Monday, March 07, 2011

Why I Hate International Women's Day

I don't hate it for its Soviet roots.

The Wikipedia caption for the poster at right:
The 1932 Soviet poster dedicated to the 8th of March holiday. The text reads: "8th of March is the day of rebellion of the working women against kitchen slavery" and "Down with the oppression and narrow-mindedness of household work!". Originally in the USSR the holiday had a clear political character, emphasizing the role of the Soviet state inthe liberation of women from their second-class-citizen status.
Indeed, I'm all in favor of liberating women from the status of second-class citizen. And I think that doing so means demanding equal treatment for women in education, employment, and politics. Those are difficult tasks, and they require work on a daily basis, and I have no problem with a day that calls attention to the politics of gender.

But what I do have a problem with is a patronizing day for celebrating femininity analogous to Valentine's Day or Grandparent's Day. In Italy, and in some other countries, men give women flowers or chocolates on March 8. And then they elect, and tolerate, Berlusconi.

This gets personal:
At my university there is Women's and Gender Studies program, and it has an event budget. But it has not brought in an academic speaker in years, and its only event this year will be to hand out tulips to women--for being women--in the student union tomorrow. No political involvement on campus, no programming. Just tulips--symbols of love, symbols of unblemished beauty.

We also have a Women's Center, part of the Student Life part of campus. To recognize International Women's Day, they're holding a henna workshop.

Great. Flowers and make-up. So much for being modern women.


MiStA-mIsUnDaStOoD said...

Hey, I completely concur with your statement!!

I'm curious to know if you are in fact yourself a female? or indeed a male?

The reason i ask is it would help me shed light on your opinions represented here

Noumena said...

Gender Studies at Notre Dame is celebrating International Women's Day by not doing anything, or indeed not mentioning it in any capacity, official or unofficial.

I'm not sure whether this is better than RIT's way of celebrating.

Anonymous said...

I also saw nothing on campus yesterday, and pathetically the only reason I even knew what day it was, was all thanks to Google. I should be ashamed.