International Women’s Day is a global celebration commemorating women’s cultural, political, and social achievements. And if you were taking some time off social media or the dot com bubble, and by any chance you missed it, then let me tell you that it is celebrated yearly on March 8th.
This year’s theme was ‘Break the Bias’ to spotlight the collective biases against women fueling gender inequality. As a Southeast Asian woman who grew up in a collectivist society with a history of suppressing its women, it doesn’t shock me how this day has been turned into a “corporate likeability gimmick.” I know what you are thinking: “Here we go again, another crazy feminist trying to be righteous and talk about their sufferings.” On the contrary, I will take you on a journey in this crazy feminist life to showcase my particular dislike of this day.
For as long as I can remember, they (society/people) wanted me to be smart (but not too bright), confident (but not cocky), graceful, and kind. I wondered, even as a kid: Why? Why was I being told this? Why wasn’t I allowed to be rowdy, intelligent, stubborn, and cocky if I wanted to be? Was it just a general rule that the kids had to follow, and I just missed the memo, and hence, they were correcting me?
I questioned society (teachers, family, and whoever would hear my annoying voice) about why I needed to be that way. The answer shocked me, and it was as such: “Because that’s how it has always been. Women should behave gracefully, elegantly, and they always, always come second.” This was certainly an interesting thing to say to a girl of an impressionable age. But that’s how I realized society gets to you. They mold you from the beginning, and if you don’t have a supportive family (thankfully, I did), you don’t get out of this mindset.
Fast track into the trials and tribulations of a stubborn girl who is learning the ways of the world. She’s learning to be cautious of lingering glances and to not go out often at night. Why, you may ask? It’s because there are monsters, dark shadows waiting to capture you in this hollow, shallow abyss. I learned, like many girls do, irrespective of where you are from, to be extra conscious of what you say and what you do. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a precedent; if history is any indication, we follow these norms because it’s right and acceptable. Why shouldn’t a girl, a woman, learn to be conscious? That seems only reasonable, even logical! But there was a question at the back of my head, “Why just girls or women?” Is it just history? Are we really following a path set in ancient times when our ancestors killed fellow humans for fun (okay, not fun, but land, ownership, or whatever petty reason they deemed to be important to them)?
Why, then, are people talking about women’s rights or gender equality? That means something is not correct. This history of ours has been pointing towards the need for some change. Now, I will not preach which difference is right or which change we need. I am only a tiny peg in the system.
I am here to point out the duplicity of the whole International Women’s Day; it was created to commemorate the cultural, social, and political achievement of women. Notice how I said it was created? Now, all I see around me is this day being a corporate day – used to parade how much change they have brought in their company or how much they are supporting women in society. However, may I ask why the rape/sexual assault cases continue, the gender pay gap remains, and women at the top are still not paid as much as their male counterparts? I know a company can’t change society, nor can it change the mindset established for ages and eons. However, I don’t want a day to celebrate women or talk about biases and the issues, if this is falling on deaf ears. What’s the point of words spoken if there’s not a single person present to hear them, comprehend them, or change?
I want to see a positive change in the mindset of people, men and women alike. Both need to understand that neither are above each other; they are on equal footing. If we celebrate International Women’s Day with this mindset, let’s also do the same on International Men’s Day – a day not as widely acclaimed by companies simply because it doesn’t bring that much traction or media attention. This is a sad reality, but that’s all these days have become: a media frenzy attention grab. After March 8th, I didn’t see a single site posting about these ‘Break the Bias’ themed articles. The innate message was simple: Women’s Day is over, and we shall discuss all the issues next year. This is something that needs to be addressed and hopefully changed over time.
But then again, what do I know? I am just a woman blinded by my veil of crazed, righteous, and virtue signaling feminism, right?