In the early 20th century, a coalition of socialist feminists called for a global labor strike to demand women’s equality in the workplace and to gain fundamental workplace protections. This eventually became International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8 ever year. But the idea of a general strike eventually turned into an often-milquetoast day of recognition, which has since been bastardized by capitalist enterprises and used as a branding opportunity to get a couple thousand likes on Elon Musk’s Twitter.
In 2018, McDonald’s—which was recently hit with a sexual harassment class action lawsuit by its perennially underpaid workers—symbolically flipped its golden “M” to a “W” for women (get it!?). That same year, beer company Brew Dog gave women a pretty, pink IPA for our troubles. Apple marked last year’s IWD by reminding women via Apple watch notification to “celebrate women around the world” by burning some calories. iHeartRadio devoted one (1) single hour to women artists. You get the gist.
But it seems this year we’re finally witnessing an ounce of self-awareness, at least from some brands, who realize meaningful political messages or some tangible benefit for women today might go further than a cutesy post. They’re trying their damndest to compensate for past wrongs and show that, even through the cynical eyes of corporate America, women are valued. #Blessed.
Those glimmers of progress are, however, still the exception and, for the most part, we find ourselves in the throes of another round of IWD pink-washing. Happy International Brands Pandering To Women Day, all! Let’s see what we’re working with this year.