I don’t like how the concept of “Women’s Day”, be it “International Women’s Day” or “Vietnamese Women’s Day” is materialized. This day, in 1930, the Vietnam Women’s Union was founded, and probably many women’s rights got approval after this point. It is a day to celebrate women’s empowerment, not a day to buy expensive flowers, send cards and text messages with empty words, spend money on a feast with co-workers, or go out for a drink.
Yesterday when I drove on my little bike at around 9.30, there were still people, exhausted but still hopeful, trying to sell their roses on Ba Trieu Street. This day is not for them. Actually, it is only for a very small number of people who have a good life in the cities. For the majority of Vietnamese women, October 20 doesn’t mean flowers or good words (even if they are empty). There are no acts of appreciation. They will work just as hard as any other days. Their husbands and children will demand their attention and care, just as much as any other days. This day is not for them. It is simply not.
A day like this can be dangerous. Because it gives the most advantaged women, those who are educated, in a position to act, with power and voices a chance to be praised. It gives the most educated and socially conscious men an opportunity to fulfill their roles at face value. But indeed, the way this day is celebrated is so dangerous, because it lures the most potential agents for changes into hallucination. Men accomplish their responsibilities and women satisfy with being appreciated!
Those who need appreciation, equality and empowerment the most, sadly but forever true, are also those whose voice is never loud enough to be heard or maybe they never really consider themselves worth listening.
So, how would I like to see a Vietnamese’s Women Day celebrated? Maybe a decree for women’s right is passed, a shelter and support centre for women is open, a good story about a good woman is shared. There can be many ways, just not the bustling crowd looking for fun and the sad ending for so many beautiful flowers in green trash cans the next morning. The mere sight of this superficial result of all celebration is enough to render every nice word hollow.
I don’t need a specific day to be told it’s good to be a woman. If you want me to know it, you can say so any other day. But on this special day, if you want to really appreciate a Vietnamese woman, read something like this, then you will understand why I seem so easy to frustrate sometimes.