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It’s 2017 and recent years have proved that creating content with feminist messages can be immensely profitable.

Wonder Woman was one of the wonders of the box office this year raking in over a billion dollars in the box office. With a female director and a female star and an army of female warriors, it smashed the traditional idea that only men can be superheroes and only male-led superhero movies can be successful. Sure, Wonder Woman still needs a man’s love to help her access her true power, but her starring role is still a big break from the traditional woman’s role as the love interest or the sidekick with the kickass booty.

Reese Witherspoon has created a company that is dedicated to making films about complex, real women, produced by women. The films produced are not just commercially successful, but their most recent TV series Big Little Lies has garnered 16 Emmy nominations.

Corporate advertising has found much success by focusing on empowering women. Brands like Dove, Nike, Always and Under Armour have been lauded time and again for their empowering campaigns that promote the potential of real women. Even in Malaysia, brands like TNB and CIMB have chosen to feature “superwoman” storylines in the advertising to great effect and success.

Celebrities are also chiming in. From Beyonce to Emma Watson, Ivanka Trump to Rihanna, everyone is standing up for a feminist cause. It’s good publicity and good business sense. Rihanna’s new make up brand Fenty has just launched and has already created lots of good vibes for having an extensive range of foundation shades. So every woman can find her colour. It’s great for women everywhere, and fantastic business for Fenty (which has been receiving rave reviews and selling out).

We live in a time where women are bombarded with messages like “You’re strong, you’re powerful!”, “You can do it all!”, “You’re beautiful the way you are” and so on. And we’re loving it.

Clearly, self-esteem sells. Female empowerment is sexier than it has ever been before. Feminism is now mainstream. 

But for all the good this feminism movement has achieved, there is still a long way to go to being a just and equitable society. Because at the end of the day, brands are still seeking for a transaction. Movies are a commodity to be consumed. Advertising campaigns are all pushing a product. Empowerment is good looking, therefore it is easy to capitalize on.

Feminism may be just another trend exploited for monetary gain and publicity.

The recent Harvey Weinstein scandal and the ensuing #metoo movement highlights that even women in positions of privilege are still victimized daily. And the existing power structure keeps women from speaking out. It’s a slap in the face in a world where we see strong women every where telling us we can be anything we want. Clearly we still can’t do or have it all.

And violence against women is just one of many issues that may not be as photogenic and bankable as female empowerment but is certainly just as important.

In 2018 we hope to see more brands tackling issues that may not be sexy to look at, but can make a real difference in women’s lives. Topics that may be taboo and underrepresented like child marriage, human trafficking, domestic and familial violence, access to education, even the pay gap that still exists right now in first world countries.

Complicated issues that women face every single day. That are just as deserving of the spotlight.

What is your brand doing to make a real difference in women’s lives?

 

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