Thursday, March 8, 2012

Women's day: grateful or offended?

March 8th, Women's day, in the '80s, I'm still at high school. The male students collect some money and buy a few bunches of mimosa for the girls. We decide to do the same thing for the female teachers.
Our science teacher appreciates the gift. During a break we place some flowers for our math teacher on her desk. When she enters the room and spots our gift she makes a funny grimace, her face darkens and then, quite upset, she starts to scold us for our bold gesture.
It's the speech of a feminist, a 1968-movement activist who takes offense at being treated like a weak, second-class human being, to whom a special day is dedicated as if it was an apologetic message, good for a hypocritical conscience wash. Moreover, what's the meaning of this gesture of respect if it's only performed once a year? 
In a way I do understand what she means, even though her reaction, considering the context, seems disproportionate and out of place. 
The girls did smile and thank us. My mum was grateful for my dad's gift, as many other women were for their men's ones. Today, many years later, millions of women all over the world congratulate each other, in person or on the social networks. That teacher was a woman as well though, and a very clever and sophisticated one, like many others who share her same opinion.
Does this special day really have a meaning after all? What is it? 
Who is right?

In the photo: feminist demonstration in Paris, March 8th 2008 - by looking4poetry (CC)

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