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Current marketing buzzword: Feminism
July 24, 2014 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Not too long ago feminist ideals and other (mainly) women's issues like body image, street harassment or double standards in the workplace would have left most advertisers and brands running for the hills. The current fourth wave made feminism so popular that major brands discover it's actually a great way to sell stuff and are joining in with feminist messages in their advertising. Dove, Nike or Special K are fairly successful. Others not so much. Their "new and improved approach to gender equality [is] packed with 83% more cliches, 92% more hashtags, and 103% less meaning."
posted by travelwithcats (25 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
METAFILTER: fairly successful. Others not so much
posted by Fizz at 5:02 PM on July 24


I suppose I should be happy that feminism (or at least, a facsimile of it) is slowly winding its way into the mainstream, but it never ceases to amaze me how capitalism manages to co-opt anything and everything just in the name of selling shit.
posted by supermassive at 5:04 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Wait, you mean we should doubt the sincerity of advertising? I am shocked!
posted by anarch at 5:09 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I suppose I should be happy that feminism (or at least, a facsimile of it) is slowly winding its way into the mainstream, but it never ceases to amaze me how capitalism manages to co-opt anything and everything just in the name of selling shit.

Well, they can certainly try to sell whatever it is that they are peddling, but unless there is equal pay, equal advancement, and their workforce and executives reflect those ideals, I don't have to buy it...actions speak louder than social media campaigns...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:20 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


But the facebook post has to get 1 million likes and then there will be equal pay for equal work, right? I mean, that's how I've saved all those kids who needed surgery so.
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:26 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Here is the Snickers [SLYT] commercial that was mentioned in one of the articles. It's really...odd.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:36 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


This is like complaining that Obama waited to support same-sex marriage until it was already popular. Who cares whether advertisers really "get" feminism when the fact that they want to position themselves as feminist is such good news?
posted by straight at 6:23 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Don't let the good be the enemy of the perfect.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:47 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Here is the Snickers [SLYT] commercial that was mentioned in one of the articles. It's really...odd.

Discussion of the Snickers commercial from Sociological Images:

Snickers Mocks the Idea that Men Can Respect Women

An Optimistic Read of the Sexist Snickers Ad

posted by MonkeyToes at 6:47 PM on July 24


In a world where Skinny Cow exists ("Girls Gone Glamping", wtf?), I am willing to give a pass on just about anything even barely feminist in advertising.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:45 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


This just seems like another instance of the Tone Argument. "If you'd only put your message in a less cynically capitalist form, maybe people would listen." When you criticize advertising like that, you're just putting the onus on women to do all the work of fighting the patriarchy.
posted by uosuaq at 7:46 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I'm with Alexandra Kitty, in that I don't really care what advertisers do as much as I care about the pitiful percentage of women in Congress and business and lots of other places. Feminism has gone through "popular" phases before; You Go Girl! and Virginia Slims and various other versions.

The thing they are trying to capitalize on is that women are still desperate to be seen and represented as something besides shrews or sexbots, and so at least some of us can be swayed just by some product or company pretending to give a shit about us as actual people. Like the Cheerio ad with the multiracial family. It probably sold a lot of Cheerios (and generated a lot of good PR) because enough people were hungry for that kind of positive representation of nonwhite/multiracial folks.

The conflict for me is when a feminist representation of women is used to sell a product like Special K that is somewhat problematic from a feminist viewpoint.

Advertisers gonna do what they do. If feminism becomes less trendy again, it will still be necessary.
posted by emjaybee at 8:14 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


If you like feminism, you shouldn't like it being appropriated by capitalism.
posted by koavf at 8:22 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


The current fourth wave

Wait what? Is third wave over? What is the distinction? I still feel stuck somewhere between second and third waves...please tell me this is not Lean In related.
posted by sallybrown at 8:27 PM on July 24


After reading that Alice Paul thing here on the Blue the other day, I'm ready for some more First Wave feminism. I'm even reconsidering my resistance to "xe."

So much grit and determination.

Anyway. Yes, let's not worry too much about who's getting rich. As Capital keeps coopting contradictions, it will eventually run out and have to deal with the last. In the meanwhile, hundred of millions of lives can be improved (and that's just here!) with all that entails. That's the goal, right?
posted by notyou at 8:52 PM on July 24


As Capital keeps coopting contradictions, it will eventually run out and have to deal with the last.

I kinda think Goedel could argue otherwise, but he is dead.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:18 PM on July 24


This just seems like another instance of the Tone Argument. "If you'd only put your message in a less cynically capitalist form, maybe people would listen." When you criticize advertising like that, you're just putting the onus on women to do all the work of fighting the patriarchy.

For what it's worth, I liked some of the commercials in the links. I'm not so cynical that I don't see value in huge companies saying that feminism is a thing now. I know that I crave more women in the media, much less women who look like me. I regard it mostly as a necessary evil.

I regret posting my original comment at this point; I didn't want to start a (potentially huge) derail from the very beginning of the thread.
posted by supermassive at 9:18 PM on July 24


To paraphrase the title of an article I just read, women's struggles are class struggles. Feminism, to me, is about recognizing structural oppression based on hierarchies distinguished by sex and gender, and working to get rid of those hierarchies. Capitalism requires other hierarchies, based on economic class. But it's awfully hard to justify economic class hierarchies when folks in a lower economic class than you are just like you, so capitalism necessarily breeds other forms of hierarchy and oppression. Marketing supports whatever makes the most money, so ultimately supports this.

Which is not to say that those other axes of oppression would automatically disappear in a non-capitalist economic system, just that different systems of oppression tend to reinforce each other, and it's awfully hard to get rid of one without objecting to the entire premise of oppressive hierarchical structures. As the song goes, none of us are free if one of us is chained. This was the whole thing with intersectionality that third wave feminism brought greater awareness (or re-awareness) of: you can't be feminist and ignore the intersecting structural oppressions that limit the power of women of color, poor women, trans women, differently-abled women, etc.
posted by eviemath at 10:01 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


So America has reached a point where it makes good business sense for advertisers to say they're pro-multiracial families, pro-homosexual couples, and pro-feminist, and this is a bad thing?

I find the Internet confusing.
posted by Bugbread at 10:02 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


"Torches of Freedom" all over again.
posted by eustatic at 10:23 PM on July 24


Who cares whether advertisers really "get" feminism when the fact that they want to position themselves as feminist is such good news?

Because fauximism can drive out real feminism just like it did the last times capitalism fell in love with it?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:23 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


The new Always advert also seems to have picked up on this trend.
posted by hanachronism at 12:24 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


If you like feminism, you shouldn't like it being appropriated by capitalism.

I kinda feel if you like feminism you shouldn't be so fast to define what it is and how it manifests to other people. That "you're not a real feminist game is part of it too, Martin. It may very well be true sometimes but I submit we don't have the tools needed to assess and it hurts the overall cause.

It wasn't so long ago that "real" feminism constituted only what white, rich, western women viewed as self actualisation. I love me some second wave, but it pays not to get to dewy eyed about what was in some ways very exclusionary.

I'm all for a bigger tent in any kind of political movement. And if your movement can't accommodate some diversity, that's a problem.
posted by smoke at 1:04 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Is third wave over? What is the distinction?

My understanding of the fourth wave is that there is more movement away from gender essentialism and more inclusion of trans* and genderqueer feminism, sex work issues, and possibly more understanding of the links between feminism and other issues, a la womanism.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:10 AM on July 25


@smoke"I kinda feel if you like feminism you shouldn't be so fast to define what it is and how it manifests to other people."

Granted. My claim was not that feminism is monolithic but that capitalism is toxic and that advertisters are no more interested in the liberation of women than they are in the dew point in Singapore. Any large movement will not be monolithic and uniform but no matter what if you feel like there's some core of it which is worthwhile, exploiting that core for profit is a bad thing.
posted by koavf at 12:34 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


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