You will have heard of the Pink Pound
You will have heard of the Grey Pound (which according to ridiculous contestants on the Apprentice, means you’re over 45 and easily scared. My life just got a whole lot shorter)
Well. I would like to introduce you to the Beyonce (or feminist) Pound. The commercialisation and commodification of feminist principles in order to create company profit.
I find this difficult. The feminist movement existed when it wasn’t profitable. It existed when woman were spat at, shouted down and mocked for simply using the term feminist. But it has over the past recent years become (somewhat ironically) sexy. It’s cool to be a bit feminist (not too feminist, like not actually challenging stuff, just feminist enough to be palatable).
Just enough is the memo that I assume Meryl Streep got, when she was asked about whether she was a feminist and replied “I am a humanist”. Because when you spend two years filming as the leader of the suffrage movement, enacting women being beaten by the police for simply asking to be treated as citizens, the line should clearly be drawn at the term feminist. (she was so shaken by the idea of being a feminist, that she confused the term with believing in God). Someone (I vote Carey Mulligan) should have a word.
So why is it a thing for me now?
I struggled when Beyonce stood in front of a packed audience with the word Feminist in lights behind her….Whilst singing along to songs glorifying abuse on her Mrs. Carter tour. The contradiction offends me, but then who is not contradictory? Who is not a little bit of a hypocrite? (Don’t shrug as if you aren’t in that category, I saw you, bouncing along to Blurred Lines, forgetting its offensiveness cause hey, it’s catchy…)
But after Bey has come a whole lot more.
The last three years Elle magazine has had an annual Feminist issue. Talking about either the word feminism, the pay gap or this year, the women missing from leadership roles. All excellent stuff.
But when I turn the page and you tell me to buy expensive, uncomfortable clothing, don’t use any realistically sized (or many of colour) women and have a section on the right amount of exercise to lose that last inch- it’s less excellent.
But it’s not just magazines who are usually problematic. How about Microsoft? look at microsoft, getting that girls don’t do science (with girls scripted to mention only the men scientists that have inspired them…) NOW GO BUY OUR STUFF. And this – look at all that diversity, look it focuses on a girl child called Fatima. I wonder if Fatima, who is pictured in a generic Global South context, really thinks, “I hope I have Windows 10, I know my community and the majority of women/girls in it are still attempting to recover from having their prospects stolen from them, but yes please to Windows 10”.
Or the one that gets me most peeved at the moment is Virgin Media. You know that huge firm, run by a man, who recently took over the only nationalised UK wide rail…
With Alicia Keys singing in the background, Emmeline Pankhurst, women footballers, Billie Holiday – BUY VIRGIN MEDIA AND YOU TOO CAN BE EMPOWERED. Sigh.
They won’t use the word feminist, Virgin Media or others won’t ban abusive websites, they won’t reflect on the gender segregation in their workplace, they won’t publish their pay gap (without legislated intervention), they won’t suddenly stop using women in shorts and bikinis to sell their products at or asking their air stewards to wear see through shirts (no, seriously.). They weren’t using this two years ago, they are using it now, because it is in season.
But here in lies my predicament. Maybe them using it is at least something positive? It breaks up (even temporarily whilst in style) the monotony of 1 minute slots between TV shows, which usually use sexism to sell. Where their 1 minute slot was air hostesses in red tight skirts or broadband sold by how quickly you could download a music video of someone referring to a woman as a bitch, now at least, it has some form of feminist under tones. Better than nothing, right…maybe. But at this stage, this far in to the generations of discrimination of women, is “better than nothing” enough?
If nothing else, having done the research behind this article and finding the virgin media advert online. I have now decided it is worth it. For that one misogynist, men’s rights activist who wrote in the comments that he has cancelled his virgin subscription after being offended at the “obvious feminazi propaganda”. If you piss off an MRA, maybe I don’t hate you.
Grumpy feminist out. *MIC DROP*