By Noort Bakx
‘’I’m not a feminist, but…’’. Fill in the dots. You do care about women’s right? Apparently, that doesn’t make you a feminist anymore. Hence the sentence ‘’I’m not a feminist, but…’’. Cause straight forward calling yourself a feminist is a no go. Feminism is a dirty word. Not sexy. Feminism has gotten a certain stigma and stereotypical association that makes most women and girls rather stay away from it. Afraid to be associated with it, women just don’t. Feminism has as some say, an image problem.
Due to that fact that this word spurs up plenty of different ideas and not always good ones, maybe half of you stopped reading after the first sentence. I know, it is a bit tricky to go into discussing the topic, room for plenty of people to feel detached from the subject. But why wouldn’t we relate to it, want talk about it? After all, back to basics, feminism isn’t anything more or less than the idea of equal rights for women. However, this basic principle is overshadowed by people not knowing what to think. Stereotypes of angry women without bras hating men. And young girls not knowing at all what happened in the generations before them, or what issues are still present to make feminism a relevant topic. Here the numbers come in. Asking if you consider yourself a feminist, only 28% percent considers themselves to be one. Rephrasing that question by giving a definition and thereby a different association (‘’someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes’’) changes the percentage to 57%. Interesting result. Other numbers. Only 1 in 7 women identify themselves as feminist, 6 in 7 do not know why feminism is relevant in this day and age.
Why? What happened there? To be completely honest, I don’t really know. It seemed that the different waves of feminism caused reactions that left some impression behind that we are now stuck with. After the initial steps like getting us to vote, the second wave of feminism, starting in the 60’s, created this standard image of the sexual free-fighter that comes with some negative connotations. Also, different groups of feminists emerged, some more radical and with different ideological views than others. Therefore, some of the real ideas were overshadowed, and this stereotype that does not necessarily represents the whole movement came to be. And remains to be. Also, some think we made our way through the feminist revolution, we’re done. Sadly enough, although we came a long way, we know that there is still stuff to be done. So the ‘new’ or ‘modern feminism’ should change the conversation. Not talking about stereotypes, but getting the current challenges and problems out there. The under-representation of women in certain top positions, wage differences, and so on. Personally, as some one stepping into the labor market soon, I care. I want to get paid the same amount of money for the same job. And I imagine many more must feel the same. In that sense, feminism is still relevant. How do you get that across?
Well, there are some ideas. Looking at it from this idea of an image problem, some are now thinking of changing that image. So, image – we’re not taking about a word, a movement or an ideology anymore. Feminism is then seen as a brand, and brands that are dealing with an image problem need, yes, re-branding. Right? According to Elle magazine, yes, they’re re-branding feminism. This month’s magazine issue got three advertising agencies teamed up with feminist organizations, together creating three different ads to get a message out about modern feminism, what it is, means and why we should care. In their words to ‘’to re-brand a term that many feel has become burdened with complications and negativity’’.
The results are three different approaches to go about this. Different messages, although all to steer the conversation towards addressing the issues and relevance of this day and age. Towards focusing on stereotypes, wage differences and feminism as something for everyone.
So is rebranding, the way to go? I’ve been thinking about it and still do not know if Elle is hereby on the right track or not. Going on the numbers and negativity, changing the incentives and feelings around feminism is a good move. But is a simple ad enough? Seems rather simplistic right? Social media hash tags, colorful (very pink) statements, it stays very shallow, un-in depth, and partly fits the stereotypes. More so, re-branding is done for brands. Putting feminism is this commercial box is weird, and goes beyond the goal that we should be focusing on the ideological aspect, getting the relevance of this time out there. This will not lead to a society-wide change of ideas about feminism or action to achieve women equality. Now I’m not saying that is an easy task to begin with, quite the opposite. Nor do I have a better idea for now. So Elle and these agencies get an A for effort. But the result might easily be a fail.