Materialism hurts spirit of International Women’s Day

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/7 21:03:40

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

Before the International Women's Day, my phone has been assaulted with such text messages: "Goddess Day is around the corner, just click here and pamper yourself!" "Every beautiful woman is the queen. Don't hesitate to treat yourself with our products on Queen's Day." 

Many Chinese online retailers such as Tmall and use fancy terms like "Goddess Day" or "Queen's Day" to refer to Women's Day. I believe this is because in Putonghua, the word "women" could mean something more than just "female human being." The Chinese word could make many people think of middle-aged female workers who are not slim or young anymore. In other words, "women" in Putonghua may mean those who are no longer attractive and glamorous. However, either in Chinese or English, the word has no such meaning in the dictionary. In fact, by sticking to such a stereotype, we look down on women. 

And more importantly, many women are undermining themselves as well. They love being called girls instead of women, as if only young girls are attractive. They also prefer "Goddess Day" or "Queen's Day" rather than "Women's Day," because these names sound pompous but less serious and justify their shopping addiction. But don't women have their own charm? Compared with cute little girls, women can be stronger, mature and more independent. 

By hyping up "Queen's Day" and "Goddess Day" for profits, online retailers have tainted Women's Day with commercialism. Some may argue that these names reflect Chinese women's rising purchasing power. But they should understand that Women's Day means much more than working on yourself to look good. 

International Women's Day was supposed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But thanks to online retailers, it is becoming a shopping carnival. Even its original name is about to change. Women's Day was set to celebrate the empowerment of women, but nowadays many Chinese women prefer to be mollycoddled and even spoiled on that day. Doesn't that sound ironic?

But let's not be too pessimistic. According to a poll on China's Weibo, more than 90 percent of female respondents in their twenties want to be financially independent. They want to start a career instead of staying at home and asking money from their husbands. Chinese women also want an end to the terms Queen's Day or Goddess Day. They are proud of being called women. After all, women have all kinds of charm, and delicate beauties cannot represent the whole group.

In fact, Chinese women have been delighted at the recent news: The government has prohibited employers from asking applicants about their marital or childbearing status. The rule has made many Chinese women feel respected. This can be seen as China's new step to combat gender discrimination at the workplace, which also echoes the true spirit of Women's Day. For Chinese women, celebrating such steps by the government is much more precious than buying expensive lipsticks or luxurious handbags on International Women's Day every year. It is true that Goddess Day or Queen's Day will somehow stimulate China's economy on Women's Day. But in addition to all the luxuries and glitzy adverts, I do hope that we will also not forget women's achievements in all social areas. By passing on the true spirit of International Women's Day to the younger generation, cute little girls will grow up into Chinese women who are impressively brave, strong and in that sense, attractive.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus