Mainstream Feminism has become a ripe field for women exploitation under corporate capitalism.
A lot of influential people are filling the cultural vacuum when it comes to making statement on feminism. Sure, you make your voice count given how significant women issues are. Unfortunately though, today people are out to make a career out of a cause. Profit oriented motivations wrapped in feminist slogans like “We Should All Be Feminists” is reducing the whole movement to a sleek marketing strategy for big corporations to profit off women’s struggles.
Over the period of past few decades, feminist core issues have become focus point of intense scrutiny and speculation (and often of denigration: read Backlash after Aurat March ) to finally blend into public discourse. Today, terms like toxic-masculinity and male-feminist are included in every second discussion. Thousands of magazines articles, op-ed pieces, thesis, gender studies, broadcast shows and books have turned the concept of feminism, once regarded as radical misandry, into board and current interest for common people and consistently growing committed support base.
As with the rise of any other movement, feminism today is riding the wave as much sought after commodity. Businesses and celebrities are self-branding as prominent feminists. Books and music records addressing feminism are becoming best sellers. TED talks and digital content discussing women rights and liberation are going viral. Entertainment and glamour industries are jumping the bandwagon by putting appealing faces on the cause in an already media saturated and consumer driven world.
Today feminism is exclusive to mostly wearing brands that benefit none other than the companies selling those products in the name of women empowerment. Pop culture has co-opted catchy feminist buzzwords to deploy on celebrity social media and overpriced T-shirts. Phrases like “Feminist af” or “Girl power” do nothing to challenge status quo. These fashion brands do nothing to improve the lives of their female employees but preach “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINIST” through capitalized feminism.
Capitalistic machine is the one that runs on neither the morality nor justice. It runs on cold, hard cash alone. It has reduced feminism to “this season’s must-have”. Reduced it to a morally corrupt version that fails to give justice to the most marginalized.
Feminist Brand Alignment
Remember “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it”?, the desperate plea of ZARA’ workforce comprising mainly women. ZARA’s parent company Inditex (largest fashion retailer in the world) was one of the first few organizations branding themselves as allies to the feminist movement. Along with GAP, Mango and NEXT. More than a year after the scandal, these workers were still signing petitions.
Zara’s unpaid women employees say in their official statement that “For 12 months, we waited for the conclusion of these negotiations with patience and hope. To prevent any disruptions to the negotiations, we endured them in silence. However, after an entire yea,r the brands declared that they will only pay just over a quarter of our claim. In other words, the brand accepted their liability, but they thought we deserve no more than their scarps.”
Forbidding Face Of Capitalistic Feminism
That is how these multinational so called feminist brands keep on generating revenues and profits off the marginalized segment. The harsh reality of capitalistic feminism gets visible when world’s top celebrities (even royals) endorse and sport the same ZARA.
The Daily Mail reported about Ed & Harriet’s company where “women … who were hired to make shirts that read ‘This is what feminist looks like’ have been paid a dollar an hour to do so and sleep in dormitories that housed 16 women at a time.”
The cruel irony of it! What is feminist about celebrities who wear and model these garments? How does corporate celebrity culture of feminism provide equality and social justice?
Few Examples Of Selling A Lie Under Feminism
Jenifer lopes “women empowerment” song I ain’t your mama was produced by Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald also known as Dr. Luke. Now, another American singer Kesha Rose Sebert has sued Dr. luke for “sexually, verbally and emotionally abusing her, to the point where she nearly lost her life”.
Beyonce’s Ivy Park clothing line is using sweatshop (sweatshop: a workplace of oppressive conditions that employs women and children to work long hours on below minimum wages under abusive management) labor in Sri Lanka.
Ivanka trump’s clothing line is selling money making feminist slogans while simultaneously violating women rights at her factory in Subang, Indonasia. Invanka trump employs women on lowest possible wages and then bribe them with petty “benefits” to work away maternity leaves.
Celebrity feminism serves as smokescreen to perpetuate capitalism and system of oppression. Which in turn triggers exploitation (woman, man, and children alike) in other countries. How, one particular woman earning massive amount of money is communally advancing all women? Celebrity feminism actively undermines the idea of pro-women and equal economic future where all women see their lives enriched and improved.
No woman’s ambitions are automatically feminist by the virtue of her gender alone. Feminism is so much more; it is about putting the most deprived among us first. It is about remaking of society on equal domestic, sexual, political and economic levels.
Feminism is a lot more than #Metoo, brand endorsements, slogans and selectivity.