The practice of giving flowers on Women’s Day in Russia led to a confrontation with pepper spray at a feminist cafe, sparked heated debates, and a macabre organ-severing performance.

A group of men armed with bouquets of tulips entered the Simona café in St. Petersburg – an establishment that prides itself on being male-free for most of the day and serves as headquarters for local feminists a day before the public holiday on March 8.

Despite the protests of the women in the room, the guys – from a conservative youth group – chanted holiday greetings and quickly left. The man filming the action, however, let his prying eye linger a bit too long for the ladies and got pepper sprayed.

While the internet debated who was wrong, and mused over the footage of the guy suffering the effects of the pepper spray, the feminist group organized a staggering response with some support from a naked man. He braved the freezing temperatures to lie on the steps of an iconic wedding palace, all covered in tulips, and with a ‘torn off’ silicone penis.

The sign next to the man read “Your flowers will grow on the grave of patriarchy.” A masked woman next to him held a poster with text that looked gibberish but referred to a popular quote attributed to a medieval Russian prince: “Who comes to us with a sword, dies at a sword.”

David Knight reminds the celebrators of International Women’s Day not to forget about Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan who has been imprisoned for drinking from the community well water, which is blasphemy according to the majority Muslim people of her country.

Many women in Russia gladly accept flowers on March 8, and even expect to receive bouquets. If reactions to the fist video varied from amusement over feminists choosing to reject this gift, to support of their right to kick out the men obviously pulling a stunt, the responding prank touched a nerve.

After all, International Women’s Day is a one of the most popular public holidays in the country where women had the right to vote, work and have abortions before most of their European counterparts, but still hold more traditional views on gender relations.

Some commenters suggested that the feminist group simply lack male attention, while others thought that such extreme man-hating stunts steer debate away from real issues of inequality to simple profanity.

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