"Ladies First" - International Women’s Day holiday, March 8.
International Women’s Day holiday, March 8.
Celebrated all day and on into the evening in homes, schools, offices, bars, restaurants, park benches and marshrutkas across town! Many foreigners who are new to life in Ukraine initially find it difficult to grasp the importance of International Women’s Day and struggle to understand the relationship of the holiday to the unorthodox sexual politics of the post-Soviet world. For those among the expat community who have been raised in a staunchly post-modern feminist environment, the holiday can actually seem anachronistic at best and offensively patronizing at worst, and its annual arrival generally sparks knowing grins and the odd catty remark from contemptuous expat PC puritans. However, such moral posturing simply misses the point of what is one of the most unashamedly kitsch celebrations of femininity in the modern world. The holiday actually traces its roots to the high hopes and complete lack of irony which characterized the rise of international socialism at the beginning of the 20th century. It has remained on the calendar (in various guises) in a number of European countries, but it is only in the former Soviet Union that the holiday remains one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Few former republics greet the annual 8 March celebrations as lustily as the denizens of Ukraine, a land where the subject of the country’s womenfolk is one of the few things all citizens can seemingly agree on.
Ukraine has always been a land famed for the charms and talents of its ladies – whether it is in the writings of 19th century Lemberg literary deviant Leopold von Sacher-Masoch or the immortal lines of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in ‘Back in the USSR’, few have been left indifferent by the particular appeal of Ukrainian femininity.
Today’s Ukraine offers up plenty of examples of the unique manner in which local ladies are able to embrace the type of provocative dress and behaviour which are all too often portrayed as objectifying by snooty Western prigs obsessed with their own dirty minds, while still oozing the kind of self-confidence and dynamism that great nationsare made of. Although she did not make it to the president’s office in the recent presidential elections, the iconic and always immaculate Yulia Tymoshenko is the perfect example of the all-conquering yet impossibly feminine Ukrainian take on the female of the species. However, International Women’s Day is about far more than merephysical attraction and is an opportunity to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the women in your life! Make sure you get flowers for all those close to you or you may live to regret it!