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#InternationalWomensDay Pisses Me Off ! Here’s Why. #WhatWomenWant

By 08/03/2016March 8th, 2018photography, thoughts
If 8th March is Women's day and March is women's month, what about the other 364 days, and the other 11 months? Are they not women's days and months?

International Women’s Day

First thing this morning, I was wished Happy Women’s Day. Instead of making me smile, each subsequent wish poured in via various Twitter hashtags and  Whatsapp and Facebook groups, complete with definitions of women sent me into a slow-spiraling paroxysm of anger. Here are a few sample definitions:

“A beautiful woman draws strength from trouble, smiles during distress, and grows stronger with prayers and hope.” This, accompanied with flowers and the silhouette of a barbie doll.

“Women are amazing. She can put a smile on her face, act like everything is fine. When in reality, the world is on her shoulder and her life is slipping through the cracks of her fingers.

Aha. Thanks for telling me what makes an ideal woman: someone who smiles during distress and pretends as if nothing is wrong. Really? Is that what an ideal woman is like? Not a woman who meets the distress head on, gets everyone to help as needed, and acts like an adult, self-respecting person, not a martyr-syndrome marionette? Facing troubles with a smile all by herself is what makes a woman beautiful (represented by a barbie-doll figure, no less)?

When did Women’s day start first of all, and why? There are divided opinions but most origin stories agree that Women’s day is supposed to be the anniversary of a strike by working women fighting for equal rights. Yes, equal salaries, and equal political rights.

So why is it that underwear companies and spas are going berserk trying to give discounts to women so they can ‘look more beautiful’ for cheaper? Why is celebrating womanhood becoming a marketing gimmick aimed at women? Why offer a lipstick or an undergarment– why not equal wages and opportunities instead? I can get behind #PledgeforParity , for one.  In some countries, they’re organizing career fairs and technology events, but in others, come on, a sale on cosmetics and cutlery? Meanwhile my Facebook timeline is awash with everyone wishing women a Happy Women’s Day. Someone who believes women should cover up to avoid rape, was one of the first to wish me. Women are wishing each other, too. Thankfully, some of us are doing it with irony, speaking tongue-in-cheek about women who do not need validation.

International Women's Day

PledgeForParity

Rapes, molestations, genital mutilations, female foeticide and infanticide, acid attacks and domestic violence continue unabated– business as usual– while people drink champagne at gala lunches, interview women about their achievements, and sell them fancy cosmetics and clothes at discounted prices. Women stay enslaved to different masters: either it is to men they do not have the power to protest against, or to the spell of the glamour industry, where an educated woman spends precious hours and currency to ‘look right.’ A day, a week, a month of hoohaaa and sops, and then things go back to normal after certain companies have made enough money at the expense of women they pose to support.

Do we women need to be ‘cherished’ on one particular day? Isn’t a woman a person, just like a man, and like other people who subscribe to different gender identities? Doesn’t a woman just need the right to live, Freely and Safely, and have access to the Same Opportunities as everyone else? Why just talk about ‘smiling in distress’ then?

We’re all children of light. Each one of us, woman, man, and other gender identities, irrespective of sexual orientation, color, race or creed is part of this wonderful soup we call Humanity. We’re Human. Don’t we all need to respect and celebrate ourselves, every day, each minute, because life itself is a miracle?

If 8th March is Women’s day and March is women’s month, what about the other 364 days, and the other 11 months? Are they not women’s days and months? Who is an ideal woman? Do women need cheaper clothes and cutlery or equal rights to jobs, opportunities and security?

Are you celebrating woman’s day or month? What activity forms part of this celebration? Has Women’s day become a marketing gimmick in your part of the world? Have you wished someone Happy Women’s Day?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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141 Comments

  • Deedee says:

    I had to google my sentiments towards a stupid named day. I expressed this to coworkers and the men said “there won’t be a day like this in many countries where women are still oppressed”. My thought were “Thats just backwards!”. Then I got thinking…. no transgender day, no
    Babies day?! But what da heck! If it makes you feel like a woman then take the damn day, plenty left in the year for being female.

  • eye opening!

  • Rambling Ro says:

    Great read, thanks.

  • annwjwhite says:

    Motherhood isn’t pretty, but it’s done. I come from a family of very strong women and there is a reason why. Life isn’t Barbie. It isn’t lacy underwear. It isn’t one day a year. It’s dealing with life everyday, with work, with hardship and it makes one interact with every bit of inequality for every one. One day of or one month of women doesn’t get it done. Just like one month of black history doesn’t get the job done. It’s a social nod that tries to show how hip and cool the day or month is. I don’t mind them used for education because we need education and our children deserve it. But, life is all of us together, dealing with each other, and making the world better, step by bloody pain filled step as we aspire to be more than the muck and mud. Thanks for connecting today. I really needed someplace to be welcome at.

  • tcriggs says:

    Tried to like your post, couldn’t find the link. So I think this will suffice! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Love your page!

  • Doc Arnett says:

    In the 1950’s in southern Kentucky, my mother drove a farm truck, helped get in crops, canned fruits and vegetables, butchered chickens, made soap, washed clothes, milked cows and did pretty much anything that needed doing on the farm, in the home or anywhere else. She also dressed up for church, including hat and gloves when appropriate. Her life defined being a woman as being able to handle whatever comes your way, never making excuses and telling the truth come hell or high water. I always thought she lived a pretty good example for anyone to imitate, never mind gender, age or pedigree.

  • aafrascati says:

    I can’t agree with you more! Wonderfully put. I was recently at an art exposition by someone close to me, and although I think she is very talented I had to get out of there: all her work was about connecting with the delicate femininity within, etc. I think art is powerful and courageous, and it made me so sad to see that it was being used as a tool to reinforce the stereotype that to be a woman you have to have a delicate, lace and dresses side to you.

  • gebbysmith says:

    Thank you for following me. I can tell I am going to be one of your biggest fans!

  • Here, here! In a world constantly telling us how to look, feel, speak and behave, it is an act of bravery just to be ourselves (whether you’re a woman or a man). I, too, am offended by a dedicated day to “celebrate” “women”, but only if we shut up, put up, sit down politely and don’t rock the boat (oh, and we’d better have a face full of makeup and not an ounce of fat anywhere while we do it).

    Thank you for your bravery. International Women’s Day is not what we need; we need strong women (like yourself) staring the myths in the face instead of politely pretending they don’t exist, and telling the truth how it really is.

    Again, thank you.

  • I was around 8 when the first International Women’s Day occurred. My mother had sent away for information and she received a large manilla envelope stuffed full of brochures and booklets. She sat me down and went over everything with me.

    A few years later when I was a teenager and choosing a line of work to get into, I found out that not much had changed in her and other people’s perceptions of what I should be: a teacher, a nurse or a secretary! University was out of the question, it was for my brother, a boy, not me, a girl.

    We all live with our perceptions and willingly or not they impact others around us!

    One day a year isn’t going to change us… It’s all the other days of the year which count! If we only hold lofty thoughts one or two days a year (Christmas included, Peace and Joy!) then we really don’t change!

    We change when we choose to, and then we work on putting it into practice daily! That’s the really hard part!

    My daughter and granddaughters will still be running into obstacles, as many women still are today!

    When we (collectively, men and women) no longer live by the old paradigms, we change our culture. Like many droplets of water in a bucket, like the 100 monkey principle, we help change society!

    Ghandi’s thought of becoming the change we want to see it our world has become cliché, yet it is the basis of change!

    Trump’s campaign has brought out the worst in American society and he has given many permission to talk, think and behave abominably. We will be coming to terms with the Pandora box he has released, for many years to come!

    It’s easy to click “Like” on a Facebook meme, but much harder to effect real changes!

    Wishing you all Peace and Strength!
    Tamara

  • chaitra24 says:

    Very true … This is what I feel every woman’s day as well …

  • For a long while I’ve wondered why International Women’s Day needed to exist as well. I echo your sentiments entirely here. Like you, I believe that I as well as everyone else needs to be celebrated every day. We exist, we’re here and most importantly each of us is empowered by our own ability to have intellectual thought, engage in impassioned dialogue, contribute to the changing of societal attitudes and beliefs, and have an impact on each others’ lives. The one thing that I do like about IWD is its origins and how those origins at least have inspired people to continue discussing such an issue. Without it, you might not have blogged about the pay gap. You might have because you seem like the sort of person who doesn’t avoid talking about the things we should be talking about. But you might not have blogged on the way institutionalised ‘tokens’ of acknowledgement like this are not the answer, nor do they help. I feel this way about a lot of comments I see online. At least you and I are discussing this again now. While we are a long way away from the changes we both believe need to happen, at least IWD has acted as a vehicle for the sort of great content you have written above. Thank you for continuing to share your ideas.

  • Excellently voiced whatever I have felt as a woman. Damayanti thanks for liking my poems. I wish that I co-author an article with you. Please let me know your opinion about it and I will mail you too.

  • 432m says:

    I love the way you think. I also do not believe in women’s day because every second is human day… Barbie is disgusting and so is this cult of having to look beautiful, spending money pointlessly on products to look appealing, having a good figure, needing people to tell you how much you have achieved. Great job!

  • This is right on point.

  • Tina Frisco says:

    Indeed!!! Why is it that just about every “minority” has one day a year slated to celebrate their “worthiness” in this predominant white-male world? Do these men consider themselves the hub of the wheel and all the rest of us merely the spokes? Well, newsflash! Any self-appointed hub is easily dethroned if the spokes choose not to function…

  • smitchjack says:

    You’re right! It’s a sop. I don’t ‘celebrate’ it.

  • dellisphelps says:

    Thank you for being forthright about how this feeble attempt to “honor” women has become an insidious insult instead.

    What the world needs to know is that the “smile on her face” is not a virtue but a measure of self-protection.

    I remember clearly the first time I realized I was smiling in the face of terrible sadness & fear. And how later, seeing a photo of myself as a girl, I noticed my tilted head, one pointed tip-toe turned inward, demurely.

    These are mannerisms I developed & used to survive. The trick is survival.

    How unfortunate that there must be “survival” at all. How unfortunate that we humans are still acting like the animals we are.

    Thank you for following #formidableWoman

  • Excellent post! I never heard of IWD. I have to agree; invented ‘days’ and actual holidays have turned into marketing ploys.

  • Thank you! I know too many women to subscribe to any notion that women are all alike or “should” be X, Y, or Z. I think that makes me a feminist and has for the past 45 years or so. In particular, the notion that you would be held responsible for the feelings and actions of men is ludicrous. I control my own actions regardless of how (or if) you dress, where you walk, or what kind of work you do. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but maybe those who do have control issues.

  • shoneybeirne says:

    Sounds like International Women’s Day is being undermined

  • cherylfoston says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you, for speaking on my behalf. 🙂

  • ReevePhotos says:

    Well put, indeed! Even though I am fortunate to work in an industry that is pretty good with equality – the vast majority of my managers in 25 years have been women – the top jobs are almost exclusively still male dominated. The glass ceiling is still there after all these years, even though it makes no logical sense.

  • You’ve made some excellent points! I was a child when the very first International Women’s Day was inaugurated. My mother sent away for a package of brochures and she sat me down and read me every single one. On one hand while she empowered me to think freely she also crippled me with emotional abuse and physical beatings. It took me years to heal and come into my own as a woman.

    IWD for me has become an introspective day, to think about the state of women in the world, to gauge the areas I still need to work on myself and to reach out to other women offering words of encouragement.

    The image of a Barbie suffering silently with a smile on her face while she shoulders heavy burdens? Preposterous!

    When we work to empower women in different cultures and situations we help each other!

    Silence? No! We need to speak out and to speak up!

    By sharing and speaking about what we’re shouldering, we can help each other and receive the help we need, both from women and the wonderful male helpers who understand and wish to understand what we’re going through!

  • well said. good points. right on, sister! (fist up)

  • Glynis Jolly says:

    I don’t need a special day to be recognized. I know who I am, where I’m going, what I’m doing. I know how I going to get to where I want to be. how I’m going to accomplish what I need to do. I like me fine despite my numerous flaws. Having a special day are for the weak.

  • keithakenny says:

    Great comments. Neither my wife nor I knew when/what International Women’s Day was.

    I agree that smiling through crushing adversity is a poor measure of a woman’s worth. But it also brings hope to those who need courage to go on. It is a great leadership attribute that can reflect confidence and one’s ability to survive, thrive and eventually win … for themselves and for their sports team/coworkers/military unit.

    I have never understood why women are considered, and often consider themselves, ‘the other’ —and therefore must be treated differently. However, it is not rational to say that women are ‘the same’, and then say that women’s unique qualities bring another dimension to the work place.

    Women’s mindless pursuit of youth and beauty is matched (maybe driven) by men’s mindless pursuit of/competition for youthful beautiful women. Some women use this to their advantage. Some men also get taken advantage of.

  • Powerful words. I love this, and I couldn’t agree more. Well said, and thank you for summing up so beautifully how we are all individuals and should not be categorised to be celebrated in one particular way on one particular day. x

  • jdicochea says:

    A very interesting perspective and I applaud your insight. Joe “Dico”

  • Actually, I didn’t even know it was Women’s day. I must say that you hit the nail on the head with this post. Our culture is so into these pagan days that really mean nothing when it comes to living life and walking this journey. Wow, you made excellent points and I certainly agree that we should be celebrated everyday and not just one day or month or month of the year. We need to get equal pay for doing the same job and promoted for doing what the male does without all the extras. Our world is so distorted and dysfuntional right now. I certainly appreciate this post. And no, I do not celebrate this day. I don’t need a day to validate me. God did that.

  • cathum says:

    Oh yes, to all of the above.

  • Chez Shea says:

    Excellent and thought provoking post. The commercial giants want to get their hands on everything and turn it into a way of making more money. It doesn’t surprise me that a Barbie image is used as a way to promote Women’s Day, but it does sadden me.

  • Terry Lewis says:

    I like the concept of special days, but as you have pointed out, they have unfortunately been ruined by commercialism. Still, you have been able to use it as a springboard to make some great points, so in a way the special attention that the day creates has provided a platform for you to make a statement.
    I’m intending to write a blog about the concept of special days, but I’m not sure what I will say until I write it! (I find my best thougths emerge as I am in the process of writing). If you’re interested I’ll let you know when I’ve finished it (no problem if you aren’t interested. I’m sure there’s only so many blogs you can read). Cheers

  • Really enjoyed reading this, and I agree with much of what you say. In case you’re interested, here’s a sonnet I wrote on International Women’s day back in 2013, inspired by one of the strongest and most loving women I know – a friend of mine in Rwanda, who left her husband after he beat her, and takes care of her three children alone, as she lost all her close family (apart from one cousin I think) during the genocide. She’s incredible. It is her courage, strength, unrelenting love and determination (and there are many oter like her for sure) that I celebrate. Blessings, Harula xxx
    https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/form-friday-5/

  • biaasad says:

    The spine of the article is that Women are expected to suffer and smile. This is a growing norm that the world is trying to push down our minds. Interesting point.

  • mastout says:

    Enjoyed this post. Interesting points. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll be back.

  • I did not celebrate nor wish any woman Happy Womans day, I do not believe in these silly days, celebrate each day, be strong and respectful. I do not need someone to tell me that I am enough, I AM enough, too bad most don’t think they are!!!!

  • Like so many holidays, when someone declares it _____ Day, people try to commercialize it, trivialize it, etc. Well said.

  • tigre23 says:

    Well said! Each ‘special’ day for any reason always makes me think what about every other day – they are just as important on any other day.

  • kerbey says:

    Women’s Day is stupid. I would more happily celebrate World Donut Day, and I don’t even eat donuts. Very often.

  • Well said!

  • cynthiamvoss says:

    This was the first year that I had heard of the “holiday.” I agree with your post. I like the image in your post, “March 8 is women’s day, what about the other 364 days? Who owns those?” Pretty much sums it up.

  • Your thoughts ring true. I can’t imagine that celebrating men for their cheery dispositions would return an enthusiastic response either.

  • Nadia Jade says:

    Our national popular radio in Australia, JJJ, always has a thing where they play music by women all day. And it makes me mad! It’s obviously not that hard to compile a set for a 24 hour period, so why is there such a little percentage of female-centered music the rest of the time? The worst is they totally co-opt Kathleen Hanna’s ‘Girls to the front’, without understanding what she meant, which was boys go back and let us to the front, not for a day, not for a token gesture, but make space and share the damn floor.
    I always feel conflicted listening to the rad tunes combined with the inane ‘Girls, yeah, we love em and they’re hot and wow!’ shite commentary.

  • Léa says:

    YES, YES, YES, ABSOLUTELY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY YES!

  • Sha'Tara says:

    Just got to reading that post almost a month later and it’s still burning off the page: great article. Is it OK to reblog on ~Burning Woman~ … even if it is a month late?

  • pnwauthor says:

    You make some good points. I appreciate your outspokenness as you speak your truth. It seems that all international days and holidays have been transformed into opportunities to market products. Sad.

  • Dahlia says:

    Totally concur with you on this Damayanti – this one day sop really gets my goat…

  • Bhanu says:

    I just went along the same line of thoughts 🙂

    https://way2heart.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/international-womens-day/

    Good to see you feel so as well 🙂

  • Actually, I didn’t even know it was on. I agree–I prefer to see myself as human rather than female. I like competing on that even playing field.

  • Atulmaharaj says:

    Totally agree with you, it’s Women’s Day all 365 days ! Nice write up.

  • dressingegos says:

    read it late but still totally valid , eloquent…but mostly yes – what about other 364 days…clinches the actuality…

  • MaryHill says:

    I agree with you. I didn’t celebrate Women’s Day. i see equality as a function of love. When men really listen to Jesus and are willing to die to self and see us as equally loved and important then we we will see true equality. Jesus saw women as equals. His actions were scandalous and caused much criticism. We are equal in God’s eyes. I use “Him” as a construct. Sexual identity with God is so much deeper.

  • jmh says:

    Bravo! I’m really glad I never saw any of those Barbie doll memes–talk about yak. But then, I feel that way about most memes.

    Not a single person wished me a happy International Women’s Day. And I’m okay with that. It’s okay if people want to take a day to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of women, but you’re right about the marketing BS. It could be the new Valentine’s Day.

  • uk8971 says:

    Awesome write up. Loved every bit of it. Do check my coverage of the same day.

  • miladyronel says:

    In South Africa, we celebrate Women’s Day in August. It has historical value here (something to do with women marching to parliament to end Apartheid), still it gets commercialised with discounts at spas, etc.
    I’m with you on this – vapid people using any excuse to make money instead of really helping women.

    • miladyronel says:

      Hi, Damyanti. I read something in Elle magazine this morning I think you’d like.
      “…being a badass means embracing your emotions, not hiding them. Toughness and feelings do go together, and acknowledging that fact can be extremely powerful… The real badass move, as women such as [journalist Mac] McCelland and [photojournalist Lynsey] Addario prove, is to fearlessly acknowledge how something has affected you and make space for others to do the same. Always let them see you cry.” (How to be a Badass by Ann Friedman, Elle magazine SA.)
      The whole article was about how being a truly badass woman isn’t trying to be as stoic as men (though they should surely deal with their own emotional troubles – hiding everything, especially reactions to trauma, isn’t healthy). We’re allowed to have feelings without being seen as mushy, unserious wrecks. Every day of the year…

      • Thanks for sharing this article–and I do think this imposed stoicism is a bit of a ham really. Women and men react to circumstances differently, but as long as we both cope without being exploited or shamed, it is fine. Stereotyping and shaming is what we need to avoid.

  • Denise Covey says:

    And I don’t know why all those letters were dropped from my comment. Looks like I can’t string a sentence together!!

  • Denise Covey says:

    I totally get you Damyanti and I read your thoughts on FB too. But I see it differently. It was started to honour women (who have always been treated abominably or as inferior) such as sufferage etc. We have come far but a long way to go…This from the Independent…”The new agenda [for IWD], is meant to build on the unfulfilled Millennium Development Goals, has a stand-alone goal just for the empowerment of women and girls as a core means of tackling economic underperformance, global overpopulation and poverty worldwide.

    It also celebrates the achievements of women throughout history. ”

    That works for me.

    Australia is a blokey country, where it’s hard for a sheila to get a look in. IWD is not commercialised here. No hearts and flowers for our women, just hard graft, which is a pity. No one really knew it was IWD yesterday, lol! Just another day at the salt mines.

    Hope your writing is burning off the page!

    Denise 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Denise, I’d love for every day to be a day at the salt mines, because fact is, that’s what the truth is.

      Giving me roses and flowery words one day a year doesn’t sort things for me: I’d much rather have female infanticide and foeticide curbed in my country, less rapes and molestations, less rhetoric and more respect.

      I don’t know, hearts and flowers were never my thing, I like a hug and a kind word to give and to take, every day of the year. And I’d much rather have action, positive, compassionate, respectful, than a ton of pretty words 🙂

      I know the history behind the day, but frankly some of the messages I got, about how I should smile in distress to be an ‘ideal’ woman, got my goat, and hence the post.

      I get what you’re saying, but I stick with my view, which is: thanks, but no thanks to women’s day–every single day is a woman’s day, a man’s day, and every gender in between.

  • Birgit says:

    I love it! You go and I am right behind you. No I did not wish women i know a Happy Woman’s day. I’m surprised there was a special commercial about tampons. I never suffer in silence and will tell my hubby when I need the help and he better! What does it mean Beautiful? Inside? Outside, Both? Obviously the stupid barbie doll makes a certain sad point. If someone offered me a lipstick on woman’s day i would tell them where to put it

  • These made-up days drive me crazy. We should not celebrate gender. Celebrate the person, not their profession or sex. Crazy stuff designed to have made up sales and events when these things occur.

  • sandson1972 says:

    Yup…Womans Day has become a Marketing gimmick ofcourse….for Marketeers like us(using this as a common term, in general) it is giving an opportunity to roll out offers, schemes and make someone make business in this recession periods….

  • That’s a power post devoid of double standard. If only we could reflect on the words and anger expressed, Damyanti. Let us bloom as human beings and don’t trample each other needs, aspirations and dreams. We need to get rid of the crap that men are superior and a woman’s place is somewhere else.

    http://vishal-newkidontheblock.blogspot.com/2016/03/celebrate-woman.html

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Vishal, as soon as men and women recognise each other as humans, to be respected and cherished, half of this world’s problems will disappear.

      Our schools need to teach more of compassion and respect, irrespective of gender, creed, colour. Yes to humanity.

      • Unfortunately, school books are wrong in many ways, be it gender roles, capitalists definition of competition. It hurts because this capitalist mindset help perpetuate the divide between men and woman.

  • Parul Thakur says:

    I did not wish a single woman. Though when folks messaged – I did thank them. Just to stay away from opening up how it really felt. The marketing gimmicks are sick and boring. It’s just an approach to make hay while the Sun shines.
    At work – thank God there were no dress in pink or such competitions. It’s annoying to say the least. Who is talking about Gender Pay Gap? No one. But all want to talk about International Women’s Day on twitter or FB. I have the same logic of why one day for Valentine’s Day, Father’s Mother’s or Friendship Day?
    It’s just birth day that comes one a year for every human being and rest all is a fluff ball.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I tried to stay quiet, but my body wouldn’t let me. I felt ill, and only felt better having written this post, and getting it out there.

      All these ‘Days’ make my blood boil. Gender Pay Gap, you said? Many will tell you it is an imagined issue, you’re too sensitive, it is against the law, anyway, and it Never happens. So there’s discussion for you, right there.

      All of this sop to womanhood makes me cringe.

  • rah! rah! Damayanti, wonderful, fully agree with you on this one.

  • Ila Varma says:

    It is more of marketing gimmick to draw attention of the consumers. A single day celebration can’t diminish the violence against woman nor one day celebration can add the missing things in her life. Everyday is a woman’s day and she needs respect 24*7 not a single day celebration. The social network sites add fuel to these celebrations, it’s all about earning bucks in hide of celebrations.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Ila, yes. What started as a fight for equal rights has become about giving women flowers!

  • Suzy says:

    Very well said. I think all these “Days” are commercial gimmicks. I am so over them.

  • Mind blowing post, Damayanti. I totally agree with your words !!!

  • Peter Nena says:

    Thank you for raising those questions, Damyanti. So much is wrong about things taken for granted. International Women’s Day is a political agenda, shallow and populist without any deep questioning thoughts behind it. I have seen plenty of definitions for a “strong woman” or a “woman of strength”, or even a “real man”, for that matter . But I have always just dismissed them. Who sets ideals in a world so rife with suffering, bigotry, evil and pretentiousness? A world of bitter judgement and imposed economic gods? I don’t know.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The entire career of a writer is all about asking questions, Peter. Thanks for stopping by, and for standing with me.

  • Shailaja V says:

    Every ‘day’ has become a marketing gimmick, unfortunately. I now content myself with posting humorous updates to ward off the overwhelming deluge of empty wishes. I just think there is so much potential here as a way for brands or businesses to leverage for the greater good and they reduce it to cheap tricks of the trade. Perhaps we all need a wake-up call and more than just a day or a month a clear shift in perspective that will aim for equality.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      We need to sweep all the gimmickry out of what’s a very serious advocacy issue. women the world over are dying simply because they are women, and these corporates would have us believe that a dress or a diamond is what a woman is all about. Gross.

  • Hi Damyanti, Totally agree with you. Don’t give me the Day, give me the Dignity of a woman. But why give? I am fed up of asking.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Why ask? Why should any woman have to ‘ask’ to be treated with dignity? Shouldn’t it be a given? This is why the concept of a women’s ‘day’ makes my hackles rise.

  • Bumba says:

    Male or female, we live in a mercantile society. Having a day or month dedicated to your particular group – in this case over half the population – is a sort of consolation prize, a window dressing that’s worth very little, except for the stores that can sell more “women” things.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think we’re done with window dressing. Or at least, we should be.

  • Debbie D. says:

    Bravo! I’m a “feminist” from way back (70s and 80s) but really a “humanist” or an “equalist”.This day makes me cringe! 😛 Women will never achieve equality if they set themselves apart. This applies to minorities a well, with things like “Black History Month”.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m suspicious of any ‘day’ or ‘ism’ shoved down my throat. Humanity is the only race I believe in, and compassion is my only religion.

  • Lata Wonders says:

    I agree with you Damyanti and have said as much in a post I wrote:) But here’s the thing. This year is the first time, I have seen several posts protesting against the triviality of the celebration. Then, there are more meaningful initiatives such as the Pledge for Parity. So, we are making progress, I hope.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The pledge for Parity will be only as successful as the people in power who take it seriously. Historically, rights have never been ‘granted’, they have always been demanded, and taken.

  • Me Otherwise says:

    That’s true Damyanti. In this world of consumerism its another tool to market things. And well asked one day in a year belongs to women, what abt the other 364???

  • Figures they’d make International Women’s Day into a marketing gimmick. I was tempted to post a snarky tweet about spending my day in the kitchen (technically true because I’m the head cook at the day job.) I didn’t though because I figured there’d be too many people who wouldn’t get the joke.

  • projectwhy says:

    I totally agree with every word….

  • shanayatales says:

    I don’t really have anything against Women’s Day, because it also does start some relevant conversations, that need to happen all year round really, but at-least this gives it a platform (which is kind of sad, but true). Having said that, the marketing gimmicks are just annoying – I read the ideal woman crap so many times – it’s infuriating!

  • Well said Damyanti! Women’s Day didn’t really seem to hit Australia that hard from what I experienced. Hardly any of my friends posted anything and it didn’t get mentioned at work-thank goodness! The worst thing is when companies abuse it to make a buck. We should all support each other every day!

  • Shalzzz says:

    Well said! I simply didn’t want to wish anone yesterday. I was like, what the hell! When our office HRs asked all women to wear saree to celebrate Women’s Day, giving each one of us a red rose or a daisy, I was taken aback. It’s just shallow.

  • Sunila Vig says:

    Absolutely Damyanti I agree fully. Since my teen years I have been smiling sarcastically to myself about the Devi/Goddess trap that women are subjected to. And sorry I was unable to get to the twitter chat after saying i would.

  • Rachna says:

    I have nothing against Women’s Day if it makes us discuss issues related to women and make us move forward to equity. As with everything nice, commercialization just kills the concept. I totally agree with you about spas, cosmetics etc. This is how brands jump on the bandwagon, and I watched some lame ads too.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It does neither, Rachna. We can and should discuss issues related to parity every day of our lives– no one needs to give us a special day to do it. Having a day is just an open invitation to corporates to join on the bandwagon with their marketing spiel. If they care so much about women, let them pay women what they pay men, and treat them equally at work.

  • Nabanita says:

    Completely understand where you’re coming from. These discounts or marketing gimmicks don’t really get the point. Of course every day is women’s day but this day is perhaps just used to call to attention even those people who don’t seem to remember it. You know, like every day we should try to be happy and live life to the fullest, with the vigor of new beginning but on birthday we just tend to reaffirm that belief..makes sense ? There will always be people and things which belittle the issue but we shouldn’t be dejected..some real work and thought is also being done and give due to this..I hope..

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Just like we need to appreciate ourselves and introspect every day of the year and not just on our birthdays, same goes for women’s parity issues. We should discuss them each time and place they come up and sort it out. Why do we need a particular day to bring attention to women– we’re humans, not some exotic species form another planet :). We should have equality as a matter of course, and if we don’t, we must grab it each day of the year! Birthdays are about bonding with family and friends, but Women’s day is every day– it is about our daily struggles against dis-parity, abuse, violence.

  • I only care if there’s a book discount. Sorry but I did not realize this was going on until I went on Twitter. The only article I retweeted on this was one on how not to celebrate Women’s Day and the list included some idiot who suggested at a sporting event women should go enjoy some music or interpretive dance routine. WTF? I’m not a sports fan and I found this incredibly offensive. Like if I went to see Deadpool and was told at the ticket booth I should watch something more female friendly. Bite me. Women are everywhere and should be appreciated at all times. Men too. And animals…and plants. Just appreciate everything. Boom.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, This: Women are everywhere and should be appreciated at all times. Men too. And animals…and plants. Just appreciate everything. Boom.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    // martyr-syndrome marionette// Oh you have no idea how long I have been looking for a proper term to express this… I am going to use it a lot now.
    In addition to what you said, let me tell you what a Women’s Day celebration looked like in one of the companies my friend works in … there were competitions on mehendi design, hairstyle and all those decorative stuff… the judges were male. But what I can’t understand is why didn’t they have debates, essay writing competition, Quiz competition, sports competition … I learnt a new term yesterday … unconscious biasing … I wonder if it’s because of this that people refuse to see women beyond a certain image.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Use away, sister :). And I wish I’d been in that office– I’d either be fired on the spot, or they would have made some quick changes. You mean women just went for henna-design competitions? Who the hell are men to judge henna competitions anyway? Have they worn henna? Put it on someone? Did they bring male henna-designers in as external judges? I can get behind a debate competition, but more than that, I think we need to get behind debates everyday: debate this bias and image that soaps and ads in India create– this sati-savitri woman who is forever dressing a particular way, praying at a zillion festivals and cooking different dishes catered to different people’s tastes…

  • Indywrites says:

    Yes, gimmicks and discounts form a big part and just those shallow wishes.
    Pledge for parity seems the right thing to join.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, Inderpreet. Well said. The sad part is when I see women falling for these gimmicks and discounts, and forgetting what it is all about.

  • I have not wished anyone HWD, and it hit me a little on the wrong side too.

  • Emily says:

    I completely agree, imposing ONE day to “appreciate” women comes off as condescending rather than celebratory. Personally, I celebrate women’s day everyday!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Emily. I wish more women would wake up to what is happening in the name of ‘Women’s Day.’ Every day is a woman’s day, a man’s day, all people’s day. And we should celebrate and respect all of us.

  • Jasmin says:

    I’m whooping for your well-written post! Women’s Day is not a big day here where I live. It gets mentioned in the media but there are no huge marketing campaigns, and I hope there never will be. Instead, some smaller tv stations show documentaries about women who achieved a lot in their lives (no matter the field, may it be science, social working, politics, sports…) and/or who fought and still fight for women’s rights. It’s always a topic but on Women’s Day it gets covered more than usual.
    I also think we should celebrate people and what they are doing to create a good society, it doesn’t matter if they are man, woman or anything inbetween. Cheers! Have a happy People’s Day! 😛

  • It’s like Valentine’s Day. Why only one day? Maybe Hallmark came up with it.

    • Yep. And it is scary that Santa is in the current form (red and white etc) is a creation of Coke’s branding machine. Will we have an avatar for women too, some day?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The sad part is that Women’s date originally came from the struggle for equal rights and the right to vote– they’re just cheapening it in many places now. And why just one day is my question, absolutely.

  • dweezer19 says:

    All holidays are marketing opportunities if not completely contrived by marketing firms. I agree. I tell my husband all the time that a woman’s worth seems measured by how much crap she can take and still “be happy, be strong, positive…nice.” A man’s strength is meausred however by his forthrightness and a man’s aggressive, assertiveness is viewed as a strength rather than something to be shicked by. Grrrrr……..
    PS My husband appreciates my assertivenss although at tines he seems to think it ahouldn’t apply to out own differences. We are a work in progress…

    • Cheryl, it gets me too. When my male colleagues were assertive, they had leadership qualities. If my female colleagues were assertive, they were birches. So this thing is pervasive, and won’t change till we have a few generations of empowered mothers, I fear. I’ve been unable to say Happy Women’s Day to anyone…

  • I am with you on this one. I stand a bit confused really. I thought we were moving in a progressive direction (worldwide) towards a world where gender was no longer an issue. Instead, in recent years, I find it has regressed again – disparity, using ‘customs & religions’ as an excuse to once more go back to old concepts and worse, even advocate violence.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes. I’m upto my ears in Women’s day and month and so on. But a few branding activities and a sale or two is not really what women want or need. Or at least I hope not.

  • Mary Lou says:

    Well said!! I was just looking for a meme to post on “Women’s Day” yet I’ve felt and thought exactly what you just said. Thanks! 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Am glad some women agree with me– I was beginning to feel like I’m angry for no reason! 🙂

  • papatony08 says:

    What a fantastic, well written post! Firstly, I have a wife, 3 daughters and a 5 yr old granddaughter. I love them and respect them 365 days a year, not just one day of the year. My wife and I raised our daughters to understand that what someone looks like is a non issue as it is what is in their hearts that matters the most. I am a Light Worker, a Master Teacher of Shamballa (Reiki) Energies and my first lesson to my students is; “We are all children of the Divine Light” Women, men, children, it doesn’t matter, we are all “equally” connected to and part of that beautiful light. It was so nice to read that you understand this way of living.

    I really don’t feel there is a correct way to define what a woman should be, or for that matter, a man either. When in fact what everyone of us should be is . . . human beings.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks. I see us as humans, and even more so as living things, neither lesser nor more than any other. We’re all part of the one consciousness, but we have to keep dividing ourselves all the time, lord knows why. Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your insight. Hope to see you often, and will stop by your place soon.

  • I get your point entirely. A lot of businesses and people have hijacked what is a very serious day with superficial greetings or ways to make money.

    This day is about the suffering that many girls and women endure in various countries around the world and is a way to push this message across in a concerted effort on one day. Similar days are organised by Water Aid, for example, when the basic lack of fresh water in certain communities is highlighted.

    It does give me the opportunity to spread the message, though. In the past, friends of mine have joked about women having equal rights and I’ve been able to point out that this is more than their girlfriend or sister being able to get a discount at the store for one day. It’s about things like child marriage, women being barred from owning the land that they farm or men not being punished for beating them.

    I agree with you. This commercialisation of the whole thing is distasteful, to put it politely.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The entire fight for gender equality is jeopardised by irresponsible representations of ‘Women’s Day’. I’d rather have equal opportunities and rights for everyone than have a day of discounts at stores. Thanks for stopping by, and your well-considered comment. Appreciate it.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – how right you are – well said. We are women all the time and for all life … I’d read that it started in Russia and another Eastern bloc country – I now wish I remembered where I saw that note. In Wiki – it states it was started as a Socialist political event …

    Take care and just have a happy day … cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It was a day of struggle for rights and it’s been reduced to a day of ‘making women feel special.’ I find it a crying shame. Thanks for stopping by, Hillary, always a joy to have you.

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