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Invisible Women's Day

tresy's picture

What do the Washington Post, the New York Times, the LA Times, the Seattle Times, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Sun-Times, and for all I know every other paper in the US all have in common today? Today is International Women's Day, and not one of the papers covers it--unless you count as "coverage" a story on page A17 of the Washington Post about Bush "celebrating" IWD, with Afghan and Iraqi women as props. From W we learn that democracies flourish when women can vote, preferably under US tutelage, and vice versa. We need look no further than the great state of South Dakota to see this deep truth at work. So, I suppose, there really isn't a "local angle" for the US press on this, and I shouldn't be too critical.

But the US wasn't always such a model of progressivity. In fact, IWD was born out of protests in New York City 149 years ago today, over the brutal working conditions of women in the clothing and textile industries. For this impertinence, the protesters were attacked by police. Later, IWD came to commemorate the 140 women working under sweatshop conditions who perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire because management had locked the fire doors to keep them from taking breaks. But reforms were later implemented, and as Jon Stewart said, "...those problems were never heard from again."

Meanwhile, up here in Canada, every major newspaper gives IWD front-page play; the Globe and Mail also gives IWD its own photo section. I wonder if that attention has something to do with things like the existence of a federal day care program, taxpayer-funded abortions under the Canada Health Act, and a year off for maternity leave? Then again, the gender gap still exists here, with women earning 71% of men, unchanged over 10 years.

I'm sure W. would tell us, standing in front of a backdrop of Afghan women, that the answer is lower taxes.

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