• 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. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what it is about weekly podcast Serial that has got the whole world talking. As ever, we want to hear what you think! Add your two pennies in the comment thread below.

  2. List

    This week Rob Alderson examines Paper Magazine’s attempts to “break the internet” with their nude Kim Kardashian photoshoot. He asks if it’s actually a good cover, and what (if anything) it tells us about the magazine industry. As ever you can add your thoughts below…

  3. List

    Ahead of a panel discussion we’re hosting at London College of Communication next week we’re keen to explore whether the gap between design schools and the creative industries is a problem that needs addressing. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  4. List

    In a special Opinion piece, Rob Alderson explains why the closure of London’s Kemistry Gallery is a cause for concern, but why its ambitious future plans need to be encouraged. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  5. Lead

    This week online editor Emily Gosling looks at who can really claim authorship of artworks created using technology designed by someone else. Who can really take the credit for art that might not be possible without the tech know-how of others?

  6. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on an interesting blog by Chloe Markowicz which suggests that people are ashamed to call what they do advertising. As ever you can join the debate and add your comments using the discussion thread below.

  7. Main

    Wake up! Freshers’ Week is done – all that colourful IKEA kitchenware your mum got you is nowhere to be seen and you’ve gained 478 new friends on Facebook and an awkward conversation with your home friends about who you’re actually going to Glastonbury with next year. To be honest, being a fresher usually goes on for way longer than a week. After a month or so of partying and drinking Glenn’s Vodka and Robinson’s out of tupperware bowls you wake up with a whole load of briefs to tackle and studio space and equipment to fight over. This is the START of ART SCHOOL.

  8. List

    In recent months the question of so-called spec work has been raised with us over social media in light of various design competitions we have helped promote. Off the back of that we have spent a lot of time discussing this thorny issue with various people so as to formulate a consistent approach, although the nature of these things is that each is best analysed on a case by case basis.

  9. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on the launch of the new Design Museum website and the strange suggestion that the redesign should have been given to a British agency rather than Dutch studio Fabrique. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  10. Opinion-list

    In the wake of the launch of Printed Pages Autumn 2014, Editor James Cartwright wonders and worries about the secret of designing a great magazine cover and asks for any handy hints you might have. Do him a favour and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

  11. Main

    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

  12. Main

    This week Editor Liv Siddall addresses the world’s distraught reaction to the announcement that MSN Messenger will terminate after 15 years in operation, and wonders if we should get so nostalgic and wet-eyed over technology.

  13. Main

    This week editorial assistant Amy Lewin ponders the cultural impact of the potential England/Scotland split. As ever, feel free to leave comments below.