Happy women’s day! –but what is this for?

Our big boss who’s in a Mekong Delta trip right now told us that flowers are filling the streets of Vietnam as men get these for women since it’s women’s day today.

What’s this international women’s day for?

Different organizations have different themes, just as how different schools and discourses of feminism define a woman or how to empower women. Early French theorists bank on the idea of sensuality as the source of women’s power, that is, having the women’s body as the corporeal ground of women’s intelligence, like in literary metaphors of maternity such as gestation, labor, and delivery. In other words, the woman’s body could actually be a source of imagery and inspiration in a woman’s narrative.

[box] Some feminists on the radical side, however, espouse the idea of building a world devoid of anything phallogocentric or phallic or any male-dominated concepts–it’s a woman’s world! no to bra (a symbol of women-as-sex-objects), no to “man” in “woman nor “his” in “history,” no to theoretical discourses penned by male thinkers (who, by the way, dominate the entire history of thought in all areas of study).[/box]

Whenever I discuss the varied feminist thoughts with passion and elaborate feminist notions before, students would ask me if I’m a feminist. I always tell them that I only know the theories because I studied them, but I don’t call myself a feminist precisely because of political associations and the competing schools of feminism–some of which I agree with, some I don’t, even if I’m a woman myself. Gender studies, I believe, have overtaken women’s studies in breadth and depth, in terms of theories and discourses as some feminist studies tend to be essentialists, which means, theorists define women essentially as this and that–when in fact, one can hardly tell the essence of being a woman.

What makes one woman a woman may not apply to all women, or what can empower one woman of a certain generation in a certain country may not empower another woman from a different place.

This is where culture and history specific gender studies come in. But that’s another theory. It’s women’s day.

For this year, here’s a list of themes for the international women’s day:

– Global, United Nations: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls
– Canada, Status of Women (Federal Gov): Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality
– Australia, UNIFEM: Unite to End Violence Against Women
– Australia, Queensland Government Office for Women: Our Women, Our State
– Australia, WA Department for Communities: Sharing the Caring for the Future
– UK, Doncaster Council: Women’s Voices and Influence
– UK, Welsh Assembly Government: Bridging the Generational Gap
– UK, Accenture: Stretch Yourself: Achieving 50:50 in the boardroom by 2020
– USA, IBM: Women@IBM: Success in the Globally Integrated Enterprise


Sometimes, I don’t quite like the idea of romanticizing women’s day or women’s power or women whatever, but issues of rape and prevailing stereotypes on women nowadays remind me once in a while that people need to be reminded that we are no longer living in the old days when women are not allowed to study in universities or participate in elections or take top corporate positions.

And so for the women who are still under the claws of oppression, fight. I’ve experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, and other  forms of oppression linked to my being a girl/a lady/ a woman, but I learned how to voice it out and do something about it.

Shucks, I sound like a feminist now.

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alex jordan
alex jordan
12 years ago


12 years ago
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