First there was organic and Fairtrade food. Then there was cheap toms shoes the one-for-one model, popularized by Toms shoes, where your purchase is matched by a donation to a person in need. Then there was the so-called sharing economy where companies like Airbnb rebranded “rich landlords making money” as “community building”. Now there’s the “fempowerment” economy.
When you drink Fairtrade coffee or wear Toms shoes outlet or buy a pair of Thinx or book an Airbnb, you can kid yourself that you’re participating in a “better” sort of capitalism. One which is benevolent rather than exploitative. However the truth is rather more complicated. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative; it’s predicated on inequality. As such it’s incompatible with feminism. The hypocrisy of “fempowerment”, then, isn’t just confined to Miki Agrawal or Sophia Amoruso or Ivanka Trump; rather, it’s woven into our economy.
“We should all be feminists,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie famously toms outlet uk argued. She’s right. Unfortunately, capitalism has turned feminism into a meaningless lifestyle choice we can all buy our way into. Indeed, you can now buy Adichie’s words emblazoned on a $710 Christian Dior T-shirt. Don’t worry about the price – all proceeds will go to Rihanna’s charity!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 toms replica shoes 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 cheap toms shoes 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 toms outlet 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.