“It’s women’s day! Did you know what WOMEN stand for?
W- Wonderful Wife
O- Outstanding friend
M- Marvellous Mother
E- Exceptional Sister
N- Noble daughter”
Do you feel enraged reading this? Do you feel annoyed that women are described in relative reference to a role they hold in society, and not as an identity in itself? The actual giant leap of “Man”kind would be to understand the subtle oppression flowing through posts like this, not stepping on the moon. If we think about it, the celebration of women’s day is catered around these kinds of notions. There is a context of glorifying the sacrifice of women.
While it is important to acknowledge the struggle of being a woman in a patriarchal society, it must not be glorified to the point of making it a norm- voluntary suffering that women must endure. With the current socio-political atmosphere, we are in, it is high time for the shift from focusing on women’s bravado for enduring this suffering, to a focus on how to curb this kind of situation. We need to talk about the kind of practices among the society that put women through these situations- Both the men and women that enable these covert acts of microaggressions against women.
Women’s day started out in Russia when revolutionary women one day stormed their workplace demanding better working conditions- inclusive of wage and equity in opportunities. Several decades later- we are here celebrating a commercialized version of it, having lost the entire purpose it started. We find ourselves caving into 75% off in Spas or ladies’ night in restro bars because we need a relaxing day after working away in our underpaid jobs.
There is still an abundance of gender discrimination within the workforce, questions like “are you likely to marry soon?” or “are you planning on trying to conceive?” are casual questions that hiring companies may pose, under the pretext of trying to understand the commitment a woman can offer. The intrusiveness and inappropriate nature of these questions are swept under the rug, and if a woman chooses to react and draw boundaries to this, they are labelled ‘hysterical’ or ‘dramatic’ instead. Apart from the blissful ignorance of these companies and their employers, a more fundamental thought comes to mind-
“Why is it implied that a working woman would sacrifice or shift focus away from her career upon marriage or childbirth? And even if they choose not to, why are the burden of house chores and child-rearing still considered to be solely on them?”
Division of labour led to women doing house chores and men being the breadwinner initially. However, even though women now have established a career and contribute to the financial stability of a household, men still do not seem to contribute to the household. After a long day at work, men come and stretch their backs on the sofa looking at the TV while women move to cook or do laundry. Working women are lauded as “strong” or “iron-woman” because they handle work and family. This is practice glorified or normalized- pushing us further away from the very thing we want. We do not want glory- we only want equity.
What we’d like is the dissolution of conventional gender roles or expectations. From a simple ‘Not all women like pink’ to ‘Not all women want to be mothers or wives, all the societal norms need to be broken down. However, Pseudo-feminism, a misconceived understanding of the feministic movement, is popularised and commercialized, becoming an easy reason why feminism is not okay. Concepts of ‘Male privilege’ being denied and starting a “Not all men” trend are examples of how feminism is taken to the other extreme, squashing its primary notion. These are ways of gaslighting someone into feeling guilty for demanding to be equal.
From this women’s day onwards, let's shift focus to awareness about the micro acts of perpetuating patriarchy and without falling prey to the glorification of sacrificial acts. I said women’s day onwards- meaning it’s not a one-day celebration, but something that needs to be done every day from the small subtle acts to the big ones. Women empowerment is more than taking a break occasionally, it is the regular assertion of equality across all dimensions of life.