It’s the start of the summer holidays and whilst parent are putting together their plans for their kids now that there is no school and childcare is unavailable or ridiculously expensive (thought I’d drop that in there), I, as the dedicated Aunty that I am, have put together a spreadsheet of feminist lessons for summer. That cheer you hear in the background – That’s all my nieces. Fact.
The reason for having these discussions with my nieces is simply because nobody did it with me, and that had consequences. We are in a society where whilst we can be pleased with the progress we are making, much of this progress comes with a caveat of sexism – think the invention of twitter and consequential creation of trolls. We are in the juxtaposition of having more awareness of the issue, yet the issue of sexism increasing and evolving. The consequence being the normalisation of inequality.
Some of this juxtaposition can be seen in a little video that has been doing the social media rounds. Now I got through the first minute and I immediatelty thought – This is brilliant, this is exactly the problem, let’s talk to girls and boys about it. The video has young girls, young boys, men and women talking about what “like a girl” means, pointing out that we are using a word to describe 52% of the population as an insult. The last woman says “Why can’t run like a girl also mean win the race! AMAZING Right?!
yeah… but then my heart sinks because it’s to make you buy something. It’s not a public service announcement, it’s not just because it’s something that needs to be said. It’s to encourage you to buy Always sanitary towels. Sigh.
You see, my problem isn’t with the product, perhaps it’s not even the fact that a feminist theme is being utilized to make you buy something (no, I lie, it is this, this pisses me off), it’s with the cognitive dissonance of using a feminist narrative alongside a painfully stereotypical marketing strategy.
Here’s a previous Always Ad which tells us “Even though it’s your period, you should still feel beautiful. Now this beauty doesn’t come from the inside, there are lipsticks and power brushes flying around. Because beauty means make up – just like a girl?
Here’s another which tells us that daily panty liners are “like a moisturizer, like lacy undies, like make up and like a dress” Just like a girl?
I don’t always want to be the kill joy. You know like that “friend” who you never invite to nights out, but somehow ends up there, and tell you the story of how wrong everything is around you? (I’m not that bad.) but the reality is, if this is a direction Always and other retailers want to go in, GREAT, do it. but you’re going to have to leave the casual sexism behind. You cannot “rewrite the rules” whilst simultaneously endorsing patriarchy’s rules of women and advertising.
It’s similar to the way I feel about Dove and their “real beauty” campaign, which says hear us with out empowering message “women come in all shapes and sizes, young and old – that’s great and should be celebrated” *quiet voice* also buy our skin smoothing, wrinkle reducing, hair changing products…”
So maybe some PR geniuses have figured out that selling things by making women feel like crap isn’t working. GOOD, it’s shit, stop doing it. But there’s a lot more to PR than an advert of the month – there’s an ethos – please re-write the rules to that, make it something I would happily say is “just like a girl”.
Now, I’m off to tell some kids santa isn’t real, the tooth fairy is their parent, and that the ending to Toy Story is a lie – all of your toys end up in that giant inferno. Feminist Kill Joy OUT.