The Problem With White Feminism In Advertisements
Politics and Activism

The Problem With White Feminism In Advertisements

It's degrading and it sets up impossible standards. I want to make it regardless of my sex AND race.

Everyday Feminism

For years, women have been suffering from the scrutiny and criticism that comes from trying to make it in a man’s world. This video published on December 10, 2013 shows only a fraction of how white women or women of Asian ethnicity have been degraded and criticized for trying to achieve their goals in a male-dominated world. The video calls out five of the many double standards women face in everyday life that are instilled in our social institutions in about 60 seconds. It starts out by comparing that while a man may be considered as a boss, a woman may be scrutinized for her “bossiness” in the workplace. When delivering a convincing speech, a man may seem to be persuasive, but a woman may be considered to be pushy. In terms of being a working father, men are deemed as dedicated and respected, and a working mother is accused of being selfish or even negligent. While it is widely respected that being clean and well-dressed in the male world is a sign of neatness, a woman may be criticized for her cleanliness and called vain. The final comparison that this advertisement makes is that when a man dresses well, he is considered smooth, but when a woman does the same, she is sometimes considered a show off.

It calls out the many things wrong with the gender separatist world that we live in. The obvious inequality that women have to go though on a daily basis is exhausting and unnecessary. However, not only is there a white feminism component to this advertisement, but the highly influential images that are being portrayed is the supremacy of a particular race and class image. If you don't know what white feminism is, here's a clear definition:

This advertisement plays into white feminism, as it doesn’t take into consideration other minorities, deeming them invisible, which Anderson and Collins point out in The Structure of Social Institutions.

Furthermore, certain body and cultural ideals are focused on here, claiming that women can only be successful if they are skinny and have soft, flowy, straight hair. So not only does this belittle other minorities, but it tells the viewer the only way a woman can reach success is if she follows a certain beauty ideal. Anderson and Collins mention the dangers of projecting a body culture and beauty ideals and how controlling images to a confined vision can be harmful to women of all shapes and sizes who should embrace their bodies in good health. This advertisement remains a racialized ad that sets an almost impossible standard of beauty for some despite its attempt to call out the double standards plaguing women. It is also saying that in terms of body politics, only one certain type of body can succeed. That ideology can be extremely harmful to women watching this advertisement. Also, as much as it can be agreed upon that women do suffer an unfair fate in the world of business, it does not tackle the idea of intersectionality between race, class and gender. It sets up unattainable standards for some by assuming that all women want to be light skinned, want to have skinny bodies and straight long hair and that they are all aiming for an extremely high end job. So now, not only must women look a certain way to be successful, we are all gunning for the same job, even though for some, that may be unattainable due to an array of reasons. When making an advertisement that calls out male supremacy, it is important to not replace that by white feminism - that would just be engraining another harmful thought in the already suffering minds of young, racially, sexually and economically diverse women.
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