Consumption Junction: The Intersection of Mrs. Consumer and Ecofeminism

What does an Ecofeminist
"Mrs. Consumer" dream about?
by lana lynne on 4.25.11

In the early 20th century, advertisers gave birth to the conception of “Mrs. Consumer.” Historians of consumer culture note how the “Fashionable Woman” of the 19th century, whose passion for luxury was curtailed by moral criticism, was supplanted in the 20th century by “Mrs. Consumer,” a secularized image constrained by a workplace rationality. This representation of women rationalized their supposed domesticity and reconfigured them as managers of their households, typified by an advertisement by N.W. Ayer, the first advertising agency in the U.S., that headlined “The Little Woman, G.P.A.” as their target market. In this promotion, the Ayer advertising firm situated women as the “General Purchasing Agents” of their homes, creating a parallel between women’s domestic responsibilities and the more culturally respected duties of a businessman: “The way to [women’s] hearts and their purses is not easy, but it is clear,” the ad states; “These general purchasing agents are readers of advertising, consistent, critical readers of advertising. It has been estimated that they buy more than eighty per cent of all advertised merchandise."

Not much has changed over the course of the past century, as women continue to make over 85% of consumer choices, yet these choices have more influence than those early national advertisers may have imagined. Women's purchasing power is one of the things being targeted in the Earth Day initiative WAGE, or Women and a Green Economy, which sees women as one of the most important leaders in environmental stewardship. According to the website, the campaign was created in view of the following points: Women constitute more than half of the world’s population, women make 85 percent of all consumer choices, women are rising to key positions of power, and women can lead the way to a sustainable green economy.

In Aline Cunico's article, "Women Key to Green Economy," Katherine Lucey of Solar Sister states: "Being disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of climate change throughout the world, women are influential, as home makers and community organisers...It is critical that they are full participants in the creation of a sustainable green economy." As women are brought to the forefront of environmental activism, will we see a more pronounced ecofeminist line of thinking emerge?

Image: N.W. Ayers & Sons advertisement
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1 comment:

  1. I think women are key to everything on this planet. We are just really slooooooow to realize it!


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