Commercial feminism is skin deep

Vrinda Chauhan, Business Editor

With the recent presence of feminism in pop culture, it seems that the movement has been rapidly—almost militantly—gaining momentum. However, this progress has affected how feminism is perceived and discussed, allowing for self-proclaimed feminists like Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham to ride this enthusiasm out as a “trend.”

This cosmopolitan way of looking at the feminist movement has been undermining and skewering its agenda, leaving it a hollow shell of all talk and no action. For a number of reasons, this negatively affects others’ perceptions of what the real movement is about.

First, commercial feminism capitalizes on empowerment. The colloquial term coined for this form of feminism is “corporate feminism.” It is systematic, and takes advantage of the growing movement in order to make profit or promote image. The most obvious example of corporate feminism are artists such as Swift, who tout feminism and display such ideas the public, but fail to address and act on real issues.

With the feminist movement on the rise, surely she must have some idea that her new image would appeal to this new wave of young, empowered women. Many celebrities put up the facade of independence to cater to the younger generation. Using feminism for profit and self-image reduces it into a profit scheme rather than a fight for equality.

More than that, it influences a large part of the younger generation to believe that feminism is limited to the topics that Swift brings to light. In this way, third-world feminism is dwarfed, as fans turn their attention to the idea of feminism rather than recognizing real issues.

In reality, feminism is a movement that strives to create equality for all women, not just privileged American women. Sexism and female oppression are still issues across the globe. Females do not always have an access to education or even a choice on who they marry in many countries. Women face serious struggles all over the world: brutalities, harassment, unequal pay, trafficking, sexual oppression, and overall disrespectful treatment. These are all issues that are not as exacerbated in America, where women, in comparison, have it easier. These are all real issues that should be addressed by those who call themselves feminists.

In contrast, faux feminists fail to recognize that while that American women do not always enjoy the same rights that men do—there are larger global issues that many choose to ignore. Again, it seems that many ignore such issues because it is inconvenient to address them and actually take action toward a cause. It is much more convenient to pull publicity stunts under the guise of feminism and take little to no action.

As Jill Filipovic from the Washington Post wrote, feminism is “more than just supporting your girlfriends and churning out charming catchphrases about girl power.” Feminism is a never-ending battle against sexism and discrimination, and needs to be taken more seriously than it currently is in pop culture.