“Femvertising” – Are we breaking or propagating stereotypes?

Pro-women campaigns have now been coined a term “femvertising”. Being a feminist, I was initially very pleased to see advertisements such as Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’; however, the increasing usage of the word “femvertising” does cause great concern. The intention of these campaigns may be to celebrate women, but by shining a light on our stereotype, we may be propagating it rather than breaking it.

What is the stereotype of women?

The most common stereotype of women is their nature. Women, who carry the seed of the fruit, are nurturers. Hence, their nature derives from their only objective in life, which of course is to bear children and raise a family. (I apologize for the sarcasm) They are naturally collaborative and sensitive to others. Therefore, women tend to be second place to men because they are not competitive like men.

What is “femvertising”?

Using Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ sketches as an example, its objective was to empower women. It does not objectify women, but celebrates us for being exactly who we are – and loving it!

Always’ #LikeAGirl commercial is also sending a positive message to young girls. It is recognizing gender barriers and blatantly rejecting them. Moreover, “femvertising” seems to be working out for the industry too.

A survey shows that 52% of women have purchased a product because its advertisement portrayed a positive message towards girls and women.

The industry is booming. Women seem to be happy. Is this a win-win?

Under Armour’s Campaign Under a Lens

The example of Under Armour’s “I Will What I want” is an excellent example to discuss the potential backfire of “femvertising”. There are three women featured in this campaign.

  1. Misty Copeland
    On screen: An African-American ballerina who has the ‘wrong body’ to pursue ballet.
    Personal Commentary: She is flawless.
  2. Gisele Bundchen
    On screen: A Brazilian model who is loved and hated online.
    Personal Commentary: She is flawless.
  3. Lindsey Vonn
    On screen: An American World Cup alpine ski racer at a training session.
    Personal Commentary: She is flawless.

I do applaud these commercials for fighting against the gender stereotype and underlining a woman’s determination to achieve our goals. However, these commercials are also objectifying women.

According to article produced by SALON, an online entertainment website, advertisements like “I Will What I Want” is “sell[ing] these idealized snapshots as legitimate feminist commentary to the media at large.

It begs a few questions:

  • Do we have to look like these women to succeed?
  • If we are not succeeding, does that mean we don’t want it as much as these women?

Risks of “Femvertising”

In a Harvard Business Review, Meredith Fineman said inauthenticity in the storytelling behind “femvertising” could “cheapen[s] the idea of women’s equality”. This means that the over usage of “femvertising” increases the likelihood of pro-women advertisements becoming fake. This has a damaging consequence of hurting both the brands and the feminist movement.

Go to bed now,

Mo

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