SO, TODAY is March 8. Hurray, I suppose.

That means I will be able to spend slightly less money on feminine things, like a manicure, a vacuum cleaner, or a cheeky glass of bubbly with the girls. Or is that all for Mother’s Day? I am now the marketing target for both special days, so I don’t know any more.

Fortunately, I feel that crass marketing operations for International Women’s Day are less of a thing here than they are in France, though every year I want to give at least one company or organisation an award for the most hilariously off the mark post on International Women’s Day. 

I think I found the perfect contender – just last week, one of my best friends sent me a targeted advert she saw on Instagram feed for a deal available exclusively on March 8.

The salon advertising this deal had all the best intentions.  “March 8 is a day of gathering all around the world and an opportunity to assess the situation of women in our societies.

“We believe that we need to seize all occasions to remember victories and achievements and to make today’s demands heard. Let’s be clear: this day is not enough and won’t make inequalities disappear.”

It would have been a reasonable post, had they stopped there. But no. They had to say more: “That is why, on March 8, you are all invited to come celebrate with us and take advantage of an exceptional offer! €319 for a bikini wax!”

I don’t even know where to start. First, paying that kind of money to grind my teeth in pain just to be hairless? Non, merci. And then, what on Earth does it have to do with International Women’s Day?

Every year, feminists keep repeating March 8 is not “the day of the woman”. In French, we have a more specific name for this day: it is the international day for the rights of women. So you can keep your waxes and make-up and jewellery and flowers and whatnot – unless they come with fundamental rights. Which of course, they don’t.

Then, inevitably, a chorus of  anti-feminist voices rises, saying: you feminists need to pick your battles. You are too distracted, and you need to concentrate on the real challenges women face: the gender pay gap and violence against women and girls. The rest is just you acting like snowflakes, because you are actually too lazy to fight the real fights.

To counter this argument, I would like to tell you about Benoite Groult. The novelist and journalist, born in 1920, passed away nearly seven years ago, having reached the status of feminist icon in France.

Her main fight was for the right to abortion and bodily autonomy for all women. As for many feminists who started their activism in the late 1960s, the freedom to choose whether to have children and when to have children was central to commitment for women’s rights.

She encouraged women to understand that they should never take their rights for granted, and that the society in which we live not only conditions women to limit themselves, but also creates violence against them at all levels of their lives: at home, at work, in the streets; physically or symbolically.

That is why Groult never let anyone force her into choosing what was a worthy fight and what was not, as all those battles aimed at the same thing: bringing down the patriarchy.

She spent a lot of her energy fighting against the “invisibilisation” of women in our history. In 1986, she published for the first time and in its entirety the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen, written in 1791 by Olympe de Gouges, who was later sent to the guillotine for exposing how the French Revolution failed women.

GROULT is inspirational because she refused to look down on some feminist battles,  as if some inequalities women have to endure were tolerable. None of them are, quite simply, and we should refuse to put up with  any of them.

Women have a lot to fight against: feminicide and pay discrimination; under-representation in politics and objectification in the media; access to contraception and abortion; properly funded childcare and parental leave – as well as harmful body standards reinforced by hyper realistic filters on social media, and period poverty.

These battles are all worth our consideration and our respect as they all weigh heavily on women’s lives. Caring about one doesn’t exclude the others, and there is more than enough of us to fight on all fields.

We need all those who care about women’s rights to challenge sexism whenever and wherever they can. In this mission, I don’t think we can spare anyone. 

Want to join a beard-wearing feminist action group to storm in male-dominated boardrooms? That’s fine. Want to gift kids in your family children’s books with strong female role models? Great.

Want to influence legislation so that laws don’t always put women at a disadvantage? We need it. Want to sing songs to denounce the invisibilisation of the genius women from the past? Definitely do that! 

My friends at Georgette Sand, a feminist collective, did several funny videos of them singing and dancing for equality. 

At the same time, they spearheaded work to abolish taxes on menstrual products, to make it easier for mothers to give their family name to their children, and published a book, Ni Vues Ni Connues (“Neither Seen Nor Known”) on women artists, scientists, activists erased from our history and collective memory.

I, too, used to think that some feminist fights were a waste of  time and energy – I just thought that there were more important matters at hand than having clitorises spray-painted on walls. 

Then, as I grew older  and started to have an interest in what feminists had to say, it all became clear: rape culture, everyday sexism, body image – all operated under the same patriarchal mechanism.  So why think about women’s lives as a collection of distinct moments, when insidious, subtle (and not so subtle) misogyny needs to be  tracked down and eliminated in all aspects of our lives? Our experiences are multifaceted – defending and furthering our rights should be, too.