Why I Celebrated International Women’s Day on April 16th
Written by Gabriel Rench on April 24, 2017
This year’s celebration of International Woman’s Day was innovative. On the eighth of last month, women around the world pulled a laid-back version of self-immolation: A Day without a Woman. From strikes in Australia, marches in India, and free museum tickets in Italy (definitely my favorite), to attempts to repeal protections for the unborn in Ireland, this protest took a variety of forms. Sign me up for a trip to Melbourne, because there I can finally cross the streets with pedestrian signs that represent my sex. It is every little girl’s dream and another innovation of March 8th. (See the TIME article here.)
According to PDA, women in America could do three things to set aside the day:
“1. Refraining from work—both paid and unpaid
2. Refraining from shopping in stores and online (exceptions can be made for local small businesses and women-owned businesses that are not part of the #GrabYourWallet boycott)
3. Wearing red—a color of love, revolution, energy, and sacrifice—in solidarity.”
Of course, here the “Day” was not just meant to protest male figures on road signs. Specifically, we were rallying against our new president, against the perceived continuity between his chauvinistic comments and his stand against abortion. Like the Irish celebration, the American one combined—with no sense of conflict—the demand for thousands of little girls’ deaths with the heroic proclamation that we are proud to be women. Lady Macbeth need not have pleaded, “Unsex me here,” had she been born in our time.
The tragedy of this celebration is that it supposedly gives common cause to all kinds of protests with widely differing biblical legitimacy. In China last year, several women known as feminist activists attempted to observe March 8th by spreading information about the predation of women on subways and buses; police preyed upon them as a result. India was another country in which protests targeted sexual violence (see TIME again). American women might wish to observe the day in sympathy with the women of such nations, feeling that their fortunate situations obligate them to draw what attention they can to the problem. Yet to do so in the American context is to associate with a slew of other agendas.
Because of this, I opted for observing Easter instead. After all, it was an unprecedented moment in history when women’s voices were heard.
Women were the first to carry the good news that Jesus lives. Forever, for the rest of history, as the Bible and its message is spread through the world, their testimony is recorded as the first evidence of the living Savior. Yet, if we look at the rabbinical tradition, we realize that this might have been a very new experience for Mary Magdalene and the others. William Lane Craig helpfully collates some excerpts from the rabbinical tradition:
“‘Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women!’ (Sotah 19a) and again: ‘Happy is he whose children are male, but unhappy is he whose children are female!’ (Kiddushin 82b). The daily prayer of every Jewish man included the benediction ‘Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has not created me a woman’ (Berachos 60b)” (Craig 2008, 367).
A very particular right from which women in Jewish society were barred was that of having their testimony taken seriously in court. When Jesus talked with the women in the garden, He ignored the discredit this brought upon the story that would go out of His coming back from the dead. Apparently, He intended His kingdom to operate by different rules than either the Roman empire or the Jewish nation. Fascinatingly, the revolutionary difference of Jesus’ view of women is part of what makes the fact of the resurrection hard to deny.
Thus, on April 16th millions of Christian women celebrated the defense of their rights and dignity and equality with men. We remembered that our voices were heard and—eventually—believed, and that what we said made many rejoice. We told them that Jesus is risen.
Craig, William Lane. 2008. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. 3rd ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.