Liberals are going gaga about today: the International Women’s Day. Especially, the elite and the privileged — women and men — are speaking and writing and singing and dancing and drinking and candlelight-vigiling…and celebrating womanhood.
They have every right to do it. But I’m not sure what exactly they’re trying achieve doing it…year after year after year…other than speaking and writing and singing and dancing and drinking and … well, you know what I mean. They’re doing it for themselves: the “me” and “us” in them, and not for the “them” and “those out there” in them.
I’m sure you know what I mean.
I think the way International Women’s Day started and the way it’s now become an annual showcase of elitism and individualism for the privileged are way separated and detached from each other. In fact, in my opinion, very few of these celebrating elite and privileged know or care to know the history behind this precious day. In case they care to know: it was actually all about the “them” and “those out there” in them.
Big media, corporate media and big textbook companies and corporate authors have done their part to exclude that history from the mosaic of the celebration. I keep calling such a phenomenon the Journalism of Exclusion. I might also call it now the Education of Exclusion.
International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.
1909: The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
1910: The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
1911: As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
1913-1914: International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
1917: Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
So, that’s the real story behind the celebration. That is the history that most celebrations today — the NOW celebration, the NOW-kind of celebration do not care to include in their discussion.
So, a small, powerless and unimportant man I am, I updated my Facebook status today:
“COULD NOT HELP WRITING (apologies). — NOW and the NOW-type feminists celebrating International Women’s Day is like looking out today’s snow here in New York from inside a heated, cozy living room. Pretty, feel-good, almost like poetry. (For those women who must drive their old, beat-up car or take the dirty, crowded subway trains or walk in this very windy, cold, wet and slippery situation, it’s not so pretty and feel-good. They don’t want to write poetry; they just want to come back home safe…in one piece. They must work because otherwise they have no money.)”
Some of my female friends were not so happy reading it. One of them wrote back:
“I know Partha is a loving co-partner in resisting oppression, I just felt like this message was telling women with some perceived (or “real”) privilege to shut up about feminism. I don’t want anyone to be quiet about feminism, least of all any woman. I don’t care if she doesn’t have to work two jobs or not. It’s like saying “be quiet if you have the luxury of time to make your voice heard, since you should have pity for those who do not.” I know he didn’t mean it that way, though.”
“It’s just I don’t think men need to be telling women how to behave or think or express on International Women’s Day. Sorta rubbed me the wrong way.”
Then, she put a beautiful heart emoticon at the end of her statement. So, she still loves me, it seems
I had to reply now. I said:
“I am pointing out the farce and hypocrisy of celebrating such days by the privileged — men or women. The history I just posted tells how the real purpose of IWD has been hijacked by the elite — men or women. Just the same way 80 percent of men are suffering because of this extreme class disparity perpetuated by the elite man, even more women are suffering because of it — where elite women have done nothing to create rights, justice and equality.”
That is really what I meant. And that’s really what I mean — always. Elite and privileged celebration of a U.N.-sponsored International Women’s Day means NOTHING if it does not take care of the larger society where 80 percent or 90 percent women worldwide are going through unending, closed cycles of poverty, inequality, disempowerment, lack of education, lack of health care and other such basic human rights — for generations.
In fact, I strongly believe that the NOW-type, elitist, rabid-individualist celebration and candlelight-vigiling and dancing and drinking and big-talking and film-making have produced ZERO equality and ZERO justice for the 80 percent or 90 percent of women — all over the world.
And in my book, this kind of celebration is hollow and really, a farce.
The pictures I posted here might make a point. It’s your call if you want to keep celebrating a fake celebration, or change it back to where it was…when it all started.
Otherwise, only one woman would be happy: Ayn Rand, the Eve of the World of “Me.”
Brooklyn, New York