Lush North America wades into identity politics. It doesn't go well.

I abhor puns with a passion but I couldn't resist "wades in," when it comes to Lush, the soap brand who decided to remove products from their window displays to have a discussion about race. Sorry! That was Starbucks. I meant trans rights. Using the hashtag #TransRightsAreHumanRights, Lush wanted everyone to discuss this and launched a campaign four days ago. Normally this would be the part where the article would tell you that things predictably didn't go well and that there was a backlash. And there was a backlash, indeed. But not because people object to trans rights. No, the majority of the backlash came from women-- Lush's target market-- who objected to the word cisgender used to describe themselves.

Rather than, you know, actually having a conversation about it, Lush doubled down to explain what cisgender means to women who already know what it means and are offended by it.

Some in the trans community were also upset. At women who were upset at being called cisgender.

They also offended the black community. Keeping in mind it's Black History Month in America.

Lush then had to Lushsplain itself.

But it didn't stop there. The trans community also weren't pleased. And why should the be? This is nothing more than lazy slacktivism on Lush's part.

And then the boycott Lush hashtag showed up.

And there was much snark.

Let's recap: Lush launched a new campaign and ended up offending: Its largest audience by calling them by a name they didn't like. The trans community who saw this as a cheap cynical plot to sell more product. Other identities who felt excluded in this campaign. With all that great social media chatter, I can only imagine how well the deep dive will go in-stores.

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Donk's picture

What kind of gigantic dumbass gets offended at being called cisgender

MsBAF's picture

Most women

Dworkinist's picture

How about: anyone who has even the slightest clue about feminist analysis of gender and hates the oppression of women?

"Cis woman" is the latest box men have invented for women (female-born people).
"TERF" is the slur that is used to shut up the woman who want to get out of this box (feminists).

The notion of a "female gender identity" is a new fancy repackaging of the same old 50s style "lady brain" sexism. One is not born, but rather becomes a woman. The pernicious socialization into a subordinate social role is what turns girls into "women" under the rules of a sexist society. The notion of a "female gender identity" obscures this fact by suggesting that a feminine (read subservient) personality type is natural for the majority of women (female-born people).

Further, the notion of a "male gender identity" naturalizes men's oppressive social position within the gender hierarchy. It is the exact same story as with girls/women, only the other way around: boys become men by displays of callous sadism under a male supremacist society, such as paying money to aggressively penetrate a prostitute who's doing this most likely out of poverty. The notion of "male gender identity" posits that men's identification with manliness is natural, when in fact it is socialized and sadistic.

FormerLushFan's picture

Well, as the article points out, it's the target market who is getting offended.

cant see this field's picture

Lush's target audience isn't radical feminists. Its target audience is at least mostly women, if not entirely women.

Surely you realize that hardly anyone cares what radfems think. Otherwise there'd be way less misogyny in the world.

I think it's good whenever anyone points out that 'cisgender' is a term that implies that some women identify with their oppression, and I believe that gender is how we make males and females into oppressors and the oppressed, respectively. It's the name for a system of oppression, not an internal feeling.

But no one cares what radfems think, unfortunately, so radfems disliking Lush's publicity stunt hardly indicates anything about how consumers in general will respond to it, or how people feel about transgender people.

FormerLushFan's picture

Neither I nor the article made the claim that Lush's target market was radical feminists.

bobmustkin's picture

What kind of gigantic dumbass thinks that the colour pink and barbies make girls girls rather than their biology? Obviously Donk does. Take your sexism elsewhere, little man.

RLDavies's picture

Never mind the blowback, I'm still trying to figure out why Lush thought removing their window displays was somehow a sensible way to make a stand on any issue. Except maybe the issue of overcrowded shop windows.

Dabitch's picture

Exactly. The pinkwashing, greenwashing and whatever-else-washing is tedious, people see through the crude attempts to latch on to a social cause while still just being your run of the mill capitalist shop. It's different when products are fair trade, when words are tied to actual actions.

Neo's picture

Just another reason for me to avoid those stinkbombs they call shops. The smell makes me gag.