There is a Chinese proverb that says:
“A fish discovers water last.”
The meaning of the proverb is that because the fish is in water, it swims and takes for granted the water it is in. Animals who do not reside in water know their need for water and search for it. The fish is oblivious until for some reason it is taken out of water.
So it is with issues of injustice. Those who live within an unjust environment if they are not on the receiving end of injustice do not recognise that injustice exists.
Chat with anyone who lives with a disability and they will describe for you the challenges faced in daily living because the world around them is not designed for them. Often simple adjustments can make all the difference but those who don’t live with the disability often do not recognise the need to change, make excuses or (whether by word, body language or expression) accuse those with disabilities of complaining.
The same can be said of those from any minority group experiencing discrimination, whether related to race, gender, sexuality, ability, age, educational attainment, wealth, etc.
Why do we need events such as International Women’s Day?
We need these days because they remind us that we do not live in an equal and just society. There are people who experience discrimination and days such as this ask us to look at ourselves and to question what we can do to make a difference. If you don’t understand this need perhaps you do not recognise the world you inhabit as unjust towards women. Don’t be like the fish in water, don’t be the last to discover the world around you, listen to the stories of women and why days such as this are needed. Listen, not to judge, but to ask ourselves how can we be part of making a positive difference. It begins with our ideas as our ideas have consequences.
My response as I have listened and learned is to organise a conference for men to hear from women, a space to be challenged and a space to ask questions. Tickets are now on sale for Just Voices 2018: A Women’s Conference for Men.