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Consumer Behavior

Faux Feminism

As feminism becomes more accepted, it can be used for unintended purposes.

When I came to feminism and feminist psychology, it was part of what we then called a liberation movement. It had grown out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, where many women had been instructed that their/our role was, as traditionally, to provide sex and other services to the men. It was born of bias, along with the various multi-cultural, disability and other groups who were simply demanding equal rights.

Feminism is nothing more and nothing less than a movemet for equality, which we all deserve and which should threaten no one but those who want more power over others than these others have over them. No one should own another person; no one should have the right to beat another person or to dictate their gender or sexual identities; and no one should have the right to certain privileges because of the particular womb that they came out of.

This may sound simple enough, equality, but it has been the struggle of my lifetime and many others. It is the struggle for which our country was born. It has been the reason for introducing a feminist therapy, one that is not based on the possession of a penis or the perspectives of male psychologists. And I think we have succeeded beyond our wildest expectations in terms of feminist psychology. No practitioner could anymore ignore the effects of gender, sexuality or skin color on individual psychology and on humanity.

I don’t think I need to belabor the point, as most Americans are aware of women’s and others' rights and an increasing number are in favor, despite the minority who still flaunt their misogyny and imagined “superiority.” Everyone from ordinary citizens, female and male, to noted celebrities have signed on and are promoting equality for women of all hues and cultures.

It is this very celebrity aspect that I wish to discuss a bit further. True, we are a celebrity culture and one of the best ways to get something done is for these celebrities to urge their followers to do so. In this sweeping vision is embedded a small, but significant, problem. Nothing that is human is unequivocally positive. There are always unintended consequences. In this case, any celebrity is promoting her/his own brand. Is feminism a brand? It may be part of Beyonce’s brand or Lady Gaga’s brand. It may even be part of my “brand,” such as it is. We can not escape consumerism and those who become celebrities in our culture in this visual century.

However, we must also be wary of those who use it not to promote equality, but, for example, to sell shoes or other items. Feminism is about choice, but not brand choice and not consumerism at all. It remains a movement to establish equality of all persons. That is how it was born and that is how it continues to live. It is not to be co-opted by smooth salespeople or tricksters. Perhaps actions do speak louder than words.

More from Ellyn Kaschak Ph.D.
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