Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Media Studies


Dr. Romayne Smith Fullerton


This dissertation’s object of study is the contemporary trend of femvertising, where seemingly pro-women sentiments are used to sell products. I argue that this commodified version of feminism is highly curated, superficial, and docile. The core question at the centre of this research is how commercial feminism—epitomized by the trend of femvertising—influences the feminist discursive field. Initially, I situate femvertising within the wider trend of consumer feminism and consider the implications of a marketplace that speaks the language of feminism. Then, through detailed content analysis of advertising by brands like Dove, Secret, CoverGirl, and Barbie, examples of this trend are identified, defined, and analyzed. Next, I apply the theoretical metaphor of ventriloquism to the concept of femvertising to access the deeper, rhetorical appeal of these commercials. This metaphor illuminates how patriarchal consumer culture throws its voice to consumer feminism. Finally, the work explores other forms of marketable feminism, specifically celebrity feminism. Here, I borrow Roxanne Gay’s phrase, “the gateways” to feminism, to question whether a commodified feminism that is wielded for profit is an appropriate entrée to a political social movement. Finally, the discussion explores the wider historical commodification of feminism to argue that the freedom many North American women enjoy is rooted in their value as consumers. The dissertation concludes by calling out femvertising as a problematic trend, one that fetishizes and domesticates the feminist movement, and one that ultimately limits future feminist action if the marketplace continues to be the leading voice in feminist discourse.