International Women's Day, Holidays, and Businesses

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Richard Goulter

My previous post about “Silly Things to Say on International Women’s Day” got some attention on International Women’s Day this year. I thought I’d continue the tradition of writing about it this year:

What I saw on Facebook this year was rather tame, but still interesting:
Facebook presented a large banner, “Happy International Women’s Day” emblazoned, with a minimum-effort-required ‘Share’ button shown. A few of my friends did ‘Share’ this.
Almost every other post about International Women’s Day were ones like this, from Razer. (“Happy International Women’s Day. We celebrate women.”).

The former is ‘interesting’ in terms of, how do people support things like this on social media, etc.. (On my Facebook feed, I didn’t see any manually written posts about the day, but that’s just my feed).

Now, the latter is very interesting in terms of how businesses ‘support’ such holidays:

Compare it to Christmas: On the one hand, everyone knows it’s observed by Christians as celebrating the birth of Jesus. Some businesses will say “Merry Christmas” or some “Happy Holidays”, depending on the cultural context & whichever is more appropriate. (I know people who get upset at the former, and people who get upset at the latter. Among other things to get upset over about all this. Go figure. Anyway).
– But it’s not really the case that businesses actually care about the-birth-of-Jesus: Christmas is valuable as a holiday, as a day for which people will spend money above-and-beyond the typical day of the year. - And if that’s why Christmas is important, then in contrast what Christmas allows is for the business to muscle for attention: ‘Christmas is special, and this message is special. Buy our stuff.’.
– Usually it’s better for broad-appealing businesses to stay away from controversial topics (even topics controversial-by-proxy); so if a broad-appealing business supports a message, it’s going to be a fairly ‘safe’ one. - Can’t condemn that.

And yet, just as Christmas has believers who care passionately about birth-of-Jesus celebrate this at Christmas,
International Women’s Day serves as a platform for celebrations of the victories of the feminist movements, as well as grievance-mongering for the plight of women in the Western world. (Basically, ‘situation as normal’).
International Women’s Day is treated as a de-facto “Feminist’s Day”, as such.
– So it’s also no surprise you also get posts like this from women who don’t call themselves feminists, saying “boo feminists”; with statements hardly long enough to allow for more than a handful of “why I’m not a feminist” cliches among them. (It’s a bit frustrating that such brevity won’t further public discussion much, and I’d bet only gets ire from a “feminism is about equality” reader).

Putting two and two together:
There’s the chance for more consumption if a tradition were pushed along the lines of “International Women’s Day: Give a gift to your feminist/women pals”. (Even better if we got a day off for it, too).

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