We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Keeping women presentable on International Women’s Day

As you may or may not know, today is International Women’s Day (IWD) – it falls annually on March the 8th. This anniversary is not especially remarked upon in the Western world, yet it is a widely noted event in many of the countries that were closely allied to, had ideologically similar political ideologies to, or constituted the Soviet Union. I am living in China at the moment, and was first reminded of the advent of this year’s IWD by my Vietnamese girlfriend, and then by the Chinese state press. Otherwise, it would have passed me by completely.

I have to say I find it a little amusing that two countries I have spent a fair bit of time in of late – Vietnam and China – so noisily celebrate IWD, considering that women in both countries face considerable and ingrained discrimination, despite the official socialist repudiation of gender inequality. Still, the show must go on and my girlfriend came home from work on the 8th with a gift; the same one that all the women in her company (a large Chinese software firm) received to commemorate IWD. And what was her present? A gift pack of anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner. A lot of women work at this company, so obtaining all that haircare product would have been a substantial purchase. There must have been a conversation in the HR department a few weeks ago that went something like: “I think this Head & Shoulders pack is suitable. I mean, we’re all for equal rights for women, but can we at least ensure that they are not leaving bits of their scalp about the place if they must work with us? Yes, I know, it’s a shame that the deal on the girdles fell through, but there’s always next year…”

8 comments to Keeping women presentable on International Women’s Day

  • It’s a pretty big thing in Russia, national holiday and everything. I had to buy some flowers for my wife, a pink rose from Cairo (flowers are hard to grow on Sakhalin in March) cost $8, so the bunch of five (must be an odd number) cost me $40.

    Bit of a rip-offif you ask me. Next time I’m gonna get my flowers for free. There is a nasty bend on the main road leading out of town where black ice often forms. For some reason there is always a bunch of flowers tied to a tree there, usually fresh, with nobody guarding them or anything. They’re there for the taking. Next year, I’m gonna nab ’em.

    I’m romantic, me.

  • How do we celebrate the women of this world? We should start with our mothers. Those who make us (men and women) who we are today. My mother committed suicide, but I won’t let 5 minutes of madness define what I knew of her. But I still struggle to know who she really was. More on me and my mother on my blog at I slept while my mother died(Link)

  • James: Where in China are you exactly? I may be headed out that way soon, and if I am we must have a beer.

  • Rich

    Men die earlier from disease and occupational illness and as the victims of violence, yet per capita spending on gender specific disease research (e.g. prostate and cervix cancer) is higher for womens diseases. Our boys are leaving school with lower qualifications, and starting salaries amongst graduates are higher amongst women, yet per capita spending on vocational training is higher for women trainees. Under family law reforms introduced by a highly politicised and successful feminist agenda, a whole generation of boys has grown up without fathers – and the suicide rate amongst boys is now 6 times higher than the rate for girls.

    According to WHO statistics (Link), China is the only country in the world in which the suicide rate is higher for women than men. In almost every other country, the per capita suicide rate is 3 to 4 times higher amongst men than women.

    Of course, one can draw many different conclusions from these data, but one thing is clear: you would be a fool to suggest we had an International Men´s day to study (or even raise awareness of) the problems men face in the 21st Century.

  • Eric

    When I was in high school we used to get free packs of toiletries every so often from companies looking to establish brand loyalty. Your girlfriend’s company might not have spent as much as you imagine.

    We don’t celebrate this in the States, because, you know, here every day is Woman’s Day 🙂

    I am somewhat surprised the florists and greeting card people haven’t made a go at creating another obligation for husbands and boyfriends.

  • Hi Michael,

    I’m in Beijing. See your blog…


  • Sunfish

    I am somewhat surprised the florists and greeting card people haven’t made a go at creating another obligation for husbands and boyfriends.

    They don’t dare. Not until they start selling cards and flowers to celebrate March 14th.

  • MlR

    IWD originated as a socialist holiday.

    You expect intelligence?