As reported by Mashable, on Tuesday, men throughout the Guangdong province of China decided to hike up a mountain donning high heels and dresses, ostensibly in an attempt to celebrate International Women’s Day.
“The shift of role with their wives was to offer an opportunity for the men to experience the hardship of being a woman nowadays,” reads the above caption. And while the high-heel mountain climb may have been intended as a playful way of recognizing the societal disadvantages that plague women, putting on a costume to highlight inequality can easily fall right into mockery territory.
The choice of wearing heels doesn’t exactly qualify as a “hardship” of being a woman today, after all — not when issues like unequal pay are still prevalent.
Maybe the stunt would have been better received had it been accompanied by, you know, actual changes that helped improve the lives of women within the country.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
As reported by Quartz, despite the fact that International Women’s Day was the invention of the Communist Party (the party in power within China) as a way to gain traction toward equal pay and working conditions for women, celebrations throughout the country were incredibly shallow yesterday.
State-run publications like China Daily used the day as an opportunity to present slideshows of attractive journalists and translators throughout the country, while seemingly everyone ignored the fact that the wage gap between men and women in China is actually worsening. (Studies show women in 1990 made 77.5 percent of what men made in urban areas of China, versus 67.3 percent in 2010.)
Instead of simply saying we’re celebrating “femininity” by accomplishing random tasks in high heels and calling it a triumph (a la surfing in high heels), we should focus our efforts on actually elevating the successes of women across the globe.
Rather than a group of men climbing a mountain in heels and tight dresses, we should be highlighting Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, the Sherpa woman who was awarded the 2016 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award.
We should be cherishing women who break down very real boundaries, like the girls who are infiltrating the world of big-wave surfing, or the young snowboarder and rock climber who were voted by TIME as two of the most influential teens in the world.
Next time, gentlemen of the world, put the spotlight on women who are making progressive strides instead of making a spectacle of yourselves.
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