Women’s Day in Russia

It’s interesting to read the torrent of posts about Women’s Day (yesterday) on russian livejournals; women’s day is much, much bigger in the former USSR.

So here are a few picture posts (since they require less translation). A-list blogger Warsh posts a woman working in Jammu (India) (text: ‘Not everybody is celebrating 8 March’). Then there is snark (titled ‘onwards to gender equality’; I believe it was taken, during protests against the presidential election). I can’t figure out the message behind this, but it’s an awesome image (and crying out to be made into an icon). And here is a banner (text: “Flowers today…shackles every day?”).

That last is part of pretty general feminist irritation about how significant and toothless women’s day has become in Russia. It has been sanitised into giving women flowers and cards, with many people barely thinking about feminism or inequality. So a lot of feminists have been grumbling online that March 8 should be about feminism rather than a way to sell greetings cards – this was apparently also a big theme of the women’s day marches in Russia.

Here is one post nice enough to translate in full:

“I finished Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ – on March 7. It’s a very interesting novel, read against the backdrop of International Women’s Day

Suddenly I clearly understood the meaning of the holiday. I always felt that I understood, but Tolstoy revealed it much more clearly. His book is not about love, as I thought before, but about March 8 – or rather about how things were before this momentous day. About how women were completely dependent on men. I mentally advised Anna Karenina what to do, but then I realised that all my advice was only suitable for the present time. There was nothing she could do. Now all women may not notice it, but it is a shame that there are no women like her. I think women have achieved a great deal, but now they need to look back and learn from the disempowered womanhood of of their precursor.”

Incidentally, Global Voices has a fairly constant stream of interesting posts about gender. Recently: protests in Iran against sex-segregated university classes, a feminist poetry competition, a roundup of women’s day events in latin america, the impact of dowries in Pakistan.

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