Wednesday, 8 March 2017

This One's for the Ladies

Today is International Women's Day. Seemed like a good excuse to write a blog post, since I'm a feminist and it's been ages since I've written anything. So, what is there to say about International Women's Day? Well, to begin with, I was wondering why it was celebrated on the 8th of March. So, I did a little research.

The first ever "Women's Day" was observed on the 3rd of May, 1908, presided by Lorine S. Brown. It was a commemoration in the Garrick Theatre in Chicago, and 1500 women participated to hear the rallying cry for economic and political equality, and denouncing exploitation and oppression.
This was followed by a remembrance on the 28th of February 1909 in New York, with twice as many women meeting in Carnegie Hall, in an event organised by the Socialist Party of America. Apparently they picked this date in remembrance of the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union strike a year earlier.
In August the next year, during the International Women's Conference, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed an annual International Women's Day, inspired by the Americans. So in 1911, March 19, they followed through on their plans and held the first International Women's Day, celebrated by over a million people from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. There were several protests, marches and demonstrations throughout Europe.
In America, they also celebrated the day, but observed it on the last Sunday in February, rather than March 19.
However, in 1914, the day was held on its modern March 8th, as on that date it was a Sunday in 1914, and that became the international standard. And . . . it's not known why.
There is a theory that it commemorates a women-led strike much earlier, but that's just not true as no women-led marches, protests or strikes were held on that date prior, so it could just be that it was held as a remembrance to commemorate a misremembered event, which may not have even happened.

But in the years after, In Petrograd 1917, the International Women's Day demonstration sparked the Russian Revolution; in 1918, Germany allowed women to vote, as a result of the demonstrations by women during International Women's Day in the four years prior & today, we are using it to shine a light on women's issues, particularly regarding wage difference and workplace equality for the entire globe. Here in Australia, we are focussing on two things it seems. Support for victims of domestic abuse, and also - rather encouragingly - equality.

See, I wasn't paying attention to the date, I know it's International Women's Day because I heard it on the radio, but one of the first things I thought was "what about the men? Is there an International Men's Day". And, well, yeah there is. It's on the 19th of November. So, I was glad for that. But then, the radio was only playing terrible female singers from the 1980s, and had replaced all the male radio hosts with females (at least, they had for the morning show) and I was thinking . . . why? Isn't that wrong?
I don't care about the singers, it's an interesting gimmick (I just wish they were playing more modern female singers, or some classics, not just crappy soft rock from the 80's). But, female hosts? Are they going too far with this?

See, I am a feminist, and I think it's great that media are starting to adopt the term feminism and feel more comfortable about it. However, there is this tendency for the media to lean towards what I call "pop feminism". I call it this for two reasons, firstly, it's "popular feminism", it's just following the mainstream. These people aren't thinking for themselves and deciding what is equitable, they just hear someone go into histrionics about oppression, they listen to opinion pieces like they're fact or they see someone famous on television say something horrific, and they give a knee-jerk reaction, trying to start groupthink. But, I also call it pop feminism because it tends to rely on clustered cultures of feminism, with people living in their little bubble, and they feel perfectly fine until you say something that conflicts with the opinions they've constructed, causing their little bubble to "pop" and they react very poorly, often demonizing or besmirching the target of their distaste rather than analyzing this new information critically.

So, I was worried when they decided to "send the men away" and celebrate women through exclusivity . . . but then they did something I appreciated greatly. The segment of the show I watched was dedicated to men. They were speaking to women, but they were saying to women "can you tell us about a great male role model in your life" and "is there a man in your life that you would like to thank?"
This is perfect. There may be some people now going "Wait, talking about men on Women's Day? That's ridiculous, this is a day for women."
But, no, it isn't actually a day "for women".
See, Martin Luther King Day is a day which was inspired by and celebrates Martin Luther King, but it's not just "for him", it's "from him. He's not the only person allowed to speak (which is good, because he's dead, it would be a long moment of silence if only he could speak). But, it's about what he stood for.
These women's days are about what women stand for, and that is equality. You don't create equality through oppression and ostracization. You do it with assimilation, and co-operation.

Now, I'm sure there are some people out there who still go overboard, and think men aren't allowed to have equality or think that Women's Day is for women, and not for men, and we should segregate and keep to our own days.
But, to me, this is a sign that perhaps "pop feminism", whilst not disappearing, is a bubble that is slowly deflating.

In conclusion, since this is a bit of a lazy, one-note post, I decided that I would include some official International Women's Day links, so, if you want to learn more about the values behind International Women's Day, I highly recommend that you check out the official website where they explain it in their own words.

And finally, before you go, I signed to host an official International Women's Day #BeBoldForChange campaign here on the site, where you can help accelerate gender parity by committing to bold action.
Until Next Time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, asking you . . . please, fill out this small form, and commit to equality for the future.

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