Good morning, happy International Women's Day to all Kiwi women out there.
Maybe you woke up this morning to breakfast or coffee in bed, which is great, but probably one of the three times this year when that'll happen (let's hope Mother's Day and your birthday don't coincide or you'll be well ripped off).
Hey, great news. Shell, the big oil corporation, is called "She'll" today, to honour you. Aren't you lucky?
Shell - sorry, She'll - the big oil corporation is adding an apostrophe to their logo, for a day (and not even across all Shells, sorry She'lls), and says it's doing that because "small gestures can motivate and deliver big messages".
I wonder how many dudes sat in the boardroom for the meeting that decided on this definitely-very-meaningful apostrophe. But there you go, gender inequality all fixed and it's not even lunchtime.
(Speaking of lunch, it's Sunday, have you planned what your family is eating today?)
Anyway, She'll - sorry, it's too ridiculous, I can't do it - Shell is not the only one with the "small gestures". Every brand you follow on social media today will likely put out some post about how cool women are, and ride that #IWD2020 hashtag bandwagon.
It's so nice to be appreciated, isn't it?
Too bad that does bugger all for us and if we weren't such classy ladies and precious little feminine petals, we'd tell them where to shove their appreciation.
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We don't want token gestures. We don't want changed logos, we don't want hashtags. We want gender parity, at home, at work and everywhere in between.
According to data from the OECD, New Zealand women spend more than four hours a day doing unpaid work.
Wait, it gets more depressing: that's more than 30 hours a week doing work for free. The total is about 1601 hours a year, which equates to about 66 days.
Women in New Zealand spend, in total, the equivalent of more than two whole months of the year doing work for free.
New Zealand men spend an average of just over two hours a day on unpaid labour, which is higher than the average in many other countries.
If we were to pay those at minimum wage rate, we could get a small group of women to come together and pay for a much better marketing campaign than adding an apostrophe to a logo.
So today, screw your token gestures, to hell with your spa vouchers(*).
Screw every token gesture that doesn't actually have a direct impact on the lives of women.
We go through this every year. We get a hashtag today but we'll go back to work tomorrow to earn less than our male counterparts, then we'll all go home and do four freaking hours of work that just will not get done otherwise because of a society that encourages men to mentally stagnate around age 12 (no offence to the 12-year-olds out there who make their own beds every morning) and who act like they run this place but need their socks folded for them otherwise the whole system falls to pieces.
We're tired, but not so tired that we can't see through the absolute bullshit of corporate empty gestures that only serve to distract from the actual things that need doing.
We need small gestures and we need giant gestures. But the small gestures are not hashtags or apostrophes: they're meaningful, practical things that need doing.
Here's a brief, and by no means comprehensive list of things you can do, on a personal level, if you are a man who truly cares about the women in your life: (**)
• Remember the kids' doctor's appointments
• See that you're running out of milk, go and get some more
• Buy your own cousin's birthday card and gift, on time
• Notice the kids are outgrowing their shoes and make a note to get new ones
• See the laundry waiting to be folded, fold it and put it away
• Offer to be the one calling in sick to stay home with the sick child
• Put the dishes away
• Clean the oven (honestly, it needs it, badly)
• The window sills need a wipe
• Change the bedding
• Notice when you're running out of things at home and make a note to buy them (then go buy them)
• Organise playdates for your kids
• Co-ordinate those playdates
• Arrange drop-offs and pick-ups
• Decide what's going in the loot bags of the next birthday party
• Wash the dishes in the sink
• Are you running out of laundry detergent? Go get some more
• Organise catch-ups with the rest of the family
• Cook dinner without feeling like a low-grade hero because of it
• Check that your kids have a winter jacket that fit. If they don't, organise a new one
• Check their bags are ready for school
• Do the Christmas shopping this year. Read product reviews, decide what gets purchased, investigate deals across different stores, find the best time to buy, search for vouchers and deals on those products, then buy them, then wrap them up, then write the thoughtful card that goes with it.
• Know when your children's next vaccines are due
• Stop saying "you should have asked" when women complain about something you didn't do - we shouldn't have to bloody ask.
Understand that "I always help my partner when she asks" barely qualifies as helpful. By the time your partner asks you to do something, a lot of the mental load of that task is already on her. You put the brunt of the responsibility on your partner anyway by making her the one to remember the task and the one to ask you to do it. When you consider how much that adds to her already busy day, she honestly might as well just do it herself.
Men: stop acting like the junior staffer at home and treating your female partner like the household CEO. She doesn't want to be the household CEO. She wants to be the CEO outside the house (or at the very least she wants to have the time and space to choose not to be the CEO outside the house, just like you get to choose). So you're gonna need to start washing your own undies.
And it's not even all men's fault. We also need society to change to a point where it's okay - truly, truly okay, properly unremarkable, like "why wouldn't he?" - for a man to choose to be the one staying home with the children, for a man to choose roles that are those of the traditional "homemaker".
When my partner stayed home with our daughter and I went back to work when she was a baby, he got nothing but the highest praise everywhere he went, as if a father looking after their child was something odd. When he went back to work a couple of years later, no one asked him who was going to look after the child now that he was working.
I also have to overlook all the weirdly uber-feminine pink advertising on kitchen utensils when I choose a gift for my partner - he loves cooking, and does most of the cooking in our household, yet all the advertising still expects these items to be used by women. This sort of ingrained social behaviour that takes years to unravel.
The biggest myth about gender parity is that it only benefits women. I suspect men would quite like to see some of these weird outdated gender roles disappear too.
The World Economic Forum says we're about 100 years away from every country achieving true gender parity.
But we all know it'd get done a lot quicker if women were in charge.
(*) Just kidding, we'll keep the spa vouchers.
(**) Shout out to the man in my life, who does all these things (and more) and doesn't even realise how rare that is.