International Women’s Day — Empowering or entertaining?

Perhaps the UN instituted International Women’s Day in 1975 with good intentions, especially as it was done at a time when the Feminist Movement was at its height in the west. But back then it had been a world body with at least some credibility and token authority over global matters. It doesn’t have even that fig leaf to hide behind after nearly half a century of bumbling along, as it is reduced to defending obscure individuals who are being investigated for financial irregularities in their country.

This venerable organisation has declared sundry other Days, which include an International Widows Day, World Drowning Prevention Day, World Breastfeeding Week and so on. Though this last one could have been cancelled since, by feminists, for whom breastfeeding is supposedly discriminatory against women.

But this post is not about the UN, or the silly ‘Days’, but about the International Women’s Day, and whether or not it is helping the really oppressed women in real time.

Initially, IWD was observed with stated objectives, many of which also found fruition. Then it slid into a commercially sponsored celebration, setting a precedent for the others succeeding it, with companies selling cards, chocolates, flowers and more. Over the years, however, it has become an international tamasha, metamorphosing into yet another industry — with, you guessed it – Ego-activists entering the fray!  

Why are you cribbing, you ask? After all the Lakshmis, Padma ammas, Parvati bais and Munnis also are affected, aren’t they? They certainly are — don’t they have to come an hour early on International Women’s Day to complete the housework, so that their mistresses are in time for their seminars and celebrations? After all, it is for them that the ladies are fighting, aren’t they?

Come to think of it, have you ever seen any Lakshmi Bai or Munni celebrating Women’s Day? They too busy being real life women, working under bad conditions at work and home, to even know about a day dedicated to their sex. What was meant as a tool to make their life better has deteriorated into an annual socialite jamboree.

‘Don’t they have any rights? Or are they so empowered that they don’t need any more ‘empowerment?’

I get a dirty look.

‘But they have their own International Day for Rural Women,’ the lady scornfully points out, tossing her L’Oreal coloured hair. But of course!

If women are supposedly fighting for their rights and ‘celebrating’ womanhood, can the men be left behind? After all, the new man is the ‘supportive’ other half, isn’t he? So, they scramble to avoid being seen as ‘toxic males’ and get ‘cancelled’ in the process. They splash their SM walls with Women’s Day wishes, sharing soppy forwards serenading the women in their lives. Of course, the really toxic males sneakily join the bandwagon too, to appear as ideal specimens of their gender, never mind what their behaviour is behind the four walls of their homes.

Talking of genders, how can we restrict it to just a Women’s Day or Men’s Day, when there are so many genders out there? Just imagine the yearlong festivities with the 70+ genders already created and promises of more to come — all with their unique pronouns. Is the venerable UN going to institute a day for each of them? If not, isn’t that discriminatory? After all, there is an Anti-Discrimination Day sanctioned by the august body itself, isn’t there? Perhaps they are already there, unknown to me, a mere woman, and not the member of one of those exotic genders.

Coming back to IWD, I can’t but think of our great-grandmothers and grandmothers who, without stepping out of the house or getting an education of the modern kind, quietly controlled the entire family — sometimes even the extended joint family, hold the purse-strings and keep the menfolk in their places without resorting to holding placards or shouting slogans or demanding an international ‘Day’ to celebrate their womanhood and empowerment. Do we even need the UN to dedicate a day for us, when it has a huge chunk of womanhood on its hands who are being oppressed globally, to empower and liberate?

Let me confess that I too had been a great votary of the International Women’s Day myself, since mine was perhaps the first generation to be carried away by the euphoria of the western idea of ‘Women’s Liberation’. (Read the posts here, here and here). It didn’t take too long for me and many of my generation to understand that it was such a western concept that it could never work for the average Indian woman grappling with oppression of a different kind altogether, and who never came under their radar. They still don’t, which is why the entire Women’s Day brouhaha is a big sham. All these women’s groups just end up demanding silly rights for already empowered women, totally ignoring the deserving, invisible average woman of all religions and the Parvati bais mentioned above.

They selectively pick their targets and whitewash other groups that need targeting and correcting. You guessed right. It is Brahminical patriarchy that is to blame for everything, never mind that an entire community of women are the worst oppressed ones globally with discriminatory laws impinging on their personal freedom. Oh, but it is dangerous to even mention their plight. Who wants to risk losing their limbs or lives, or get ‘cancelled’ by big tech and the illiberal ‘Liberals’? So, just turn an oppressive symbol into an ‘empowering’ one and glorify the oppression. That is how today all the high-profile socialites, elitist ‘journalists’ and ‘agenda-driven intellectuals’ are fighting to cover up their sisters from head to toe, telling them it is an ‘empowering’ symbol! I had better stop before the cancel squad descends on me. But then, isn’t what I write on my blog ‘My choice’, that is, if I qualify for the claiming my choice?

As if to underline what a sham these ‘Days’ are, we have a set of unofficial silly ones that have come up in the west with designated days and social media trends. And like faithful puppies, Indians are adopting them to join the global fools’ club. Check it out if you are in the mood to celebrate any of them: (Link)

  • National Mosquito Day (July 23)
  • National Underwear Day (August 5)
  • National Blame someone else Day (August 13)
  • National Kiss and make up Day (August 25)
  • National Make up your mind Day (December 31)

I am sorry for letting go, but the “Women’s Day” wishes and forwards that I got this morning just got to me and I couldn’t stop snarling 🙂

Images: https://www.shutterstock.com/ https://www.quora.com/

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