Hillary Clinton Campaigns Across US One Day Ahead of election
Hillary Clinton Campaigns Across US One Day Ahead of election

International Women’s Day fuels gender inequality fire

You've probably seen them gathering this time every year like purple-plumaged migratory birds.

They are the exhausted, overworked women who must schlep in their pencil skirts and stilettos to a luxury car showroom or city hotel to be #empowered by former news readers and femtrepreneurs over a breakfast of stale pastries and crap coffee (all outside of paid work hours, naturally).

Why on earth, you ask? International Women's Day, of course!

Sunday marks the annual recognition of female solidarity. It was started 109 years ago, co-opted by communist countries like Russia and instituted as a global celebration by the United Nations in 1975.

But what was once a necessary honouring of women's rights has now become a tokenistic, gush fest for rich, white ladies.

How is that professional career women nibbling tepid scrambled eggs think they are somehow united in their struggles with the Muslim Uighur women detained in Xinjiang, the Somalian girls forced to undergo genital mutilation or the illiterate Afghan wives in forced marriages?

And how is it that stay-at-home mothers (which I can assure you is the hardest job) are frozen out of this corporate faux-feminist movement?

A brunch never changed the world. Picture: iStock
A brunch never changed the world. Picture: iStock

The sincerity to raise awareness may be authentic, but these IWD events are ineffectual.

Even worse, it's been hijacked as a marketing ploy to sell anything from makeup to active wear.

By slapping on some purple and chucking in a few #strongwomen and #sistahood hashtags, companies have appropriated the day for commercial gain.

One of Australia's iconic shopping precincts, Melbourne's Chapel Street, has rolled out an ad to commemorate International Women's Day featuring a woman getting cosmetic injections. Because that's not reductive stereotyping.

"Women have been made to feel embarrassed by their life choices and bodies for centuries, there's no room for that outdated way of thinking in Chapel Street Precinct," CSPA general manager Chrissie Maus told Ad News. Which to me seems a confusing justification as the ad is about a woman altering her body that she's meant to be unashamed of. But anyhow, power to women, yay!

Frivolous feminism has compromised the validity and usefulness of the day and simply perpetuates the stereotypes and segregation it's meant to be fighting against.

I'm sorry, but it's time we stopped celebrating International Women's Day.


Don't get me wrong, this is not some anti-feminist rant for men's rights (although, for those asking, International Men's Day is November 19, but the UN has deemed it World Toilet Day).

And it is not an attempt to disparage the genuine issues being raised for women by women.

That on average one woman is killed a week in a domestic violence attack in Australia is sickening. That the Herald Sun had to close comments on its AFLW stories due to trolling is repugnant. That childcare costs are so financially debilitating is maddening.

But to somehow lump half the world's population together as though we are some niche posse of martyrs is redundant and humiliating.

Don't patronise me because my egg got hit by slower swimming sperm.

I have more in common with my homosexual friend living in New York than I do with Germaine Greer.

But there is this myth peddled by International Women's Day that by sharing a chromosome and a front bottom we must unite to right the wrongs of the gender ledger while showering inspirational #girlpower hashtags on social media.

Maybe that's why I struggle to embrace this day. There is a sense of victimhood and subconscious misandry that I just can't support.

I stand for equal rights for women and men and for an end to bias and discrimination of any person.

There are better ways to change the world than through motivational hashtags and brunches. Picture: iStock
There are better ways to change the world than through motivational hashtags and brunches. Picture: iStock

In her book released last year, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, Caroline Criado Perez presents mind-boggling research on how the world is designed - drug dosages, voice recognition software, town planning - for men. And we don't even notice it. Why is a woman nearly 50 per cent more likely to be hurt in a car crash? Because male-shaped dummies are predominantly used in the safety testing of seats, seatbelts and headrests.

But what makes this book important is that it's not some woke, feminist manifesto that blames the evil patriarchy. It simply states that this bias has happened through neglect and thoughtlessness from all of us.

So I'll pass on today's purple cupcakes, cheap champagne and twerkshops.

Yes, women get a dud deal in many ways, but we are no better or worse than men.

By using International Women's Day to set apart the world's 3.8 billion females as somehow victimised or special because of their gender only stokes the flames of bias and inequality.

You can count me out of that celebration.

Lucy Carne is editor of Rendezview.com.au