SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch - Freeze Warning - Red Flag Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Why corporatizing feminist messages doesn't really help women

"Femvertising" and "fempowerment" aren't new concepts. Advertisers and marketers have long used girl power messages a...

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 3:02 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 3:02 PM

"Femvertising" and "fempowerment" aren't new concepts. Advertisers and marketers have long used girl power messages and feminist slogans to sell products to women.

Companies promote conferences, self-help books, clubs and seminars as paths to empowerment or confidence, promising to unlock career success and acclaim. But selling individual empowerment won't bring about lasting social change, experts say.

Critics of Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," for example, point out the book may empower women to "sit at the table," but it doesn't correct some of the fundamental problems, like who is invited to the table and why.

Related: Looking back at 'Lean In' five years later

"They all sell this idea of success as a sort of individual pursuit that can be achieved if you just work harder, and also practice more self-care," says Andi Zeisler, author and co-founder of Bitch Media. "'Lean in,' but don't attempt to change the actual culture of your corporate job."

"Brands are not in the social change business," Zeisler says. "They're in the making money business. I think that's something people really have to keep in mind, because feminism is going to fall out of fashion again and brands are going to go right back to shaming women."

Challenging confidence culture

Research shows there's no huge difference in confidence levels between men and women, says Cathy Tinsley, senior policy scholar at Georgetown University. Yet "empowertising" is designed to lead women to believe otherwise.

The more we discuss how much help women need, Tinsley says, the more workplaces perpetuate a system that keeps women feeling isolated and inferior to their male counterparts.

Related: The poisonous myth of 'confidence culture'

Tinsley's research shows that the repetition of these messages can even widen the perceived differences between men and women, actually decreasing women's opportunities for empowerment.

"The more that we talk about how genders are different and that women need some kind of special products or special help, the more we are actually going to forward the gender differences narrative," she says.

Disrupting the narrative

Changing that narrative means women need to question their own history of ingrained assumptions about women and girls, according to psychologist Valerie Purdie Greenaway, director for the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind at Columbia University.

"It's the elephant in the room," Greenaway told attendees Tuesday at the "Embrace Ambition" Summit in New York. "Women have implicit biases, too."

She pointed to research on students' attitudes about their own academic performances. By a small margin, the women in the study ranked their performances lower than the men did. Most people would interpret the data to mean women are less confident than men. But, Greenaway said, they could reframe it as "women are realistic, and men are overconfident."

That kind of rethinking challenges the assumption that women are innately less confident, she says, and it disrupts the narrative promoted in media, business and beyond.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40443

Reported Deaths: 635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8743155
Marion5590106
Washington546973
Umatilla329543
Clackamas299065
Lane221226
Malheur186634
Jackson15556
Deschutes107413
Yamhill95615
Linn76414
Polk63915
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50913
Union4582
Benton4186
Klamath4013
Wasco33515
Douglas3314
Hood River2721
Josephine2583
Columbia2491
Clatsop2340
Coos2290
Baker1132
Crook872
Tillamook700
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake340
Sherman180
Harney170
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
Santa Clara23591382
Alameda22932435
San Joaquin21436484
Contra Costa18273238
Stanislaus17403394
Tulare17317279
Ventura13930160
Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 63°
Brookings
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 66°
Crater Lake
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 52°
Grants Pass
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 61°
Klamath Falls
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 52°
Another cold start to Friday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

In the Kitchen: Zucchini Lasagna

Image

In the Kitchen: Chicken Stir Fry

Image

Pet of the Week: Soda Pop and Cherry

Image

Thursday, October 22 afternoon weather

Image

Fire District 3 Community Care Response Unit

Image

OSF costume sales

Image

Thursday, October 22 morning weather

Image

Two-thirds of 'Right of Entry' forms signed, deadline on October 23

Image

Wednesday, October 21 evening weather

Image

Jackson County Elections Office assists disabled voters