A few nights ago, after putting the baby to bed, I watched The L-Word, then lay on the sofa and read Jennifer Baumgardner's excellent new book, Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics, which quotes veteran Second Wave feminist and writer Alix Kates Shulman on how relations between the sexes have improved since the fifties and sixties. "It's so different nowadays that it's almost impossible for someone like you to comprehend," Shulman tells Baumgardner. Drinking a glass of Cabernet while my husband made dinner, I had to agree.
It's International Women's Day, so let's give the global feminist movement props for the progress that women have made in recent decades. It's also a good time to call attention to the considerable work that remains. Two sobering reports released yesterday bear witness to some horrifying realities. Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq, written by Yifat Susskind, communications director of MADRE, a women's human rights organization, shows that women in Iraq are being exposed to "unprecedented levels" of assault, honor killings, and other forms of gender-based violence. Another report, released by a coalition called Women Won't Wait, finds that international agencies -- the U.S. President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief, Global Fund, UN AIDS and others -- are failing to address the relationship between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV.
So, both celebration and protest are in order this International Women's Day, and you can find festivities and political actions here (at this writing, over 422 events in 41 different countries).