International Women’s Day

As I’ve written about many times before, yesterday was March 8, otherwise known as International Women’s Day.

Instead of my thoughts on the matter, today I’m linking to this wonderful post written by a woman who is working here in Moldova. She does an excellent job of describing what the holiday is like around here.

To her awesome description, I’ll just add a few thoughts:

  • Serenditipitously, the weather was fantastic. Sunny and balmy, about 16 degrees. Wonderful day to be outside and my wife spent most of the day at the park with some family and our dog. Just excellent.
  • Here in Chisinau there was a big free (musical) concert. Since March 8 is a bank holiday (gov’t and most offices closed), people were free to attend in droves.
  • By my estimate, roughly a billion flowers gave up their lives yesterday. It is seriously mandatory for every woman to get flowers, including from their daughters (and granddaughters), not just from the men in their lives. If flowers could speak, March 8 would be known as Apocalypse Day :P

I’m always a little conflicted about March 8. On one hand, it’s wonderful to see that a celebration of women garners a real holiday, where most people get time off from work and women are genuinely feted and honored.

On the other hand, there are almost zero women celebrated in Romanian/Moldovan culture, neither living heroes nor historical ones. The sole woman on the Romanian money is a nameless peasant hefting a barrel of water and here in Chisinau, in the Classics Alley featuring busts of all of the greatest Romanian artists throughout history, there’s not a single woman.

Quick – name a respected or famous Romanian author who is a woman and is not alive today. Bzzzzt! Time’s up.

Eh, what can I say? Once again (surprise, surprise), it’s actually the Russians who contributed the most to a holiday that’s a forthright and non-patronizing celebration of women. Yeah, hate me all you want to but gender equality in the Soviet Union was always far more advanced than in the vaunted “West”.

Hope you and yours had a lovely March 8! :)

9 thoughts on “International Women’s Day

  1. To be fair, Sam, there really aren’t that many women who contributed to our nation before the 19th century. I mean, it’s understandable given that most women were pretty much illiterate and considered useful only as wives, mothers and housekeepers for the biggest part of our history. I really can’t think of any great woman that deserves so much respect as to have a day dedicated to her. I mean, we do have some heroines, or at least famous women that we know and respect, like Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Queen Elisabeth and Queen Mary, but those are pretty much the only ones I can think of. When it comes to literature, Romanian women started writing way after their male counterparts and I can only think about contemporaries like Elena Vulpescu, Elena Farago sau Aurora Liiceanu. That’s pretty much it. It’s not their fault that their contribution is not as big, they just didn’t have enough opportunities , but to demand money with the face of one of them is quite a tall order. Not everyone can be on a bill, this distinction is only for those that are most important, like Eminescu, Nicolae Iorga, Nicolae Grigorescu, George Enescu and Caragiale, which are all emblems of their respective work fields. There are plenty more writers, painters, musicians, poets and so on, in our history, which are also men and deserve recognition and respect, it’s just that those are the most beloved and well-known.
    As for Moldova, you can’t really blame them that they only have men on their bills, because they have only one man, Stefan cel Mare. I swear that they turned him into some kind of demigod, in a strange cult of complete adoration. At this point, I think they are more likely to renounce God, than Saint Stefan. So that’s a completely different story.


    1. I’m smiling because of your comment about Stefan Cel Mare :-D

      I will note however that plenty of women in the medieval era and beyond were writers, leaders and heroes, just never in Orthodox countries. Even Russia’s greatest female monarch was born and raised a German. Makes you think, doesn’t it?


      1. That is completely true! Religion did play an important part in our country’s development, or lack of it. Orthodoxy is a more conservative religion than its western counterpart, Catholicism, which can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. As someone who grew up in the countryside, with a very religious grandmother I went through a lot of different phases in my relationship with religion. As a kid it bored me, as I couldn’t comprehend what it was good for, as a teenager I choose to ignore it, because I had other stuff to worry about, but as a young adult I’m truly fascinated by it. I don’t mean that I’ve suddenly became religious, just that with age I gained more patience and I became a better listener. I’m fascinated by its impact on people, by its history and by its roots. I think it is the most interesting social phenomena in human history and it gives us a better insight on the human nature. I can write entire essays on it, but for now I will just answer your comment, as most of my comments seem to be gigantic. So, back on topic, Orthodoxy, being the conservative religion that it was and still is, had little care for women’s education or emancipation, but, at the same time had less internal struggle and virtually no schisms, unlike its western counterpart. At the same time, religion is usually adopted by people because they agree with its doctrine. The west has soooo many little schismatic churches that I don’t even think we can count, including some that are downright cults, but that’s exactly because the people there are more open to change and to new ideas. Easterners on the other hand have always been more conservative in their views, less ready to change their lifestyle, so Orthodoxy found a place to flourish. If you think about it, religion is a product of certain groups of people, in the middle of whom it develops and grows and in the end, it starts affecting the same group of people that created it. Like in “2001: a space odissey”, religion was a tool found by our ancestors and used for thousands of years, time in which it changes in both shape and nature to satisfy the needs of the constantly evolving humans, until, in the end it goes against them, conditioning them to do what it wants. If Romanians would have been more open minded to change, then our religion would have been different and women would have had another history, but the truth is that it was us who conditioned religion to condition ourselves.


      2. The thing is that we genuinely didn’t have a lot of important women, mostly because we were pretty late to the whole education business. We don’t even have great authors from before 1850. It’s just the way it happened. We were constantly attacked by all of our neighbours and people lived mostly in villages where tradition plays a big part.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The next time Romanian money gets an upgrade, I vote that they add Milita Petrascu, A genuinely talented artist and someone who should be on the 10 lei note instead of a nameless peasant.


      1. You might have to wait a while though. Our shitty BNR governor is set on changing our currency to euro, which I think it would be the worst possible idea, especially given the current situation of the eurozone :(


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