I don’t really believe that Women’s Day does a lot to help empower women, all I see around are “offers” and special discounts that make women’s day seem more like a commodity, a chance to commercialize on Feminism than anything else.
However, some are trying, and I like to support them. Instead of a free lunch for women on Women’s Day, I’d like to back brands and people who strive at improving the social status of women, on 8th March or on any other day. So, I did not do anything special on 8th march. Just a regular day until I get equal pay, right?
Which brings me to my point: Why I don’t Believe in Women’s Day. There are many stories and anecdotes, but I’ll share just one today. About one of my work-experiences.
I was in a place in my professional life, where I worked hard and got results which were out for everyone to see – but the company thought I was getting overpaid as compared to a remotely located male counterpart who worked from home most times (I bring this up because my leaving office at 1 pm was also a problem for them). There was stress and disagreement, which I am no stranger to and don;t really mind unless work is getting done.
But after trying to take it as a challenge for some time, I decided that a place that did not value me and had issues with my office-time and salary as opposed to the work done, wasn’t worth my efforts. Putting in my resignation didn’t feel like quitting, which by the way, I am very averse to. I don’t like to quit. But this wasn’t me quitting. This was me saying goodbye to a place that no longer fueled me.
An here’s the funny part – At first I didn’t see it as a misogynist thing, because the people were amazing and I am reasonably mellow in looking for hidden motives/meaning behind actions of people I am very fond of.
But later, much later, it dawned on me that it was indeed a case of deep rooted misogyny.
I was drawing a much lesser salary than the aforementioned male colleague, I was till putting in super extra hours and the results were right in front for anyone to see. But still, a woman drawing a decent salary by not even being physically present in office for 9 hours was somehow a problem. It might not have been a conscious thing, I agree, but it was definitely at the root of all the dissent that happened right before I decided to say no to unnecessary stress.
Deep rooted misogyny looks like this, ladies and gentlemen, even when the people involved are otherwise progressive, good at heart and well meaning.
Not their fault. Well, not consciously anyway. It’s a society thing, a subconscious thing where even most women are at fault for undermining other women, and worse, themselves. When they think ‘I can’t do this because of xyz reason‘, the mentality often translates to ‘She can’t do it either. And if she’s doing it, there has to be a catch.”
And this is just one example of how I know that the society has to go a long, long way before even the urban, educated and working women can call themselves empowered.
And naturally, still facing subtle discrimination like this, Women’s Day has little to no semblance to me. Other than cringing at those free lunch offers, obviously.
Long time ago, I wrote an article about how the Girl on Girl Sabotage is the worse thing Feminism faces. Sadly, the article still stands relevant, and I still see girls pulling down other girls for trivial things. See, disagreement is okay. Healthy debates are welcome. But getting viscous, trolling another woman by tearing her character down (which happens a lot on Social Media, btw) because you personally don’t agree what what she does or doesn’t stand for, is several steps back from feminism.
Anyway, it is not all gloomy. We can’t deny that the situation is a lot better than it was few years back. Just last week I saw an exemplary example of women helping women when I traveled to Chattarpura, a village in Rajasthan where with Google’s help and Tata Trusts’ training, women are learning how to utilize internet to benefit their day to day life. If you have’t yet, do read my post on Internet Saathi Program. It is a heartwarming thing and proves that we are on a way to progress, albeit at a slow pace. What’s heartening to see is the increase in women and men who stand up for equal right, equal opportunity. Feminism is in fact about equality, right?
And we can all just do our own bit, play a small role in the upliftment and empowerment of women and more importantly, refuse to get misguided by the Women’s Day pink themed commercials that tell us that everything is fine now and free lunch or a big discount is the compensation we get for facing misogyny every day of our lives.
Take those offers and lunches for all I care, but don’t let it deter you from the real fight. The fight for equal pay, equal opportunity and equal social status. And support other girls, while you’re at it. Disagreements are okay, getting nasty isn’t and will never be.
The day in far future when I will be able to tell all these stories of discrimination to my daughter, and see her shaking her head in wonder because she will not have been a victim of bias based on gender (or any kind, really) – will be the day I celebrate Women’s Day. Until then, the fight is on.
PS: Speaking of job and salaries: Read my recent interview on being a being a Travel Blogger and a mom who manages her finances the best she can.