I’ve barely recovered from Valentine’s Day, and there’s another celebration around the corner: the International Women’s Day, or, the day dedicated to making money off women’s sexuality and /or the concept of feminism. As far as marketing goes, we are basically talking about Valentine’s Day 2.0.
Given my long-established life choices of not seeking people’s company and mostly hibernating at home one could think that I would be the very last survivor of coronavirus or any other pest to take over the world. My inbox tells me of another reality.
No matter how diligently I unsubscribe to various mailing lists, their last minute offers keep bouncing back in my inbox. I’m telling you, no matter whether it’s the climate warming or cholera that will eventually wipe us all off this Earth, SpaceNK and CultBeauty will be there, like the very last mohicans, offering free delivery and three free samples with every purchase.
Or, their Female Trailblazers Gift of assorted mini-sizes of beauty products, as was the case today. Because Women’s Day.
A nice bit of merch never hurt nobody, but really? I wrote earlier how dildos and vagina-smelling candles already have replaced chocolates and flowers as Valentine’s Day presents. Again, no issue with either, but it irks me how these products are marketed as something to advance women’s empowerment.
Gwyneth Paltrow, the first (but certainly not the last) celebrity to launch a candle to enable us civilians to imagine being up her yoni in the comfort of our home just by lighting up, was particularly annoying at a recent talk show.
Asked the much justified question “why?????” Paltrow would reply “Because I’m a badass feminist.“
(I sometimes quietly think to myself what Leonardo DiCaprio’s pitch would be if he was asked about his This smells like my scrotum -candle. Or, indeed, whether he would consider venturing into merchandising at all.)
Feminism has nothing to do with consumerism. Having a home that smells of Paltrow’s vagina does not make anyone a feminist. Neither does buying a €500 Christian Dior t-shirt, even if it says that we should all be. You are not a feminist simply for selling or buying expensive things. You are merely a privileged consumer with €500 spare cash to throw on a t-shirt.
Feminism is a combination of political and social movements with a common goal to define and demand political, social and fiscal rights for women.
It is ironic how one of the main messages of International Women’s Day, pay equality and wage gap, is turned on its head by marketing luxury merchandise, accessible to the precious few, in the name of feminism and sisterhood.
Feminism is not about individual women being able to make individual choices. No one cares whether I decide, in the name of feminism, to put on makeup or not. My choice of footwear or clothing is not going to make the world a safer, better-represented and more liberated place for women to live in.
Back to merchandise. I am a big buyer of beauty products, and also understand the logic of companies having to come up with marketing strategies to sell people stuff. But it annoys me when the very day that is supposed to be the reminder of how bad so many of our sisters have it, is turned into a luxury-product-filled celebration of femininity.
And speaking of luxury-products: almost half of all EU member states tax menstrual products as luxury items. Our vaginas are not equal. Hundreds of thousands of European girls and women cannot afford or do not have access to period products.
Therefore let me introduce the feminist hero of this year’s Women’s Day:
Scotland, which is about to offer free tampons and sanitary pads for anyone who needs them.
How about that for actually advancing equality!
I am aware what I am wearing in the photo. The sweater does not make me a feminist.
It’s by Wildfang, an American feminist clothing collective that raises money for charities that support reproductive, immigrant, and women’s/human rights.