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