Sunday March 8 is the most important day of the year for women all over the world: International Womxn’s Day (and if you have difficulty pronouncing that, congratulations, you are a bigot). Yes, Sunday is the day when ALL women are recognized, not just the ones with biologically recognized female parts. Chaka Khan famously sang: ‘I’m every woman’. Thankfully today she would be called out as the TERF she is because the correct term is ‘womxn’ (at a push I will except ‘womyn’, but I would require prior notice in order for me to set my acceptance levels to ‘moderate’).
‘Womxn’ is being increasingly acknowledged as a more inclusive term when it comes to the complexities of contemporary gender recognition. For example, it embraces self-ID trans women like myself who reject ridiculously archaic attitudes that insist a woman has to be feminine, that she must act like a woman, dress like a woman, not have a beard, tuck in her penis, shave her arse et cetera. Unfortunately however, although ‘womxn’ is becoming more accepted in certain circles, the official title is still ‘International Women’s Day’ so trans rights activists still have a lot of work to do here (and by ‘work’ I mean ‘intimidation, public shaming and bullying’ because these damn fillies just won’t do as they’re told).
(For the sake of clarity alone, I will continue to use the official day’s title within this article and hope that one day the majority of cisgender ‘women’ stop being so bloody selfish with their gatekeeping of words and let womxn with penises have the final say. Honestly, in my opinion they need to learn their place. Feminism has come a long way, but until it accepts that women who were born male know better than they do about their own definitions, then I am afraid it’s just not going to progress much further (now don’t get me wrong, cisgender women are mostly adorable, but they simply cannot be trusted to make important decisions).
So anyway, as is tradition, on the run up to International Women’s Day we’ve seen large corporations falling over themselves to prove just how much they value women by signaling their virtue like the Bat Sign across all of social media. For instance, Shell, a British-Dutch oil and gas company, have added an apostrophe to their company name (at one of their gas stations) so that it reads ‘She’ll’. As in ‘She will’ to show support and solidarity with women’s struggles.
Now I’m sure my fellow women will join me in saying that this has been a long time coming. I remember reading how the suffragettes campaigned ceaselessly throughout the early 1900s to try and persuade The Royal Dutch Shell Group to add an apostrophe to their name, but no dice. Amelia Pinkspittle famously nailed herself to the entrance of the Shell Group’s office where she remained for three weeks until she was tragically crushed to death when the managing director flung open the door to demand that she desist with her ‘nonsensical lady-brained fripperies’.
Then, fast-forward 60 years to 1961 when Ethel Berkopft, a second-wave feminist who ran the German branch of the ‘Shell to She’ll’ (or ‘Muschel zu ihr Wird’) protest group, bravely attempted to swim out naked to one of the company’s off-shore oil rigs with a six-foot polystyrene apostrophe strapped to her back. Unfortunately, when planning her journey, she had not allowed for the severe tailwinds caused by Hurricane Debbie coupled with the buoyant nature of a six-foot square slab of polystyrene, and the resulting swells took her wildly off course. At least history assumes that’s what must have happened because sadly, Ethel and her enormous punctuation mark were never seen again.
Now, in 2020, almost 60 years later, Shell has chosen to acknowledge these women’s efforts and agreed to make a minor, temporary change to the logo of one of their gas stations in San Dimas, in order to show solidarity with women across the globe. Tears fill my eyes as I type this because the significance of this gesture cannot be overstated. Thank you, Shell, for finally doing the right thing. You and your fellow multinational corporations all over the world are united in celebrating International Women’s Day by generating as much positive public interest in your products as possible while doing the bare minimum, so that women everywhere can feel appreciated, without being patronized in any way.