ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm: the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes
Definitions of feminism can be varied and personal, not just in terminology but also in how its meaning is both expressed and internalized. I believe it is this characteristic that makes feminism an identity – that turns someone who thinks about feminism into a feminist.
To me, feminism is about access to choice. It is about eliminating the barriers that prevent all people from fully enjoying opportunities in every sphere of life. While this is most often about barriers around gender and sex, these barriers may show up in different ways. Thus, feminists must be cognizant of and active in addressing the interconnected issues faced by members of other marginalized identities. Yes, our society has made lots of progress for women, LGBT+ folks and other marginalized groups, but there is still so much that must still be done. We can’t talk about the connection between conscious consumerism and feminism without talking about gaps like:
The number of businesses launched by women of color represent nearly 50% of all women-owned businesses in the US; however, they received only a sliver of the revenues.
Women still account for small percentages of angel investors and venture capitalists.
According to the World Bank, approximately 80% of garment workers are women. This means that when garment producers employ exploitative labor practices or harmful working conditions, women (and potentially their children) bear the brunt of those consequences.
Indeed, this is only the tip of the iceberg. But this is a strong basis for why I interpret conscious consumerism as an act of feminism. While waiting for the industry’s demographics to change may take time, choosing to buy from women-owned businesses and companies that empower women rather than exploit them is something that we can do right now to help create a level playing field. Especially in a world where money is power, choosing to invest in women-owned businesses is a vote for a more equal playing field for all of us.