#thanksfortheflowers but I want respect! - online campaign of Romanian feminist activists

In Romania, March is traditionally a month in which women are celebrated through flowers and gifts. In this context, a group of feminist activists is trying to switch the focus towards the real meaning of The International Women's Day: solidarity, social justice, political representation, economic equality, the fight against discrimination, violence and abuse. 

The activists are organizing an online campaign between 1-8 March, with the message #MultumescPentruFlori dar vreau respect! (#Thanksfortheflowers but I want respect!)

Flowers cannot erase the humiliation, the insults, the fear, the marginalization that many women have to deal with in their day to day life, when they are being asked to stay quiet. When they are asked to play their given roles in silence. When they are being asked to not step outside of a man’s will to whom a life spent together merely means a fight for power. 

Flowers cannot make up for the daily burdens, the unpaid housework, the sleepless nights and the lack of appreciation for women who are constantly blamed when they are not as they should be: true housewives, selfless wives and mothers.

Flowers cannot sweeten up violence. Normalizing violence breeds fear and oppression, in a society where the tradition of violence is “made in heaven” and where the mass-media feeds out of it. Flowers cannot chase away the constant sneering at rape jokes. 

Flowers cannot tame down names given to women such as “whores”, “bitches”, “tramps”, “sluts”, “dolls”, “pussies”. These words must lose their power to create separation between “good” and “bad” women. Being good is merely an illusion to justify violence and oppression. Violence is everywhere and it doesn’t hold itself back. 

Flowers cannot legitimize stereotyping with clichés and identities that hurt, that transform a woman’s body into a sexy sticker or a deformed one, all in a constant quest of dieting, accessorizing, objectification, of Barbie-ing ourselves up. Women are not to be transformed into objects of adoration, gaze and fantasy. 

Flowers cannot cancel the discrimination women face at all levels and throughout all decision structures of the society. Men occupy a wide majority of important decision taking positions in universities, political parties, companies, trade unions and key institutions. 

Flowers cannot glam up or conceal attacks on our reproductive rights. Women bodies are hostages in repressive ideologies and politics (as we have heard many political voices going as far as wanting to sterilize Roma women), as well as in religious speeches that strongly plead for prohibiting abortion. The “Family Coalition” and the “March for Life” are but examples of actions lead against women’s right over their bodies, against their right to choose.

Flowers cannot decrease the social pressure surrounding marriage and maternity. After marriage, women are expected to become mothers otherwise their fate as women is not fulfilled. When they do get pregnant, they risk losing their job. Many women do not have access to free ultrasounds or to decent birth medical care. After they give birth, they are asked to sacrifice for their children, to never complain, to never get depressed. Marriage and maternity dramatically impact women’s lives in ways we do not speak of. 

Flowers cannot push away the humility of marital rape - still a strong taboo in Romania. 

Flowers do not speak of the suffering and drama of women being exploited in factories for salaries that are close to nothing. Nor of the trauma women who have to work abroad face, and they often end up enslaved. Of the uselessness felt by so many women forced to change jobs, to give up on any kind of professional aspiration just to survive. Of the tough reality that lesbian, queer or transgender women deal with, fighting to keep a minimum amount of dignity in front of a homophobic and trans-phobic society that views them as second-hand citizens. 

Flowers do not speak about elder women’s pain, struggling with humiliating incomes after having worked all their lives in precarious conditions. About the anguish single mothers go through to raise their children. About the hardships of women with disabilities. About the hate that Roma women constantly face. About the on-the-edge survival of women suffering of illnesses in a highly dysfunctional health care system.

Flowers do not speak about the marginalization and stigmatization that invisible women face in our society. About the vulnerability of women being trafficked, of homeless women, of all the girls being raped and abused in shelter homes, of the violence faced by sex workers.

We plead therefore for an 8th of March of solidarity between women!

For an 8th of March of respect for women dignity.

For an 8th of March of commitment to creating a law system that no longer tolerates abuse. 

For an 8th of March of liberation out of toxic gender roles. 

For an 8th of March of rights, not of flowers. 

#ThanksfortheFlowers, but I want respect!

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Join our campaign!

Change your profile picture with our logo #multumescpentruflori.

Write a post sharing your experience as a woman. Add the hashtag #multumescpentruflori

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