On International Women’s Day

Three Legged Race

So what do they really want?

I just finished watching the morning news on China’s equivalent of CCN , CCTV’s English channel. They showed stories from around Asia on how women were celebrated for International Women’s Day. Bravo to the articulate Pakastani woman who commented on how a “day” for woman was rather silly and her group was working towards 365 (366) days of rights for women domestically and in the public sphere. Then I saw a piece on a program in Jakarta which transports expressed breast milk from working mothers back to their babies’ caregivers.

So what did we do here to celebrate or honor women?

A week ago an email went out asking us women if we wanted to participate in a three-legged race and some other picnic-type games. I passes as these just aren’t my thing even on a sunny balmy day. Also, while I can see this as a fun thing, I just can’t understand how the races honor women. I tried, but I can’t.  It’s not like Chinese women have complete equality so they can sit back and revel in games.

Yesterday’s news reported that in Western China after the revolution women’s wages were 73% more or less compared to men. Now they’re 56%. Talk about a backslide.

Crossover had a program showing the gains women have made since the founding of the PRC. Now, for example, 90% of girls receive at least an elementary school eduction.

Currently according to the 21% of China’s legislative body members are women and they are working towards getting that up to the 30% UN goal. What about the US on that score?

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Before long? How long?

I’m reading E.M. Forster’s Two Cheers for Democracy and was struck by this passage written in 1941 criticizing Virginia Woolf for persisting in her feminism:

In my judgment there is something old-fashioned about this extreme feminism; it dates back to her suffragette youth of the 1910′s, when men kissed girls to distract them from wanting the vote, and very properly provoked her wrath. By the 1930′s she had much less to complain of, and seems to keep on grumbling from habit. She complained, and rightly, that though women today have won admission into the professions and trades they usually encounter a male conspiracy when they try to get to the top. But she did not appreciate that the conspiracy is weakening yearly, and that before long women will be quite as powerful for good or evil as men. She was sensible about the past; about the present she was sometimes unreasonable. However, I speak as a man here, and as an elderly one. The best judges of her feminism are neither elderly men nor even elderly women, but young women. If they, if the students of Fernham, think that it expresses an existent grievance, they are right.

Seventy years later it’s still an existent grievance. Forster had more hope for speedy change than I have.

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