International Women’s Day Is a Made-Up Holiday


vintage woman enthusiastically smiling into a megaphone with the hashtags girlbosss, feminism, and thefutureisfemale

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Hello and happy International Women’s Day, a real holiday founded with the intention of honoring women’s rights. This year’s theme, as announced by the United Nations, is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” Sounds great!

But you know what’s even better? Seeing this holiday get co-opted by #brands interested in making capital-S Statements about #equality. Like when a massive snack brand says it’ll donate some of its proceeds from the day to a charitable organization but won’t give its employees adequate parental leave. Or when a big corporation makes a statement calling for a closing of the wage gap but has zero women in its C-suite.

Over the past year, we’ve seen women fight on the front lines of the pandemic, get pushed out of the workforce, and shoulder a disproportionate amount of childcare and at-home teaching demands. So hell yeah, am I ready to “celebrate” all the performative ways that brands are shouting about IWD. Here’s how I plan on doing so, starting with wearing a $50 RBG shirt.

  • I’m setting up push notifications on Twitter for every time a large corporation posts a tweet that contains the words “women” and “matter” in the same sentence. This way, I can immediately buy their limited-edition “Boobs” tote bag and feel good about myself for supporting a strong feminist business.
  • I’m only watching movies on streaming services that highlight women-centered content. Nothing tells me that a media behemoth wants me to feel seen and respected like the creation of a category called “Movies With a Strong Female Lead.” Bonus points if these movies are directed by men! (It’s critical for men and women to work together in the name of equality, especially when it’s under the direction, influence, and authority of men. #NotAllMen)
  • I’m paying $400 to attend an all-women’s Zoom panel about how to claim my power in the workplace. Every piece of advice will be about how able-bodied white women can advance their individual careers. Collectivism and intersectional feminism will be covered later. Like way later. Like next year, but only if there’s time for it.
  • I’m buying 27 copies of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In from the first bookstore chain to post the quote, “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”
  • I’m wearing a T-shirt that says “The future is female,” which I purchased from a fast-fashion website that doesn’t pay its workers a fair wage or provide humane working conditions. The design was definitely ripped off of an independent artist’s work, but that’s okay because the site I bought it from said 5 percent of all profits after tax would go to a women’s charity I’ve never heard of.

    I’m buying an adorable $70 bra from the first intimates start-up to show a nip on its feed and get flagged for it.

    • I’m posting a picture of myself from my boyfriend’s Instagram account (I hacked in three weeks ago. #WomenInTech). The caption will read, “This #girlboss lights up my life! Every day she empowers me to be a better man, which is why I’m proud to partner with literally any brand for their #IWD2021 giveaway.”
    • I’m buying an adorable $70 bra from the first intimates start-up to show a nip on its feed and get flagged for it. Even though this start-up’s entire “thing” is inclusive sizing, they won’t carry any bras in my size. I’ll buy one anyway because their marketing is so good.
    • In order to single-handedly destroy norms about women’s body hair, I’m not shaving my legs today. I will, however, still be shaving my armpits, waxing my mustache, tweezing my eyebrows, plucking stray chin hairs, and burning my pussy with Nair because, ultimately, I’ve been conditioned to believe that all women should look like little baby seals. And if I’m being honest, I think hairy women are a little “too” feminist.
    • I’m amplifying the voice of every person or company who makes even the most vapid statement about women, because today isn’t about starting a fight. It’s about proudly embodying an inoffensive feminist aesthetic. It’s about paying attention only to social justice movements that align with your schedule and your brand. Most of all, it’s about taking little to no concrete action to move the needle on equality for anyone, anywhere, ever.

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