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Purplewashing is a compound word modeled on the term whitewash. The prefix "purple" is associated with feminism while the verb "wash" refers to the co-opting strategies that use minority rights to maintain or enhance structural forms of discrimination.[1]

In the context of feminism, it is used to describe a variety of political and marketing strategies aimed at promoting countries, people, companies and other organizations through an appeal to gender equality.[2][3] This marketing tactic has also been called "Femvertising", which was most discussed in Gillette Razor's #MeToo commercial aimed towards toxic masculinity.[4]

The term is commonly used to denounce the use of feminism to justify what is perceived as xenophobic or Islamophobic policies.[5][6][7]

The word is also used to criticize how Western countries that have not achieved complete gender equality justify this by pointing out that other countries (often majority Muslim) or cultures still have a worse quality of life for women.[8]


There have been many well-known politicians who have said controversial statements regarding women yet continue to introduce schemes and policies that are for women’s development.[9] A very well known Chief Minister who has introduced many reforms and policies for women empowerment campaigns, such as, Mission Shakti which hopes to raise awareness and tackle crime against women has said “Comparing women to energy, he says just like unbridled energy can be destructive and can go haywire, so too if the spirit of women is not controlled then it can prove dangerous.”[10][9]Within the Spanish Army, there have been many legislative and formal changes to fight sexism. However, it has not altered the relationship between the patriarchy and militarism that remains today within the Spanish Army. The report of Centre Delas d’Estudis per la Pau analyzes the women in the Armed Force and how they are far from actually reaching the feminist milestone for equality in the areas of power. Once again demonstrating the militaristic logic and patriarchal domination. The mechanisms and behaviours are perpetuated, regardless of changes, due to the preformative patriarchy. Through certain strategies, the Army has purple washed and therefore instrumentalized women in order to create a false reality of equality and modernity in the Armed Forces.[11]


Through marketing and political strategies that reinforce a commitment to gender equality, western countries use this as an image-cleaning.[12] This marketing tactic has also been called, "Femvertising", which was most discussed in Gillette Razor's #MeToo commercial aimed towards toxic masculinity. In advertisement, women are often portrayed through gender stereotypes, the objectification of the female body and the little representation of women. The term “femvertising” gained popularity in 2014 after the iBlog magazine SheKnows[13] defined it as “advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women and girls.” Specifically due to its ability to question traditional gender stereotypes tied to women in advertising. Through “femvertising” marketers are able to reach female consumers as they use female empowerment to advertise.[14][15]

One of the most well known examples today, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (2004) which aimed to help young women and children gain confidence. By bringing up the idea of physical traits and other stereotypical traits associated to females whether it was personality, role, or occupation, it made sure to raise awareness that everyone was beautiful. Therefore, Dove is known for being positive advocates for women when it comes to social standards as they have used feminism in their advertising. This strategy is now used by many other brands and companies to attract female consumers.

Social media is a way in which companies can further market to females. Social media platforms such as Instagram portray the usage of "femvertising". Ads on social media apps provide a means for brands to bolster products and will strategize the marketable content that the users interacts with. These advertisements are generated based on the users’ activity, increasing interest and therefore the probability of purchases and interaction.[16] Social media feed that relates to females will drive the trends within these apps. Feminism is a popular way social media apps use female topics, such as campaigns for feminism or highlighting social issues involving females. The clothing company H&M designed a campaign titled "She's A Lady" in 2016 that was used on social media platforms. Campaigns as such online display the influence "femvertising" to invest in the interest of females. [17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moscoso, Melania; Platero, R. Lucas (16 February 2017). "Cripwashing: the abortion debates at the crossroads of gender and disability in the Spanish media". Continuum. 31 (3): 470–481. doi:10.1080/10304312.2016.1275158. hdl:10261/187602. S2CID 151949284.
  2. ^ "Del pornoburka al purplewashing, los trucos más sucios contra el feminismo". El Confidencial (in Spanish).
  3. ^ "Gender and Military Culture" (PDF). Centre Delás.
  4. ^ Hinman, Pip (2019-01-23). "Gillette, gender and the struggle". Green Left. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  5. ^ Erlanger, Steven (13 July 2010). "Parliament Moves France Closer to a Ban on Facial Veils". the New York Times.
  6. ^ "Burkas en el ojo ajeno: el feminismo como exclusión". Pikara Magazine (in Spanish).
  7. ^ "'Purple washing' o acordarse del feminismo cuando interesa". eldiario (in Spanish).
  8. ^ "Australian Labor Party spins Israel's occupation as feminist". Electronic Intfada.
  9. ^ a b Aggarwal, Ishika (February 4, 2021). "What is purple washing? How does it show the double standards of the perpetrator?". One World News. Retrieved March 8, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "UP govt to launch 6-month long women empowerment programme 'Mission Shakti' to raise awareness". News On AIR. October 17, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Report 41: Acculturation & purplewashing in the Spanish Army. A study of token women". Delas. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  12. ^ "Purplewashing". Women and feminism. 2021-03-16. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  13. ^ "SheKnows". SheKnows. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  14. ^ Becker-Herby, Elisa. "The Rise of Femvertising:Authentically Reaching Female Consumers". School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  15. ^ Åkestam, Nina; Rosengren, Sara; Dahlen, Micael (2017). "Advertising "like a girl": Toward a better understanding of "femvertising" and its effects". Psychology & Marketing. 34 (8): 795–806. doi:10.1002/mar.21023. ISSN 1520-6793.
  16. ^ Descouens, Margot, and Valentine Gerbault. “Generation Y’s Attitude towards Femvertising in Cosmetics: Women Empowerment or Purplewashing?” UMEÅ University , 2021.https://umu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1572017/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  17. ^ Davis, Darrell (February 13, 2020). "Power of Femvertising a New Weapon for Social Media Marketing".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)