reader report

Why Hallenstein Brothers' woman in a suit advert is hurting feminism

A female model fronts Hallenstein Brothers new ad campaign and some people aren't happy about that

OPINION: Let’s play two truths and a lie.
1. Women wear suits
2. Women shop at "men's" clothing stores.
3. Women love when they’re left to defend their want for equality, all because a company jumped on the diversity bandwagon and misrepresented an important concept just to sell a product.

Now, I love many things in life (insert love for chicken nuggets here), but arguing with a drunk man at 1am about how the suit-wearing Instagram 'influencer' isn’t what I mean when I say I want equality for women is not one of them.

I'm talking about Hallenstein Brothers' latest advertising campaign. The issue with this campaign should not be about women wearing suits (of course we do), and it should not be about women shopping at "men's" clothing stores. Instead, the focus should be how feminism has been commandeered by yet another PR machine. Feminism is being destroyed because of its takeover as a PR stunt, instead of a method of ideology. The Hollywood PR Machine is one thing, but to see a Kiwi company create this type of discourse for Kiwi women is downright disappointing.

The comments and discussion surrounding this Hallenstein Brothers advert have highlighted that the choice of using diversity as a method to garner instant likes, instead of backing a long-term cause, is doing more harm than good. And let’s be honest, the advert hasn’t empowered anything other than a misappropriated viewpoint on equality.

* Hallenstein Brothers' new ad features a woman wearing a suit - is the world going mad?
* Profit lift for Hallenstein Glasson as it rejigs stores
* Sydney Boys High school students releases video about why feminism is important
* Did Glassons lose its way? Hallenstein Glasson says problems led to lack of fashionability

Feminism has become a weird concept these days. The definition appears to have been hijacked and amended by those with a strong Instagram following and an IMDB profile. Also, the majority of the viewpoints expressed in the media - a large number of which originate from Hollywood - are 'Extreme Feminism'. That’s not the feminism the girl you walk past at New World wants. And it’s not the type of feminism the girl who rejects your constant sexual advances on Bumble or Tinder wants (your attention maybe, your member no).

Men, placing a woman in a men’s suit is not what the majority of us are talking about when we speak of equality. We are smart, we know that men and women physiologically are different, and there are some things we won’t ever be able to do on the same level because we physically can’t (I’m happy to be proven wrong a la the Russian from Rocky 4, but until that crazy lab situation happens this is our truth).

The power of the suit (a power obviously reserved exclusively to men).
Hallenstein Brothers/ Facebook
The power of the suit (a power obviously reserved exclusively to men).

And here’s the thing, it’s not against feminism to say this. Because the real feminism, the real concept that relates to us real people, knows that there are some things we can’t change. But rights, opportunities and treatment, they can change. Just because I might not be able to open jars as well as a man (I personally love that this is an analogy of how weak a woman can be), doesn’t mean I can’t be paid the same wage. And it doesn’t mean that my sex life can’t be as acceptable or funny as the bro bedding a different woman each weekend.

Instead of aiding women to achieve equal opportunities and treatment, this advert created yet another occasion for women to be attacked for believing in our rights. It didn’t help us, it hindered us.

Companies, stop thinking that your support of diversity is a "cool" thing. In the end, your over the top pushing of diversity into consumers' faces is creating discourse and the exact opposite thing you’re apparently trying to support; which is extremely uncool.

Sure, some PR Manager is sitting in their glass office right now saying, "people are talking about the brand, that can only be a positive." But you know what, screw your brand. Your brand, your PR ideas and your campaign mean nothing. The fact you’ve just created a harder fight for women and the concept (albeit a confused one) of feminism, that’s what matters. Your clothing does not.

Today has to be the day feminism is reclaimed, by real feminists. Today has to be the day when we take back the conversation and stop allowing equality to be merely a marketing campaign.

New Zealand, we were the first country to give women the right to vote. Can we take back control of the viewpoint and definition, and allow our country to know what real feminism is?

Let’s do what is right for us, all of us. Not what apparently works for the Hollywood PR Machine or some fast fashion company (maybe a campaign on sustainability would be more appropriate, no?) Can we please, for the sake of everyone, start being authentic to what we all are?

No other country is New Zealand, let’s not lose that. And while we’re at it, let’s show the world what feminism really is.

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