The Thinx debacle demonstrates that “feminist hypocrisy is the new trend in startup narratives”. While there is certainly some truth to this, it’s important to point out that the hypocrisy isn’t that new and the trend encompasses far more than startups. Rather, the rise in brands hypocritically espousing pseudo-feminist values is the latest chapter in a broader rebranding of capitalism and consumerism.
For a long time, capitalism ran on the premise that greed was good and bling was in. Slowly, however, people began to demand more from companies and capitalism started to transform itself into what the philosopher Slavoj Zizek has termed “cultural capitalism”. In other words, capitalism started to obscure its profit motive and exploitative foundations with an appeal to a higher purpose.
It wasn’t just about what you were buying anymore, it’s what you were buying into that counted. Zizek quotes a Starbucks campaign which exemplifies this: “When you buy Starbucks, whether you realise it or not you are buying into something bigger than a cup of coffee, you are buying into a coffee ethic.”
Hand in hand with this shift came the rise of “conscious consumption”; consumers began seeking out brands aligned to their social values. As more companies realized the profitability of appealing to a higher purpose, conscious consumerism became more mainstream and widespread.
➜ #todayin: empowerment: many of the self-styled ‘feminist’ corporate CEOs aren’t as empowering as they think they are - @alternet