What feminists could learn from marketing.
I have been to India for 2 weeks on the digital India programme, run by the inspiring indogenius and sponsored by the British council. Thank you to both for the amazing opportunity. To say I have learnt a lot is an understatement. This is the first of a series of blog posts that expand on some thoughts. This blog post was triggered after meeting Ambi Parameswaran the authour of ‘For Gods sake,’ which in his own words “ is [a book] for those interested in how religion has evolved and how clever marketers have ridden the wave by tailoring their products and services.”
In India for everything you say, the opposite is also true, it is like most other places in that it is not a heterogeneous population. India is rich, India is poor, Women are uneducated, Women are excelling. What is true for one person is false for another. Their contexts are different and so their realities are different.
This means that when marketing to such a diverse group, the idea of marketing segmentation is key as a marketing strategy. This idea involves dividing the broad target market of say ‘Indians,’ into subsets. It is about recognising the diversity and realising that each subset requires a different offering. Another example is the 16–25 target market, again there are subsets in this group. The idea of customer segmentation in marketing is something that feminists may do well to understand.
This post stems from the fact that I disagree with a lot of feminists at a fundamental level. I say a lot, but what I mean is the ones that I have come across. So this is a representation of my experience of those who label themselves as a feminist. Note that that doesn’t mean I disagree with all their beliefs and ideas.
Here we go.
The same way that you can say something about India and the opposite is true, also goes for feminists and most other categories we have.
What I have a problem with is that some feminists present a guideline of beliefs and values that constitute you being a feminist. If you believe them, welcome to the club. As your initiation, you first need to post a picture of your nipple #freethenipple, then grow your armpit hair and don’t forget to dye it pink and #natural on Instagram.
Realise that every single woman’s context is different. At a social, personal, economic and cultural level, the list goes on. For example, for you, doing a march naked in the name of an anti-rape campaign is liberation. For others covering up to the point where all you can see is her eyes is liberation.
Is either display of empowerment and values superior over the other? No.
Are they different? Yes.
Because their contexts, personal journeys, stories, values, motives and a whole load of other things are different. She doesn’t need saving, she doesn’t need your feminist club to empower her. She is empowered, niqab and all.
Another example, a personal one.
I am married. I am still yet to get around to it but I will eventually add my husbands surname to my name. My decision, my choice, my view. Does that mean I effectively kicked myself out of your feminist club? Did I break the code of conduct? No.
Realise that when you are creating your guidelines and handbooks on what I can and cannot do. You are no better than those that oppress what women can and cannot do based on the fact that you are a woman. To me, feminism is about having the freedom to choose. I choose to not label myself as a feminist.
*When I use the term feminist(s) as a general term I am not generalising feminists. I am using the term to address the specific type of feminist. You, we, are not a homogenous population. You may all be women (I get there are men with the title feminist) but again I am telling you of my interactions with a certain type of feminist. My * is also this long because I expect a few feminists may want to jump down my throat and rip this apart in as many ways as possible so I feel I have to cover at least some angles.