Shifting to Feminist Marketing
In November of 2021 I joined a feminist copywriting writing course.
Copywriting is what we call the words (copy) we put on the internet — such as the words on websites, social media captions, and essays like this one.
I use copywriting to explain my art therapy services and help future clients connect with me.
Why is a feminist version of copywriting (i.e. marketing) needed?
Traditional forms of copywriting, the kind that are designed to sell a service, rely on exploitative techniques (such as pressing on people’s pain points) and various forms of privilege (i.e. wealth, thin, pretty, white, etc.).
It’s a huge topic that Kelly Diels, a feminist marketer and designer of my feminist copywriting course, discusses in detail throughout her body of work.
I joined her feminist copywriting course because I wanted to market my art therapy practice in a way that aligned with my values.
As a therapist, I certainly don’t want to increase people’s pain or discomfort just so they’ll become my therapy client.
In the feminist copywriting course, we learn to identify manipulative, patriarchal, and all-the-other-bullshit techniques that are harmful. Kelly then introduces new strategies that empower clients and help them to make decisions from a grounded place.
As I’ve worked my way through the course (it’s a combination of video modules, workbooks, and weekly in-person meetings), I’ve noticed the concepts percolating into other parts of my life.
For example, one of the main strategies that Kelly employs is naming things. We name our bodies of work, our strategies, our concepts, and more. Naming validates and makes something tangible.
It’s seeped into my therapeutic work, as I’ve started naming psychological concepts, such as off-sensing.
Another strategy Kelly teaches is to look for the systems and cultural beliefs that are harming people (the villain), instead of blaming an individual or group.
For example, within the art therapy world, many therapists are uncomfortable charging adequate fees for their services.
Instead of blaming art therapists, I chose to explore why this is. As I dug in, it helped me to see that many therapists hold a martyrdom mentality. I then explored how this originated. It led me to other cultural norms within the mental health field — such as the fault-proof therapist and invisible therapist myth. Seeing and naming these norms helped me to develop more understanding and empathy for my fellow therapists.
This process has also spilled over to my personal life.
While at lunch with my family, my stepmom shared that her job wants to celebrate her retirement and inquired about what she would like to do. She feels uncomfortable with a celebration and asked us for ideas.
After everyone had lengthy discussion on the matter, a family friend inquired, “Jackie, I’ve noticed you’ve been quiet on the matter. Do you have any ideas?”
I then shared that I had been thinking deeply about it as everyone talked. I noted that in our culture, women are often taught to not be seen or celebrated, and therefore it often feels uncomfortable for women. I shared that I think it’s ok for my stepmom’s accomplishments to be seen and celebrated in a way that she finds fun.
The discussion bounced to a different subject after that and we continued on with our lunch. It was until later, when I was on the phone with my sister, that I realized what had happened. My sister complimented me on my approach to the subject matter — that I didn’t just say my stepmom had some problem with being seen.
I did not intentionally employ a feminist copywriting strategy — it just came out naturally. As I steep myself in a world that examines topics differently, it is permeating how I think and approach topics.
I couldn’t be more delighted.