Becka Wall – @beckawall

Equality is IN, and brands are doing all they can to cash in on that. Missoni put Women’s March pussy hats on their models at Fashion Week. Budweiser’s Superbowl ad this year said “wassup?” to an inspiring immigration story. AirBNB took a stance for diversity, with an ad called “We Accept.”

Missoni’s pussy hat runway

We want to shop where our values are. It’s no surprise brands are trying to appeal to feminists and create products that make it easier to fight the patriarchy. But two brands that have been widely applauded and regarded as “feminist,” Thinx and ModCloth, are in hot water for not living up to these ideals.

Thinx, which makes “period-proof” panties provided inadequate maternity leave for its employees and called them “selfish” and “ungrateful” for negotiating their pay—a key tool to ending the wage gap.

Modcloth, which prides itself on creating quirky, fun clothing for a wide variety of sizes with a message of body acceptance, was bought by WalMart, which has a long history of treating their employees—particularly women—poorly.

All this begs the question: Can you sell feminism?

At a time when our rights and equal justice under the law is under threat, it’s only natural to crave places to spend your money with companies that hold true to your values.

But can we really depend on brands to uphold our values, if their number one interest is the bottom line?
In a Huffington Post piece, Emma Gray and Emily Peck put it best:

“Feminism only deployed within the framework of capitalism ― i.e. espousing feminist values first and foremost to sell products and make profit, even if those products are good ― isn’t really feminism at all.”

Feminist companies and brands that value equality are absolutely something to strive for and celebrate. But corporate feminism cannot save us from the tools of the patriarchy, particularly when companies feel pressured to use those tools to get ahead―and feel that not using those tools put them at a disadvantage.

The only way to create real change is to continue our work to change the way society views marginalized people, particularly women, people of color and LGBTQ people. We have a lot of work to do. Deciding where to shop alone isn’t going to do it.