It's International Women's Day
by Emma Smith
March is the month which includes International Women’s Day.
Following that theme here- from the perspective of a woman. Who doesn’t feel particularly ‘empowered’ through this day.
To be honest, I don’t really know what to feel, if anything, about this day. (Or much else for that matter, but, let’s stick to the task at hand.). I know that these days we dedicate to one particular event or group or type of food etc are to help us recognize and perhaps even attempt to honour one of these, but it means very little to me when there is a lot to be improved upon and little to no concrete action through these so called celebratory markers. Like Taco Tuesday- I know it’s there, but I really don’t honour it. And I hate that. I would love to honour Taco Tuesday, but it really isn’t a priority for me. So International Women’s Day, seems sort of like Taco Tuesday, to most. Except instead of tacos, women get one day a year, and tacos get 52.
So- I need to do better with Taco Tuesday, and the rest of the world needs to do better with recognizing and treating women as equal members of society, beyond one day a year, and performatively. We both have our work cut out for us- it isn’t a contest.
Unfortunately, I was introduced to gender inequality at a very, very young age. Maybe 6 or 7. I wasn’t even aware of it at first, really- one of my first memories is of watching one of the Karate Kid movies and asking why the mom was driving the car instead of the dad. Ouch. It’s also about the time when I found out that my brother was likely being treated better because he was… a boy! So things got personal. And it was at that point that I decided I had to be great at everything- because, obviously these idiots who think that boys are better than girls needed as many examples as possible proving the contrary.
A lot of it was positive, in a way. It made me force myself into learning (and loving) maths and to being completely fascinated by sciences. I knew that these areas of life and learning were considered to be best done by boys, but I made sure I focused on them. And I really enjoyed them- I still do. Critical thinking and application of mathematics is honestly one of my favourite parts of Zimt- but I know that this also is due to how I wired my brain, at a young age, to help me through a very difficult time. This very difficult time was also fuelled by truly sickening standards, which unfortunately took over my mental health. I suffered greatly through this and almost died, to be honest. But, delving into my love of maths, cultivated by this life’s stage predecessor, was almost meditative- instead of a confusing and exhausting world. It was a good little bandaid- because as my body was breaking down, I could at least go to calculus for a mental break.
I do wish, in many ways, that I had followed that passion. But, other aspects of my life took over, for better or for worse, and chocolate won.
In growing Zimt, I’ve been fully aware of outside perceptions- chocolate is kind of a lady thing. Women love chocolate. We’re just crazy for it. Right? Especially once a month, right? Really, we can’t focus on anything other than bonbons. I mean, chocolate is tasty. But that charm runs out reeeeeal quick. Especially as a maker, I find. Low margins, low volume, high morals- is how one friend described Zimt. Sounds about right!
I’m not amazed by the prevailing belief that working in a chocolate factory must just be the most fantastical 'job' in the world. What people don’t realize is, it isn’t. And a lot of it isn’t work that a lot of society would think to be appropriate for women- at least traditionally, and when there are perfectly good men around to take over heavy tasks, because they are not busy being at war or something.
It involves heavy lifting- awkward, heavy lifting. Fixing equipment. Calculating. Forecasting. Management. Strategizing. Some of that I enjoy, some is just stressful and annoying, at best. But, in sharing this, I think it could serve as another example of work that women are perfectly capable of doing (and depending upon the person, exceptionally well), despite having qualities more traditionally perceived as masculine. In other words, no, a giant cauldron of melted chocolate doesn’t just sit in a factory that magically appeared for me to hover over and stir, smiling, all day. That would be so boring.
A little insight, in case this reaches an unlikely audience.
And, on that note, more insight, from two other lady makers- coming right up. Stay tuned for the next two posts!
For now, I’ll close with this.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot something- and that something, seems to me, that we are just… people. Men are also just people- you guys aren't inherently great. Women- we aren’t inherently great- and we deserve neither to be lauded nor disparaged just because of how we look and sound, nor our biology, and especially not its outputs.
We may have traits and fall somewhere closer to the middle of the bell curve- but we need to ask ourselves, why? International Women’s Day may only be 110 years old, but society began shaping how we perceive ourselves and one another long before that. So, while I may just have a tiny woman brain under a head of blond hair, I’ll employ it to see how that span of time and space may have played a role in how we got to where we are. And then, I’ll hone my critical thinking skills to keep working on making sure history doesn’t keep repeating itself.
Thanks for reading,
PS- As a fun aside, I was the jaded recipient of the words ‘I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be a woman business owner’ this past year. It’s almost like there’s some work to be done.