Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Well, today was both, International Women's Day and Mardi Gras. Sometimes, two commemorations by chance fall together. I wanted to post a wee essay, and i missed the day's deadline. It was the 100th anniversary of the first Women's Day. Sometimes i find time and energy to write a little stuff; failed for to-day. [so i wrote the rest on 2 April 2011].Actually, this is one of the socialist themed items born in the United States. It was quickly picked up elsewhere, and therefore, officially ignored in the United States. May Day as Labor Day was an American idea. Women's Day, was Working Women's Day. There is a song for it, Bread and Roses. It came from a poem. In the winter of 1912, there was a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The two have been connected ever since.

The multi-national strikers, invited the 'Wobblies', IWW, to come. This was to make national and international news. The strikers opened up a soup kitchen. The moving picket line was invented to prevent arrests for loitering. They sang often. They marched. Some suffragettes saw they could use these tactics to benefit their cause of gaining the vote.
Half of the workers were girls under eighteen. Some Polish women saw their pay was reduced on 11 January. Strike began on "short pay". State police and state militia came in. Beating and clubbing women and children was done quite easily. One woman was shot to death. The strike ended 12 March. Eventually the strike was won, but most of the gains were steadily taken away.

On 4 March 2007 women marched in Tehran, Iran. Police acted similarly. Some people are sill imprisoned.

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!

As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

—James Oppenheim. The American Magazine. December 1911.
All these are [probably] better known abroad. When the short lived white [and democratic, as opposed to the later red and bolshevik] revolution began in Russia in 1917, it began on the day of a women's march for peace and food. The soviets adopted the holiday. In most of eastern Europe it became more of a combination Mother's and Valentine's Day. Russian graphic arts gives it the traditional, national [as opposed to soviet realism] sweetness.

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