An Open Letter for International Women's Day

An Open Letter for International Women's Day

By Kimberly Drew
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

Dear male-identified people: I want to make something clear — I do not desire or lust for what you have or what society has subscribed value to in your life. I do not want your proximity to constructions of “maleness,” I do not want the comfort that comes with living in a patriarchal society, and I especially do not want your handouts or pity. It may be controversial, but I am bored with the fight for “equality” as I am bored with how the world’s evils have set up our society. If not interrogated, the fight for “equality” is just a race towards the privileges afforded by an unjust system.

Dear forefathers: I promise you that we will do better than you ever could. I promise you that we will continue to learn from your successes and your errors. I pledge to remain curious about you and to present and challenge the full breadth of your legacy. Our future depends on our radical honesty about the past.

Dear allies and soon-to-be allies: I want you to dream with me. I want us to lock hands and close our eyes and manifest a new universe. I want you to get weird with me, obsessive even. I want you to slow down and look really closely at the architecture of inequality. I want you to count the number of women-identified people in your board meetings, on your concert lineups, and in your operating rooms. I want you to take that number and breathe life into it. I want you to hold these numbers accountable for what they teach future generations.

Dear friends in the struggle: activism is not a trend. Making your voice heard is not a new phenomenon. I want you to read a book. I want you to read many books. I want you to name drop Yuri Kochiyama, Haben Girma, Ursula Le Guin and Angela Davis with ease. I want you to have the names of history’s most powerful women at the tip of your tongue at all times. I want you to challenge me on how we define power. Sit with me in a coffee shop and trade ideas, but wait your turn to speak.

Dear comrades: I want you to stop waiting for gratitude. Uncross your arms and open your eyes: your cookies are not coming. We’re not out of the weeds. Being “the other” is a full-time job and you may end up with a double overtime shift before you know it. I need you to be ready. I need you to buckle your bootstraps and help me pick myself up with mine. The world demands the most of some women and there’s no time for congratulations.

Dear daddies and soon-to-be daddies: I want you to swaddle your children with the prose of revolution and the poetry of heartbreak. I want you to raise boys and girls the exact same way. (I want you to demolish the binary set up by the previous sentence.) I want you to have tea parties and discuss global politics. I want you to be the superheroes and understand that we all have the capacity to be villains.

Dear lovers: let’s have a threesome with our wildest dreams. Let’s invite the liberation movement into our love bed. Let’s cruise in the spaces that have historically refused us. We need you to love our bumps and bruises. We need your patience and care. We need you to understand that mutual consent is non-negotiable and we need you to hold yourself and others accountable. We need you to recognize “Time’s Up” as a motto and a battle cry.

Dear world as we know it: we have so much learning to do. We need to remember that our privileges are not transactional and that the status quo lacks imagination. We need to live with conviction and step out of our comfort zones. We need to honor those who have fought tooth and nail for everything that we have. We need to check ourselves. Building a better future is collective work and we must learn to relate to each in radically kind ways.

Will you join me?

Kimberly Drew is the creator of the Tumblr “Black Contemporary Art” and the person behind @museummammy on Instagram.

In honor of International Women's Day, we are sharing the perspectives of six different women who have written about the five tenets of IWD's #PressforProgress initiative. As part of this project, Bonobos will be donating $5,000 to a charity of the writer's choice. In this case, we'll be donating to Win NYC, an organization that works to provide safe housing, critical services, and ground-breaking programs to help homeless women and children rebuild their lives.