Women's Day should not be tainted by commercialism

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/7 18:38:39

These days I keep receiving text messages from Tmall reminding me to check their discounted items on Thursday, "Queen's Day." Just another Chinese marketing tactic targeting women on International Women's Day, I smirked.

"Queen's Day" is one of many variations of International Women's Day running in the opposite direction from its original purpose, which is supposed to be a celebration of women's economic, political, and social achievements. Chinese retailers, however, are turning women into spoiled little girls who only want stuff and more stuff.

March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman's Conference to become an "International Woman's Day" and was adopted by the United Nations in 1975. In 1949, March 8 was listed as a nationwide holiday.

Even though most Chinese women can benefit from the holiday by taking a half-day, the word "woman" in Putonghua often refers to maturity, being out of shape or sexually unattractive.

Thus, fancier-named holidays are now popping up, such as "Girl's Day," which happens to fall on March 7, the night before Women's ay. "Girl's Day" is believed to have been initiated at Shandong University in the 1980s to distinguish girls from their more mature counterpart, according to media reports.

The festival caught on nationwide as an occasion for young male students to show their love and appreciation for female students, sort of like a Valentine's Day.

Women's Day itself is also becoming a shopping carnival, like Double 11. Online and offline retail platforms with glamorous tiles and slogans such as "Queen's Day," "Goddess Day" and "Butterfly Day" offer discounts on clothes, underwear, household appliances and cosmetics to lure women into spending money.

JD.com, one of China's biggest e-commerce platforms, uses the slogan "Butterfly Day, together bloom with beauty" as its International Women's Day campaign this year, offering 100 yuan ($63) discounts for every 199 yuan spent on beauty products. Jumei.com, a cosmetics website, pledges to "make beauty lasting" on its "Fairy Day," offering discount up to 100 yuan per every 188 yuan spent.

It is disturbing to think that the biggest messages of these platforms is that beauty is all a woman needs to succeed. Sadly, this contributes to commercialism.

There is already enough discrimination against women in today's world, so why do retailers have to create even more pressure and competitiveness among women by using "girl" and "woman," "attractive woman" and "less attractive woman" as their key words?

Because of this overall discrimination, there now exists a "girl fever" among mature Chinese women to try to look and act as cute and naive as a little girl. While most of my female foreign friends embrace their maturity and independence, my Chinese girlfriends, even the ones in their 30s, still prefer being called "girls."

A fear of growing old and losing beauty, which in turn will make us lose affection from our society, haunts most Chinese women, especially those over 25 years old.

Reaching 25 this year myself, I already feel such pressure. I spend more time now testing different skincare and anti-aging products, exercising in the gym to burn fat and attending arranged blind dates before I become "leftover" are all now my daily priorities.

Sadly, this new trend among Chinese women to look and act like a little girl will not help women's status in our society and will divert from the original purpose of setting up an International Women's Day. I think we should celebrate March 8 strictly as Women's Day, not as another Valentine's Day or Double 11, so as not to forget that there are sill many struggles for women - such as equal pay, sexual harassment and other important issues - that need to be addressed.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration:Lu Ting/GT


Posted in: TWOCENTS

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