When you look around a couple of days from now, you’ll notice that for most media houses, International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is an opportunity to embrace feminine colours and proclaim their belief in the power of pink.
Manufacturers of women’s products (hair colour, fairness creams, water purifiers, pastel-coloured cellphones and whatever else it is that they believe we Indian women buy) are informed that the media will celebrate “empowerment”. In exchange for lots of monetary support, of course.
Celebrating womanhood? Deepika Padukone. Kunal Patil / Hindustan Times
So you can look forward to all those advertisements featuring Bollywood’s loveliest women—Genelia, Deepika, Chitrangda—earnestly explaining how a particular brand of fairness cream can change your spots forever. Fairness creams really can change your life you know—cancer is a life-changing experience. A skincare biggie has even persuaded the dusky Kajol to lighten up, reportedly for a couple of crores.
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Marketing departments, in women’s magazines especially, up sales targets in March and their editorial teams think long and hard to come up with a woman of substance (who is also glamorous of course) for their cover that month.
Nobody from our marketing department approached me this year to ask if we were doing an IWD special. By now they understand that Lounge doesn’t believe in celebrating women one day in a year. Our female readers can be on top any day they choose. Besides, we could argue that there’s no better way to celebrate Women’s Day than to feature one of our favourite directors on the cover; Shyam Benegal is a man who has always respected the power of Indian women on and off the big screen (although I must emphasize that him being on the Lounge cover this week is purely coincidental).
But why just the media?
That day your neighbourhood spas will offer Womanhood packages; your favourite bar will organize a Ladies’ Night; your friendly domestic airline will give you a teeny-weeny discount; and as part of a new programme endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar, cricket coaches will teach around 1,000 of your brothers how to respect you. As I write this I’ve just been invited to attend an “informal luncheon” where an alternative therapy female doctor will share ways to balance my work-life stress. “Not interested,” I snapped at the messenger.
Who knows, Indian Parliament could feel the urge to join the hard sell too and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill this March.
And after the pink flush has subsided, we can all go back to silently watching Indian women getting raped and abused, both on and off the small screen.
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