Are Women Just Uncivilized Without Men?

The world of ladies and gentlemen has been surrounded by allure since its invention by the Victorians. Being regarded by these titles illustrated one’s social status and prestige.

The online fashion company Parisian Gentleman has maintained that same, age old sentiment. With the help of ad agency DLV BBDO in Italy, the company has aired its first commercial in late January. The  spot was one that garnered a lot of attention and people have taken notice of its premise: a world without gentlemen is a world without ladies.

Note: The following video is NSFW for brief nudity.

I have a few thoughts about this, but because I’m an advertising major, I’ll divide my thoughts into two categories.

The Advertising Standpoint

This next sentence is about to alienate a lot of feminists, so beware. With the warning out of the way, I can see the idea that Parisian Gentleman was attempting to portray. While this ad is completely gendered, it’s important to keep in mind that the message is directed TO men, FOR men. With that in mind, I think the ad was successful in that regard. However, I didn’t get the connection between the ad’s message and the purpose of the company. The ad did not inform me of what Parisian Gentleman is. Before looking them up, I thought it was probably some upscale “gentlemen’s club” looking to boost their consumer base.

Now, of course, the whole idea behind ladies and gentlemen is heavily rooted in appearance and behavior to begin with. So, again, they nailed that on the head. I would have just liked to see men at least interacting with the women in the ad instead of having an all-women cast with a tagline at the end speaking to men.

The Feminist Standpoint

Before I get into the issues that I have with this commercial, I will start by saying that it was refreshing to watch a depiction of women that strayed away from the perfectly-polished, makeup-wearing robo women that are all too prevalent in mainstream media. I’m sure the shock value was high for those who aren’t used to seeing women in a more ‘natural’ state.

The only real issue that I have with this ad is the premise itself, that women would be less “ladylike” if there were no gentlemen. Now, it’s easy to get into an argument about semantics, so I’ll do my best to not even go there. If you asked 10 different people on the street what they thought “acting like a lady” means, you’d probably get 10 different answers. However, no matter how you personally interpret the premise, it leads back to the same thought process: that men set the stage for women’s behaviors.

So…what do you think? Did you enjoy the ad or not?

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So First Thing’s First…What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality

Artwork by Miriam Dobson

 

Note: Click image for full illustration.

If you’re a self-proclaimed feminist (or just an awesomely informed person), then chances are you’ve heard of the term ‘intersectionality’ at some point in time. But for those of you who are coming across this word for the first time, well, this post is for you.

So…let’s get to it.

To grasp the concept of intersectionality, let me first explain the term ‘feminism.’

In the broadest sense, feminism is the belief that women should have the same rights, merit and opportunities as our male counterparts and that being a woman should not be viewed as a disadvantage.

Intersectionality, on the other hand, goes far beyond the fight for equality among the sexes.         The term was first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in her 1989 work. It not only recognizes the system of oppression between the sexes, but also acknowledges the interconnectedness of multiple oppressive systems. These systems can include gender, class, ability, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other forms of identity.

The goal of mainstream feminism is for women to effectively integrate into the present system. While this is needed, it just simply isn’t enough. The system itself is the problem. Being “welcomed” into a broken system isn’t the solution.  We must condemn the system that has unapologetically been built by groups that are now marginalized by that same system.

This is why my feminism HAS to be intersectional. Because I’m not just a woman. Because I’m not just black. Because I shouldn’t have to pick and choose which oppressed group I identity with that day.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that the theory of intersectionality has been fully understood, accepted and embraced by “mainstream” feminists. Despite that, I’m hopeful that the feminists of my generation will continue to embrace the many faces of feminism, including my own.