Today in Feminist History: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day
has been celebrated for almost a century around the world. While it remains a more popular (and government sponsored) holiday abroad, many organizations and activists in the US also celebrate it.

International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

To read a timeline of International Women’s Day history, go here.
For events happening in the United States, go here.

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  1. MandyV
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    An Oscar Win for International Women’s Day: The Oscars have been over for five minutes. My cheeks are flushed, there are tears in my eyes, and my stomach is doing flips. It has finally happened!
    March is Women’s History Month, and in the past three and a half years, Feminist Review has brought you nearly 3,500 reviews of current books, films, music, theater performances, eco-friendly clothing, and a whole host of other products. If reading Feminist Review has inspired you to read a novel or download an album, we hope you will donate to our I ? FR Campaign today. There is no better month than this to give to feminist media.
    Making its debut this evening, Who Do You Think You Are? explores the family history of a celebrity who travels about to find missing information and reconnect with their ancestors by seeing for themselves the location of their family’s historical events…the first episode staring Sarah Jessica Parker was the most gripping. She discovers that she has an ancestor who was involved in the Salem witch trials. As she waits for whether her ancestor was an accuser or a victim to be revealed, it’s most incredible to watch her conviction and sense of responsibility.
    This month Feminist Review has five opportunities to win prizes from women-friendly companies: Bowen Woodworking is giving away an African mahogany bowl to one lucky winner (click here to enter) and DivaCup is giving away one menstrual cup and wash set each week (click here to enter).

  2. Marc
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Let’s play a game. Who’s your favorite international feminist? Mine is definitely Chandra Mohanty!
    On a different note, on this International Women’s Day, a great gift for the feminists in your life might just be a book called “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” It’s a call to action that, I think a lot of times, we Western feminists, and particularly organizations like NOW, tend to forget.

  3. Toongrrl
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Happy International Women’s Day to you all!

  4. sillyrabbittrix
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Huh, that’s funny that you say that Marc, because my local and state NOW chapter held the “Half the Sky” NCM/Fathom event by CARE last Thursday as an official event in celebration of International Women’s Day. However, you are partially correct; NOW is the National Organization for Women, not the International Organization for Women. You can disagree with their founding statement, but the organization was formed to focus on equality within the states. From the NOW website:
    “Another founder, the late Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African-American woman Episcopal priest, co-authored NOW’s original Statement of Purpose which begins:
    The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”
    You will note that it says American society. Don’t get me wrong; all women on this planet suffer from misogyny and sexism and all women on this planet deserve for their rights to be fought for. But I disagree with blaming organizations whose purpose was not intended to address women’s rights internationally, which requires a completely different structure and purpose to address the world versus just the U.S. And again, that doesn’t mean NOW ignores the rest of the world or doesn’t recognize that most women the world over are worse off than American women. For instance, NOW’s main task this International Women’s Day is to work to get a clean CEDAW passed by the US government; and believe that by getting our government to do so will not only help US women but set an example that will bring more countries into participation and help women the world over.
    btw, I absolutely loved the “Half the Sky” event and fell hopelessly in love with India.Arie’s new song “Lion and a Butterfly”. The panel was full of phenomenal people, and the stories they showed were just as powerful as last year’s event put on by CARE. Now there’s an international organization for women, who’s purpose is to help poor women the world over. Perhaps a donation to them would be a nice way to celebrate today as an individual.

  5. Marc
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Then perhaps NOW has outgrew its purpose as an organization. I am not saying that we do not have issues that need fixing here in America, but the fact is NOW hasn’t focused enough on other feminist issues that are important to this generation of feminists.
    That, alongside the Shelly Mandell/Marcia Pappas incidents proves to me that NOW is living in the past, and until its leaders relinquish power to a new generation of feminist (it had its chance during last year’s NOW elections), it is no longer an organization that can support a variety of women.
    Even in America, when was the last time NOW spoke out on the status of immigrant women, or worked to ensure that reproductive centers are put closer to immigrant-rich areas, to ensure those women get a voice, too? When was the last time NOW took on the problems of race, along with gender, which is clearly a problem it misses, given that its leadership is full of college-educated whites?
    This I know – NOW no longer has my support, and while I will continue to work with my local NOW, National NOW simply isn’t good enough.

  6. sillyrabbittrix
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Marc, 50% of the National NOW officers are young feminists right now. That’s 25% more than it would have been had the other leadership team won. One of those young feminists is an African-American young feminist, as many as would have been on the other slate. So I don’t believe your point on that is as accurate as you expressed it.
    I didn’t make up my mind on who to vote for until I got to the national conference and heard the two slates speak. FLN’s (Feminist Leadership NOW) slate that we now have at national blew the other slate away in those speeches – FLN had concrete goals & objectives with detailed outlines of how they planned to accomplish them. They were passionate and clear on what their platform was. The other slate had an awesome front-runner but the rest of the slate gave dispassionate speeches with little in way of clear objectives or outlines. I am explaining this because I believe this is why many people voted for FLN. Plus, let’s remember, they won by less than a dozen voters! So that also means around 49% of NOW voted for the other slate.
    I am not saying that NOW doesn’t have room to improve. But that also doesn’t mean that all feminist organizations have to be internationally focused (like I said, I believe it would require a complete re-working of the organization to do that, and we are not in a position to do that right now – that takes money and more money). Regarding your intersectionality arguments, I agree they could be doing more. Ending racism, including justice for immigrant women, is one of their top 5 priority issues, and have strong ties in working with organizations like SisterSong (Loretta Ross, btw, has been a NOW member for a very long time).
    But I do agree that I’ve seen far more news, publicity and action alerts on health care reform and reproductive rights over the past year than anything else. These rights DO affect all women of all races, ages, abilities, orientations, et al, however – and I get the feeling that National is pulled pretty tight right now so they may be limiting their focus (I haven’t heard anything about national diversity chairs, which usually drives each of the priority issues of NOW).
    I don’t know about Shelley, but am aware of Marcia’s comments. I understand what you are saying; there are many individuals in NOW who are resistant to change, probably as many as there are individuals who are very much open to it. I guess that’s just more reason why I want to be involved with NOW – to change it for the better, to be one of those young feminists in a leadership position within NOW, to help other intersectional feminists come into the organization, and to represent that progress is possible.
    In my mind, it feels similar to my experience with religion. Although I’m not very religious now, I think back to college when I was. I was a member of UCC, the most liberal Christian denomination there is. However, despite that, there were some conservative members in my church who still didn’t exactly welcome gays (even though the church did) or didn’t like the female pastor as much as the male pastor, etc. But just because there were members of the church who didn’t represent the church’s beliefs or values entirely doesn’t mean I was going to leave the church. I knew what the UCC stood for, I knew what it worked towards & what its goals were in the community. My goals & values aligned with the organization, regardless of what individual members did or thought.
    Anywho, I get as frustrated about individuals and processes as anyone, but I’m there for a reason. I love NOW – I love what it stands for, and its goals align with mine. I’ll keep working to see the organization at its best. I think you should too, Marc.
    Be the change you wish to see, right?

  7. Marc
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I am still working through all the issues at the moment, but you’re right, what’s right with NOW outweighs everything else that is wrong with it.
    I’ll have you know, NOW was my first feminist love – and I find it difficult to part with it – very much so.
    I hope to get more involved with it now that I am back in the States, and perhaps change the climate that I feel is doing a disservice to the organization.
    There are still issues I feel we need to bring up, however, and we’ll do that at National.
    See you in July.
    (And – right on with the UCC – I am a UU myself and although I absolutely love the UCC. If I could believe in a higher power, I’d totally join the UCC. And such cool commericials!)

  8. sillyrabbittrix
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Marc, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and I really hope I get to meet you in July. I plan on being there! (I also think it will be awesome to be in Boston on the 4th of July!) Hopefully we’ll figure out a way to run into each other.

  9. Marc
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh, definitely, I’ll be the guy in a suit sans tie, with a shaved head walking around with a bottle of Tequila. ;)

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