Fiona Fernandez: Whose Women's Day is it, anyway?

Thanks to mindless commercialisation, it has become too big to fail, and handle

Fiona FernandezBy the time you read this, e-commerce platforms would be laughing all the way to the bank, women’s wear labels and women’s product brands would have met their targets even before the set date, and bargain stores — online and of the physical variety — buoyed by the weekend fervour, would be smacking their lips, waiting for D-Day. In case you’re haven’t guessed till now, we’re talking about everybody’s favourite golden goose for this time of the year — International Women’s Day.

From self-defence classes to safety apps, the world seems to have gone into a tizzy giving shape and size to a Frankenstein that seems likely to bump Valentine’s Day off the top of the charts as the most commercially viable day in the year. We’ve chuckled over Take Your Boss Out Day or Fourth of July specials (if only Donald Trump knew!) but Women’s Day ideas — be it the oddball or tugging-at-the-heartstrings variety — have taken the importance of the day to unrecognisable levels. Moments before I sat down to write this column, I chanced upon a publisher’s reading list posted on social media that egged all and sundry to stock up on women-backed novels from their stable. Why read these novels on March 8 only? Why take a judo class right now? Or why have women specials at restaurants and pubs for a day? What about the rest of the year? It’s a query that yours truly, like many other women keep asking out aloud only to realise that the monster seems to have become too big to handle or, do away with entirely.

It’s a no-brainer that the day has lost its sensitivity; the introspection and certainly, the intent of working towards building a free, equal society. It feels almost utopian to pen down the suggestion even, at this juncture, what with the crass tamasha that’s on display. Do I hear an advertising industrywallah jump into the game saying, “But it’s what the junta wants”? Sure. We, like the rest of our ilk, will be running specials and fun itineraries for the day.

But how about these gurus get some much-delayed, long-term perspective along the way? Especially with ads that portray women in poor light — the kind who will stop sulking when a diamond set magically appears, thanks to hubby dearest, or where the woman can’t win her in-laws’ vote and confidence unless she can be a masterchef in the kitchen. TV ads are just one example of this yet-to-evolve mindset.

There’s plenty of growing up to do in almost every other avenue meant for public consumption. Alas.

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones... wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana

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