Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are women squandering our power?

Catherine Orenstein (writer, founder Op Ed Project) Twittered:
Women control 83% of consumer spending. Men control 83% of congress. Which is more powerful? If used at full potential?

I say that today corporations hold more power than the people (government). (Healthcare reform, anyone?) Thus, she who holds the purse strings has the strength. We simply have to use it.

Your thoughts? How can we use consumer spending to affect change?


Jess said...

This is one thing that motivates me to shop organic. Aside from the benefit to my self, I want to vote with my dollars. I'd be interested to hear ideas about how to expand on this power though...its a fascinating topic.

Mel said...

I think we could use our power as consumers better. It would take good information. It would take a specific objective that would bring together a large portion of women. It would take a clear target. The question is who and what?

Satsuma said...

This is a very good topic. I love it when women think of ways to increase our power, and be creative in the process.

I spend more money on groceries to support organic farms. I realize that if we create huge markets for this, farmers will be more likely NOT to use pesticies willy nilly.

And it is working. Major chain supermarkets now carry organic, but I also support non-chemical meats etc. My health and well being has gradually improved too, and added bonus! :-)

Tami said...

I wish there was a Web site, sort of a Women's Consumer Watch, that was a compendium of info on companies. Are they good places for women to work? Do they offer partner benefits? Do they support working families? Are they green? Do they exploit the labor of women and children overseas? It would be sort of a ratings site that would help steer women to make powerful choices with their dollars in a way that benefits women and the world. You know I think this would make a good podcast topic. I'd love to get several women together to discuss this topic.

Satsuma said...

Yes, Tami, we can talk about this further! If a company treats women badly, they need to be called on it. Women can and do have the power. We can buy from each other too!

Companies pay attention to groups of people reporting on whether the company treats groups right!

ActsofFaithBlog said...

I also think about the fact that black women outspend Latina & Asian women combined - nearly $800B. Talk about squandered opportunities!

Tami said...

So, if we were drafting guidelines for smart use of consumer power for women, what would they look like?

A couple basic guidelines could be:

Know the facts about the businesses you patronize. Read business and financial news to understand how the brands you support do business.

Ask yourself whether the corporations your dollars support exploit women ANYWHERE. (Meaning a company that feints at being supportive of women in the US, but uses the underpaid labor of women and children on the other side of the world is not friend to women.)

Kristen said...

I love this conversation! I agree, our money is such a powerful thing. Can you imagine the change we could effect if more women committed to just buying fair-trade?

One change I've made recently is trying to buy directly from the artisan when possible. Etsy is a great resource for handmade items and then I can feel comfortable that the money is going to the right place - to the person who created what I'm buying.

Tami said...


I don't think it's about "giving up" privilege. I mean, I can never give up the privilege I have as a child of educated, middle class parents. I can't give it up because a) it has created opportunities that I would be foolish to reject, and b) a lot of privilege involves how OTHER PEOPLE respond to you.

That said, by recognizing my privilege, I can help mitigate its effects on other people who are marginalized because they lack the class privilege that I have.

Imagine how much better the world would be if even 25 percent of people recognized the privileges they hold?

Lady C said...

Why stop at companies/corporations treating women badly? What about companies/corporations treating humans baldy?

I read somewhere, years ago, that AA, ranked in the top 10 when it came to spending power. We know this, and yet, we do nothing.

I believe we are trying to buy acceptance. We should, however, use that power to benefit all of us and not just ourselves. Will the world be a better planet? I don't know; but, what would it hurt to try to make it a better place.

Max Reddick said...

Women have the tremendous potential to weld tremendous power, whether financial or otherwise. But I think the power of the purse is their greatest asset.

If women were to pull together and target that power, what might they be able to accomplish?


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