore. Instead of equality and inclusion, it has developed a hierarchy of grievances and causes to defend. It has become exclusive, separatist and intolerant. It has its black list of ‘fascist’ ideas, people and groups, and has been side-tracked into the defence of ideas that have nothing to do with feminism. It can condone girls being denied the same education as their brothers in the name of cultural identity, but be outraged at a white-skinned woman wearing her hair in braids. It seems to have forgotten that the world of equality, economic independence and liberation from the different forms of patriarchal oppression has not been created, and at this rate, it won’t be.

She watches the waves on the river

In France at least, today is not International Women’s Day, it’s International Women’s Rights Day. Nuance. It isn’t a day to say, I love you Mum, Grandma, aren’t we strong and wonderful? It isn’t a day to paint everything pink and take advantage of the reductions on bra and pantie sets, to tell your daughters they are strong and wonderful because they can be in a girls band or play football just like the boys except that nobody will want to watch them play. Today is a day when we take stock of how few rights women have worldwide, how women are still having to fight to be treated as human beings, how even in our enlightened western countries women are still ignored, patronised, told that their fight for equality is nowhere near as important as minority rights, workers rights, you name it anything at all rights.

I was intending to write something appropriately stirring, but women’s rights have become so entangled now with defending a woman’s freedom to not be free that equality in any of its aspects seems depressingly far away. I didn’t come up with anything better than this ballad. The old, old story that will have to symbolise the role of woman to be the spectator, the one left behind, the one who will never leave her post.

Painting ©ReneSchuler



I watch the waves on the river roll,

The seagulls bank on the brisk salt breeze,

I watch the road for a sight of you,

But the river sighs like wind in the trees.


You said you’d come when the geese returned,

When the frosts were gone with the breath of spring,

I watch the leaves and they’re fresh and green,

But no sign of you does the river bring.


The sun is warm but my face is wet,

With all the tears, a bright river flows,

I watch the sky, but the geese have flown,

Where my love’s gone, only the river knows.