As Father’s Day approached, an uncle exclaimed – ” Year round I buy gifts for my family, now my family will buy gift for me – with my money !” Amidst the jest and playful banter, I realised that indeed there is something deeply hollow in a culture that ‘needs’ to reserve its dates to appreciate life and relationships . And if statistics are anything to go by , 94 million Hallmark cards were sold on Father’s Day in 2015 and the estimated profit from Father’s Day revenue is $15.5 billion in 2016. You, my reader, can do rest of the math.
While it is indeed a very kind and noble idea to engage in showing one’s love ,respect and gratitude , what is pathetically repulsive is the culture of commercialisation of relationships. Walking through the Coventry City Centre, it was quite an arduous task for me to navigate my way through the extremely seductive and inviting gift showrooms. Painted in the brightest colours and decorated with sparkling frills, each shop tried to outdo each other in a screaming competition. With customised T-shirts, fanciest cards, gift boxes that looks more expensive then the gift itself and ofcourse,those who wanted to save the effort could buy luxurious trips, spa sessions etc. Well, again, there is indeed no harm to express your love and kind appreciation through gifts that reflect your truest sentiments. what is essentially harmful is objectification of a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Uncle’s Day and the lot. There ain’t anyone who does not love gifts and rightfully so but what one needs to be careful is to not lose the entire essence of such an occasion.
In present day capitalist economy, almost everything is in a constant pursuit of churning profits.We, as social beings, possess social identities and in order to be accepted in different social groups (family, friends, religion etc), we conform to group norms.The social identity theory is carefully manipulated by the gift and card manufacturing companies to sell us the idea that unless a celebration is ‘branded’,it probably is not a celebration worth speaking about. But if I was a parent, I would appreciate the effort of my child who baked a cake for me rather than just buy a customised cake from the poshest cake shop in town! living in a digital age, the pressure to live life is insurmountable. And on Father’s day recently, I scrolled through the profile pictures of all my contacts just to see how their father looks..well, is not it a trend today to show love by changing one’s ‘display picture’?. Instagram and Facebook are infested with Father’s day pictures and suddenly the competition has shifted to children to ‘buy’ a better father’s day than others.
well, the debate between have and have nots is ancient. People have spoken about less fortunate people who are not economically competent for such luxurious splurges of the rich.but again, capitalist economies are essentially characterized by the huge rich poor divide. nothing new ,right? wrong. it takes a conscientious person to think that beyond such blatant commercialisation of one’s most private relationships lies an even murkier side.
Have we ever stopped back to think, what about someone who could probably afford to buy the cake and card but do not have the ‘object of celebration’ to wish on Father’s Day? What about the millions of men who have tried relentlessly to experience the joys of fatherhood but have failed in their pursuit? In celebrating what we have, have we been way too brutal to those who are the essential ‘have-nots’?
The promotion of Father’s day with Blue, Brown and all things masculine and Mother’s Day with all things Pink,Purple and all things diabetically feminine , makes me rack my brains- is fatherhood and motherhood essentially a gendered concept? throughout my life, i have encountered people who have , albeit temporarily, donned the cap of parenthood- i grew with a father who very brilliantly slipped into the roles of a father, mother, sibling and friend ; my college lecturer who has been a pillar of constant support in all my academic , professional and romantic pursuits! The most important people in my life have transcended beyond their sexuality and gender. Like millions of single fathers, mine too made tiffin for me every morning and breakfast too. Rice , egg curry and a few pieces of the fried potato is what i essentially ate every morning because it was least time consuming. The smell of that curry still lingers in my nose and i would happily have it for the rest of my life.Period cramps were discussed in detail with the father and University applications were analysed with my lady lecturer.
To celebrate life and love is extremely important, to not be blinded by the gold dust of commercialisation is an absolute necessity. But what is the need more than a necessity is to be more humane, more sensitive and more aware of not just what we have but what the other does not or cannot have.And only then shall true humanity triumph, beyond the shackles of profit driven propaganda.