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.
Every time I start to feel like I am the one that is wrong, women remind me I am not. Erin, when you talk about women who can work toward equality versus those that cannot, I am reminded of why I hold the values the I do and why we do the work we do. We are fighting for all of our sisters. I think about the women on the other side of the world, on the next continent over, in the province beside me, in the town beside me, in the house beside me, being pushed down, figuratively and literally, I cannot help but be mad! I AM MAD! AND I AM ANGRY! We will truck on Erin…
thanks Young Erin. I’m happy happy that we are side by side here. love and riots to you, younger sister.
Ooooh, that IS depressing. I’m sorry Erin.
Seriously, I’m not so much against burlesque per se, but it is NOT an expression of FEMINISM nor does it bear any resemblance to FREEDOM. It is sexually exploitative. Flaunting your sexual availability is NOT what Feminism is about. I mean, good for you and all that individualistic horseshit. But COME ON. Shaking your ass for attention is not progressive or threatening to the Patriarchy in any way! And it makes me so MAD when women say that it is! WAKE UP, sisters!!!
All about ME: The reason I started blogging is because my partner told me that I was getting way too politically riled up 😉 on FB, and that I should take it elsewhere. So I did. And now I have sanity-preserving internet friends like yourself. THANK GODDESS!
And thank YOU for publicizing International Women’s Day. I know it’s politically irresponsible to bury my head in the sand about current events, but it’s all in the name of Emotional Survival. Thank you for reminding me about the holiday!
Thanks, UP. the thing is, too, these women are lesbians, fer cryin’ out loud. you wouldn’t think they would be expressing male-identified sexuality. but, well. That’s the problem when one confuses “choice” with freedom. Sure we have choices. But if we only think of freedom as the choice between burlesque aerobics and pole dancing classes (for instance) we’re not paying proper respect to the women who really tried to sort out where our sexuality was formed, and by whom*. anyhow. I gotta go. Freedom is never achieved individually, it is hard work, (not fun, though often joyful), and we get it by working for the freedom of others, building alliances, taking up public space–insisting on enough for everyone (not too much, either).
i get all wound up, too, UP. sigh.
*(in patriarchy. by men. just so we’re clear)
“Smashing patriarchy one shimmy at a time” = rank foolishness. WILLFUL foolishness, even. Burlesque, pole-dancing, etc., cycle back into faux-edgy empowerfulness every 15 years or so, and people fall for it every time. Even Tucson has a pole-dancing “studio.” I avert my eyes when I drive past it.
oh, I know. i think it’s worse now, but maybe i’m just, um, ‘self-medicating’ less…
WILLFUL foolishness, indeed, Sarah!
Erin, it hurts so much more when the I-Feminist (all about ME and what *I* want!!) is a LESBIAN! Choice, schmoice! Yes, our sexuality is constructed and enforced by The Man. DUH. Giving Him what he wants isn’t radical in any way.