Why the men of Bogotà will be home tonight.

Why the men of Bogotà will be home tonight.

Why the men of Bogotà will be home tonight.

What the foreign papers are saying.
March 8 2002 2:06 PM

Women's Day—and Night

Tonight in Bogotá, the only men on the streets of the city will be cops, bus drivers, hospital personnel, and guys that work in bars and restaurants. In celebration of International Women's Day, women will enjoy the nightlife while men stay home. According to Toronto's Globe and Mail, last year, during the Colombian capital's first "Women's Night," "[m]urder and traffic-accident rates dropped by 80 per cent." Colombia's El Tiempo reported that 80 percent of Bogotanos support the concept of Women's Night, up from just 54 percent last year.

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In most places, however, if International Women's Day was mentioned at all, it was more in sadness than in celebration. Spain's El Mundo published a smart graphical presentation attacking 14 of the lies women tell themselves. One example: "Prostitutes choose their vocation. They could scrub steps rather than satisfy men's needs." In fact, "Each year half a million women come to Europe in sexual slavery. To pay for their passage, some of the young women working Madrid's Casa de Campo Park do five blow jobs an hour at $5 each."

In Russia, a Moscow Times columnist bemoaned the increasing commercialization of public holidays. In the Soviet era, she said, March 8 was the day "men were supposed to do the chores that women had to do on every other day of the year. … [In fact, women] combined two roles [worker and home-worker], one of which men were supposed to take upon themselves for a single day. However, as a state holiday and a day off, men didn't have to go to work on this day either and often would simply get drunk—thus making them of little use to anybody." In modern Russia, the political underpinnings of this and other Soviet-era holidays have disappeared. "Holidays are supposed to remind us of important events in our history or certain values that unite us. Now that the symbolism has largely been swept away by the commercial and leisure aspects, we often find ourselves pretty hard pressed to explain what we are celebrating for."

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that a coalition of women's groups cooked up a culinary protest against what they see as the Hong Kong's government's failure to address the concerns of lower-income women:

[They] prepared a bowl of soup with bitter melons … fish skeletons, empty chestnuts and crumbling beancurd. They said bitter melon represented the taste government policies—or lack thereof—left in the mouths of lower-class working women and homemakers; the fish skeletons the dire straits faced trying to feed families; meatless chestnuts were the empty words of encouragement from officials; and tofu highlighted the vulnerability of women, unable to bear the pressures of the economic downturn.

June Thomas is managing producer of Slate podcasts.