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Mar 10 2014

International Women’s Day: 24 hours of the “Unique Female Perspective”

celebratewomenAnother International Women’s Day come and gone. How time flies. It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since Western interests last “celebrated” women by putting photos of smiling ladies in colorful turbans on their websites.

I spent International Women’s Day, not celebrating women, but freaking out because my horse Stella had suddenly come down with a mysteriously swollen face. It was as though her head had been inflated with a bicycle pump. Fortunately the vet arrived just before I had to resort to shoving foot-long pieces of garden hose up her snoot to keep the airways open. He shot her full of steroids, charged me with the duty of checking on her every fifteen minutes for the remainder of the day, handed me a bill for $42,678,573.98, and biffed off in the hybrid vetmobile my hypochondriac herd bought for him last year. As he left I waved, “Happy International Women’s Day!” and he said, “Huh?”

stella_swollen_faceLater that same day my hay guy delivered a truckload of coastal square bales. He said what he always says, which is, “You women. You sure love a barn full of hay.” Apparently, hay awareness is weird and gender-specific; men are too manly to give a crap if their horses starve to death because they ran out of hay in the middle of winter. “Happy International Women’s Day!” I said. “Every day is women’s day,” the hay guy informed me.

But I digress.

Every year when International Women’s Day rolls around, I cast a jaundiced eye upon the patronizing Mother’s Day-ish tone of the thing. Yay women! for 24 hours. Inspirational quotations! More pictures of women generally smiling! Vague enjoinders to “celebrate” those pitiful long-suffering women. But what is International Women’s Day, anyway? Who invented it? Who runs it? Who makes money off it?

I did some rudimentary Googling. It turns out (if Wikipedia is to be believed) that International Women’s Day started out as a Marxist holiday. In 1911 German Social Democrat Clara Zetkin organized the first IWD at a socialist working women’s conference in Copenhagen. Leon Trotsky credited a 1917 Women’s Day demonstration in St Petersburg with sparking the Russian revolution. IWD was naturally adopted as an official holiday in Soviet Russia. In 1977, the UN started an annual International Women’s Day dealio dedicated to enbiggening women’s interests and opportunities, which has been wildly successful, as you can see from (among other things) the illegal forced closings of abortion clinics in Texas.

Nowadays in the West, International Women’s Day is more marketing than Marxism. Let the jaundiced eyerolls begin.

The website claiming ownership of International Women’s Day is run by something called Aurora Ventures. “Our name ‘Aurora’ comes from Aurora the Goddess of the Dawn.” So there’s an eyeroll right off the bat.

Aurora Ventures say they promote “economic advancement of women through entrepreneurial and career development.” What they mean is that they are lady-head-hunters working for ginormous corporations (BP, McDonald’s, Cisco, GE, Microsoft) interested in padding their workforce with talent they can get for 75 cents on the dollar.

Here is Aurora Ventures’ inspirational message:

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

In other words: fill the internet with meaningless platitudes !! And don’t forget to celebrate our Supporting Partners, BP and Scotiabank !!

I clicked the “Events” tab at Aurora Ventures’ IWD website. I was expecting to give my jaundice a good buffing, and the website did not disappoint. There were 262 woman-celebrating events scheduled in the US. Since anybody was welcome to fabricate and post an event on the site, the specimens ran the gamut, from a “True Beauty Fashion Show,” to a live Twitter Q&A featuring those notable expert women Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, to poetry readings (yawn), to “30% off luxury lifestyle products made by artisan groups that empower women.”

Naturally there were several appeals from marketing firms looking to leverage woman-celebrating into some free focus group action: “Tell us, what is your one wish for Womenkind?”

Eyeroll the second.

Womenkind, it turns out, is a marketing communications company “built soundly on the the authentic desires, opinions, and wisdom of women” because “91% of women say marketers don’t understand them” and there’s money to be made from tapping that vast virgin asset. Another clueless firm pretended simply to want to “increase awareness of Women’s Day” apparently as an end in itself, by inviting participants to freely volunteer information about “what women want.” Eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll.

An event called “WOMEN IN SUPPLY CHAIN” — no shit — won my Best of IWD Award. It turned out to be a thing at a Miami hotel dedicated to women who have learned “how to run a great supply chain” using their “uniquely female perspective.”

Women! 51% of the population, yet so unique! So mysterious! So unfathomable! So weird about hay! No normal marketing company has ever cracked the code!

Eyeroll x infinity.

stoptellingwomentosmileAnyway, here, via Perry Street Palace, is my contribution to International Women’s Day. You know how a spinster aunt loves an activist street art thing. Stop Telling Women to Smile.

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“Celebrating Women” photo nicked from African Development Fund’s ad on the International Women’s Day website.

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23 comments

1 ping

  1. Elly

    My favorite thing about International Women’s Day, and by favorite, I mean rage inducing, was that some some dude was interviewed about the Google Doodle. (Yes, of course there was a Google Doodle. Duh. That’s how you know it was a very important day.) He said, and I quote: “International Women’s Day is a really hard topic. How do you [summarize] what women represent in a graphic?”

    How, indeed.

  2. Alison

    Thank you so much for your posts!!

  3. Blamer from way back

    This made me snort my water out of my nose:

    “What they mean is that they are lady-head-hunters working for ginormous corporations (BP, McDonald’s, Cisco, GE, Microsoft) interested in padding their workforce with talent they can get for 75 cents on the dollar.”

    No shit.

  4. intransigentia

    Poor Stella! I hope she’s feeling better?
    (poor bank account)

  5. Banhorn

    Hopefully your horsey Stella is doing alright. We adopted a new puppy in December who came down with a mysterious fever which resulted in joint pain. He improved and then came down with the same symptoms again. No one seems to know what is happening with him and we’ve paid way more than we anticipated to figure it out. He’s on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory meds and another pain med. He’s back to his own puppy self….for now. Fingers crossed, his next step would be a neurologist.

    I missed IWD…as a parent of a human and three dogs…stuff gets missed all the time, I guess. As long as everyone is hydrated and fed, I feel I’ve been somewhat successful.

  6. ivyleaves

    Due to the cringe-inducing nature of the few minutes I heard on my radio in the car, I avoided this “celebration” altogether. I don’t think anything could have been worse than to listen to my local Pacifica independent radio station to hear a show with all women interviewing women where the first interviewee I heard shut down the interviewer when she was complaining about some sports brouhaha over a woman commentator being all over the place about a hairdo misstep, while men in the business aren’t even noticed when they wear the same tie every day. The sportscaster female cut her off with (paraphrased) Well, that’s just how it is today, I know if I could get her job I would show up everyday with my hair PERFECT, and in Armani, and etc., etc. etc. Then when I left the grocery, the woman being interviewed was explaining how women are finally coming back into their “woman power” by baring their breasts for good causes, citing Lady Godiva as historical proof. I weep when this is what is on the “progressive” channels, I shudder to think what was in the popular media, could it actually be worse?

  7. pandechion

    Next up: Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day!

  8. speedbudget

    If I am ever confused about what women or myself want, I just watch that movie, _What Women Want_, and all confusion is suddenly gone.

    I mean, who would know better about what women want than Mel Gibson & Co.?

    P.S. On a serious note, when I have the extra cash flow and feel like making a difference, I go to Kiva and look for an entrepreneurial lady to give my money to.

  9. Owly

    What better way to celebrate a Marxist-originated holiday than by shameless capitalism?

  10. ew_nc

    After slamming my head on the desk for every absurdity carried out in the name of “International Women’s Day”, my face is near as swollen as Stella’s. Did that fool horse stick her face in a wasp’s nest or something?

  11. shopstewardess

    The UK has just launched a new bit of legislation which enables people to find out if their partners have a history of domestic violence. As with all new UK legislation, it is drafted in gender-neutral terms, so applies equally to men and women, heterosexual people and LGBTQ people.

    The legislation is informally known as “Clare’s Law” (after a Clare who was killed by a violent former partner) and was launched on IWD. So naturally the BBC website item about it made it sound as though it was only for women, and the vast majority of website comments on it were “what about the menz?”, with some pretty vile misogyny thrown in (women are violent to men, women deceive men, women take all a man’s money). My sole contribution to IWD this year was in trying to balance that discussion. I was so successful that one MRA ended up stating that women/women relationships have a higher incidence of violence than men/women relationships.

    Of course, the BBCs 6 “Editors’ Picks” highlighted at the top of the discussion were 5 “what about the mens” to 1 “not all what about the mens”.

    #Spleenvent Monday.

  12. Val

    Ah, the ubiquitous urticarial reaction – I think you’re on the right track ew_nc; it was most likely an envenomation… Insect most likely, but I wouldn’t absolutely rule out a snakebite (although it’s awfully early in the season w/recent mini-Polar Vortex). Get Better Soon wishes to sweet Stella!

  13. Lidon

    International Women’s Day is totally patronizing. And now I’m in the midst of a European city preparing for a festival that includes spending millions of Euros creating large, cartoon-like sculptures, many of which are degrading depictions of…you guessed it! Women!!! Happy Women’s Day indeed.

  14. WiltedLettuce

    Well I guess I was pleasantly clueless about International Women’s Day. When I saw it on the Google doodle, I just assumed it was about addressing issues like poverty, violence, sexism, etc. In observance, I posted a mini-rant about sexism on facebook. Overall the response was more heartening than dis-heartening, but I was really puzzled by the other posts that were very sappy women-are-wonderful stuff. Patronizing, indeed.

  15. gingerest

    Hooray for horse news! Nice barn. As for International Women’s Day, well, it’s not even a bank holiday, so I don’t observe it since it just upholds the status quo that every other day is International Men’s Day.

  16. Keri

    “Women! 51% of the population, yet so unique! So mysterious! So unfathomable! So weird about hay! ”

    That made me laugh so hard I had a hot flash. Oh you ladies and your hay all the time. My good bud and backpacking partner has 3 Arabians. Hay security is no joke according to her. Also all kinda weird shit that can go wrong with horses at any minute.

    Speedbudget: Especially after reading “Half the Sky”, I stay on top of my Kiva loan situation for the ladies around the globe. Feels like something good to do.

  17. Twisty

    Stella update: she is cured! We never figured out what caused her inflate-o-face. She’s been turned out in the same pasture and eating the same diet for 2 years without incident, so we sort of ruled out plants and dirt and food. This left, as has been suggested, envenomation. No obvious fang marks anywhere, and her swelling was not typical for snakebite. She’s always had a bit of a fly-bite allergy, though, so I’m going with an invertebrate of some sort. Possibly one of the winter-sleepy red wasps I’ve been seeing around, or a wolf spider. Too early for scorpions.

    Horses can and do self-destruct at the drop of a hat. They are astonishingly fragile. And Keri, you are right. Hay is no joke. You run out of hay, you can’t just biff off to Whole Foods and pick up some wheat grass or whatever; my 3-head herd goes through about 40 pounds a day. Because of droughts and floods, there are shortages all the time, and it gives me fits. So yeah, there’s nothing quite like the happy-go-lucky feeling you get from a full-up hay barn.

  18. Lab Rat

    @Emmy: Yes, how indeed. What was the Google graphic anyway? Maybe I will be sorry I asked.

    @pandechion: Yeah, nice how they completely removed the original spirit of that event.

    @speedbudget: You will also find anything by Steve Harvey extremely helpful as well. Who knew that all I needed to do was act like a man to get what I want. Whew. That’s settled.

    @Owly: *tee hee*

    @shopstewardess: see pandechion’s above and replace event with program.

  19. gingerest

    I am glad to hear that Stella is recovered and that life at Dreadful Acres goes on with slightly less drama.

  20. ILoveMyLabrador

    I am so glad this blog exists. Thank you, Twisty.

  21. Albatross

    God, women! When will they stop going on and on about their hay, as if I care about alfalfa content and the minute differences between 2nd and 3rd cutting!

    But seriously if “Women! So weird about hay!” could become, like, the one stereotype of women? That would be great. Best. stereotype. ever.

  22. phio gistic

    We had a Samoyed when I was a kid. Once he developed a strange swelling on his head. Mom was sure the bug man had bopped the dog with his pesticide applicator (fair enough, that dog hated all men on sight). But the vet’s diagnosis was dandelions. The sammy like sniffing and he had sniffed ripe dandelion fluff right up into his nasal passages. I don’t think they did anything about it and eventually the swelling went down.

  23. ptittle

    Love this post, thanks Twisty, you continue to impress the hell outta me!

    (and now I’m having fun imagining an International Men’s Day…let me see, what would I…)

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