It’s International Women’s Day.
Are we free yet?
99 years ago, near the end of March, 1911, 146 women died in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
Their deaths were entirely preventable.
The doors out were locked. some jumped from the flames to their deaths on the pavement nine stories below. The fire fighters hoses could not reach to the top of the building where the women were clustered at the windows, swaying on the fire ‘escape’, standing on the ledges. Some died of smoke inhalation. Some were burned to death. Murdered by Patriarchy, Imperialism and Capitalism.
Since then, International Women’s Day is a day to both celebrate the work and achievements of women, and to agitate for more. To sing as we take to the streets, “Bread and Roses” and remind each other and the men in power that we all deserve, as Emma Goldman said, “… freedom, the right to self expression, and everyone’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”
this is, or should be, a day where women come together in our daily work toward freedom, and dare to raise our voices together. Every day should be like that for us, we should all be so lucky as to work daily toward freedom. Most of us cannot. most of us have to work to pay the rent, to put food on the table, to take care of those basics. and we can’t even look up to imagine freedom, let alone work for it.
then there are those who have some space, we’re born in North America. We’re from European ancestors, and we have white skin. we have university educations or we have work that pays us nearly what we’re worth and we’ve got some time to ourselves. We can look up, we can imagine freedom, we can use the gifts we have, the privileges we have not earned, to make room and get out of the way. To work for the freedom of others.
Today on Crackbook, I saw a status update of one of my crackbook friends. She was going to celebrate International Women’s Day by going to burlesque aerobics. “Smashing patriarchy one shimmy at a time” she said. “Femmes of the world unite!” she wrote.
Lord, take me now.
I am nearly speechless with disgust. Since when is performing some male fantasy of women’s sexuality a form of rebellion? you can’t fucking smash patriarchy by pole dancing and shimmying. that is NOT revolution, that’s just plain revolting.
oh, and were i to say anything, i’d be fucking ‘anti-sex’ and ‘anti-choice’ and a prude and all that. okay. is that all ya got? bring it. sure. sure i’m all that. this is NOT what Emma meant when she said, “freedom of expression and beautiful, radiant things”. Those are sequins and that’s trashy glitter, it isn’t radiance and it’s fucking tacky, it’s not beautiful.
The doors are not locked for her, or her friends. That shit trivializes the story of International Women’s Day. Those 146 women, mostly young, mostly immigrants, all poor–they died for this?? The women who fought for decent working conditions, wages, opportunities for factory workers and immigrants–they fought to be taken seriously. Shimmying away the patriarchy wasn’t a strategy they would have thought had merit, I’m pretty sure. fuckin’ fuck.
See what happens, I can’t even articulate, i’m so mad and disappointed, all i can do is spew insults. gah.
this has been a bit disappointing,this IWD. where’s the bread? the heavy dark loaves full of bird seed and goodness. and where are the roses? Or at least the brave little crocuses that turn their purple and yellow and white blossoms up to the rainy early spring sky…
it was a beautiful day here. but the Glorious Revolution felt far away. I did sing a verse of “Bread and Roses” in the transition house today. It sure wasn’t like the old days, the days of rallies and marches and book fairs and speeches–followed by a women-only dance. That’s Women-Only Dance. Not fucking ‘burlesque aerobics’. And when i saw all those comments about that woman’s plan to attend said aerobics, I felt lonely. I heard a sound like the hiss of air leaking from a tire.
i’m trying to think of it as just a bump in the road to freedom though, a little bump and grind. We can just go on ahead without them.
We are not yet free.