• Top
Opinion

Opinion: Does feminism need rebranding? Comments welcome

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

In response to Elle magazine’s partnership with three London-based creative agencies for its November issue, editorial assistant Maisie Skidmore questions whether feminism actually needs rebranding and whether the campaign succeeds. As ever, you can join the discussion below.


As we discovered this week, Elle magazine’s November issue includes an eight-page feature entitled Feminism for Everyone, which looks to reconsider feminism and its role in society.

So how do you go about “rebranding” feminism? In a seemingly straightforward approach Elle has recruited three London-based advertising agencies, Mother London, Brave and Wieden & Kennedy to create clear, visually stimulating campaigns which call the general public to rethink the way they consider the “F” word.

Their ideas are a step in the right direction. Brave, for example, have worked with brilliant young feminist campaigner Jinan Younis to create a flowchart which dispels myths about what feminism means, while Mother London are working with The Feminist Times, and sending out an open call for women to have their lady gardens anonymously photographed in an effort to change attitudes towards waxing. Wieden & Kennedy, on the other hand, are working with Vagenda to bring startlingly prevalent stereotypes to their knees by encouraging women talk about the attributes which do, and do not, define them.

The question is, though, does feminism need rebranding? I don’t want to get bogged down in semantics here, but the notion of creating a brand for any movement for equality leaves me feeling distinctly ill-at-ease. “Rebranding” suggests this is a product which needs a whole new marketing strategy if it’s ever to be sold to the dubious masses.

What’s more, if the brand we’re trying to discard is a stereotype of feminists as aggressive, masculine and hairy, that opens a whole new can of worms. Sure, such an image might well be archaic, but for any women’s magazine to reject such an appearance is frightening because to do so perpetuates exactly the oppressive patriarchal stereotype which feminism looks to dismantle in the first place.

There’s no question that the actual ideas behind the movement have been lost by the wayside, though. Somewhere along the way, men and women alike seem to have forgotten that feminism is about social, economic and political equality, and repositioning it means making sure (as Creative Review pointed out) that our Prime Minister feels happy to call himself a feminist.

Mother, W&K and Brave seem to have the right intentions in trying to get people talking about gender equality, but the conversations they are generating fall short. First and foremost because all three of the campaigns are aimed at women, which arguably discourages men’s right to believe in equality too. Generating anger in one sex which is directed at another does far more to sustain prejudice than to dispel it.

What’s more, women’s media is a tricky territory. Admirable though its aims are, the majority of the women featured in magazines like Elle are slim, white and airbrushed, and the publications champion beauty, fashion and celebrity culture above all else.

Baby steps, though, right? The November issue of Elle might not go as far as it could do to dispel stereotypes, but it has got people talking. In a country which views itself as modern and yet still has a long way to go, that can only be a good thing.

comments powered by Disqus
Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    It’s fast approaching the time of all-nighters (not the fun ones), tears, last-minute panics and all the other things that come with the end of learning and the impending beginning of the terrifying thing they call real life. But like the mum that tells you you’re always the best and most talented and most beautiful, or the best friend that bursts into your house and pops the kettle on/pours the gin, we’re here to remind you of some of the advice that might be able to help you.

  2. Stevedaniels-hero-list

    There is an awful lot of discussion around starting a new magazine and for many creatively inclined people it remains one of their foremost ambitions. Last week Makeshift founder Steve Daniels wrote an excellent blog about the things to consider when planning a new publication, and in doing so summed up many things we too feel are important. Steve’s now become an advisor to the title he founded, a move which maybe gives him a little extra distance to write “not a guide to the nuts and bolts of finding a printer and selling subscriptions but a contemplation of the major elements that will set you up for success.”

  3. Kingadz-autenticity-list

    In the branding and advertising world, authenticity seems to have become the Holy Grail. Seemingly melded to whatever people need it to convey, it’s become a buzzword whose significance has mushroomed while its meaning has all but vanished. With this in mind King Adz, aka Adam N. Stone – whose new book Unbrandable is out this summer – considers what authenticity really means in a contemporary creative context. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  4. Kinfolk_14.cover

    The latest issue of Gym Class magazine has an eye-catching cover; with bold block capitals on a black background spelling out: “Nobody cares about your oh-so-cool, Kickstarted, tactile, minimalist unoriginal magazine.” It’s intended as a “call to action,” Gym Class editor Steven Gregor told MagCulture, “make magazines, and make them exceptional.”

  5. Applewtach-list-int

    The Apple Watch was officially unveiled yesterday (as was a super-thin 13.1mm new MacBook) and as ever the internet is awash with run-downs and reactions slobbering over the new products. For Wolff Olins design director Jan Eumann though, the imminent arrival of the new timepiece got him thinking about logo design, and in particular how app buttons have rehabilitated the logo. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  6. Rod-hunt-int-hero

    Do you really need an agent? Why? What do they actually do? In a talk hosted by The Illustrator’s Guild of Ireland at this year’s Offset festival a panel featuring Peepshow Collective’s Andrew Rae and Chrissie Macdonald, illustrators Rod Hunt and Matthew Griffin and Bernstein & Andriulli agent Sam Summerskill, we heard about how best to go about finding an agent, what they look for and what they get up to. Here’s what we learnt…

  7. Opinion-int-list

    After visiting the Design Indaba conference in South Africa, Rob Alderson asks if the leading designers working today favour humility and modesty over the cloying over-confidence of their predecessors. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  8. Opinion-davidpearson-int-list

    Last week an interesting Twitter debate sprang up after a comment by graphic designer Andy Pressman who admitted that on a recent series he worked on it wasn’t always possible to read the books before designing the covers. So we decided to speak to a few other book cover designers and find out where they stand on this apparently quite divisive design issue; as ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  9. Marckremers-opinion-int-list

    As part of the digital design showcase we are running with Represent, we interviewed Marc Kremers and found him in an unflinching mood as he detailed some of the issues he felt were affecting the industry. Such was the reaction to Marc’s piece both on the microsite and social media, we have decided (with his permission) to republish an excerpt of his interview here. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and check out the dedicated digital design showcase here.

  10. Ije-nwokorie-indaba-sun

    As CEO of Wolff Olins, Ije Nwokorie is well-versed in the creative landscape; the forces that shape it and in turn how it shapes our world. Describing himself as “born in the US, bred in Nigeria and enlightened in England” he also has a global sensibility that sets him apart from many of his peers.

  11. Opinion-int-list

    A new survey has identified what clients see as the four worst types of design agency, and Rob Alderson suggests we should listen to what they had to say. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below..

  12. Robertbye-opinion-list

    The intern debate is still one of the most talked-about issues whenever we meet young designers. This week Robert Bye wrote an interesting article about why, after three months interning in a design consultancy, he believes doing crappy jobs did sometimes make sense.

  13. List

    Assistant editor Maisie Skidmore chimes in on the debate about the presence of full-frontal male nudity in Rick Owens’ AW15 collection which showed in Paris a few days ago. Do you think penises on the catwalk are a step too far? Leave your comments below!