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I am a feminist and I don't believe in Women's Day

We're celebrating 'Who We Are' or 'What We Are'? The day is more about women empowerment and not celebrating our existence. Why should we be treated special when all we ask for is equality?

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It is a globally adopted trend to dedicate days to people or topics to celebrate them and their work. On the other hand, some days are observed just to create awareness about something which has been either neglected or less catered to otherwise. Where I may understand the need for the latter, I have doubts about celebrating something or putting someone on a pedestal for only one day in the entire year. This is, as if for the rest of the year, the subject ought not to be celebrated. 

I am a feminist and I don’t believe in Women’s Day. It is most understandable to have an outrageous response to this statement, owing to social conditioning and the common feminist narrative in the current scenario. The society is either skewed towards patriarchy or pseudo-feminism and fails to operate on a neutral ground. And either ways it creates a sort of division between genders. 

Started way back in 1909 by a socialist party in America, Women’s Day was first observed to protest against the working conditions of the women. Adopted by various countries over a period of time, the context and the cause of the day evolved, sticking to the prevalence of  women’s rights and representation. Later, adopted by the United Nations, Women’s Day became a public holiday in a few countries in 1975. Till date, while some countries (like Afghanistan, Nepal, Cuba, Russia, etc) observe this as a public holiday, many like us celebrate the day with much pride, collectively talking about women empowerment. 

Like every year, UN announced this year’s theme for the day as “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. However, many of us remain unaware of this, forgetting the main purpose of the day. We parade the streets and bombard social media with women power and advocating and celebrating what we are instead of who we are. The purpose of the day eventually gets dissolved and we fail to recognise why exactly are we celebrating ‘Women’s Day’. Are we a century old to understand that the problems faced by the women today are different from when it all started. Yes, the social mindset has carried forward as a patriarchal legacy, but are we so naive to not understand that this day isn’t about ‘being a woman’ but ‘empowering women’.

Feminism, in the current context, plays on the term gender equality, ignoring gender neutrality. And the importance of the latter cannot be ignored. 

Where feminism talks about equality, it is important to realise that equality isn’t just a day’s subject, but the entire year. If the subject is so relevant to the masses, it should be given equal importance every single day throughout the year. 

Moreover, the topic of feminism emerged from the need for women receiving equal representation in a patriarchal society, where they have been a subject of discrimination. I understand the need to reiterate gender equality in a society where women were not well represented. But, isn’t gender equality, in isolation, a subject of gender discrimination in itself, when most of the so-called feminists and even patriarchs ignore that humans need to be treated neutrally, above the context of equal or unequal representation in terms of gender. 

Where the world is buzzing with conversations around International Women’s Day, very few celebrate International Men’s Day, which is celebrated on November 19. I know that the need for a dedicated day for women is all about spreading the consciousness that women need to be seen, appreciated and encouraged for their work, but weren’t we talking about equality? If we’re all on the same page, then I don’t see the need to treat our gender exclusively. And, even if this is about empowering a gender which has been undervalued for ages, hasn’t it now become more of a marketing gimmick for brands. It is now a major marketing tool for companies to indulge into conversations about women. But are we really just talking or acting?

On Women’s Day, it is either about a particular ad campaign about a social message for women that sticks with you, or the world is celebrating women who have achieved something, or it is about a charity or donation for organisations working towards women empowerment. However, there is little that many of us do about the women who aren’t working in white-collared jobs, as our house-keepers, cooks, or simply residing in a more rural setup. So, is it safe to assume that Women’s Day is celebrated either by the elite or by the women who have already reached a certain position in their life, let alone those who are actually facing grave issues at the very ground level. 

The very existence of a single day to celebrate the female-power undermines the very importance of the cause. Why is there a need to celebrate who we intrinsically are if we want to be treated as normal. The moment we put ourselves in a special bucket, we end up trying to discriminate our own gender. And by putting a date on when we want to be celebrated, we are collectively bringing women down by asking people to come forward and wish us for being a woman, as if it is something out of the everyday normal. It is time that we as women start celebrating ourselves everyday, start encouraging each other on any random day when we least expect it, if not on an everyday basis. 

However, every Women’s Day, some restaurants and cafes have special discounts for women and many of us find ourselves celebrating the evening in these locations. Women have a special ladies night in many pubs around the city on Wednesday. Why do we need this special treatment when we don’t want to be discriminated? Why do we need to be treated exclusively when all we demand is equality?

We celebrate women power and some remarkable achievements of some females in our vicinity on Women’s Day, which is fair. But why do some of us, who have been able to bring about little or no change in our own lives (or for any other woman we know), celebrate this day? If the day is so much about women empowerment, shouldn’t it be more about women who have either empowered themselves or someone else. If we have, then we are rightfully entitled to celebrate who we are, rather than what we are. 

It’s time women collectively come forward and recognise what is really favouring women and what is camouflaging a concocted version of another patriarchal narrative. If we are so much about empowerment, everyday is special for being who we truly are. Commercialising one single day is trivialising our existence by telling the world that we are something different from the everyday normal and that we need to be celebrated. Everyday should be a Woman’s Day, but for ourselves and not for the world, celebrating who we are as women, and not what we are in terms of gender. 

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