mousetail: Sleeping mouse with a pink box (minions)
[personal profile] mousetail

Disclaimer: this post may appear a bit (or a lot) too preachy - that is because it is, well, political and has, um, an agenda :) But don't take it personal for a moment: I don't consider myself in any kind of a position to preach to any of my friends on here. I respect you and your opinions just the way they are. Rather, consider it an exercise in persuasive writing directed towards some unspecified female population. If it does strike a chord for you though - feel free to comment.

I have to make an apology to those who may have expected a traditional 8th of March congratulatory vignette here and never got one. In fact, this is one gift to myself I've given for several years now: not to congratulate anyone on that day and thus celebrate the true meaning of the holiday: the liberation of women. So how's that related? I'll explain.

You see, I grew up in ex-USSR. And ever since it was, well, not ex yet, but very much alive, ever since I can remember myself, 8th of March was the day of stress. Imagine your typical Mother's Day, and then imagine that you owe the same type of attention you'd give your mom - some flowers and a note, at a minimum - to every respected woman in your life: all your relatives. All your teachers. No doubt, your boss. In some instances, your co-workers. If you're smart, your business partners. Yes, if you're a woman yourself, you'll get some goodies too - but the sheer stress and expense of trying not to forget anyone and stretch your finances in the likeness of a shower cap trying to fit a globe makes them seriously not worth it. Ever since I left that area, I celebrate the feminist, liberating spirit of the holiday by not participating in this circus show, besides an obligatory call to family members.

The tradition that I embrace, instead, is Women's History Month (the whole month of March). The month to remember where we've come, what we've accomplished. As it just ended, I happened to ponder why feminist movement has fallen out of favor these days. Some say we've won all we needed and it's time to make love, figuratively speaking (because literally we've never stopped) and not war. Some say feminists won more than most women bargained for. Some say without any real battles to fight feminists have become a caricature to their fore-mothers. I say it is because women had fun fighting for freedom - until they realized it was mostly freedom to give.

Today, we have the right to serve in the military and give lives for our country (and, as recent polls show, majority is now in favor of allowing women in direct combat). To give our time and effort to something else besides our family if we work outside of home. To give ourselves in love to the partner of our choice. Even the coveted freedom over our own finances implies to be used to give - either to charity, or as part of a transaction. Let's face it, we wanted to be able to spend that money :) Yes, it's old news: freedom almost always means more responsibility. It's like growing up: most kids want all that freedom and they roll their eyes when you talk to them about the burdens of being an adult, but we know better, don't we?

I think that we as women 'grew up' into adulthood as citizens and sometimes, some of us anyway, feel nostalgic for the peaceful and carefree times of our social 'childhood' - traditional times. The atrocities of oppression are forgotten as suppressed memories of child abuse. After all, it all happened to someone else, right?

Wrong. It still happens to someone else - and will continue to, as long as we find ourselves too weary to fight any more. I just hope that 'someone else' won't be our daughters one day. I wouldn't want my baby girl to be abused by her teacher because she has special needs and can't report him (still happens today). I don't want her to have to work harder in college so her male classmates could bully her and copy her work (still happens today, to my mother's students). I don't want her to get less birthday money because her mom doesn't get paid as much as her co-workers, or doesn't get deserved promotions as fast (we all know this sometimes still happens - attempted Wal-Mart class action in point).

So let's not become complacent, but I'm not calling for marches of protest either. God knows there's been enough of those already, everywhere. Let's just exercise our freedom, give our passion or time or money to causes that matter to us: even if they have nothing to do with the feminist cause, by the very act of being responsible adults of the society, conscious citizens, we affirm the position of all women, so when some speak out for our kind, in their countries or abroad, their voices will be heard.

P.S. I wouldn't have written this post if the month of March (by pure coincidence) didn't actually turn into a month of giving for me. As many of you did, I gave to Japan disaster relief; I had given a lot of hours to my volunteer job; I contributed to my regular charities (still pending review, as per my New Year's resolutions) and I attempted to give blood, directly on March 8. Regretfully, the military can no longer use my blood - I have been in Germany for too long :(, but that felt like a very appropriate thing to do on such a day. And that got me thinking about the whole 'free to give' idea...

Date: 2011-04-01 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd never heard of the 8th of March holiday... very interesting. I can see where that would cause a ton of pressure!

Have you ever read "Half the Sky"? It discusses how women are sill discriminated against around the world. Lot's of things in there are very hard to read... but it really raises awareness about what still goes on in many places.

If you're looking for an awesome organization to give to, check out the A21 Campaign. They are working to free, rehabilitate, and seek justice for girls who have been trapped and trafficked through Greece. I'm going to be volunteering with them for an awareness event soon. :)

Date: 2011-04-11 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry for my late reply to your comment. With LJ being down so often I first couldn't open this page, and then it was so long I forgot what still needed an answer :)

I looked at A21. Very interesting, but I couldn't figure out, why do they focus on Greece? Is sex trafficking that bad in Greece compared to the rest of the world? When I hear of this problem, I mostly hear Turkey, Africa, India, but Greece? I'm learning something new... But I will make sure to donate to them once I have my regular donations made for this month. I always look at that point if there's some other good cause or great need to give to, so I'll make it A21 this time.

I hope your fundraising for them goes great otherwise. Aren't you going to travel to Greece as well? I remember reading something about that in your LJ...

Date: 2011-04-11 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No worries :)

Essentially Greece is a strategic location because it's a major crossroads between Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, regions where many of these girls are taken from. There's more info to answer your question under the "The Problem" heading on their site. But here's a little of what it says:

Greece is known as 'the centre of trafficking in Europe'7. A primary destination and transit country for human trafficking, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across Greek borders every year. Greece is the primary gateway for trafficked victims to enter the European Union, host to 90% of all EU illegal immigration8. Trafficked victims are moved frequently, both internally and across borders, to evade detection. Human trafficking is a hidden crime here, with most citizens unaware of the gross human rights abuses occurring in their own city. Approximately 20,000 women, including 1 000 girls between the ages of 13-15, remain in the Greek sex industry9. According to The Trafficking in Persons Report, these victims are primarily from Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Nigeria.

And yes, we're going to Greece in a little over two weeks! Actually one of the things we'll be doing while we are there is partnering with A21 to raise awareness! I'm so excited to do something tangible to help!


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