International Women’s Day was formerly celebrated only by the USSR and in the countries known as ‘people’s democracies’. In the 1960s it even became an official holiday in the Soviet Union. As far as I remember, it was the only purely women’s festival. The rest of the holidays were mainly for men – ‘revolutionary’, ‘military’, ‘party’, and ‘public’. True, Soviet women were accorded equal rights with men much earlier than their counterparts in the USA and Western Europe. In France, for instance, women were granted the right to vote in elections only after the Second World War, and abortion was legalised as late as 1975. In Russia women could freely marry and divorce from the earliest days of the Soviet period. Abortion on demand became legal as well. And the ideology of ‘free love’, which has been promoted in the West since the sixties, was a norm in Russia as early as the twenties.
Today International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world, yet in different ways. In Russia it still retains its, so to say, Soviet spirit: ladies are given flowers and parties are organised. But you will not find anything of this in the West because feminism has in some way belittled and depreciated these traditions. Modern young women view them as something inappropriate. They don’t want to be honoured only once a year and then to be forgotten. For them ‘women’s equality’ means to be like men in all things: the right to serve in the army, to drive trucks, to work as a firefighter, to participate in boxing and to play football.
So, sometimes I am not sure if I should greet women on this day or not. After all, if you do it, you put yourself at risk of being called a phallocrat [one who imposes or advocates a society which is dominated by men]!
Despite all this, I will have courage to say:
Happy International Women’s Day, dear ladies!