Women Summit II: Feminism, Words and Images
BY Karen and Erica
In Women Summit I we wrote about discussions of politics and war in the Eighth Annual 2017 Women in the World Summit. The second major areas of emphasis for us centered around words and images. Both have been a focus of Lustre.
First, words. Words have power. Sometimes, words can be repurposed when the ideas they represent change and crystallize. Several were a focus at the Summit.
“Feminist.” We loved it when Justin Trudeau proclaimed that he is a feminist. But we also heard those speakers who said that we need to evolve the label, to redefine it to ensure it is understood as standing for inclusion, without the racist shadow some ascribe to it. The new feminist seeks equality for all women. Period. To accomplish that goal we need men and boys to join us. We also need to consider how what we are doing and saying affects them. As Prime Minister Trudeau’s wife reminds him, he needs not only to instill in his daughter the confidence that she can do anything, but also to instill in his sons an appreciation for that fact.
“Populist.” We really need to take back that word. Populists are popular because they seek to represent the interests of ordinary people. Trump and Le Pen and retrograde figures around the world are not populists.
“Badass.” We were surprised how often the word “badass” was used to describe strong women. We had not realized it was the bon mot of the moment. It’s not a word that we use, but we are interested in how others of our generation, and the next, feel about it.
Second, images. Several panels discussed, directly or indirectly, the power of images. We are apparently subjected to over 3000 ads a day. The focus was on ads targeting women and girls, and ads targeting age. Ads have power because they affect our psyche. Some use that power to grow their markets. Some seem to want to insult those markets.
P&G, AT&T and Nike get that positive images are good for business. They have all recently created admirable campaigns against the objectification of women and girls. Look (again) at the “Like a Girl” video, and the “See Her” campaign. Pay attention to the ads for Covergirl (yeah, Queen Latifah!). We'll bet these campaigns have generated revenue, because they make their audience feel powerful.
Stuart Weitzman doesn’t get it. Great shoes, but an ad with three naked supermodels clutching each other while wearing only high heels in a pose no real women would adopt doesn’t speak to us. Any of us. We wear clothes with our shoes. We stand on our own two feet. And we buy them for ourselves. The audience for this ad is someone else.
Age is the next frontier. Campaigns that show that age doesn’t define us are good for business too.
We loved what Diane Von Furstenberg had to say about aging on a panel called “Designing Disruption.” Why, she asked, if we are so wonderful, are we so insecure? And, more importantly, when did we stop being proud of getting older? When we were 10, we loved being told we looked 15. What happened? She loves her face as it is, wrinkles and all. It is the map of her life. We are with her.
We also loved it when a young panel member, the new editor of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth, talked about owning your seat the table: “If you doubt your power, you give power to your doubts.” She also spoke of a column, Thigh High Politics, recently launched for the magazine. It was named after Fox's Tucker Carlson, in an interview, dismissed a young columnist's political ideas, telling her to stick to her thigh high boots. Have a look--it's pretty good.
Again, we plan to act on what we have learned. We too want to change an image--the negative image of older women--and to create an image for retired professional women. We will solicit our male colleagues, and our young friends, to help us. We are all in this together.