I recently started seeing advertisements like the above picture for Bianco’s SS 17 campaign everywhere in Oslo and I find them appalling. Bianco, a Danish shoe brand, has dedicated the campaign to “women’s rights” with the hashtag #WomenNeedMore, claims that “Equal pay is not enough”. What do women need more of? The campaign film tells us, in a borderline propaganda fashion, that it costs more to be a woman (more expensive haircuts, clothes, etc. than men), so women should be fighting to get paid higher than men (rather than just equal to men). Angry women in high heels are depicted wrecking and demolishing things to “fight” for equality. Campaign manager Tatiana Christensen tells Costume that the extremity of the film is meant to provoke indignation from viewers. In an attempt to be politically correct and relevant, Bianco sees women as victims, not heroines.
The wage “gap” is an issue that has been widely dismissed (in Forbes, for instance). Numbers cannot take into account many factors: that women tend to seek jobs with regular hours and more comfortable conditions; that women are often willing to trade higher pay for jobs with non-measurable, more attractive characteristics. It is ridiculous to assume that the “gap” is a significant concern, even more ridiculous to assume that it is due solely to discrimination. Feminists may protest otherwise, but in the west today, women have just as much freedom as men. Women are increasingly taking on leadership positions around the world. More flexible work arrangements are reshaping work-life balance for both genders. The rise of (mainly female) fashion bloggers, YouTube makeup gurus, and influencers clearly demonstrates that the modern woman makes her own path, regardless of dissenters who tell her that she cannot. She builds the world she wants instead of destroying things that do not go her way.
The “pink tax” is another false assertion in Bianco’s campaign. Some brands may charge women more than men for similar products, but this is not due to discriminatory intent. As Kit Yarrow points out Business of Fashion, “Women do think that there’s an absolute association between price and the quality of the product they’re buying, and men less so”. Women usually prefer premium items, which are not always priced solely on manufacturing costs. The cost structure for women is different from that for men, so it is often more expensive to cater to them. Women have a choice: they do not have to pay more than men. And with shopping habits changing significantly over the past years, prices will even out as the menswear industry grows increasingly competitive. There is no need to force brands to charge everyone equally. If a brand wants to stay in business, it will choose to do that by itself.
Rather than produce feminist propaganda videos to promote its shoes, Bianco should practise what it preaches: pay employees ethically, price products economically, and promote women to be women rather than comparing themselves to men. Women are not inferior to men in any way, so why are they constantly being told that they should demand what men have? Instead, women should use their freedom to choose their own courses in life, whether as a CEO or a housewife.
[Dagny Taggart] was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought – and never worried about it again.Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged