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March 8, 2001
6:43 AM   Subscribe

Today is International Women's Day. Amnesty International has a few important stories about the horrors women face abroad. Or, you can send an IWD card to someone you love. Just don't bother visiting iVillage (you know, "the Women's Network"), because they must never have heard of it.
posted by jpoulos (38 comments total)

 
Hmm.. yes, I get a lot of that, whenever I mention March 8th I get a blank from people. Strange though, and communism might be evil and all that, certainly it's hard to defend U.S.S.R., but March 8th was a major holiday, next to New Years or November 7th and all that. Everyone brought flowers and gifts to their loved ones (women) and the same was for schools.
posted by tiaka at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2001


When you're in love, everyday is a holiday--
posted by Postroad at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2001


True. But I have no one to love : (
posted by tiaka at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2001


But we all love you, tiaka!
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2001


I was about to post this to the front page, but it seems more appropriate in here. Don't read if you're in a good mood.
posted by frykitty at 8:00 AM on March 8, 2001


I hate you, frykitty.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:04 AM on March 8, 2001


:(

Thanks for sharing, frykitty. It sickens me and upsets me, but I feel like at least if I know about it, maybe someday I can do something about it, even in some small way.

Argh. Words fail me.
posted by beth at 8:44 AM on March 8, 2001


Stories like that are so disheartening because it makes you realize that even with all our work, and all the work of those that came before us, our gains can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

It makes you just want to throttle women who say I'm not a feminist, but...

Something to think about today. Oh, and if you're looking for a decent movie with a pro-fem message for today, try The Contender. Nice bit on double-standards that will make you realize that, even in this country, we have a long, long way to go.

Okay, now I've gone and depressed myself. Hrmph.


posted by frykitty at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2001


Hmm.. sad article. I don't know how else to comment, but the general way of life is depressing, all over the world. Maybe communism, with all it's flaws wasn't so bad, considering, again, how bad the conditions are now and how they will continue to be?

Oooo yeah. The Contender, I just rented the yesterday, on dvd. So, I'll let you all adjust and picture me with a Simpsons' comic book guy voice - 'worst bad movie ever' or something of that tone. Horrible! And I didn't at all get all the controversy over it's 'left-lean', should have just been ignored. I'm guessing it was done on purpose, to sell better.
posted by tiaka at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2001


I enjoyed The Contender. So nyah. ;-)

But I didn't get the left-lean thing either. Gary Oldman claims his character was demonized in editing, but I really didn't see that. He had reasonable motivations, and while the method was nasty, was he any nastier than a president that threatens the career of a young rep?

What I liked about the movie was the central theme: the questions shouldn't have been asked, because if she'd been a man, it wouldn't have made any difference.
posted by frykitty at 10:17 AM on March 8, 2001


Or if you're looking for a decent movie with a pro-fem message from yesterday, that makes light of the tragedy of frykitty's link, go here. The sad thing is that it's hard for many to believe that this kind of thing goes on when the only time you encounter it is in farcical movies and jokes. Every time my wife wants to watch this one, I wonder why the screenwriters felt the need to entwine a lighthearted look at the specter of sex slavery into a musical comedy about empow. . . wait, that word's been outlawed, the improving status and self-determination of women.

This reminds me of the story about the deaf-mutes forced into selling trinkets on the NYC streets. It's truly a tragedy that so many people will capitalize on the inferiority and weakness of others for their own profit.

"A quarter of a million tax-free dollars a month" for not being able to look back on your actions with any respect? No amount of money is worth that price.
posted by OneBallJay at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2001


Hmm.. well, you're entitled to your opinion.
However, before writing this post I was trying to think of a 'pro-feminist' film (if there is such) but could not remmember anything, I see films as films, I see great films as films that make you think but not provide a cheesy sitcom type of lesson (Well, maybe with the exception of Yasujiro Ozu' Good Morning).

So, maybe there are some that I just forgot to remember, but, say you were to produce, direct and write a film tomorrow, you'd have all the possible resources and so on, and you wanted to do something on feminism. What would it be? How would you play it out?
posted by tiaka at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2001


Whoa, I shouldn't have used the word 'inferiority' in my post. Strike out the words "inferiority and", and insert "comparitive."

My favorite pro-feminist films are both about the far east: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Mulan. Princess Mononoke isn't far behind.

It's interesting that a country known for their unilateral repression of their people was so into IWD. From what I understand of them, the Russian people have never placed too large an emphasis on gender, and judge more on merit (well, mainly political connections for any important job, but for anything else this held true) in most cases than western cultures. During WWII, the Soviets didn't need bring in "Rosie the Riveter," because in their country some Rosies had always been riveters. And now this story comes out from a former piece of the USSR. Sad to think what the Americanization of the world is bringing us to.
posted by OneBallJay at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2001


Mulan is the best disney cartoon movie.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:23 PM on March 8, 2001


Accountingboy: maybe Russian women have always worked hard, but they've still been treated like crap. I have a friend who brought me great horror stories of her tour of Russia--getting groped and not being able to do anything about it, porn ads on the bus, etc. I'd love for a Russian woman to step in here and discuss this in more depth, but my understanding is that women in Russia are definitely second-class citizens, if not chattel.

As a (comparatively) spoiled American woman, I won't be visiting Russia any time soon.
posted by frykitty at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2001


I always thought that the Russian culture extoled the virtue and strength of Russian women. Your account certainly goes against that thought. My comment on Americanization could still apply, depending on when your friend went over there (with ads of any sort on the bus it must be after the rise of capitalism). I immediately thought about how everything many Russians know about America they find out through our media exports, which understandably would make them think that along with adopting western economics they need to adopt the women as nothing more than sex objects and violence as the solution to all problems concepts as well.

I spent a year teaching high school in a country (Federated States of Micronesia) where most of what my students knew about Americans they got from watching Van Damme and Segal movies. Their culture was slowly being taken over by what they perceived to be the American way of life. It was quite depressing to see how the young males interacted with the females.
posted by OneBallJay at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2001


Actually frykitty you're wrong. Russia has been more than politically correct about the sexes. Well, at least during communism; women, I think, made up 60+% of college and university admissions. My grandmother is an English teacher (still!), and so was my mother, but she was teaching economics in Kazakhstan. Women had the exact same rights, had the same job opportunities, participated in the govn't and all that. Communism might have had it's flaws, but it prided itself on it's ethics/morals and equality was the major point in the system. IWD was celebrated with parades even. Though the southern republics had different regional religion-based practices where women were unequal, the costuming and role in society, but, as I remember sometime in the 60's there was a concern and they established strict laws against that.

Maybe these days it has become this way.
posted by tiaka at 2:22 PM on March 8, 2001


Tiaka: thanks for bringing info a little closer to the source. The anecdotes I shared, however, were in the social realm--not in the realm of business and government. I'm sure we all realize there is often a gap between what the law says and what actually happens on the street between men and women.

Nonetheless, I'll take your word for it and assume it is Western influence (or economic pressure, or social disintegration, or whatever), since my friend was over there post-communism.

Whatever the reason, it's a shame. In Backlash, Susan Faludi covers some of the history of feminism, noting how progress has been made in the past only to be withdrawn. Sobering.
posted by frykitty at 2:42 PM on March 8, 2001


Maybe it's just me, but the fact that there is an "International Women's Day" bothers me. It's another double standard, in my opinion. Is there an International Men's Day? Of course not. But women and blacks and etc aren't the same nor equal to white men so they have to have special laws and holidays, right? Bah. I realize that it's a good opportunity to get press about the problems and struggles facing women and feminists across the world but surely there's a better way to do that. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.
posted by crushed at 6:30 PM on March 8, 2001


Scroll down to International Men's Day Committee. You want it? Get involved.
posted by frykitty at 7:07 PM on March 8, 2001


Maybe I'm just in a bad mood.

Maybe you don't understand the difference a little power makes where prejudice is concerned.
posted by sudama at 7:22 PM on March 8, 2001


frykitty: Thanks for the link.

Maybe you don't understand the difference a little power makes where prejudice is concerned.

Care to explain that?

And how exactly is having a holiday considered power? Especially if most people haven't even heard of the holiday?

posted by crushed at 9:41 PM on March 8, 2001


You know exactly what I'm talking about: having a penis is power. Every day is International Men's Day. Trite, but true.
posted by sudama at 9:45 PM on March 8, 2001


Actually if I had known what the hell you were talking about I wouldn't have asked.

Um...how do I respond to that? Your comments don't even make sense together. I would gather from your first ones that having the holiday and therefore getting the press and attention would count as power which will help the women of the world who are the victims of prejudice. But then you say that having a penis is power. Huh?

As for not understanding prejudice or what a difference having power makes, I happen to be a woman and therefore think I also happen to know a little more about this particular kind of prejudice than you do.
posted by crushed at 10:25 PM on March 8, 2001


International [insert whatever] Day is considered a way to call attention to an oppressed or (apparently) underappreciated segment. Labor Day (at the time). Mother's Day. Veteran's Day. Just don't ask me to explain President's Day. ;-)

In any case, an International Men's Day might be viewed as insinuating that men are somehow oppressed or underappreciated. Perhaps it's the underlying assumption that needs to change. I'm all for a day that celebrates men and highlights men's issues. One of the uses of a day like IWD is that it creates dialog between the genders about these very issues.

More of that can't be bad.
posted by frykitty at 11:01 PM on March 8, 2001


I don't think the holiday is doing a whole lot (compared with what needs to be done) for the women who have been beaten, raped or otherwise abused, or are without property rights, freedom of speech and expression and other human rights today.

I do however think the penis is going to protect far too many of the perpetrators from being brought to justice.
posted by sudama at 11:06 PM on March 8, 2001


you know, sudama, since i'm not black i can't get mad about your suppositions in the race threads, but as a woman, i really do have a
keystrokes problem with you telling crushed what is best for her gender's advancement. i happen to think IWD is a fine holiday, but if she's a woman and she doesn't, you have no place to imply that she is a part of the patriarchy to not agree. men shouldn't patronize to a woman about women's rights.
posted by pikachulolita at 11:12 PM on March 8, 2001


buh? i didn't even type keystrokes! anyway, whoops. delete that word.
posted by pikachulolita at 11:13 PM on March 8, 2001


You can get mad about whatever you damn well want to get mad about, don't let anyone tell you different.

I'm sorry I took a condescending tone, but I won't apologize for my position on oppression.

posted by sudama at 11:20 PM on March 8, 2001


In any case, an International Men's Day might be viewed as insinuating that men are somehow oppressed or underappreciated.

Well, I sure as hell feel underappreciated! That's one. Any of you other men feel the same?
posted by kindall at 11:26 PM on March 8, 2001


no one's asking you to apologize for your position on oppression. your persistence and conviction, if nothing else, are admirable. but if i said to you "well, you are a man, and i am a woman, but i know better what the male gender needs, and (insert position here)", wouldn't that bother you? i mean, you are the one that has to live with these problems every day, right?

i just hate people speaking for me or a group of which i'm a member, and i especially hate it when they tell me that i'm wrong about an issue that affects only that group.
posted by pikachulolita at 11:40 PM on March 8, 2001


You're not saying that sexism affects only women are you?
posted by sudama at 12:28 AM on March 9, 2001


it goes both ways, obviously, in that women can be sexist against men. but i would tend to disagree that men are hurt by sexism. yes, it is in everyone's best interests to have women equal and everything, but as long as men are making more on the dollar, hey, that's more for men, right?

and yeah, there is the argument that sexism against women affects the people that love them and their children, etc etc. but you know what? if i'm being discriminated against, i don't want some damn man coming along and taking my oppression and making it his own. it's one thing to believe in what's right and such, and that's an admirable pursuit. but if i am making 60 cents to your dollar or what have you (not sure what the actual figure is), i sure as hell don't want you coming along and telling me how much it hurts you.
posted by pikachulolita at 12:39 AM on March 9, 2001


A few observations:

In child custody cases, men are at a distinct disadvantage from the get-go - based solely on the fact that they're men. That can't be right.

Is the goal of society now to level the playing field, or "get back at men" for the past?
posted by owillis at 12:51 AM on March 9, 2001


i say it's to level the playing field. the custody thing is a very good example - sexism in a general sense does affect everyone by definition. like i said, it goes both ways. i guess sexism was the wrong word, and i should have specified sexism against women.

but i get very resentful when someone comes along and tries to claim my pain for his own. it's like when my parents would spank me and say "this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you." no, it's not. let me smack you on the ass and we'll see who it hurts. i don't like arguing this position because it implies that men are incapable of being sympathetic, which i think is divisive. but i do think that saying that men have been hurt by discrimination against women is generally inaccurate, and i think it marginalizes the problems that women have had.
posted by pikachulolita at 1:36 AM on March 9, 2001


"In child custody cases, men are at a distinct disadvantage from the get-go - based solely on the fact that they're men. That can't be right.

Is the goal of society now to level the playing field, or "get back at men" for the past?"


I don't think that’s the case. It's actually not as clear cut as being solely a case of "sexism against men." As an example, it contains a lot of historical and social factors that should be noted. Basically, one of the things that held Women back was the idea that Women alone were best suited to staying at home and raising children, Men were more suited to a career. So you can thank that outdated notion at least in part for any troubles you might have had with the family court.

Also as more Women are able to get a worthwhile career (i.e. one that they choose, and hopefully enjoy) they will be less likely to be able to assume sole parentage of the children in the case of divorce and separation. Equal parenting rights will become the norm (whether you like that idea or not) But the fact that a lot of Women are still under-represented in so many industries such as engineering and that they still earn less than Men on average means that they are more likely to be the parent who is able to argue in court that they have more time for the children (I'm sure you know of a lot of cases where that is not true, but in general, it's often why Men are not awarded custody, and colours community attitudes to a large degree)

These sorts of conversations often turn to this issue (of child custody) Some Men (and Women) find the notion that they still have a lot of work to do to lessen inequities daunting, and for Men to be told that in essence, the reason they are getting a hard time in the custody courts is very much to do with the fact that Women still have to put up with a lot of bias, a difficult to come to terms with.

So no, nobody is trying to "get back at" (you) although if you are mired in a custody case, you could be forgiven for thinking that. Basically it's old attitudes that are making life difficult for you, not new ones. They are the same attitudes and beliefs that keep Women from earning an equal wage, and still having to fight sexism in the workplace, and sometimes feeling too afraid to walk home alone at night.

It's these attitudes that do both Men and Women a disservice, make our lives difficult, and hold us back from reaching our potentials. In fighting these injustices, we have to look at the larger picture, and work to make things better for both sexes.

I am discussing things from a Western perspective here. On a global level, Women are often still treated as goods and chattels, as slaves.
posted by lucien at 8:38 AM on March 9, 2001


Lucien, I usually refrain from saying things as useless to the thread as "good post"...but that was a damn good post.
posted by frykitty at 9:11 AM on March 9, 2001


Not targeting this post at you, pikachulolita, but I used your quotes.

but i would tend to disagree that men are hurt by sexism

While men as a group benefit from active and latent sexism from individuals and "the system," individual men can be hurt by sexism. I hope you wouldn't disagree with that.

but if i am making 60 cents to your dollar or what have you (not sure what the actual figure is)

According to my old Econ textbook, in 1997, the wage gap
(in the US) versus white men was 75% for white women, 73% for black men, and 63% for black women. Those numbers aren't strictly due to workplace discrimination, though. Some of the gap is accounted for by varying education levels, past job experience, job choice, and family situations (e.g. women are more likely to stay home to take care of kids, other family, etc. than men). According to some studies we discussed in class (I can't cite them because it's been too long and I don't have my notes anymore), only about 5-10% of the wage gap could be accounted for as probably-due-to race or gender discrimination by employers.

Now, race and gender discrimination likely affects the other factors as well (education, job choice, experience), so perhaps you could attribute some or most of those reasons to earlier discrimination as well.
posted by daveadams at 9:22 AM on March 9, 2001


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