column

International Women’s Day is an intersectional joke

What’s sorely lacking today isn’t “equality,” but rather, chivalry. Our job as women is to educate men that their role is to protect and preserve us, whether we’re housewives, politicians or titans of industry.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at Channel 12's "influencers' conference" in Jerusalem, March 7, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at Channel 12's "influencers' conference" in Jerusalem, March 7, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

Like all knocking-on-open-door phenomena, the annual hoopla surrounding International Women’s Day on March 8 is celebrated most where it’s not required: in Western democracies. Israel is no exception.

To mark the utterly pointless fest, Israel’s Channel 12 on Monday hosted what it called “The [female] Influencers’ Conference,” an all-day symposium at the International Convention Center (Binyenei HaUma) in Jerusalem.

Though a few men, among them Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, participated in on-stage interviews, they were props invited to bolster the imaginary struggle faced by the women whom they were addressing.

These gender-equality she-warriors included: Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton; Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked; Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli; former Transportation Minister MK Miri Regev; Jerusalem Municipality deputy director-general Ariella Rajuan; Jerusalem Mayor office manager attorney Inbar Lazar; Microsoft Israel research and development center Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk; Payoneer Global president Keren Levy; Team8 Fintech managing partner Rakefet Russak Aminoach; Amdocs Technology general manager Sarit Assaf and Amdocs Beyond division manager Amalia Abramov; Na’amat president Hagit Pe’er; renowned fertility specialist Dr. Hannah Katan; Safe and Sound co-founder and CEO Lee Sharir; social-media influencer Maya Dagan; TikTok Europe’s emerging markets P.R. and communications chief Natali Ziv; The Capsule founder Adi Krief; Israel Aerospace Industries missile division general manager Avital Schrift; leading gynecologist and former MK Dr. Rachel Adato; Hadassah Mount Scopus Medical Center director Dr. Tamar Elram; actress and television presenter Lucy Ayoub; singer and actress Shiri Maimon; Vee co-founder and CEO May Piamenta; Luzzatto Group managing partner Esther Luzzatto; Lo Tishtok founder Racheli Gotlieb-Roshgold; Machane Yehuda entrepreneur Chen Koren; communications and campaign adviser Ana Magin; Moresee-AI co-founders Michal Grinspan and Bar Sade-Lichtenfeld; Discount Capital Markets CEO Hila Himi-Alpert; Rashi Foundation general director Michal Cohen; Social Solidarity Foundation co-CEO Adi Atun Lapidot and managing partner Inbar Shashua Bar-Nir; Matanat Chaim (“Gift of Life”) chairwoman Rachel Haber; Violence Against Women CEO Naila Awwad Rashad; Michal Sela Forum founder Lili Ben-Ami; and a slew of Channel 12 anchors, reporters, talk-show hosts and the head of its board of directors.

It was, after all, an event aimed at promoting the network. And what a better way to stand out than spotlight victimhood where it doesn’t exist?

Perhaps Channel 12 didn’t read the memo about the theme of this year’s “intersectional” happening: climate change. Yes, the United Nations proudly announced that International Women’s Day 2022 would be devoted to “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

In ill-warranted fairness to the United Nations, planners of the pathetic celebration around the globe couldn’t have anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, they wouldn’t have had the slightest problem exploiting the war to bemoan the plight of women in particular.

Never mind. The U.N. unabashedly asserted that “advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis … is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.”

Really?

It gets better.

“Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most,” U.N. Women said in a statement.

The good news, according to the organization, is that “women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. They are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action. Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality.”

Still, the group warned: “Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.”

Nothing could be more ridiculous. In the first place, women in much of the world don’t have the luxury to entertain such lofty concerns. For them, “sustainability” means managing to survive terrorism, abduction, rape, poverty and other forms of genuine, unrelenting victimization.

Secondly, if they had the ability to take a break from trying to get through an average day without being killed or dying of disease or hunger to read the nonsense spread by the best and brightest women in the West, they would be shocked.

Here, a word about battery and femicide is in order. Bullies don’t pick on people their own size. Naturally, then, women and girls—being physically smaller and more vulnerable than their male counterparts—are the prime targets of violent men. In 2021 alone, 16 females in Israel were murdered by spouses, partners or family members.

It’s outrageous to believe that the way to combat or conquer this vile phenomenon, which affects all socioeconomic households, is to constantly emphasize “equality.” Indeed, it’s time to recognize that men must be taught to respect and protect women—not to view them as fair game.

We women are often smarter than the men we know; we certainly are better at multi-tasking. We are capable, for example, of washing dishes while participating in a work call, breaking up a fight between our children and writing a “To Do” list for the following day.

We are biologically hard-wired to be resourceful—to function on our own with our offspring and flee with them when danger arises. You know, like our “sisters” in Ukraine right now—the father of whose kids, if they stuck around during normal times, are taking up arms in defense of their country.

If there were to be an honest conversation about the predicament of women in today’s world, it would involve acknowledging that what’s sorely lacking isn’t “equality”—whatever that means—but rather, chivalry. Our job as women is to educate men that their role is to protect and preserve us, whether we’re housewives, politicians or titans of industry.

This is the real climate-change challenge that’s urgently in need of tackling.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”

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