I'm a 25 year old woman. International Women's day was never taught while I was at school, it was rarely mentioned and so a date that seemed no more than ordinary. Only during college and University, after studying hard, the role of women in domestic and traditional crafts, I found an endless link back to an internationally celebrated day, that in some countries, is actually a holiday.
The first International Women's Day was a day for women to campaign for change and celebrate the women before them, who each year demanded change in women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination. Every year this solidarity is enforced with worldwide events celebrating women's growth while highlighting the action still required to ensure basic women's equality - in all aspects of life.
This is something I've taught myself through the years, understood through the domestic roles of women and traditions that both hinder and frustrate the development of a woman. Too often I have been reminded of the stumbling block that a woman's femininity can cause in everyday life. The complication of sexualisation in the feminine form detracts and will forever obscure the development in women's equal rights to a man. Stereotypes and preconceived ideals are brick walls within the road to women's equal rights that will forever prove a battle.
Through my use of traditionally feminine crafts I've explored creating contemporary works of art that enhance and encourage this feminine ideal. Soft cursive writing reminiscent of stereotypically feminine handwriting is embroidered (a craft handed down through teaching through female to female, mother to daughter, taught only to women) on linens and handkerchiefs identified as feminine objects. Embroidering swear words and images of skulls, as previous work, creates a juxtaposition between the feminine and stereotypically masculine.
Studying the development of International Women's Day and the worldwide trials and tribulations of women, in all aspects of life, it's becoming apparent that these generic and exhausted stereotypes both hinder and enhance a woman's attitude and rights. Women can choose to play to these stereotypes, let the stereotypes lead them or begin to create a new meaning to feminine and what it truly means to be a 'woman'. Either way, I know that the fact we now have this choice, and through International Women's Day, that even if we have developments to make, we've come a hell of a long way.
You can see this embroidery and more details on my Etsy shop, here.
You can also read more on IWD at www.internationalwomensday.com