Tuesday, March 08, 2016

International Women's Day 2016

Happy International Women's Day!  I want all of you to have chocolate in its honor or whatever best fuels your engines, because a fairer world is ultimately better for everybody.

These types of "celebratory" days are funny.  Take Mothers' Day.  It was created as a political day, but fairly soon was emasculated (!!!) or tamed and turned into a celebration of the myth of motherhood and of traditional division of gender in child-rearing.

This is happening to the International Women's Day, too.  In some countries women now get flowers or chocolate on that day!  Like the Secretaries' Day.  And some stupid bloggers start their posts on that day by wishing their readers "Happy International Women's Day!"

But the day was originally meant to highlight all the different ways the world treats women and girls badly, just because they are women and girls.*

And that should still be its purpose:  to increase awareness of what still needs to be changed so that no family will sit silent and bitter after hearing that the new baby just born into it is a girl, so that no little girl is married off before she even menstruates because that's the best alternative in how to manage these unwanted types of children in the striving for a son*,  so that women are not put into boxes of social norms and rules so small that they cannot breathe, so that religions and customs are not allowed to treat women as utensils (forks, knives, spoons), of value only in how they can be used and manipulated by others.

So what are the news I should cover on this day?  There are many important topics:  The child brides of Africa, the treatment (and relative scarcity) of women among the refugees flowing to Europe, the American struggle to maintain reproductive choice in the face of Republican opposition, the ubiquity of sexual violence in many countries and so on.

But rather than address any of those (time and space are limited), I wish to offer you one single example, a very minor one, but one which for me crystallizes both the underlying nature of the struggle women face and the way that struggle is resisted and turned into something quite different.

It comes from Russia and has to do with the new Russian blasphemy law:

Viktor Krasnov, who wrote, "There is no God," on the social network VKontakte in 2014, is on trial in Stavropol, in southern Russia. He is being prosecuted under a controversial 2013 law, known as Article 148, that criminalizes acts that insult people's religious feelings and beliefs, his lawyer, Andrei Sabinin, told Agence France-Presse. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison or a fine of 300,000 rubles ($4,065).
Krasnov told Svoboda he posted his Internet comments after Dmitry Burnyashev and Alexander Kravtsov suggested that women were inferior to men at home. 
Burnyashev and Kravtsov later reported Krasnov to the police, saying he "insulted their religious feelings," according to Radio Free Europe. The online discussion still exists on VKontakte but Krasnov's comments have been deleted.

Bolds are mine.

It's worth noting that the 2013 blasphemy law:

...was introduced after female band Pussy Riot performed a "punk prayer" in the main Russian Orthodox church in Moscow, calling on the Virgin Mary to "drive Putin away," in February 2012.
This case reflects the authoritarian aspect of Putin's administration and the power of the Orthodox Church in Russia.  But on a deeper level it shows how religion is used to keep women oppressed.


* When I typed in these two sentences, the goddess stuck out her long fore-fingers and kept changing the "just" in the first sentence into lust, then must, then lust again.  Now let your inner Freudian out on that one!  Or on the fact that in the second sentence she insisted that "son" should be spelled as "sun!"