Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women’s Day

Our New York Times did not arrive this morning, but Google’s Graphic informed me of something I did not know about: March 8 is International Women’s Day and has been celebrated since the beginning of the twentieth century. The first such day in the United States fell on February 28, 1909, sponsored by the Socialist Party of America. Thereafter it was celebrated on different days in different countries, not least March 8. It has been uniformly observed on March 8 since 1977 after a United Nations General Assembly proclamation, that year, of March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Let me not to the celebration of woman admit impediments.”

There is also an International Men’s Day, held on November 19 since 1999. It is a day that I intend to observe, now that I know of it, only by benign neglect.

The image I reproduce here (from Wikipedia link) shows a poster for Women’s Day in 1914, in Germany; it was also celebrated on March 8. The slogan is “Go for Women’s Right to Vote.” The imagery is commie red; it looks dated now. Since those muscularly militant days this event has been softened and dressed into an expression of feminism. February 19, 2013 was the 50th anniversary of the appearance of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan—an event somewhat less dated than gigantic red flags. But, listening to some of the coverage of that anniversary, the recurring observation I’ve picked up is that not enough has changed. Women are not equally present in the visible places—in politics, at the top of corporations. And, as I’ve been noting, from time to time, for decades now, women’s compensation still lags that of men, not least in such professions as law and medicine.

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