Feminism, It’ll Make You Millions.

I don’t watch television on a television (that is so 2008), and as a result I am never bombarded by commercials. But often my friends will pass along a commercial they like. It’s usually ‘feminist’, and it usually leaves a funny taste in my mouth.

Sure, in theory feminist ads rock. Who doesn’t want to be reminded that women are just as capable as men? Why wouldn’t you want to see girls kick ass?

I can’t help but feel as though feminism today is a commodity. A term bought, sold, and traded, all in order to help companies increase their profits.

Take the recent CoverGirl commercial featuring a handful of female celebrities (Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Latifah, etc.) telling viewers what girls can are capable of, from owning a business to playing a professional sport. Or recall the ad put out this past autumn by the shampoo company Pantene, illustrating some of the double standards women must face in the workplace.

These ads are well intentioned and do a have a good message, but I can’t help feel a little unnerved when I watch them. It is uncomfortable that while we are being fed powerful prose we are also being sold products. Beauty products. Can we only be influential with a face full of make up or luscious hair? That doesn’t feel very feminist to me.

It seems that more and more people today are using feminism as a marketing tool, whether it be business or celebrities. They have found this prized buzzword and are using the heck out of it. All is well and dandy, except for the part where they fail to truly support and further the movement.

I can accept feminism being used in marketing, there are much worse ways companies can sell consumers a product. But I remind myself (and urge others) to take it with a grain of salt: this is advertising. Smart business, but business nonetheless. Feel free to support companies and products that support feminist principles, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re progressing the movement or starting a revolution. You’re still just buying overpriced shampoo.

Feminism in advertising is a tricky thing. On one hand it is great to see some feminist principles being brought into mainstream media where exposure is greater and more diverse than any other form of communication today. On the other hand, I fear that today’s feminism is draped high in the sky on a billboard rather than on the end of a picket sign. I understand that movements progress and adapt, but we have to remember that even in this age of technology and consumerism feminism is a movement, not a marketing tool.

If we look back at advertising from twenty or even ten years ago we can see that there has been some improvement. We can safely say that our mothers did not grow up watching ads promoting the idea that girls can be engineers too.

Though I may have some hesitations about corporations using feminism as a tagline to push products, we all know things could be much, much worse.

I don’t know about you, but I will take an empowered tween embracing womanhood over a bikini model making out with a burger any day. (Watch these videos and I think you’ll agree.)

One of the best feminist ads this year:

One of the least feminist ads this year:

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93 comments

  1. Denise [But First, Live!] · · Reply

    AHHH YES! Very well-stated!
    Some commercials, I tell ya! >.<

  2. It seems as if you are either advertising feminism or a product, but it’s hard to do both. However, I will take anything over that Carl’s Jr. commercial.

  3. “I can’t help but feel as though feminism today is a commodity”

    Oh
    indeed.
    everything is a commodity
    unfortunately
    and feminism is a good dollar
    to sell to
    the usual morons

    thanks

  4. Moot point. ‘Using’ feminism is better than not using it. What’s the alternative? Marketing sells, and if it sells the ideas that are in the best interest of the population as a whole, that’s not a bad thing.

  5. itscarly · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Love and Looks.

  6. Great post. Really enjoyed reading it.

  7. You brought up some great points – how we try to promote feminism while not commercializing and making it just a moot talking point. It got me thinking…thanks!

    Valentine
    Flux: Encountering Adulthood
    http://www.fluxforum.com

  8. When will we move past feminism and let women be women?

    ;)

    Wayne
    Luvsiesous.com

  9. I forgot my original thought, has feminism made you millions, yet?

    Wayne
    Luvsiesous.com

  10. Reblogged this on GurlTalkTvShow and commented:
    I agree with some commercials leaving that awful taste as well

  11. Great blog Paula. Totally agree!

  12. I really like this! Wonderfully written. If you ever get the chance I would love for you to check out my blog. http://rightnoweverywhere.wordpress.com/

  13. incaunipocrit · · Reply

    Reblogged this on The International Blogspaper.

  14. I say this all the time and on my blog, feminism today is nothing more then a multi billion dollar industry. Without it, millions of cozy paper shuffling office jobs would disappear and the economy would sink. Also hundreds of thousands of writers, non profit people, and women’s studies majors would be out of work too. Websites like HuffPo and Jezebel would either have to change their ideologies or shut themselves down. Hospitals and clinics would lose money from less fertility treatments and abortions as more women would be making good use of their youth and not wait til their 30s to decide they’re ready for a rich perfect Ten guy to come along and marry them (who some how doesn’t exploit his newfound power and the change in sexual dynamic that occurs when we age and doesn’t want a much prettier, more energetic and less bitter younger woman)

    On the plus side, more women would be making positive choices in their youth and wouldn’t destroy their bodies in their 20s. Less older women would be complaining about where all the good men are, because they’d accept that they enjoyed their prime years (20s) and men are going to as well (30s)

    Feminism is just corporations trolling the youth, and older women trying to make sure younger women become haters, exploit the system in ways they were never able to, and become just as unattractive to men as they are now by shunning personal care and exercise for “big is beautiful.”

    It’s also a way for young girls to join a thriving subculture. Just cut your hair short, drink Starbucks, don’t work out and play the victim whenever you don’t get your way. Congrats you’re a millennial feminist. Now all you have to do is make a Tumblr page and misrepresent cherry picked statistics and you’re one of us you, and don’t even have to go outside and do anything!

    Real feminists stay away from tabloids like Jezebel, xojane and the rest of the websites that employ 21 year old talentless hacks with no real life experience.

  15. Sadly, I now find Feminism a bore, as I suspect do millions of other men, and only really checked in here to see if there was a humourous take on it.

    As a man, I am tired of being on the butt end of feminist jokes for the last thirty years – WHY is it ok, to make fun of men, and protray them as “klutzes” in ads – or worse – incapable of having a meaningful conversation, lacking any emotional intelligence (ah, because that’s not sexist, when women do it, and we don’t want that do we?)

    The legal framework, so bedevilled by patriarchy for centuries, has gone full circle, and now rather than seeking true equality as I’d hoped, when I was a dewey eyed teenager, back in the Dark Ages, has given all the rights to women, and all the responsibilities to men (or so it seems).

    There’s a reason that most women haven’t got to the boardroom – biology – They’re just not that interested in working 60hr weeks, playing Golf with the boys on a Friday afternoon, where many deals are done, networking at every opportunity with like minded people (Usually men) because basically, they’d rather be doing other more meaningful (to them) stuff.

    Of course they can do the power breakfast, because they can still get home before the kids leave for Ballet, Karate, or Tennis lessons. And the men in their lives are still working long into the night, because most women look for a provider, and thus up the social scale, which means men feel compelled to work even longer hours, and compete for the few jobs where they still have a slight advantage – biologically speaking – to make up for their lack of emotions and linguistic dexterity, by making lewd jokes, and generally ingratiating themselves into the lives and business relationships of others.

    And at the other end of the social scale – the end from which I view the world, there’s also a shortage of women fighting for places in the recycle yard, the sewerage works, the plumbing of sewer drains, building sites on a wet December morning, Software Development, warehouses, fork-lift truck and HGV vehicle driving, apart from the one or two who don’t mind the long low paid hours and not being home from work when “Emmerdale” or “Eastenders” is on.

    But the feminists fail to mention (or even notice) that. Instead they mostly seek work locally, where they can, like some wanna-be Bridget Jones, drool over the Chairman/Chief Exec/Surgeon/or other senior managerial figure, who might bring them to a life they’d love to be introduced to.

    But, that’s the cynic in me showing…

    That’s not to deny the skills and talents that many women have in adundance – my wife included. But you only have to read the first of the 8 or so Mars and Venus books to realize that men and women have very different strengths and weaknesses – and I’ve read them all – and several others.

    No the truth is, that feminism in marketing is really appealling to women’s emotions – which is why this modern world is as it is – it’s about a mixture of things – Career, Family, relationships, especially female ones – the sisterhood perhaps, Trying to have it all, and balancing all those competing things and not going under as the founder of the Huffington Post did, before she wrote her latest book on life balance.

    We men develop thick skins – picture a football fan, in the local pub, when his team gets beat, and his mates rib him to death.. No we have lots of acquaintances, but have very few REAL close friendships – perhaps two or three at most, and we tend to keep those for a lifetime.

    But I have to commend the feminists for fighting the fight, but your enemy is your biology, and that of your sisters, and if that sounds sexist – it’s because it probably is. – so what, I’m a man, and it’s all I know how to be.

    What did you expect?

    That I’d somehow walk with a wiggle, and sit down for a pee?

    W.

    (http://moneymatterstoo.wordpress.com)

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  17. The second ad looks like feminism masculinised….

  18. I was complete and utter disgust at the Carl’s Jr commercial ! I don’t own a television and can’t remember the last time I sat and watched television. The hyper-sexualization of the female body , and then she takes of her top! Really ?! I don’t think that is empowering at all ! There is absolutely no way she eats such a burger and is able to maintain such a figure . Anyhow, I do agree that the issue of feminism has currently become more of a commodity rather than an effort. Companies are catching on by selling ” feminist products ” they are empowering women by portraying women in strong societal roles but in reality the money that is generated is only for profit rather than cause .

    Companies should focus and empower women by taking process and shifting their efforts else where . The selling of feminism has solely revolutionized into a type of as you mentioned “expensive shampoo”.

    As a society we should focus on progression rather than consumerism. Consumption of products help mask the real efforts that are attempting to be targeted by real feminist.Take fore example the Pantene commercial . What are your perceptions of the commercial ?

  19. Reblogged this on bubbelsblogg and commented:
    Läsvärd artikel om feminism

  20. Ah yes… Feminism… Invented when men ( and it is still mostly men) who run the large corporations and the Bankers and the Politicians needed more consumers, more producers to pay.back the rising national debts and fewer babies..
    I mean when Feminism took off we had 4.5 Billion on the planet, up from just 2 billion just 60 years previously, and that despite the death of 6 million jews, 30 million Soviets and upwards of 60 million due to starvation and maltreatment at the hands of tyrants with naive economic models and history to make… Feminism…the solution to man’s ills…

    Most women haven’t a clue…

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