Brenna McCaffrey

Brenna McCaffrey is a student at The New School working towards her BA in Anthropology. Her academic interests include cultural anthropology, media, religion, body politics, feminism, and story telling. She has contributed to the Feministing.com community blog as well as FBomb.org‘s feminist blog. She previously worked on the staff of The Harry Potter Alliance, blogging, social networking, and developing campaigns.

Posts Written by Brenna

Advertising and Marketing: Sexism Doesn’t Always Sell

A SYTYCB Entry

As a feminist and social critic, I often point out how the advertising and marketing spheres are a major source of sexism and misogyny. From sexualization to objectification, advertisers know that sex (and poking at people’s insecurities) sells. Unfortunately, a common reaction to my blogs which point out the sexism and sheer ridiculousness of advertising and marketing is to claim that “It’s their job to sell you stuff!” I want to clear up why I believe that companies should be held responsible for how they market their products and why we as consumers should not accept sexism, sex and body-negativity, or misogyny as the status quo.

Popular consumerism feeds off of the sexism that already exists in society. This is how companies can get away with blatant sexism; unfortunately, many people just don’t notice sexist products or ads because they believe that it is “just the way things are.” JC Penney’s famously kicked up some anger with their t-shirt for young girls that read: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” More recently, Land’s End committed a major sexist advertising snafu by not only gendering the backpacks in their back-to-school issue, but by imbedding sexist messages in the ad copy itself. While the backpacks geared towards boys were “superhero tough,” the backpack marketed to girls were “tough as long division!”

Sexist ads exist because we live in a sexist society. By feeding off ...

Victoria’s Secret, Dove, Seventeen appropriate body-positivity to sell you more stuff

A SYTYCB Entry

The above image has been going around Facebook to the same devastating results as the “When did this…become hotter than this…?” meme. Both images were taken from advertising and marketing campaigns by two large companies, Dove and Victoria’s Secret, who have been appropriating body positivity to continue to profit off of people’s insecurities. While the sale of false body positivity is all I see in these images, Facebook responded positively to Dove’s ad campaign and negatively to Victoria’s Secret’s.

A SYTYCB Entry

The above image has been going around Facebook to the same devastating results as the “When did this…become hotter than this…?” meme. Both images were taken from advertising and marketing campaigns by two ...

Internet threats against Sarkeesian and Green shut down debates

Misogyny against women on the internet has received increased attention in the past few months in response to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter project “Tropes vs Women in Video Games“. Sarkeesian runs Feminist Frequency and makes videos about feminism and sexism in popular culture. She made a proposal for a video series about sexism in video games and used Kickstarter to raise the $6,000 to fund her project. Sarkeesian met her goal in no time, but she also met widespread threats of death and rape from members of the online gaming community. Sarkeesian writes about the image-based harrassment and visual misogyny that was created against her, from wikipedia vandalism to the creation of an online game whose objective is to beat up her likeness.

A ...

Misogyny against women on the internet has received increased attention in the past few months in response to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter project “Tropes vs Women in Video Games“. Sarkeesian runs Feminist Frequency and makes videos about feminism and ...

“How to be a woman,” or why we like gender rules

From inspirational quotes and images on Tumblr and Pinterest to the strict gender roles enforced by many religions, it is clear that many people like being told how to perform their gender. Self-help books like “Men Are from Mars…”, “Rules of a Lady” graphics, and even gendered advertising create the gender rulebooks that surround us. They tell us how to be a man or a woman, alienating all other expressions of gender and creating an environment in which people are punished for violating these societal codes. Though working against these gender rulebooks has been a major project of the feminist movement, it is not always easy to write off such deeply inscribed roles.

A Crystal Light ad clearly ...

From inspirational quotes and images on Tumblr and Pinterest to the strict gender roles enforced by many religions, it is clear that many people like being told how to perform their gender. Self-help books like “Men Are ...

Class, accessibility, and rebranding feminism

Originally posted at The Feminist Anthropologist

Captain Obvious has brought the news to us this weekend: abortion is not the cause of society’s ills and feminists are not all man-hating, childless, cold-hearted, career-minded bitches.

Today’s feminist movement has tackled so much, but one issue of supreme importance that is still being fought for is a more favorable view of feminism. Criticisms of feminism include the very important fact that it is led primarily by affluent, educated, white, cisgendered women. While movements to include men, women of color, and queer and trans persons have been gaining traction in modern feminism, I believe that one form of intersectionality- class – is too often ignored.

Feminism is stereotypically white and liberal, but it is also affluent. Feminism ...

Originally posted at The Feminist Anthropologist

Captain Obvious has brought the news to us this weekend: abortion is not the cause of society’s ills and feminists are not all man-hating, childless, cold-hearted, career-minded bitches.

Today’s feminist movement has ...

Pink sequined tutus: The gendering of dance

Originally posted at The Feminist Anthropologist. 

This past weekend was the first time in fifteen years or so that I have been in the audience of a dance performance. I have been a dancer since I could walk, though I have always had a frayed relationship with the activity that demanded so much of my time and energy. Dance culture became something I couldn’t quite understand, especially as I began identifying as a feminist as a teenager. Though I loved the creative power that flowed through my body to music, dance often demanded too much attention to my body and how it was supposed to look.

Over the weekend, I watched my two younger sisters perform in a show that ...

Originally posted at The Feminist Anthropologist. 

This past weekend was the first time in fifteen years or so that I have been in the audience of a dance performance. I have been a dancer since I ...

The ultimate birth control myth

There is a myth about birth control, perpetuated primarily by persons who have never had to obtain it, that it is readily available to anyone who might need it. This is one of the most pervasive and harmful pieces of misinformation used by politicians and pundits to claim that the mandate for insurance to cover the cost of birth control is not needed.

I have previously critiqued the ignorance that Lee Doren (of HowTheWorldWorks) displayed in his video on the mandate. Doren makes the assumption that condoms can directly replace any other form of birth control. While condoms are a reliable form of contraception as well as STI prevention, they do not allow a woman to be in control of her own body. ...

There is a myth about birth control, perpetuated primarily by persons who have never had to obtain it, that it is readily available to anyone who might need it. This is one of the most pervasive and ...

Vlogger’s nonreligious opinion on birth control mandate still harms women

Originally posted at The Anthropology Student

This Valentine’s Day, we’re going to talk about women’s rights and why this man’s argument is wrong. Lee Doren, who vlogs at the YouTube channel HowTheWorldWorks, makes an admirable attempt to remove the issue of religion from the current debates surrounding Obama’s contraception mandate for all healthcare plans. I encourage you to watch the video above and get a sense of his argument before reading further.

Now, Doren’s main argument revolves around this. “There is not a person in America, living anywhere in America… who a) has a job, b) has health insurance, and c) has no access to contraception. That person does not actually exist.” Doren’s assertion is based on the fact that everyone ...

Originally posted at The Anthropology Student

This Valentine’s Day, we’re going to talk about women’s rights and why this man’s argument is wrong. Lee Doren, who vlogs at the YouTube channel HowTheWorldWorks, makes an admirable attempt to ...

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