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Selwyn, English

SASKIA GOLDMAN has been riled by the International Women’s Day whims of online fashion store ASOS.

Today I, like the 7 billion other people on the planet, woke up to International Women’s Day. But I, unlike billions of others, was privileged enough to wake up to a society that actually knew it was International Women’s Day.

However, as I sat drinking my coffee, listening to all the related features on the
radio and scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed to many a joyous ‘Happy
International Women’s Day!’ status, I discovered something that filled me with
disgust at my own blindly over-privileged society.

As I scrolled down, I noticed an update from ASOS – who, yes, I’ve ‘liked’ on
Facebook – claiming that:

“Obvs girls and guys alike ♥ shopping, but International Women’s Day
seems as good a reason as any for a discount. 10% off everything
today with promo code INTERNATIONAL10. Whoop women!”

What’s wrong with this? Well, if you can’t already tell then you should probably
stop reading. Or maybe that’s the reason you should be reading on. International
Women’s day, here, has been interpreted as a celebration of femininity; it’s even
been accompanied a lovely picture of a pouting girl, pretty in pink:

But ASOS have monumentally missed the point. The first thing that is wrong with
this sales ploy is the idea that International Women’s Day should be a sales ploy
at all. Today is a day about awareness, not Western consumerism and earning
ourselves an extra buck.

Second: ASOS have patronized the British public by assuming that a) all we can
think of on a day like today is buying a new tye-dye tank top, and b) that we
would even doubt that men and women share an equal stake in women’s issues.
By stressing that ‘guys can use the code too’, ASOS show not only their utter
stupidity and transparent avarice, but how little they or their marketing team
understand about feminism, equal rights, or their average audience.

Most of the people who have ‘liked’ ASOS on Facebook will be between
the ages of 16 and 25; a vast majority of those will be students who are
enlightened enough to know that women’s issues affect and should involve everyone, regardless of gender.

So what should ASOS have done? The fact that 10% of sales revenue can
be sacrificed at a whim shows the kind of corporation ASOS is: a very wealthy
one, capable of manipulating sales when required. 10% of ASOS’s sales
today should have been pledged towards women’s charities; sadly, I’m pretty
sure this would have got them a lot less custom than their 10% discount.

So, what should we be doing? Yes, zealous lefties like us were keen to boycott
Primark when shocking news of sweatshops appeared, but would our generation
be prepared to boycott ASOS, that essential online fashion portal, with the same
ideological fervour? I fear not.

Corporate responsibility needs to be on the agenda on a day like today. I’m sure
ASOS aren’t the only foolhardy company to do something so shortsightedly
laughable, but they do need to acknowledge the lack of responsibility they, and
others like them, seem to take.

Just because in the UK today I can wake up and choose what I wear, go to the
library and choose what I read, go to bed and choose who I sleep with, doesn’t
mean that every woman has this luxury.

ASOS and companies like it have to respond to this global truth, and we need to
make them. While ASOS is still going to be a bastion of our disgustingly excessive
consumerist culture (with a great big 2,136 dresses for us girls to choose from),
if it can’t recognise the need to engage correctly and respectfully with this major
issue for at least one day a year, then it doesn’t deserve us.

Corporate responsibility is as important on International Women’s Day as it was
with the BP oil spill or the various sweatshops revelations across the years, and
this is something that only we can make these companies realise.

  • Yeah but

    Shut up love

    • Oh fack

      off

    • (Male) boatie

      Seriously, Tab, why even publish a comment like that? It has no merit beyond letting the misogyny brigade exercise their hard-won right to thumb-up.

      To whoever wrote it – don’t know how much your education cost, but it’s done a fine job. http://i.imgur.com/icDAk.gif

    • it was probably

      written by some radical feminist as some sort of call to arms

  • Anonymous

    This is a zeroth world problem. I can’t help but feel that on the list of problems affecting women and the rest of the human race, this comes very low down indeed.

    • I tried to upvote…

      but I couldn’t :-( please fix this tab!!! it’s been broken for aaaaaages!!!

      • It’s probably because

        you have the “adblocker” extension turned on, turn it off and give it a try.

        • Yesssssssss

          I can vote again!

  • Seriously…

    …just chill. And have a great International Women’s Day :-)

  • The world population

    is actually over 7 billion now

    • Just wanted to make clear

      I posted the above comment when it still said 6 billion – I am not one of those pedants who wants it accurate to the very last digit!

      • Strange Editing

        Interesting they’ve chosen to update that but not the dreadful format…

  • Problematically, all publicity…

    …is good publicity.
    (Aside from the identification of a discount) The massive company logo and nice picture of a cute top in this article means it is likely to have greatest impact in directing towards this website, that you are right to identify as obnoxiously hijacking International Women’s Day, more of its target consumers .

  • Give ASOS credit where it’s due

    I understand where you’re coming from but really, I think it’s great that ASOS are acknowledging the fact it’s International Women’s Day at all (which is more than most other corporations have done) and are thus spreading awareness such as on Facebook, as you yourself have proven. Perhaps you could find a better way to do this but ASOS is a clothes retailer so realistically offering a discount on clothes is the easiest way for them to show their support and I think you should give them credit for trying.

    • Matilda

      ‘Give ASOS credit where its due’? This cynical capitalisation on a day meant to promote discussion about women’s rights, a day that was started because of a strike by exploited garment workers, is done for profit only. ASOS have no desire to prompt genuine discussion about the rights of women, let alone garment workers, in fact they have a vested interest in those issues not being raised; their business depends on women believing that buying clothes is a key part of their gender identity (evidenced here), and on their not feeling a responsibility to or solidarity with the women who make those clothes on the other side of the world in terrible conditions with insufficient pay.

      • Miss Trunchbull

        Is this the same ASOS who are members of the “Ethical Trade Initiative” and independently audit all their suppliers? The same ASOS who have developed their own ASOS Africa ethical production initiative? Maybe if we all stop making lazy generalizations about clothing companies it will encourage others to stop making lazy generalizations in other areas of life.

        • Miss Honey

          Who remembers me, boys?

  • Asos

    Every sort of special day is exploited for marketing purposes, I think you’re reading too much into this. The offer Asos is making is probably the same one they offer on St Patrick’s day, Valentine’s day, pancake day.

  • Economist

    10% cut in prices does not mean they’re sacrificing 10% of revenue

  • Well

    don’t buy from asos then. That’s your choice.

  • Michael Winner

    Calm down dear! Its a commercial.

  • That isn’t even

    a tank top

  • an observer

    a lot of girls are not uber-feminist and like the fact they like shopping, asos has grabbed the oppertunity to cash in on this, why the problem?

  • When is

    men’s day?

    • Your Mother

      Every day is men’s day.

    • google
    • It’s on
    • i’m awaiting

      the silly reply from radical feminists ‘IT’S EVERY DAY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME’ – we have gender equality, get over it, stop perpetuating victimhood for your own benefit

      • Please,

        what world are you looking at? What gender equality?

      • Suffragette

        yeah I mean rape culture and the sexual objectification of women ain’t no thang – we nailed the women’s vote last century so it’s obviously all gravy..

  • It’s 10% off ASOS today?

    Awesome!

  • Yeah

    they should have donated money to women’s charities, but apart from that all they did was raise awareness to the fact that it’s International Women’s Day, which is surely a good thing.

    Also, “Well, if you can’t already tell then you should probably stop reading.”

    I can’t think of a single context in which that sentence would ever be helpful to your argument…

  • IIB Economist

    I’m afraid that this paragraph has problems:

    “The fact that 10% of sales revenue can be sacrificed at a whim shows the kind of corporation ASOS is: a very wealthy one, capable of manipulating sales when required. 10% of ASOS’s sales today should have been pledged towards women’s charities; sadly, I’m pretty sure this would have got them a lot less custom than their 10% discount.”

    You contradict yourself when you say that the discount sacrifices 10% of revenue for the day, but that giving away 10% of revenue would have got them less ‘custom’. In your fantasy world where a 10% price cut reduces revenue by 10%, then implementing the price cut should be equivalent, from the point of view of their bottom line, to giving away 10% of revenue, no?

    I find it quite hard to get wound up about this issue – and you don’t provide me with any credible reasons why the elimination of admittedly genuine issues in gender politics in countries where ASOS does not operate should be their corporate social responsibility.

  • It’s people like you

    who give feminism a bad name.

  • Logical Extremes

    So true. I also found it disgusting that businesses didn’t donate all their revenue from the month of February to black charities, it was Black History month afterall and some businesses did mention it in passing! How dare they!
    Children’s charities on Nov 20.
    Mens charities on Nov 19.
    AND DONATE ALL REVENUE TO A DIFFERENT SET OF CHARITIES EVERY TIME THERE IS SUCH A DAY TO RAISE AWARENESS!

    Seriously though, they’re a business, not your friend. IF they can capitalise on something they will. As for western consumerism…yeah…i’m sure you buy no rabbit related items for easter or gifts for christmas or valentines day. I’m sure you also ignore birthdays. Because consumerism is baaaaad.

  • If this is satire

    it’s too understated for me. I suppose it must be plain, old, feminist idiocy.

  • Hugo Cobb

    Classic Cobbtack

  • You mean to tell me,

    international women’s day is beginning to be hijacked by corporations who just want to make money?! Who’d have thought…

  • umm

    International women’s day is a joke. What’s it supposed to achieve? How will the world be different tomorrow? The people behind it will probably spout some bollocks about ‘raising awareness’.

  • Problem?

    So Asos offer a discount to celebrate women’s day and you complain? A rethinking of priorities is required me thinks

  • Capitalist

    “The first thing that is wrong with this sales ploy is the idea that International Women’s Day should be a sales ploy at all.”

    Obviosuly ASOS doesn’t care about IWD – they just want to make money. That’s called buisness. Did you know that you get a free cake and balloon on your birthday in TGI Fridays? Do you think that the boardroom execs give a shit about you and your shitty birthday, or are they just trying to make more money?!

    This article is typical of all those morally outraged lazy leftist feminists in Cambridge.

  • Dumbo

    I am confused. I know us men are supposed to be less perceptive regarding women’s rights issues and sexism, but seriously I don’t understand- a shop is offering discounts on women’s day?

  • hmm

    The title of this article seems quite incongruous with its content. Stop with the sensationalism plz?

  • Charlie Humble-Thomas

    You don’t need to be a feminist to see that this is an insensitive marketing tactic by ASOS. It’s true, they have chosen an effective way to draw attention to Women’s International Day, but that doesn’t mean we should pat them on the back because ‘its better than nothing’. People who say that “Gender politics are not their responsibility”, and that they are “a business and not your friend” are not aware of how these companies see themselves. As a male, I was equally frustrated by the Discount being offered, and how this reflects the hollow attempt of corporations to have a genuine conscience regarding humanitarian issues. They responded to my criticism of the discount with the following:

    ASOS: Hey Charlie, Thanks for your post and concern over our International women’s day promotion. As a company we’re dedicated to doing what we can for charities; not only in the UK but worldwide. We’ve worked with Oxfam since 2009 who put women’s rights at the heart of everything they do, mainly through our Oxfam Collect scheme, old IT and furniture donations and our end of line/sample clothing which raises around £65k annually . We also have our own ASOS Foundation that supports girls and young women through the Prince’s Trust in the UK (through our Get Stared with Fashion programmes run in London and Barnsley, CV workshops and mock interview sessions) Udayan Care in India (we have supported a girls home for abandoned and orphaned children since 2009- the home gives them a loving family environment and all the girls receive an excellent education) and SOKO in Africa. Using funding from the ASOS Foundation, SOKO built an eco-workshop that created jobs for 90 local workers. This provides a regular income, particularly for women who have few opportunities within their society to work, giving them a measure of financial stability and helping them educate their children. ASOS Casey
    —–
    Now, it is very easy to read that response and feel hypnotised by the carefully researched claims they have provided. But this is the tip of the iceberg, as with around £40 million pre-tax profit recorded by ASOS in 2012 alone, it’s not exactly clear how these measures represent a true commitment to charities and other humanitarian issues. I mean, lets break down the response:

    “weve worked with Oxfam who put women’s rights at the heart of evrything they do”
    I can’t help but feel this is ASOS hiding behind a credible charity and assuming their moral highground just because they show them ‘some’ support. And it is certainly not clear wether £65k is ASOS’s contribution or Oxfam’s final annual figure for the ‘Collect at work scheme’.

    The ASOS foundation supported about 12 people a year according the Princes’s Trust website to get them into the working world and gain experience, a contribution that’s significance is questionable.

    Again, the references to Udayan Care in India and SOKO in Africa, are both claims that we couldnt possibley qualify unless we know HOW much they supported them. It could be £50 a month for all we know. On the other hand, in each case, ASOS are clearly happy to explain the charity in detail and cower behind each initiative.

    What the above article does aim to do is to question ASOS’s genuine commitment to sustainable values, or wether this opportunity to raise awareness just became another opportunity to increase earnings. This marketing decision does not fit in with the so called “dedication” that my friend CASEY from ASOS seems so adamant that they have. What I believe this article highlights is the growing frustration that companies like this are sitting on the fence and pretending they actually care. Even Selfridges had a campaign on International women’s day, and although it came with a Product launch, I believe at the very least it tried to inspire debate at the same time: http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2013/03/08/selfridges-celebrate-international-womens-day-with-short-film

    and an example of a company that is more genuinely committed to changing it’s structure and outlook:
    http://plana.marksandspencer.com/about/partnerships/oxfam/stories/10/

    It’s not necessarily that ASOS is the main grievance, it’s that they, and many other companies should be inclined to do more.

    • Too long

      …didn’t read.

    • Gosh

      What a waste of your life it must have been to research and post that.

    • agenda/logic

      So ASOS provide us with some, admittedly limited, evidence that they are committed to charitable works, whilst you provide us with zero evidence that they are not (since all you have done, essentially, is footnote each of their claims with ‘not enough detail here to know if it’s a valid claim’)… and we’re supposed to draw the conclusion from this that they don’t. ASOS say, for example, that they ‘support’ a girls’ home in India. Until you can prove that this support is not substantial, theirs is the only convincing claim.

  • Feminist

    What is wrong with celebrating femininity?

    • Holla

      An apron and a pair of rubber gloves would have been antifeminist. A pink top is not.

  • grit bin

    a bunch of well-to-do men telling women they’re ‘perpetuating victimhood for their own sake’.
    truly end times.

    • well

      they are. They’re perpetually looking for any trivial, innocuous thing to become offended about.

  • the girl

    is not pouting she is smiling. and what’s wrong with wearing pink?

  • What?

    I was considering it but if this is feminism then I’m out. Too much complaining about things that don’t matter

  • Um…

    ‘…would our generation be prepared to boycott ASOS, that essential online fashion portal, with the same ideological fervour? I fear not.’

    If ASOS is this big a deal to you, I think perhaps they might be bang on in thinking that they can make money from International Women’s Day. ‘Essential online fashion portal’… really?!

  • Malik Agar
  • Anon

    This article epitomises everything that is worng with the left and some aspects of militant feminism.

  • Aren’t we all missing the point?

    That girl in the photo is fit.

  • Thank God

    The CUSU women’s campaign is here to put this all right.

    Man the barricades, it’s just like 1789 all over again!

  • Saskia Goldman is

    the reason I get up in the morning – even though she’s a bit of a ratbag ;)

  • This is the story of

    The Feminist who cried ‘Consumerism!’

  • pessimist

    “a vast majority of those will be students who are enlightened enough to know that women’s issues affect and should involve everyone, regardless of gender.” a rather rose-tinted view of the student population…

  • Everyone at Exeter

    my thoughts on endor

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