Recently, Marks and Spencer have released a new ad campaign that looks like it is feminist…but they make it very clear that is not what it is. The campaign makes the case for “womanism,” or a celebration of women. Their new line is meant to celebrate Marks and Spencer clothing as clothing that reflects women positively. However, many are criticizing the clothing line for tiptoeing around the word “feminism.” What is especially making this campaign interesting to women is that figures like Olympian gold medalist Nicola Adams and the Man Booker Prize-winning author Monica Ali are backing the new campaign.
Archie Bland says this for the Independent, “Womanist! I love the idea of womanism. It’s such a doss. It’s like ‘girl power’: feminism with the awkward bits stripped away, feminism without the awkward acknowledgement that, with gender equality being a zero sum game, for women to have more, men are going to have to have less.” Instead of using the term ‘feminism,’ the campaign seems to want to use a term than does not include the connotations associated with feminism.
It seems a shame that society is still very hung up on the idea that feminism is not a positive thing. That instead of marketing the term “feminism” in the way it should be—as equality for women—marketing companies have to create entirely new words to express the same concept. As Bland says, “It is, of course, straight out of the PR manual: steer clear of avoidable controversy, avoid contaminating the brand. But it tells you something about the necessity of feminism that it can seriously be considered controversial.”