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Commodity Feminism

Rosalind Gill


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. The term pays homage to Marx's notion of “commodity fetishism” and is often framed within contemporary Marxist and feminist terms. The concept of commodity feminism is most commonly associated with the work of Robert Goldman, who elaborated it in detail in his 1992 book Reading ads socially . Writing in a US context, Goldman argued that advertising underwent a radical transformation in the late 1980s when it was forced to address three closely related challenges: sign fatigue – a condition in which viewers of advertisements were quite literally suffering from exhaustion and ennui on account of their daily bombardment by images in postmodern consumer culture; increasing viewer skepticism, particularly among a younger, media-savvy generation who had grown up with fast-paced MTV (and, after the mid-1990s, the Internet) and who were suspicious of any attempt to sell them anything; and finally women's anger at being addressed constantly in terms of idealized images of feminine desirability (→  Advertising ; Sex Role Stereotypes in the Media ; Women in the Media, Images of ). From the beginning of the second wave, feminists had identified advertising as one of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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