Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Ah Women! What Would We Do Without Them? Putin and Trump on International Women's Day.

It's the International Women's Day which some are rapidly turning into an alternative Mothers' Day (you get flowers!  you get chocolates!)  and away from its actual roots which are to do with demanding improvements in the lives of the millions and millions of women who are second and third class citizens in their own countries, cultures and religions.

It's to demand that laws take rape and domestic violence seriously, to give you just one example of the underlying demand for gender equality.

The purpose of the day is also to highlight women's economic, social political and intellectual achievements*, partly to talk back to the misogynists and those who listen to them.

But the day turns into something quite different in the paws of Vlad "the Impaler" Putin and Donald "the Pussygrabber" Trump.  Here is our Dear Leader, on the International Women's Day:

And here is Vlad:

Dear women: mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives, friends, our nearest and dearest ones, please accept my heartfelt congratulations on International Women’s Day!
You fill this world with beauty and vitality, giving warmth and comfort, cordiality and harmony with your tenderness and generosity of spirit.
You care day and night for your children, grandchildren and your family. Even today, on International Women’s Day, you are still caught up in your routine, working tirelessly, always on time. We often ask ourselves, how do they manage it all?

The messages are almost the same, my sweetings, though Vlad places women firmly in their unpaid care roles inside the family,  while Donny gives a nod to the idea that women might be useful in other jobs, too.   They are both full of awe and respect!  Vlad can't even understand how those overworked women manage to do it all!  But he is grateful for it, especially for not having to do it himself, I guess, and for not having to pay them much in the labor market.

Neither autocrat acknowledges the real purpose of the International Women's Day which in my view  is about the change that is needed.  That's because neither autocrat wants that change, so the plan is to flatter women in general and turn this day into something that Hallmark cards can profit from.  From its original purpose of making women's lives less oppressed on the global level and of raising the respect of women as human beings.

A celebration of status quo is the way I read Putin's and Trump's messages.  If that's the way we are going, then there really should be a widely-celebrated and equally vacuous International Men's Day.


* Examples of the last one can be found here, here, here, here and here.  I have only picked STEM field examples, given that it is the field where the battles rage the hottest.  But there are many other examples that little girls and boys should learn about.