My favorite day of the year: March 8th, International Women’s Day.
A UN recognized holiday, it began in the United States in 1909 and is celebrated in many countries throughout the world.
The fact that in so many countries International Women’s Day is celebrated, but to my knowledge not widely in the U.S.(at least not for my generation), where it began, is curious to me . While living in Argentina and now in Spain, I realized it is a widely recognized and known holiday. The only reason I knew about March 8th before moving out of the U.S. for the first time was via feminist organizations I followed.
Celebrating can take many forms; for example, some countries choose to commercialize the holiday and it takes the form of that of Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day in the United States.
Two years ago on that day, I was living in Argentina. My family happened to be visiting, and instead of going to protests I was on a plane to Mendoza, where the flight attendants passed around “FELIZ DIA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER” bookmarks. They were pink with lots of smiley women cartoon characters on it. Everyone looked happy.
Last year, I organized a discussion table on my college campus, where we prompted students to reflect upon the situation of women in the world. We received thoughtful and provocative responses from students. This meant a lot to me, as after returning to the U.S. from Buenos Aires I felt a complete sense of apathy among my peers. It reminded me that, yes, my generation does care!
Not only as a response to the commercialization and trivialization of the day, but also as an opportunity demand equality, many activist groups take to the streets to protest the inequality that women face in the world. Typically, many different topics are made visible, such as health, education and security, with the goal of bringing to light women’s inferior position that still permeates in all societies. For example, there were massive mobilizations in Madrid this 8 de marzo with chants, posters and shirts that included Por la igualdad y contra la violencia hacia las mujeres (For equality and against violence against women) Salarios machistas, no (No Chauvinist Salaries), and Anticonceptivos también para los jóvenes para no abortar (Contraception also for young people in order to not abort).
I love this day. I love protests, I love mobilizations, I love slogans. I love the way people come together in support of a common goal. I love that people, many of whom are silenced, have the chance to express themselves and do their part to hacer politica in their way. I love them so much, that I wrote my undergraduate thesis about feminist movements in Argentina.
So, as you might imagine, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find a group to protest with in Ibiza for this day. I toyed with the idea of starting my own, but later was overwhelmed with the ethical problems of starting a political protest as an outsider.
The day after March 8th, I read in the newspaper that the group Dones Progressistes held a protest in Vara de Rey for International Women’s Day. Beatriz Torreblanca, the president of the group, said during the protest that
en un intento de frivolizar y trivializar este día, algunas personas consideran esta fecha como una especie de San Valentín o un Día de la Madre (in an attempt to frivolize and trivialize this day, some people consider this day as a sort of Valentine’s Day o Mother’s Day)
Following Torreblanca’s criticisms, I did just that. I sold out.
Instead of participating in one of the many protests that took place across Spain, I participated in the the 8 de marc Dia Internacional de La Dona events sponsored by the Ajuntament D’Eivissa, the Consell D’Eivissa and the Casal de Dones.
The events were fun and cheery.
…But nothing political. No mention of women’s inferior status. No mention of political parties, no mention of public policies, no mention of protection of women. It is important to celebrate the positive but considering the need for change in the world, it felt wrong. Trivial, just as Torresblanca said.
Regardless, in my ‘ignorance is bliss state,’ I enjoyed the activities. At least in Ibiza they have activities. Try that in my hometown?
On Saturday, I went to the event “Nit d’humor: Dones Monologuistes amb Sandra Marchena I Belén Rubio.” The two female actresses gave spectacular performances relating to the day. While they weren’t political in nature, the two women craftily exposed the absurdness of being a woman in our society. In different ways, they both talked about expectations, the pressure to be perfect, and the emphasis on romantic love.
I got a big kick out of Rubio’s explicit sexual content, as it breaks stereotypes that women don’t have sexual desire and must be delicate and polite. She even had a ten minute go about a time she tried numerous reduction creams, exercise regimens, and spandex pants to get rid of her cellulite.
However, I was most impressed by Marchena’s stand-up, as her humor and way of storytelling is what makes me laugh the most. I burst out in cackles several times with her creative way of describing being a single woman in a world that puts importance on being in a couple.
For example, she said that in attempt to love herself more, she’s starting calling herself and sending herself love messages. Sometimes, she doesn’t even pick up the phone when she calls herself.
Marchena also recalled a wedding she went to last year where, not knowing where she would fit without a boyfriend, the bride and groom placed her at a table at a completely different wedding.
The next day, I was one of 245 runners to participate in the “III Curasa per la Dona,” a three kilometer race around the port in Ibiza.
For three euros, I got to join the mass of pink shirts that raised funds for the Association of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue in Ibiza and Formentera. It’s not that I don’t think that AFFAC is worthy of the money; but it irks me that the money raised on International Women’s Day didn’t go to any organization that supports women specifically. Seems like an apolitical move. But is it an apolitical day? Should it be? Why is the local government afraid to politicize it?
After the short race, I went with friends to Cala Conta and enjoyed a picnic on the beach. Winter in Ibiza is terrible, isn’t it?
The good news is, I got to be featured in the Diario de Ibiza, I was happy to participate in a community event, and I got to experience International Women’s Day in a new country.
What has your 8 de marzo experience been like? Where have you celebrated it? Tweet at me at @yasminesoyyo!