Last week, our nation experienced a historic moment. Much has been said about this moment, both positive and negative. Me being me, I would like to focus on the positive. The positive is simple.
96 years ago on August 18th the 19th amendment was ratified. This amendment gave women their unalienable right to vote in the United States of America.1
Less than 100 years ago, women like myself were unable to take a stand and vote in this, our progressive country that promises equality for all. Now, anyone who has a television, computer, phone or is just reading the good old fashioned newspaper knows that this country hasn’t exactly lived up to its “equality for all” promise. Those same media outlets I mentioned about will probably offer varying opinions on the validity of my statement and I am not here to start an argument or debate with any one.
I am here to say that many women have used their voice, intelligence and strength of character to get us to this moment. The excitement of the first women receiving the honor of being a major political party nominee for the office of the President of the United States is just that, exciting.
I realized the other day, however that the weight of this moment might not fully be understood by everyone because for some reason, the concept of representation isn't understood.
It matters because despite having faith, too often in a culture that has at your fingertips accessibility to just about everything, seeing is believing.
For much of the last two centuries, every sitting United States President has represented one basic group. Caucasian and privilege. While this does not automatically mean that they do not have the good of the people in mind as they enact laws and regulations for this country, it certainly does provide some distance from some of our countries most glaring problems and inconsistencies.
When Barack Obama used the slogan "Yes We Can" as part of his platform for election, it resonated because it involved inclusion and an understanding of the plight of people beyond just the status quo. Millions of citizens who had been denied the right to vote based on their race were able to not visualize change for themselves. They could see someone "just like them" rise to the highest office in this country. That means something.
We have seen and heard it time and time again in the world of media, where people saw someone that looked like them and realized that there was possibility out there. So, why not in politics?
Well, that same concept was realized last week as Hillary Clinton accepted a major parties nomination to be their candidate for the United States of America. Young girls and women were able to see for the first time something amazing...
The possibility that change can indeed happen, even at the highest levels of bureaucracy. This change is not without its challenges. Just look at the questions and media attention that surround this female candidate opposed to her male counterparts thought the entire run thus far. Look at the amount of free air time given to her opponent (understandably, this is for soundbites, just as much as gender bias). So much free air time in fact that her opponent, has needed to do little to know actual campaign ads, in contrast with record spending for Hillary to get her message out to the people.
But, as with any trailblazers, you get burned quite a bit setting a new path. With each ditch, burn and road block, you get up, you start again. Because of her, other women have this possibility. Because of women before Hillary, like Victoria WoodHull (1872), Gracie Allen (1940), Shirley Chisholm (1972), Linda Jenness (1972) and Jill Stein (2012) who all ran for president to varying degrees of success, Hillary saw the possibility.
These were not the only women to blaze a trail towards the most coveted office of the land. Here is a list of others who also ran for the office of President of the United States and put a crack or two into the ceiling. (SOURCE:)
cracks in the ceiling
Victoria Woodhull (1872)
Belva Lockwood (1884, 1888)
Laura Clay (1920)
Gracie Allen (1940)
Margaret Chase Smith (1964)
Charlene Mitchell (1968)
Shirley Chisholm (1972)
Linda Jenness (1972)
Patsy Takemoto Mink (1972)
Evelyn Reed (1972)
Ellen McCormack (1976, 1980)
Margaret Wright (1976)
Deidre Griswold (1980)
Sonia Johnson (1984)
Gabrielle Holmes (1984)
Isabelle Masters (1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)
Patricia Schroeder (1988)
Lenora Fulani (1988, 1992)
Willa Kenoyer (1988)
Gloria E. LaRiva (1992)
Susan Block (1992)
Helen Halyard (1992)
Millie Howard (1992, 1996)
Monica Moorehead (1996, 2000)
Marsha Feinland (1996)
Mary Cal Hollis (1996)
Heather Anne Harder (`1996)
Elvena E. Lloyd-Deffie (1996)
Gerogina H. Doerschuck (1996)
Susan Gail Ducey (1996)
Ann Jennings (1996)
Diane Beall Templin (1996)
Joanne Jorgensen (1996)
Elizabeth Dole (2000)
Cathy Gordon Brown (2000)
Carol Moseley Braun (2004)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008, 2016)
Cynthia McKinney (2008)
Michelle Bachmann (2012)
Peta Lindsay (2012)
Jill Stein (2012)
Roseanne Barr (2012)
Carly Forinia (2016)
As I was researching items for this post and watching the Democratic National Convention I noticed an awesome hashtag #centenariansforclinton. It was awesome, because it was mainly being promoted by women over the age of 100. This mean that these women, born when it was illegal for them to vote can potential see the possibility of a woman in office before the end of their life. I dare anyone to tell these women that representation doesn't matter.
As for me, I am recognizing the moment and reflecting on the possibility.
I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to Wednesday's post: Bloomingdale's: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing". It was a difficult post for me to write because I struggled to be neutral. I am passionate about what I do and have a special place in my heart for marketing that is target to women because I understand what it means to capture the hearts and minds of the female consumer. There is power in supporting and lifting up women in today's culture like there has never been before. It is because of this that I fight for women every single day.
Your responses and readership to the post (my most successful post to date) let me know that there is outrage and concern out there. This concern doesn't just come from women but men as well. We want more from companies and brands and we will speak out about it and "vote with our wallets". It isn't about being a feminist or overly sensitive. It is about understanding the responsibility we hold when we broadcast a message to the world. You came in droves to read this post and whether that was out of curiosity, agreement or concern is irrelevant, you came, you read, you provided feedback both here and on social media and you shared. You may not realize this, but in doing that you helped support my purpose. This is no small thing to me. Thank you is not enough.
If you see any marketing or advertising directed at women that you love and think lifts up women and girls, send them to me. I would love to focus on the good stuff that is out there, and there IS good stuff out there. Let's talk about them and support their business...it's all about voting with our wallets.
When I was a teenager, one of the pieces of advice I remember my mother giving me time and time again was to never accept a drink from a stranger and to make sure I kept my drink with me at all times. This was to avoid anyone being able to slip something in there and prevent all the dangers that could happen. I thought this was pretty good advice. Imagine my surprise when in December, there was an ad campaign for Bloomingdale's that promoted slipping something in someone's drink. In a holiday ad for the company, featuring a man and woman with the man "creepily" and " menacingly" looking at the woman in her holiday attire with the tagline "spike a friend's eggnog when they're not looking".
Yes, I have expressed outrage over social media posts before and will probably do so again but I am so baffled by this one as a marketer. How is it possible that a room full of people saw this ad, the image, the copy and not ONE SINGLE person questioned whether or not it was a good idea?
how is this possible?
I have been in meetings with people to approve an ad and had multi hour meetings to discuss whether the wrinkle on a forehead or shadow on a cheek should be removed but this gets barely a secondary glance?
Now, there has been quite a lot of outrage in 2015 over a variety of different marketing campaigns or slogan t-shirts, red coffee cups that we could argue if "political correctness" has gone too far but this is not one of those instances. As with the family holiday card with women duct taped I posted about in December, how can anyone argue that this is a good or funny idea?
Bloomingdale's, in true "QUICK PR TACTIC" thinking released a statement on Twitter to apologize. First of all, you didn't hear "feedback", the public was not expressing concern over "sizing" or the colors you chose for your campaign. The public expressed OUTRAGE and DISGUST at the not so subtle advertising you CHOSE that promotes a culture of rape and abuse towards women.
BUT....well if you apologize then everything is better right? Where is the accountability Bloomingdale's? Yes, this ad was "inappropriate" or JUST PLAIN WRONG and IRRESPONSIBLE. Poor taste? Isn't that sugar coating things just a bit? I mean let's really take a look at this ad and what it is conveying to women all over this country, who, by the way are the same people who have built your business by shopping in your stores...remember 80% of all purchases are influenced by women?
In the ad you see a lovely young woman who appears to be enjoying herself. You also see a man who does't actually seem to be enjoying himself at all. He is not engaging with the woman in any way, they do not look like friends at all. In fact he is "leering" at her. The image conveys no familial "best friend" relationship either, instead it looks like just about every "stalker" portrayed on Law & Order SVU each week, only he is handsome. OH WAIT, is that the deal? Because he is handsome, the woman should be more than okay with him "spiking her eggnog"? I mean what woman wouldn't want such a handsome man paying attention to her? If you cannot sense my anger and sarcasm here, let me assure you I am being sarcastic and I am quite angry.
I am going to put anger aside for a moment to try and understand this. As a marketer, your job is to appeal to consumers that have the potential to buy your products, shop at your stores and support your brand. I think we can all agree on that simplified definition. Bloomingdale's, like many high end department stores are known for appealing to affluent women. You can make that assumption simply by walking in to these stores and the mix of product by gender. These stores typically have a much higher ration of women's products than men's. This alone should have caused some raised eyebrows when the campaign went around the table. I mean, what women is going to look at this and think "great ad, I need to go shop now"?
But wait...in 2012 Bloomingdale's was actually going after the affluent male consumer "Bloomingdale’s elevates in-store presence via BMW, GQ pop-up shops." Hmm...okay, that is 3 years ago but it could still be part of their strategy and with that approach to a male consumer, maybe they are less concerned with how a female might read this ad? But...even so, nobody said anything in that marketing meeting to raise concern over how this ad might be received? There is mention in this article about what a "good marketer" should be concerned with. I wonder if that quote was meant to be sarcastic?
With so many amazing marketing people looking for jobs in today's economy it continues to shock me that the people who continually get hired know nothing about consumer habits and thought processes. It amazes me that people still don't raise their hand when something is glaringly wrong. I realize that our profession isn't curing cancer but we still have a moral obligation to the people we market to. Yes, at the end of the day you could simplify the concept of marketing into the idea that it is JUST about selling a product or a brand but did this ad EVEN do that? Here in lies the struggle I have with our profession. We have to make numbers but we also have to be able to sleep at night knowing that we put something into the world that doesn't destroy it.
Campaigns, words and imagery like this may get your name in the paper but do very little else. If you truly want to focus on the numbers and business growth then you have to think long term. How does something like this keep you in the game long term? It doesn't. It alienates your consumers old and new.
Bloomingdale's, thank you for your apology but it does little to comfort me and the many woman in this country who are faced with the very real scenario of violence, rape and sexual assault in our lives every single day. The cause of this fear isn't just "strangers" and bad guys, it is the people we know, it is the people in our community. It isn't a funny joke or over-exaggeration, it is a real part of what we experience as women. The promotion, mocking and suggestion of anything that perpetuates this is not only offensive and disgusting but it is an irresponsible marketing and business practices that you should be ashamed of.
Don't apologize to us on Twitter and think that it is enough. Make a commitment to do something more. Show some accountability for your actions and the actions of your team. Make your marketing and executive team get educated on not just spreadsheets and numbers but of consumer segments, psychology, sociology and gender. Make a commitment to be responsible to your customers.
In a shock to everyone I know, I missed the Emmy's this year. It is a shock because I am actually known for my Award Show parties. Sadly, this meant that I had to watch clips afterwards, What really makes this sad is the fact that it really felt like the Year of the Woman (again), at least from social media and traditional media following the event.
Obviously everyone has been talking about the speech made by Viola Davis which and for good reason, it was beautiful, poignant and thought provoking. It aligned so clearly with not just the issues of women of color on television and movies but the entire culture of race continue as a global community to perpetuate. Between the increasing racial tensions in our country with regard to law enforcement to the Syrian Refugee Crisis we remain a world where hate spreads.
If you were to ask most people if they are filled with hate or are prejudiced against other people, they will say no. Nobody admits to being hateful. They make excuses for what they do based on a variety of experiences, religion, history etc. Think about it, most people will admonish the atrocities of World War II and the concentration camps or the Civil Rights Movement yet so many are standing by and watching as the refugees are hit with fire hoses and dogs or another video of a black American being beaten or killed by an officer of the law.
So what does all of this have to do with the title of this post?
The other speech that impacted me but got less coverage was that of Regina King. Her speech was not necessarily out of the ordinary for an acceptance speech except for her seemingly very sincere shock at having won. There was one section/line though that stopped me.
It is a small but powerful sentence that I haven't been able to get my mind off of it since. It seems that we hear and see in the media a lot of the negatives and burdens of being a woman but rarely see the "power and blessing" being extolled. It is why I think this phrase needs more attention.
I study, speak and educate on women and it took me a minute to determine if I had ever expressed the power and blessing I feel being a woman. My stomach dropped as I realized that I don't honor that enough. Women are the most powerful force in the globe. Many will argue with me I am sure but let's really think about here.
1st and foremost we are the caretakers of the world. Without women, our children wouldn't become healthy and contributing adults to society. Women literally are raising the future.
We are responsible for 80% of all purchases
advertiser's want our money
We have a seat at the table - in some cases at the head of the table
We are big in numbers and we are good at organizing around a cause
we have more women in high places
the power to influence - in my mind, women are the most influential people and yet in the past have never received credit for this
We are educated
70% of all high school valedictorians are women
62% of all associates degrees
57% of all bachelors degrees
63% of masters degrees
53% doctoral degrees
now that is power...
So that is the power of being a woman, let's talk about the blessings.
It's a blessing because we have a voice and using that voice is changing the world in big ways. I feel blessed to call myself a woman when I see all of the amazing things women are doing. I feel blessed to be/have:
We are blessed enough to live in a time where we can get educated and fight for a career, a family and more and there is power in all of that
lots of conversations around women and girls now
to have a voice
empathetic to others
to be a caretaker
to be able to like sports and wear nail polish at the same time
that women in my generation earn more than our mother's and grandmother's on average and get to spend that money the way we want and still are selfless enough take care of everyone around us
I don't have to wear heels to cook in ( I actually don't have to cook) but I can
I can do anything I want but I don't have to do anything I don't want to do