Can you spot what’s wrong with this picture? Take a good close look:
It’s a lovely shot, don’t get me wrong. But the sentiments expressed alongside, while sweet, seem to me more fitting for Valentine’s Day than International Women’s Day:
…which is NOT International But-What-About-Teh-Menz Day. (That’s November 19, for those who seriously wonder.)
You can read the history of International Women’s Day at the UN’s site. As you can see, it was originally a socialist women’s day of action against unfair and dangerous working conditions in garment factories. Later, it became a day of commemoration and continued action by and for working women, and for universal suffrage. In 1914, it became a day of peace demonstrations as well, as war was looming in Europe. The day was something of a movable feast until 1975, the UN’s International Women’s Year, when the date was finally fixed at March 8, which it has been ever since.
And yes, socialist men did participate in the activities of the day, working in solidarity with women for gender equality on all fronts. And we love and appreciate and thank them for it. But this is not a day for paying tribute to those men (again, let me refer you to November 19, which is dedicated to men working for gender equality.) And let’s be honest: Every day is, in fact, men’s day in a patriarchal world!
On March 8, however, it’s about us. The women. It’s not another day to send us flowers; it’s a day to be mindful of what we want and need. And to remember not just how far we’ve come since the garment factory strikes of 1908, but how far we still need to go.
And this year, in particular, it will be a day of action for us all over again. As fascism rears its ugly head once more, in Canada and elsewhere, women are answering the call to action against it, and to prevent it from further eroding the already shaky rights we do have. There will be marches and demos; there will be solidarity with immigrant and refugee women; there will be calls for better protection for their rights, especially Muslim women who are currently being targeted for their veils by bigots.
All of these are urgent matters, and for that reason, we shouldn’t be sugar-coating the day. It’s more important for us all to act for women’s rights than it is to pay tribute to our male colleagues-in-solidarity.
So, sorry, Sophie. You tried, but you muffed it. Live and learn.
PS: And if you’re wondering why today is NOT a day to pay tribute to our good-looking PM, take a little gander at this. And remember, women are bound to be disproportionately affected by this bad decision. Happy Women’s Day!