International Women’s Day
The Appointed Official stepped to the podium and spoke towards the dimensional portal:
“Let me explain to you the importance of International Women’s Day. I have actually proposed the name be changed to ‘Universal Women’s Day,’ to broaden the scope even further — and to reflect our recent change in circumstances.
“The history of this observance dates back more than a century, when women protested to gain the right to vote and to improve working conditions. Progress has been slow, but steady, and everyone agrees we are in much better shape than we were even ten years ago.
“Well, not counting the latest event, of course. This situation isn’t helping anyone.
“I’m reminded of those concurrent protests, dubbed ‘A Day Without Women.’ Around the world on March 8th, female workers declined to show up for their jobs: some schools, lacking sufficient teachers, were forced to close; parents struggled to find daycare for their kids; nursing care suffered as well. Of course, some professions were hit harder than others, but there was a definite impact. Things kind of fell apart, for a day.
“Message received, loud and clear.
“So I’m telling you that you don’t really need to make the point you’re making now. You’ve convinced us. We’ll have flowers for you, boxes and boxes of chocolates. More fancy dinners, and more compliments. You’ll definitely feel more appreciated, which is what we all know this protest is about.”
From the dimensional portal, the Respondent cleared her throat, paused before speaking:
“Are you finished? Because, with all due respect, sir, that’s exactly the attitude we feared from you. It’s the reason we left in the first place. It’s the reason we won’t be coming back.”
She waved a hand, and the portal screen slowly darkened, her image and voice fading, as the Appointed Official wondered what life would be like from now on, wondered how long civilization could remain viable, wondered what it was about his speech, exactly, that had been so terribly wrong.