Not only do many Chinese people miss the point of women’s day, they actually manage to completely subvert the whole meaning.
On Monday 8th March women’s day was brought to my attention by the economist espresso newsletter, which ranked countries in terms of female equality. I don’t know where China ranks (China wasn’t listed) but I was shocked by some of the things I noticed that day.
Firstly, on women’s day my female colleagues in China were presented with a “gift” from the company we work for. That gift was, unbelievably, a bottle of washing up liquid. It sounds like a stupid joke from a misogynistic male manager. Yet the Chinese staff didn’t seem to understand that giving women washing up liquid, and thus implying their place is washing dishes in the kitchen, isn’t really in line with the spirit of women’s day.
If this wasn’t enough I noticed in the lift on the way up to my office an advert for an online shopping site promoting their women’s day sale. The advert had a picture of what I can objectively describe as a smoking hot Chinese woman. This objectifying of women in order to promote a product is exactly what women’s day isn’t about. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The woman is shown standing in the kitchen, implying that is where a woman should be, and the caption states “don’t call me a housewife. I’m a fashionable hot mum.”
So in China women’s day, which aims to promote gender equality and “celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women” is reduced to depicting women as either housewives or hot mums standing in the kitchen, and those that do have jobs are given a bottle of washing up liquid by the employers.