Comoditising Feminism, the ethical implications.

I was invited as a guest to a really cool podcast, Super Smash Hoes, (you can listen to it here) and we talked about commoditising feminism and the ethics behind it, so I have decided to get a bit deeper on it and dedicate a full post to it! 

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Do I want to make money? Yes. Actually I need to make money, just like most other normal people. I also needed to make money in my other jobs, and not all of them had the same level of positive impact in the world. The difference with those jobs is that nobody questioned me, not once, about why I wanted to get paid for them. I went to work everyday, I produced something for someone else and I received a check at the end of the month, I loved part of all my previous jobs, but I never, not once, doubted that I wanted to get paid for it. Also, I never dreaded the moment where someone asked me why.

Here and now, trying to build something great with The Feminist Shop is my favourite moment of my whole career. I can genuinely say that I love what I do and I deeply believe in the impact behind it. I think we need more education about feminism, more voices that reunite us as part of the team, I think we need more ethical companies that take the impact of what they do and how they do it  seriously, and I love that we get to do all that and more. 

I receive personal messages from people thanking me for how one of our articles has helped them get more balance in their house chores split, or how they have started to think about things differently, people engaging in thought-provoking debates with their loved ones sparked by a challenge and all of us learning together. I really enjoy the interviews and showing what the people that I admire have to say! I am passionate about what I have the opportunity to do and I believe in the value of it.

But being able to do it is a privilege. Starting a business, investing time to create content with no return on it, volunteering, being an activist, working in charities... all those very important things, in the way the world is built, are a privilege, something that only those with enough time and money can afford to do. 

And the problem with that is that If only privileged people, like me, can give this a go we are missing so many voices that really really need to be heard. I love the idea behind Patreon, or seeing more and more educative accounts giving their paypals and asking for support. 

I think it has been extremely evident in the last months with anti-racism, where a lot of black people where expected to offer their knowledge, time and energy for free under the idea that it was really important. What you have to say is needed, it is relevant and world-changing and that can only mean that I deserve it for free and you are selfish for wanting to get paid for it. Can't we not know how wrong all that idea is?

Of course the important things should be paid, of course it is ok to make money out of feminism, or anti-racism, body positivity, trans-activism or any other social cause and movement. It is ok to make a living from something important and impactful, and it is ok to want to make a nice living too. Actually, can we all use our energies and skills to work for things that are good for the world and we are passionate about?

I was a bit scared of those questions when I first started the business, with a mix of impostor syndrome and self consciousness. What where the other feminists going to say? How would they feel about my idea of making this profitable. But I am not scared of it anymore and I have found nothing but support and respect from them, I have received the best virtual hugs, comments and encouragement and they have shared my stories and celebrated the milestones of my journey.

Despite not being profitable yet, we have still been able to donate money to associations, we have paid feminist artists without ever trying to bargain their price, we have spoken up about things that matter and raised awareness about completely different and important topics: from gender quotas, to babyloss awareness, from suicide rates in men, to sex, from eating disorders to motherhood. That is a job, an amazing one if you ask me, and one much more valuable that when I was auditing big media companies in Madrid.

Of course building a feminism business comes (and it should come!) with more responsibility. If you are going to make a business built on values you should be accountable for them. If you dare to say that you represent a movement you need to be aligned with it, and you need to be ready to learn, pivot and grow. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting money, with needing money. And there is nothing shameful in trying to get paid for your work, that is a trap of the system! So yes, here we are, trying to ethically make money from feminism with our heads held very high, and our vision to become bigger. Yes, bigger, to have more impact and to have more cash and a bigger platform to be able to amplify the message and have more room to get more amazing people involved in a paid way.

The insane theory that it's wrong to get paid to do work for good things is damaging. Telling people that they have to choose between wanting to have a nice life or having an impactful job is damaging! And by making them the 2 different sides of the coin you are denying the choice to those that just purely cannot afford the cut on income that it is expected. Trying to put ethical people against ethical businesses with the fabricated idea that they shouldn't be making money out of something good and sacred is an invitation to changing nothing, and we have lots to change!

1 Response

Catherine

Catherine

November 04, 2020

This definitely resonated with me, Virginia. Thanks for having the courage to speak about this and name it.

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