Feminism | Posted by Jocelyn A on 11/18/2010

“Feminist” Advertisements: Exploitation or Progress?

Peggy Orenstein’s “The Way We Live Now” piece in New York Times Magazine a couple months ago explores what she calls the “empowerment mystique,” or using themes of girl power to sell products that have nothing to do with promoting equality. She mentions several recent commercials by companies selling products unrelated to gender or discrimination, such as Verizon and Target, which send a message of empowerment for girls and women. This kind of ad, she claims, manipulates people to associate the company with sincerity and hopefulness. It is also a reflection of a society in which women hold the majority of jobs, and earn more bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorates than men.

Orenstein draws a distinction between the Verizon ad, which shows a series of young women speaking proudly …

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