Much has been said and done today on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Personally, it came to me as an after-thought and I’d even forgotten about it this morning until I came across Sali Hughes’ piece in the Pool.
Dutifully, I put on a red lipstick and set aside any thoughts about the superficiality of it all. I feel like wearing red lipstick, much like celebrating International Women’s Day is all about the significance you attach to it. It can mean nothing and everything at the same time. Yes, that is a banal thought but just look at the variety of views on IWD. I have seen women questioning and debating the need to celebrate IWD while others have spread their good wishes and cheer. Personally, I don’t see the harm. I don’t know anyone who has spent masses of time celebrating IWD- Everyone has gone about living their lives but things are just a bit more sisterly than usual.
HOWEVER. A message from an acquaintance once again highlighted why we need feminism and a day to mark the movement. It went something like this…
Dear [ ],
Sharing a picture of Katrina Kaif that I saw in a rickshah the other day.
We thought it was funny because she looks photoshopped into the dulhan get up. That too, she looks like a very realistic bride, as opposed to the stylised version of Bollywood…It almost looks like she could be the rickshah-wallah’s bride!
I’ve been reading Hindu marriage manuals recently and a lot of the rituals and vows seems to ask the bride to be calm, benevolent, patient, servient… Maybe I am reading into it too much but I thought this picture captured it well: Sheela tamed and shaped into the mould of Savitri. What do you think?
42-year old women are now desirable to men and we have feminism to thank for it: Yes, older women are breaking free of “the shackles of biology and convention” but why not celebrate it for the achievement that it is, rather than judging it against the yardstick of a man’s desire?
Warrior dictates…the men play sport, the women watch them: Warrior is an American company that sells lacrosse and hockey equipment. They got into trouble last week for complaining about a women’s sporting event being shown on a primary sporting channel. This brought into light their appallingly sexist ad campaign showing women in a series of sexually suggestive images. Also, they also don’t sell women’s gear – wonder why? There is a social media campaign against Warrior and you can read about it here.
It’s World Cup season and social media has been flooded with stories, posts and tweets about football. As with any sporting event, photographers seem to be paying a great deal of attention to “hottie” spectators. Unlike male spectators, there is obviously something incredible and news-worthy about an attractive woman enjoying football.
Around last week, a Facebook friend was posting pictures of his World Cup holiday in Brazil.
My daily encounters with gender stereotyping make me rage. Often, there is no one to rant to, so the rage takes the form of an angry monologue in my head. I seethe for a while and then feel unhappy with myself for doing nothing about it.
Two recent incidents come to mind:
Imagine you are a twelve year old girl living in India, who has just been given permission to attend a summer camp. This is a very big deal, as your parents don’t let you go anywhere on your own and you must be home before 7 pm every evening. You cannot wait to get away.
Life is difficult at the camp as you must wake up at 5 am everyday, but the day ahead is packed with fun activities: They teach you karate kicks, chops and other ways to scare off opponents. You learn camp songs. You make friends with the other girls at the camp, who aren’t very different from you. The adults give you talks on values and Indian culture.
Sounds harmless, until you realise that you are at a training camp run by Durga Vahini, the female wing of right-wing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The songs are about marking “your forehead with blood” and welcoming “your enemy with bullets”. The opponents are both abroad (Pakistanis) and at home (Muslims and Christians). Your values and culture are to embrace your natural weakness as women, marry early and to avoid pursuing a career for the sake of your ego.
Supermarket staff in Britain could claim millions in equal pay cases: The claims have been made against the supermarket chain Asda and involve assessing whether supermarket store-front staff jobs, which are mainly held by female workers, are of equal value to higher-paid jobs in distribution warehouse jobs, which are held mainly by male workers. Distribution warehouse jobs may well be considered higher value due to “uncomfortable conditions, additional skills and unsocial working hours involved” but this is a significant development in the private sector where equal pay job evaluations aren’t as frequent.