March 8th marks International Women’s Day; this year’s theme is “Make it Happen!” What does it mean to “make it happen?” There are various examples cropping up today. Google created a doodle to emphasize jobs that had discriminated against women in the past (and present) and our need to recognize equality in all industries.
For me, the theme resonates with the song “Bread and Roses”, best known as the anthem during the Bread and Roses textile strike in Lawrence , MA in 1912. The lyrics are especially inspiring because it is more than personal self-determination and will that can make something positive “happen”. Greater equality is linked to solidarity across all genders. It is not just women fighting for women, but a call for everyone to fight for each other, because in the end, we are all affected by oppression. International Women’s Day I also associate with the motto: “lifting as we climb”– that individual success is only as impactful as the amount of support and success you give to others in turn.
I first heard “Bread and Roses” in undergrad, for it’s my alma mater’s official song and sung during commencement as graduates and alumna carry a laurel wreath through the campus grounds. There is something particularly uplifting to see a line of women across all backgrounds united in song (and inevitably, drawing a chorus from the watching crowd as well). You can listen to a rendition of “Bread and Roses” and read the lyrics below.
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for—but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler—ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
This year, we’re also celebrating IWD with a giveaway sponsored by Corset Story. Readers have a chance to win a prize package containing a pair of their Black Lace Ribbon Arm Warmers and their Steampunk Feather Fascinator. We have two sets we are giving away.
Here are the rules for entering.
1) The giveaway will be open to all followers of Beyond Victoriana worldwide. Participants can enter between now and midnight, EST (-5 UTC) on Saturday, March 14th by commenting on this post with the name of a woman from history that inspires you and why.
2) Participants MUST leave their email address in the comment form.
3) Two (2) winners will be selected on Sunday, March 15th via the Random Number Generator and contacted via email. Those selected will have 24 hours to reply with their mailing address and contact info or else a new pair of winners will be selected.
And that’s it. Have fun folks!
UPDATE: Many congrats to Andrew Aulenback and dinenwen for being the winners of this giveaway!