Why International Women’s Day may never make a difference
8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day.
On that day being an active reader, I felt tremendously positive reading many articles and seeing videos which talked about breaking stereotypes, portrayed satire to bring forth the idea of celebrating women every day, heard about challenges like #bratoss by iiSuperwomanii and received many wishes on Whatsapp, Facebook etc. (It is free to forward memes and messages, so why not do it?). I felt proud as a woman and hopeful for a better tomorrow for womanhood.
But after much introspection, here I am dampening your spirits to tell you that Women’s Day will never make the kind of difference feminists yearn for.
When we talk of gender equality, one thing that most of us do not know is that our societies were matriarchal during the primitive ages. Women were the martiapotestas ( or the final authority) of the household. Polyandry was quite rampant. The simple reason being: Maternity was a fact while paternity could not have been determined. Women had the ultimate power to bear children.
However, this period slowly phased out as the pastoral ages came about. The strength of men was discovered during hunting and gathering and the women did what they earlier were known for: bearing and rearing children.
But what makes those times and the current times different is the fact that women are not treated the same way. According to behavioral psychology, one of the most common socialization agents i.e. things which directly influence our mental processes and behavior is media. Flicking through various Youtube videos, I came across an advertisement that made it pretty obvious why we think of women as submissive and belonging to the private sphere even in the 21st Century.
This is a commercial for Aashirwaad Multigrain Aata with starts off by showing a woman’s multitasking husband, ‘multi-Raj’, where he is shown to be doing ultra macho work like coming from the gym, holding a huge pile of books and going to the office.
Then the woman in the background talks about her multitasking son, ‘multi-Sid’, who is again shown to be doing ultra clichéd ‘boy’ stuff like playing football and skating…or basically sports.
What she finally wants to convey is that for her Multi-family, she cannot use normal wheat and thus uses the ‘said’ multi grain aata. But this is not where this idiocy stops. The child screams ‘multi-mom’! Like any other person, I expected a woman to come and do various tasks. But then.
That’s right. Each one of the moms was getting rotis (flat breads) for her husband and son, because why not? That is exactly what every woman does right? She belongs to the kitchen? She fights her wars with grease and dirty pans?
Let me enlighten you with some statistics. This advertisement is on Youtube. It is the same video in 7 different languages of India:, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Malayalam. Each video has roughly 1000-2000 views per video. So a good 7000-14,000 people watched the video.
Let us focus on the youth in India. There are 1.25 billion people under 25 years of age in India. 25% of the rural households own a TV set, while over 75% of urban households own one. Accordingly, a literate youth spends on an average of 98 minutes daily viewing TV. This advertisement was only of 30 seconds.
Best case scenario? There could be 1 billion youngsters (excluding the middle aged, the aging population etc.) in India (excluding 195 other countries) who saw this female anti-feminist ad (and may have seen it repeatedly on one channel too). And that was only best case.
This is exactly how the masses are always influenced: indirectly without even knowing that this is unconsciously being grinded into them. And then people ask why we have been evolving (read: very much evolved) into a patriarchal society.
We ourselves were the one inflicting the wrong upon ourselves.
International Women’s day won’t create the impact we want because only one day is present to curb the effect against this continuous everyday influence of such damaging media. One day does not make a difference and cannot bring about a monumental change. Moreover such articles, videos, ads and messages rarely make it to many people as they are on the internet, which is less accessible and a newer technology than the television. That restricts the access even more. The scales tip in favor of anti feminism additionally.
However, this does not dampen the spirit of feminism in any way. It is really amazing what all is being done. I am not overshadowing or mocking people who are working for equal rights. In fact, now entire governments are taking a stand. (like Iceland’s decision to guarantee equal pay for men and women by 2022)
The fact remains that what is being done against feminism is far more than what is being done for feminism. Instead of eliminating the former, we are waging a war which is not doing any good but only creating myths ranging from feminism being about women being bossy and assertive to feminism only liberating women at the expense of a man’s ego. It has been a long time and a lot has been done but without any equivalent results.
Time we change the plan now.
So maybe we start reducing the effect of such propaganda that the media is carrying out, maybe we start at home with our closed ones, maybe we start telling others what feminism is, maybe we fight with our boss for a good pay, maybe we do not watch films that objectify women, maybe we start being little contributors.
Meghan Markle was just 11 when she became a contributor. Just by writing a letter she made a huge company like Procter and Gamble change their commercial. So what are you waiting for? She talked about it here.
Find a commercial like that.
You do not want patriarchy to win and for feminism to became a far cry.
All these exquisite paintings have been made by Chehak Tayal. I am looking for more painters and photographers like her to collaborate with me on Embracing life. Contact me here.