It’s International Women’s Day and I want to it yell from the rooftops and celebrate the incredible women diabetes advocates who continue to lead and chart paths that are pioneering and innovative. But in equal measure, I want to crawl into a cave and return out of it once the performative platitudes are over.

And yet, I can’t go without acknowledging it, because there is literally one day a year when women are centred and even then, we must defend our right to a day that highlights the centuries of systematic inequality that entrenched misogyny has afforded us, and answer the inevitable question: ‘WhY iSn’T thErE an InTerNaTiOnaL Men’S DaY?’ (There is. It’s in November. Put on your own morning tea.)

We’re seeing more and more women talk about how they feel targeted and unsafe in all spaces – on- and off- line. It’s not because this is suddenly ‘a thing’. Rather it’s becoming more acceptable to talk about it and to call it out.

Which is what I do. 

Last year, I wrote about an event I’d facilitated women and diabetes. When I linked to the post on twitter, I was accosted for my take which dared to suggest that misogyny contributes to so many women’s health issues being under researched and rarely discussed.  And then I was told off for not crediting the men who had discovered insulin.

Getting #NotAllMen’d and attempting to centre men on a post about the prejudice women experience in healthcare did drive home my point, but really, it was completely unnecessary. And downright exhausting too.

Also last year, in preparation for a presentation about diabetes and menopause, I asked the DOC if they routinely had discussions with healthcare professionals about menopause and diabetes. I had naively thought that it would start a conversation with women in the community. Instead, I had some bloke have a go at me for not promoting low carb diets and topped it all off with a demand that I don’t talk with my peers about menopause because I have no health professional training. 

Again, exhausting. But also, it’s just what women have come to expect. Being mansplained menopause or told that my own analysis of entrenched misogyny is wrong is simply part and parcel of being a woman who dares speak up. 

Most recently, I’ve been dealing with some pretty damn pathetic anonymous trolling which is hurtful and ludicrous. Someone is so unimpressed with me they have felt the need to repeatedly let me know and inform me it’s why they refuse to support Spare a Rose, and that I need to stop suggesting that it is the only way the diabetes community can help people with diabetes in Ukraine. I’ve checked. I’ve not said that. Not once. So I’m not sure why anyone is going out of the way to deliberately highlight that no one must support the campaign. It’s not lost on me that of the coordinating group of this community initiative, I am both the only woman and the only one being targeted. 

There is more to those messages though. There is also this: ‘You do nothing other than self-promote … and amplify yourself.’ I wonder how many men who share their work, tweet what they’re up to, feel proud of what they have achieved are accused of this. Because it has been a recurring theme throughout my career. That and being called words like strident, and being told that I should be reined in.  

I don’t feel special here. There are many women who have had similar experiences. I could have just ignored those messages, or stewed away quietly. But I have chosen to share them and I do so knowing there is a snowball effect in play.  Undeniably, it’s easier to pop your head above the parapet when you know there are others out there too. When we recognise our own difficult experiences bravely shared by others, we find it easier to bravely step up too.

I know this, because I spend a lot of time reaching out to thank women who have shared their story. And every single time I’ve ventured to share the gendered crap I’ve dealt with, I’ve had dozens of women send me a DM to tell me their experience is similar. Sometimes, we privately share who is the behind our experience, and it is remarkable just how often the same names come up. And it is also remarkable just how often those men claim to be allies. Those same men who can’t help but refer to people like me as angry women. Is it important for them to point out my gender when they’re having a go? Apparently, yes.

I am more than happy to be called an angry woman, a strident woman, an irate feminist. I will wear those labels as badges of honour. Because I know this: If you see and hear woman calling out the crap and respond by calling us angry women, you have played your cards and they show us that you are a misogynist. You are showing how you can’t handle strong women. And you are speaking when you should be listening.

In case you can’t zoom in to read the caption on my tee, it says ‘Don’t be a lady, Be a legend’.

There are some far more celebratory IWD posts on diabetogenic, and I encourage you to read them because the women acknowledged deserve the recognition. 

Read this one.

And this one.

And this one.