International Women’s Day
Today, as I’m sure everyone knows, is International Women’s Day. Originally called International Working Women’s Day, IWD began in 1909 in New York and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. Then in 1917 in Petrograd, Russia, a demonstration of women textile workers began over the whole city, and this was the beginning of the Russian revolution. A week later, the Emperor Nicholas II granted women the right to vote, and March 8 was named a national holiday in soviet Russia.
However, until it was adopted by the United Nations in 1975, the day was predominantly celebrated by socialist communities.
History has always fascinated me, and the origins of this holiday are no different. As I read more about it, I discovered that the original protest was the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which is a tag I often look for when searching for vintage. The presence of an ILGWU label often indicates age in a garment, and is the easiest (though not foolproof) way to separate vintage from modern.
It’s amazing to me that the very tag I’m so familiar with has a story intertwined in helping women with equal rights. Because of the ILGWU strike, women got to vote in Russia. Could they even have imagined what that protest would begin? Women all over the world still fight for basic rights still, but at the same time we have come so far!
Vintage Style, Modern Values
It’s always interesting to me to hear of my fellow vintage wearers and their encounters with people who think that because they wear vintage, they must also want to live in that era with those values. It’s such an odd idea to me. While I have often idolized the 1950’s, the corsets, the dresses, the all-American ideal… I wouldn’t want to live in the past. History is fascinating and beautiful, but I’m glad it’s history.
I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I did not have freedom of speech, where I couldn’t have worked the places I worked because I am a woman, where I would possibly have been under the thumb of an oppressive marriage, expected to be seen and not heard, where my sole purpose and value was my ability to birth a child and not much else.
I am sure many people had wonderful lives, married fantastic people, and lived relatively peaceful and good lives back then. But I know there are also things that went on that I can’t even imagine, since I grew up in a country where the growth of basic human rights escalated quickly, where I could vote when I turned of age, where I could have any job I wanted, go to college if I wanted to, where I wasn’t pressured into marriage and told that was my only value.
While I certainly may live a life that is very similar to the ideal all-American 1950’s dream, it’s also so very different. I am a wife and a stay-at-home mother and I love wearing dresses all the time, yes. I cook and clean in our home. I do not work an outside job. All of these things are very 1950’s.
But, while dated values stated that a woman’s duty is to provide a warm meal, to be a little more upbeat (even if we aren’t feeling it), to listen rather than speak, to cater to his personal satisfaction, to keep the children quiet and minimise noise… my husband treats me with every bit of care as I treat him. Sometimes he gets home and I’m not feeling great, or I’ve had a bad day, so he cooks dinner. Sometimes he takes the kids so I can have a quiet moment. He lets me talk about my day every bit as much as I listen to him about his. He prepares the fire to keep us warm, tries to cheer me up, grooms himself in ways that I like.
Perhaps that sort of equality existed then, but it’s certainly not apparent in any documents of the time and from all I can gather, women were still very much to cater to men, and were viewed as objects rather than people.
I don’t want that.
Often I hesitate to post more political/religious thoughts, as I like to keep this blog a safe, happy place. But today I thought it would be apt to share my thoughts on International Women’s Day, on equality, on modern values versus dated ones.
I think especially as a woman with Biblical beliefs as well, I am expected to have dated values. Yet the Bible itself is for equality. Women are to submit to their husbands, yes, but husbands also are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life up for her. I think often the misconception is that Christian wives must just be trampled all over by their husbands, letting themselves basically be a doormat. Much like the misconception that a vintage-wearing gal will want those same vintage doormat values.
But if I submit to a husband who loves me more than his own life, who gives his all to me just as Christ gave His all to the church… that doesn’t make me a doormat. That makes me a woman who discusses our decisions equally with my husband, and trusts that if he makes a decision I don’t agree with, he’s doing it because he cares for me more than life itself. I am thankful every day that God has given me a man who sacrifices a lot for me, who I can turn to in trust with big decisions, and who will protect and provide for us because he puts our needs before his own desires. He empowers me to be a better person, a stronger woman, to work harder towards my dreams, to improve myself every day.
And if I’m wearing a dress, it’s not because I want some dated value and I’m dressing myself for the viewing pleasure of men (husband excepted. I totally dress for him sometimes.) I wear a dress because it makes me feel confident and powerful. I wear this dress because it’s red for women everywhere, and because I wanted to take back a silhouette that often scares me. Because I feel empowered, not hiding body flaws that society tells me are undesirable. Because I want to encourage other mothers not to be ashamed of their post-baby bodies. Because I am working hard towards having a healthy and strong body, and I don’t need to hide it away until I reach some acceptable ideal.
Today I hope that you can celebrate the women in your life, or celebrate yourself as a woman. I hope you find ways to conquer the things that scare you, to feel more confident, to feel empowered. Happy International Women’s Day!
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