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Special Issue Short Essays

Vol. 5 No. 2 (2024): Narrative, Environment, Social Justice

With Great Product Comes Great Responsibility: Marketing Gender and Eco-Responsibility

May 19, 2023


US-American mass media was revolutionized when, at the turn of the twentieth century, mass printing of illustrations enabled the visual advertisement of lifestyles – the American Dream was now sellable at a faster rate than ever before. Today's mass media has refashioned itself by adapting to a rapid technological evolution, yet remains a space which enables monetization of identity. Women's purchasing power has resulted in a culture of advertisement developed to specifically target women. Whether it is overpriced and elaborate female hygiene products or universal items re-branded specifically for women, capitalism continues to thrive off of a gendered narrative of consumption. In recent years, it has merged with the rise of eco-friendly consumption. Many companies that engage in greenwashing strategies manufacture women's hygiene and skin care products. Additionally, due to a persistent sexual division of labor, household products turned green disproportionally target the female consumer. While there is a tendency for women to be more environmentally aware (Brough et al.; Capecchi; Zelezny), the urgency of this response is the result of a structure which has historically excluded women from positions of executive decision-making and production, while also perpetuating the exploitation of their gender-based identity. I argue that, as a consequence of this perpetuation, a narrative was established which ties responsibility of eco-awareness and ethical consumption to gender, manifesting in an "eco-gender gap" (Capecchi).


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