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Raise a clenched fist to International Women's Day

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By Raymond G. TaylorPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - March 2024
Second World War propaganda image adopted by 1980s feminists

Not for me to say what International Women's Day should be or what it should celebrate. I only say what it used to be, what it started out as, in the melting pot of European and American red revolutionary movements of the early 20th century.

If you want the details, you can use Wikipedia and other web resources as easily as I can. But why bother? You might not care about the history of international women's day. You may be happy to celebrate it in whatever modern form you find appealing. You may not celebrate it at all, perhaps seeing it as yet another day in a celebrations calendar that has a special day for just about everything. Or you might just find history boring.

This article makes no comparison between IWD and dragons, and will not be entered into the "The Dragon Beside Me" challenge - the daftest thing so far launched by Vocal.

As a subject, history can seem a little boring at times. Dates, events, world leaders, wars, statutes and laws. What does it matter anyway? More importantly, history can sometimes be an uncomfortable place to be. Consider the Civil War era, for instance, and try discussing that without having to stumble over the issue of slavery, its abolition and aftermath. Look at pretty much any era in British History and you will find the subject is inextricably linked to the rise and fall of the dreaded British Empire, when Englishmen (and sometimes Scots, Irish and Welsh) travelled the globe stealing land, natural resources and killing, or enslaving, anyone who got in the way.

When it comes to the history of International Women's Day, the picture is even more uncomfortable than the history of modern slavery. Not that IWD was at any time an enslaver of people, expropriator of their land nor a ruler of the waves. No, not that. The origins of IWD were in the workers' rebellions and revolutions of early 20th Century Europe and America. The founders and forerunners of IWD were all mostly communists, socialists and assorted revolutionaries. This is perhaps why the image of IWD has been sanitized, modernized, and all of the angry stuff replaced by something a whole lot fluffier.

The earliest version reported was a "Women's Day" organized by the Socialist Party of America in New York City on February 28, 1909. This inspired German delegates at the 1910 International Socialist Women's Conference to propose "a special Women's Day" be organized annually, albeit with no set date; the following year saw the first demonstrations and commemorations of International Women's Day across Europe. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, IWD was made a national holiday on March 8; it was subsequently celebrated on that date by the socialist movement and communist countries. The holiday was associated with far-left movements and governments until its adoption by the global feminist movement in the late 1960s. IWD became a mainstream global holiday following its promotion by the United Nations in 1977 (Wikipedia, emphasis added by author).

As the Wikipedia quote above indicates, the color of IWD, before 1977, was undeniably blood red. The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2024 is "Inspire Inclusion." These days, the exhortation from the official IWD website is not about fighting for rights, is not about being militant, making demands of government and employers, it is about smiley people getting together and talking about inclusion. These days, if you say anything in support of IWD or its objectives, nobody is going to call you a communist.

IWD website

The image above, from the official IWD website, shows five people making a heart symbol with their hands. Let's all love each other, the image suggests. Oddly (one would think) the image has three men and only two women. I can't think why. Likewise I am not sure why all three men have beards. Are the five people photographed meant to represent inclusion? It is not clear. One thing is clear, and that is that there is no obvious rebellion. No demand for equal rights. No rallying cry. Even the WWII propaganda image of a woman war production worker flexing her bicep suggests a stronger feminist interpretation of IWD. Then again, I did say that it is not for me to say what International Women's Day should be or what it should celebrate.

I only know that when I think of International Women's Day I think of the heroes of the early days of the 20th century, the days of fighting for women's rights. The days when women supporters of a woman's right to vote (or any other right) were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. I think of the women who suffered and died championing women's rights, along with any men who supported them. Women who are well known to history and those who's names are long forgotten.

You can be sure that, in celebrating International Women's Day, you will not see me posing with a group of smiley, happy people, showing a hand-heart symbol, and generally being nice. No, I shall be raising a fist in salute to those women of the past and present who by choice or because they have none, fight for their and other women's rights.

Raise a clenched fist salute to International Women's Day!

World HistoryModern

About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Comments (19)

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  • Ahmedabout 8 hours ago

    Like it

  • Sivaraman Mabout a month ago

    https://vocal.media/history/history-of-kodaikanal support me comment like subscribe

  • Rebekah Crawleyabout a month ago

    Raising my clenched fist right back! glad I'm not the only one who was confused by the dragon thing too haha

  • LASZLO SLEZAKabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Leslie Writesabout a month ago

    Oh dang! Thank you for this frank discussion. It seems that this tactic has also been used to dilute the message of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. her in the US and no doubt others Globally as well. They want us to think the fight is over. Problem solved. Total bullshit!

  • Kayleigh Fraser ✨about a month ago

    Thanks for sharing this and congrats on top story 😇🤍

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    This is me raising a clenched fist salute! Also, just curious, why do you feel that The Dragon Beside Me challenge is the daftest challenge ever? Anyway, congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Kageno Hoshinoabout a month ago

    Nice work

  • A. J. Schoenfeldabout a month ago

    Nicely written. I love a little history lesson.

  • Thee & me both, Raymond. I do like the fact that both communism & the modern day Republican Party (which looks nothing like the GOP of old) are both associated with the color red. Then again, both are also associated with autocrats & tyranny these days.

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    Excellent work and well appreciated, Ray! the last paragraph felt like the words of a victory march! Loved it!!! Congrats!

  • Natasha Collazoabout a month ago

    Well, that didn't take long! Back to say congrats :)

  • Josh Jessalynabout a month ago

    Want To Earn more than "Join us for as1 remote work fun! We're inviting you to join our team online. We'll use technology to work together, even if we're far away. Let's be creative and successful from our homes.... See Here For More Details.......... W­w­w.M­o­n­e­y­P­a­y­1.c­o­m

  • Pat pafabout a month ago

    Women are great

  • Mark Grahamabout a month ago

    Some interesting facts you have shared.

  • Heather Hublerabout a month ago

    Wonderful! I ran across your piece as I was looking to repost my poem for IWD and Women's History month from last year :) Fist raised!

  • Natasha Collazoabout a month ago

    Heart-hands and Clenched fist to your beautiful tribute. I love the image above of the woman lol Great Job

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