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Unilever's Women Empowerment Campaign: Commodity Feminism at its Finest

Here's an image spreading around as a Dove advertisement. It promotes women's empowerment through an intersectional lens. Dove is a Unilever product.

Here's a link to an article on that discusses Unilever's Tanzanian tea plantations program. The program is a collaboration between Unilever and UN Women. It's meant to help women get employed on these plantations and to create safer working communities for them, among other things.

Unilevel is just one of many corporate behemoths existing today that are pushing forward a woke image of themselves. Through campaigns like these, and by collaborating with bodies like UN Women, these corporations gain public immunity for their other, more questionable actions. Actions that are often directly opposed to the progressive values they claim to espouse through such campaigns. Actions like these:

Tea pickers in another country, Kenya, all women, have accused Unilever of failing to protect them and denying all responsibility for that protection, in the aftermath of ethnic violence attacks on Unilever's tea plantations in Kenya. Of 218 victims 56 claim to have been raped and seven were killed. Despite the fact that the headquarters and other areas affiliated with the tea plantation program in Kenya were being sufficiently protected. The workers' "safe community," however, was not (for details you can check Chapter 7 of Vivek Ramaswamy's 2021 published "Woke Inc." specifically pages 142-144).

What explains the massive hypocrisy of this? The answer comes from a concept we studied in class: commodity feminism.

"Commodity feminism refers to the way feminist ideas and icons are appropriated for commercial purposes, emptied of their political significance and offered back to the public in a commodified form – usually in advertising"

Unilever is doing this. Look at Dove. Look at their other work on feminist ideas and promoting those ideas. The issue isn't that Unilever is using feminist ideas to make a buck, although that's also bad. The bigger issue, however, arises when words don't match actions. When Unilever gains a good woke corporation reputation through its Dove ads and thus gets to sweep actual hypocrisy under the rug, as it's doing with the Kenya situation.

There's not much more I want to say about the situation. I just figured it was interesting to see an in-class concept in practice in real life. The fact that it happened to target such a sensitive and personal area added to the drive to talk about it, but I hope more people become aware of the dangers of commodity feminism and hypocritical organizations like Unilever.

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