For women everywhere

They dont have to pay to sweat; they sweat to earn their pay.

Driving to an appointment, I hear an advertiser on the radio announce a 50 per cent discount on Women’s Day for a fitness plan that will make my husband love my curves.

I certainly have acquired a lot of them over time and haven’t heard my husband complaining. I was nonetheless quite amused at the thought that I could become half my size for half the price with the Midas touch!! The thought still rankled that it was my husband’s delight and not mine that they were thinking about. The truth of the matter was: I felt left out of the equation and it was my day! Didn’t the advertiser get it?

Shouldn’t the onus be on the men in our lives to lose their beer bellies, chest hair, football madness, cricket fever, newspaper fetish and all those typical man habits that we so love to hate, to please and pleasure the women in their lives? Sigh! Not a chance...After a hundred odd Women’s Days, it’s still all about the body beautiful, the male gaze and being commercial capital.
 
Clara Zetkin , the braveheart who proposed the idea of an International women’s day for working women the world over, I imagine, is turning over in her grave at the notion of being reduced to a trivial pursuit. She, who the Kaiser called “the most dangerous sorceress in the empire” for her unrelenting fight for women’s rights, would probably baulk at the carnival of delight that the day now represents.
To jog our memories: Women’s Day was instituted in 1911 to commemorate the March 8 uprising of 1857, when scores of women factory workers marched and picketed for dignity of labour and equal working conditions.

The irony of the whole idea was certainly shouting at me through the radio. So while I would be paying to work up a sweat in designer gym wear, shimmying my shoulders to a salsa beat, somewhere in the subcontinent my sisters would be hammering swords into plough shares and carrying their burdens like beasts to their tired and dreamless beds. They don’t have to pay to sweat; they sweat to earn their pay. That thought made me brake in my tracks. I gladly abandoned the dangerous curves ahead, in my road trip to realisation and reality, though they do have a habit of coming back to haunt me. 

Joan Baez saved the day! Like a glow in the dark road sign, her rendition of Bread and Roses, the unofficial Women’s Day anthem, showed me the way ahead: As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead. Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread; Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew –Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for Roses, too.

Fortified, I rise, I rise, I rise! I celebrate being born coloured, woman and gifted! Thanks to our foremothers, we will receive our hothouse roses today but here’s a thought—while we raise our glasses, let us also raise our voices...for our sisters who still struggle for their daily bread.

This Women’s Day - Here’s to Bread and Roses for all women everywhere!

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