Friday, 26 August 2016

Women's Equality Day / Toilet Paper Day

So I've been grinning on and off as I alternately see posts celebrating 26th August as Toilet Paper Day and Women's Equality Day - appropriately, in that order of volume.

I'm grinning because I'm a sick person and that level of (possibly) unintentional satire appeals to my equally sick and twisted sense of humour.

I've sounded off before in my blog about having 'days' for social causes. Why? Well, because frankly it feels like a cop-out to me. Set up a 'day' for saving the turtles or whatever, and we can retweet a save the turtles post, congratulate ourselves on raising awareness, and go our merry ways without actually having to do anything material about saving a damn turtle.

26th August is Women's Equality Day and Toilet Paper Day, with toilet paper so far sweeping the stakes in 'awareness raising', at least in my feeds. On the whole, I think toilet paper is doing a whole lot better in terms of global acceptance than women's equality.

Possibly, some of the reasons for that can be explained by the etymology of the word 'woman'. It seems to have evolved from Old English, (see the Online Etymology Dictionary), sometime around the time of the Norman Conquest, c. 1066.
"adult female human," late Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), literally "woman-man," alteration of wifman (plural wifmen) "woman, female servant" (8c.), a compound of wif "woman" (see wife) + man "human being" (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Compare Dutch vrouwmens "wife," literally "woman-man."
It appears to be fair to say that the evidence indicates that the view of 'woman' as a sub-species of  'man' isn't a new thing for humanity. Toilet paper, however, only has sub-species in certain public toilets; the kind that crinkles like grease-paper and tears like wrapping tissue.

So what material difference am I making to social and hygenic paper inequality? Well, I ensure I only buy the softest and most absorbent toilet paper. It adds to my personal comfort and doesn't add all that much to my budgetary discomfort.

It occurs to me that until it becomes more uncomfortable for society as a whole, not just the female parts of it, to ignore social inequality than to do something about it, social inequality will hang on. Not least because gender programming starts in the cradle, with little cutesy-poo pink or blue onesies, and carries on into adulthood with 'real gentlemen' opening doors for women who are clearly too weak to open their own doors, things that 'aren't ladylike', which include everything from covering too much skin (see the burkini debate') to not covering enough skin (see the multiple stories in rape investigations  of 'she was asking for it'), and muscles and belligerence being about the only universally-accepted 'male' attributes - which I see as damned offensive to either half of the species.

It also occurs to me that right now, a lot of women's rights movements are raising awareness - which, while it is a good thing, much better than nothing at all - still indicates that there are a lot of women waiting for men to change laws and society to women's advantage. Call me a cynic, but that just sounds a lot like wondering why the fox you left to guard the henhouse has feathers in his whiskers.

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