Concepts of feminism were originally initiated to illustrate the prevalent inequalities experienced by women in comparison to men. The discrepancies in how women were treated in all domains of life were systematically addressed by the pioneers of this noble ideal to confront the machinations of the overarching and pervasive patriarchal conventions. Patriarchal systems and structures failed to recognise women’s roles in being primary care givers when men were the main earners in society, and this culminated in the perpetuation of women’s rights being dismissed as irrelevant and gratuitous. Women were implicitly expected to remain subservient to the patriarchal structure, which dictated they must perform the maternal and household role without any sense of achievement or commendation. This situation is still prominent in many nations, where women’s feelings and wishes are undermined by stereotypes coercing them to conform to patriarchal aspirations willingly and obediently. Consequently, the rights of societal decisions were allocated to men, because women’s opinions were classified as frivolous emotional fluctuations that could not contribute to the progression of society. The dichotomy to any reflective person was obvious; women were expected to raise children and maintain homes, tasks essential to the harmonious continuation of society, yet they did not even have the fundamental right to be represented on the political, social and economic spectrums of their societies.
Coerced to conform and expected to obey, women began reflecting on their unfairly denigrated positions, eventually forming groups, which challenged the status quo. The legendary and courageous suffragettes are iconic symbols of the sacrifice and suffering that some women have endured to challenge misogyny and oppression. Deprived of their human rights, imprisoned and tortured, force-fed through tubes and violated in unimaginably cruel ways, the valiant suffragettes were relentless in their pursuit of justice, willing to suffer and die for women’s rights. Many of them did die in painful and inhumane ways under the control of state agents who were indignant and inflamed at women daring to cultivate audacity and resistance against the man made legislature. All of the vicious and monstrous punishments imposed against these women were considered justifiable by the perpetrators, as they labelled the suffragettes as traitors, agents of anarchy and riotous rebels against tradition and ‘normality’. However, their crude and falsified efforts to degrade, defame and ruin these women were to no avail, for the feminine spirit of resilience overwhelmed their insidious transgressions in life and death. The victorious achievement enabled women to win the right to vote, having their voice heard by the systems that determined laws governing the domains of life and by those wishing them to remain silent.
Looking back at these immense acts of sacrifice and indomitable fortitude, we can deduce that these women embodied the essence of feminism for equality, justice and liberty. Fast track to the current era, where globalisation has interconnected the world and powerful media outlets dominate the supply of information, we are confronted by different brands of feminism. The pursuit of material prosperity and the ‘perfect’ physical form have become priorities for many individuals, which is why so many children and young people are now suffering from chronic symptoms of body dysmorphia and impedimentary anxiety. The rise of technology has simultaneously coincided with contrived depictions of ‘success’, which is categorised by the commercial domains and vigorously promoted throughout the world. Unfortunately, noble ideas like feminism have not escaped from the leeching clutches of these contagiously superficial aspirations, resulting in warped deviations from the inherent purpose of feminism.
Corporate agendas and interests have reigned supreme in the global era, relying on mass-market campaigns through inordinate funds to disseminate and promulgate their agenda. In an age of material aspiration and sensory enticement, branding and marketing are critical to effectively galvanising and maintaining a steady amount of consumers. Feminism, like any other idea or concept, has also been assimilated by the indecipherable corporate market, where multinational organisations can utilise sentiments of female empowerment to sell styles, brands, clothing, cosmetic adornments and many other products, including manufactured versions beauty. By ardently aligning feministic ideas with mainstream trends and commercialised archetypes, the corporate sphere is implicitly dismissing the pertinent issues, which affect the rights and dignity of women around the world. We must consider how exactly glamorised and capitalistically glorified depictions of feminism alleviate the disadvantages of everyday women around the world when they measure female empowerment and independence by a rigorous ascription to materialistic ideals. Through stringently focusing on the physical, shallow and skin-deep aspects of women, the corporate realms have hijacked feminism to sell their commercial archetypes, which intrinsically exploit women’s rights and vulnerabilities under the guise of female empowerment and equality. The origins of feminism rebelled boldly against the objectification of the female body, however, the corporate market has inverted this idea, attempting to indoctrinate young women into believing that they must project a specific appearance to be truly valuable, beautiful and dominant over men. Although numerous archetypes encourage women to aspire to media portrayals of superiority, feminism was never meant to be about having power over men and other women. However, the mainstream appears to magnify gender divisions rather than attempting to reconcile them in order to profit from the pervasive hostility that situate people into different paradigms of thought. Competition between the genders enables the commercialised industries to exploit the segregation by promoting products, ideas and services that falsely reinforce the differences and eventually culminate in various streams of profit. Individuals who are disillusioned by the opposite sex will be vulnerable to ascribing to consuming whatever products and theories that corporate feminism espouses, further becoming distanced from purposeful endeavours in the hope that material and status enhancements will resolve their inner disharmonies.
Regardless of how much a woman fulfils the excessive expectations of conformity propagated to her, there will always be a perpetual bombardment of new products to acquire and possess. Achieving a certain look will not repel the marketing pincers targeted towards women, and they will forever be subliminally and overtly persuaded to upgrade their attire and appearance in accordance with whatever trends are masquerading as feminism in the current time. Ironically, these aggressive and dogged marketing strategies have been insidiously entwined with feministic concepts, deluding many women and young girls into thinking that they are encapsulating the principles of gender equality and justice by endorsing them. However, does the corporate marketing network address the systematic oppression that women in countries like India and Saudi Arabia face on a daily basis? The derision and hostility projected towards women in these countries is systemically endemic, rooted in theocratic and misogynistic traditions established by a hierarchy of patriarchal premises. The glamorous and grandiosely corporatisation of feminism fails to represent the needs of women’s struggle everyday due to stigmatisation, subjugation, injustice and abuse. Across the world, gender inequality continues to proliferate in environments that are concealed from the public eye, and there are women who simply want to have the basic human rights to live freely without fear of oppression and brutality.
To awaken the spirit of true feminism we need to campaign for the voiceless women, instead of being misguided by illusory images of ‘perfection’, which instil fabrications of female ascension by organisations that objectify them through a distorted version of feminism. The truly repressed and tormented women need to be represented by the media, which claims to support women through their tribulations. The entire world needs to realise that the more we physicalise female equality, the more we stray from the bravery women like the suffragettes showed to kindle vital rights for women in a time when the patriarchy was unashamedly severe in it’s repudiation of female volition. Women all around the world deserve to be heard, for their struggles touch the heart of justice and liberty, and humanity needs to advocate for them to preserve and restore the harmony of the world.