The first time I ever heard about this thing called “International Women’s Day” I was working on the Kearl Lake facility outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta. I was alerted to its existence when I was invited by a random HR person I didn’t know to come up to the main control room and have a piece of cake, which was inscribed with the number of women who were working on the site in various roles. At the time, I’ll be honest, it seemed like one of the stupidest concepts I’d ever heard. For one thing, the number of women working on the site at that time compared to the number of men was not all that impressive. I can’t recall the exact numbers, but it was something like 1000 women compared to 7000 men, and a chunk of those women didn’t even actually work on the site (they were in offices, off site, doing things like booking flights). For another thing, it just seemed like an odd thing to be celebrating to me. Yay to Kearl for hiring a bunch of women who’d applied to the jobs and earned them because they were the most suited for the available positions at the time? Go team?
That was more than six years ago, meaning I was still in my twenties, and I may have been more than a little jaded and self-righteous, I’ll admit it. I was the only women on my technical commissioning team of several hundred and I’d never personally experienced any issues, so I may have been a little biased against the plight of women who had. Ignorance is bliss, and all that.
These days I’m no longer outright “this is dumb” in my opinions, but I’m still a little wary about special days that celebrate a specific group of people. In my opinion it’s one thing to use special days in order to bring awareness to serious world issues, but there’s something about singling out specific denominations that never sits well with me. It just seems a little…anti-equality, I guess. I figure, personally, how can we truly fight for equality among all people when we keep purposely bringing attention to the fact that we’re different?
Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know, but if I’m being totally honest, those are my feelings about it. Not to mention, let’s be honest: when you create a day to celebrate a certain group, inevitably there will be members of that group who use it as a way to act like an ass and get away with it. No matter how many women are out there who have good reasons to celebrate this day, there will always be the few (who are always the loudest) who use it as a way to bash men, act high-and-mighty, and start a bunch of crap in the name of “feminism”. That’s why I made this tweet first thing this morning when I realized what day it is:
“It’s , so let’s take a moment to think about how we can make the world a better place, not only by refusing to PUT UP with shit, but also by not STARTING shit. We can all – men AND women – be better people, so let’s keep that in mind. ^_~ “
Fair enough? I personally thought so. 🙂
And now, because I don’t want this post to be too overly serious…
I went on to celebrate International Women’s Day the way only a total geek with an enormous attachment to fictional characters can do. I asked my Basement Geeks to share a picture or gif of a female character they love, and then I took pics of some of my toys and shared four female characters I grew up idolizing for their brains, beauty, ability to kick ass, and ability to have major crazy fun.
Sailor Mercury was one of the first characters I can remember truly wanting to be like. She was a superhero who was also sweet, pretty, and exceptionally intelligent, and her intelligence was often a driving point in the show that helped save the team. As a total nerd who got teased for doing so well in school, I absolutely loved Ami Mizuno for this reason. To me, she proved that the “nerd” could be the hero too, and that focusing on the more mental side of things didn’t mean you had to sacrifice in other areas of life.
The Pink Power Ranger struck a chord with me not only because she was also a superhero with an awesome costume and a goddamn Pterodactyl mech, but also because she was a “popular” girl who wasn’t a total bitch. I loved that Kimberly Ann Hart was fun and friendly even though she was also the kind of girl who would be the lead cheerleader and get all the boys. I didn’t see much of that combination in real life, but even seeing it on the small screen gave me hope that there were actually girls like that out there, and that maybe I could even be one of them.
Batman the Animated Series was an enormous part of my childhood, and I always loved Harley Quinn to death. She might not be the world’s best role model, given a laundry list of issues including, you know…being a completely psychotic villain. But I loved her for how fun she was. She was loud and confident and seemed able to have a blast no matter what was going on around her, which was pretty much the exact opposite of shy, quiet, self-depreciating me when I was young.
And then, of course, there was Princess Leia, the first lady of the Star Wars universe, played by the amazingly wonderful late Carrie Fisher. Watching A New Hope for the first time, I found myself faced with one of the most amazing female characters I’d ever seen at that point in my life. She was the leader of a rebellion, risking her life to change the whole galaxy. She saved the male characters as often as they saved her, and she did so while looking amazing and popping off one-liners like a pro. Plus she was a goddamn princess. I fell in love with her from the moment she stood up to Darth Vader in the opening scenes of the original trilogy.
For the record, I didn’t have a figure I could take a pic of for my all-time most idolized character, who is Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I grew up with Buffy, and to this day I still adore how her character is powerful, yet vulnerable, talented, yet flawed, is able to save the world, but also makes horrible mistakes. She made me laugh like a fool, she made me bawl my eyes out like a total baby. I cheered for her, feared for her, and felt her losses like a knife in my own heart. She’s one of the most genuinely human characters I’ve ever known, relatable at the same time as being untouchable, and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever grow out of wanting to be just like her.
So now I pass the question off to you. Let’s take this day and make ourselves smile with it. Which female characters did you look up to as a child? Which ones do you still look up to? Which ones changed your life? Which ones do you think you’ll never be able to let go of? Share with me, and remember that whether you’re a woman, a man, or any denomination on this planet Earth, we can all be better people and make the world a better place if we’re willing to.