Insider Versus Outsider: Reflections of a Feminist Consumer

ABSTRACT - Feminist critiques of the social sciences have shown that the perspectives and problems of women have frequently been overlooked or misinterpreted. Although in consumer research the consumer is assumed to be a female, this may be based on outdated stereotypes. This paper uses introspection as a technique to explore some consumption experiences of a feminist.


Julia M. Bristor (1992) ,"Insider Versus Outsider: Reflections of a Feminist Consumer", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19, eds. John F. Sherry, Jr. and Brian Sternthal, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 843-849.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19, 1992      Pages 843-849


Julia M. Bristor, University of Houston


Feminist critiques of the social sciences have shown that the perspectives and problems of women have frequently been overlooked or misinterpreted. Although in consumer research the consumer is assumed to be a female, this may be based on outdated stereotypes. This paper uses introspection as a technique to explore some consumption experiences of a feminist.


Many women scholars, including myself, struggle with a tension born from being an insider and an outsider in our respective scholarly disciplines (Westkott 1979). I am a consumer research insider because I am educated and trained in the theories and methods of consumer research. I am a consumer research outsider because I am a female, and the discipline, like other social sciences, is by definition, both masculine and male dominated (Jordanova 1980; Keller 1978). In critically examining the discipline from the outside, I am also intimately familiar with the inside, and thereby oppose myself (Westcott 1979). As a result of such tensions, numerous feminist analyses have emerged that explore ways in which distinctly male perspectives on masculine experiences have shaped the scientific process and products of inquiry, for example, in sociology (Smith 1974); psychology (Sherif 1987); and organizational theory (Calas and Smircich forthcoming).

The purpose of this paper is to explore some of my consumption experiences. At the outset, I must point out that I am not a "normal" consumer since I am a consumer researcher who spends a great deal of time thinking about my own and others' consumption. I am also a feminist. Thus, here too, I struggle with the tensions of being both an insider and an outsider. It stems from my belief that many marketing practices contribute to and/or maintain the lower status of women in our society (Cott 1987; Friedan 1963). In my discussion of consumption, I will elaborate some of the tensions that I experience as a feminist consumer. First, however, it is necessary to provide a backdrop for them with a brief discussion of two key issues, research values and method.


The first issue, and one that is fundamental to this endeavor, involves my research values. Although post-positivists freely admit that the research process is not value-neutral (cf. Lincoln and Guba 1985), research based on post-positivism rarely spells out specific motivations. Thus, I begin by being very clear about mine. I am a feminist. Although there are many types of feminism whose ideological commitments vary significantly, from liberal feminism, to radical feminism, to postmodern feminism (cf. Bristor and Fischer 1991b), most feminists would agree on two points. First, they agree that gender is socially constructed and is fundamental to a person's life experiences (cf. Harding 1986). Thus, although the issue of whether gender differences arise from social factors, or are "hardwired," is unresolved, it is generally agreed that men and women have very different experiences (cf. Daly 1978; Gilligan 1982). This is much more than an academic issue. In a recent legal case, it was recognized that men and women think differently in the same situation (Hayes 1991). Second, feminists agree that our society is patriarchal. As a result, women -- their concerns, experiences and voices -- have been systematically overlooked, discounted and misinterpreted by those in powerful positions in institutions such as business, science and politics. It is because of this that I, and many other feminists, am motivated to study women and women's issues.

There are many potential explanations as to why women have historically been assigned lower status than men. One, which has been written about extensively elsewhere (cf. Harding 1986; Jordanova 1980, Keller 1978), relates to the historical development and practice of science and its influence on other institutions. Briefly, science has contributed to women's status in at least two ways. First, science has historically been closely associated with masculine characteristics and clearly differentiated from feminine characteristics. For example, consider the following word-pairs: hard/soft; rational/ emotional; thinking/feeling (Keller 1978); subject/ object; quantitative/qualitative; practical/fanciful; factual/symbolic; and reality/fantasy (Belk 1991). In each case, the first term is associated with masculine characteristics and with ideals of science; the second is associated with feminine characteristics and is distinctly differentiated with ideals of science. In Western society, the terms are not equally valued. What is masculine and scientific is valorized; what is feminine and non-scientific is devalued (Keller 1978). Among other unfortunate results, this has led to assumptions and stereotypes concerning women's and men's "natural" characteristics. On this basis, women have been historically excluded from scientific and other public roles, and have not been accorded epistemological status as knowers (Harding 1986).

The second way that science has contributed to women's inferior status is through its hallmark, objectivity, which has perpetuated the myth that scientific knowledge is universal and unbiased. Post-positivist critiques of science (cf. Anderson 1986; Lincoln and Guba 1985; Peter and Olson 1983) have shown convincingly that scientific knowledge is not value-neutral; feminist critiques of science have identified specific ways in which the methods and products of science are gendered (cf. Bristor and Fischer 1991b; Eichler 1988; Harding 1986; Millman and Kanter 1975). As a result of these two factors, what has been assumed to be universal unbiased knowledge produced by an objective science, is actually knowledge about men and men's problems produced by a masculine science.

Based on such conclusions, many feminist scholars are interested in revising and rewriting their discipline's knowledge base in a way that more accurately represents the problems, perspectives, and experiences of women. Such an endeavor is challenging for two reasons. First, many aspects of women's lives may not be as accessible as men's. Historically, as production and consumption were decoupled along with the separation of workplace and home, men assumed roles in the public sphere; women assumed roles in the private sphere (cf. Firat 1991; Gordon and McArthur 1985). Social scientists have generally put greater emphasis on the public than the private, so many aspects of women's lives have been overlooked (Millman and Kanter 1975). Further, the longstanding bias toward the observable in the social sciences has resulted in behavioral research focus -- on the assumption that there is a good fit between consciousness and activity. Especially where women are concerned, this may be problematic as their activities have been very constrained by gender role prescriptions and thus may not fit well with consciousness (Westkott 1979). As Westkott (1979) points out, to ignore women's consciousness is to miss out on the most important area of women's creative expressions of self in a society which denies that freedom of behavior.

The second reason that studying women is a challenging endeavor is that the field is still dominated by a masculine research perspective. This is not to say that all consumer researchers are male, but that historically acceptable scientific methods are gendered. Although this has changed in the last decade, the field has been dominated by quantitative methods which are underwritten by a masculine perspective; qualitative methods which are seen as reflecting various feminine characteristics are not considered legitimate science (Belk 1991). Thus men and women are socialized to practice masculine science (cf. Simeone 1987). This is also not to say that women have been ignored in consumer research. To the contrary, much research has proceeded on the assumption of the consumer as female (Fischer and Bristor 1991). However, Eileen Fischer and I have argued that this assumption is based on outdated stereotypes of gender and gender relations. Therefore, many research questions may not appropriately reflect women's concerns and experiences.

Given these challenges, the task at hand is to learn more about women -- their problems, concerns, experiences, emotions, etc. Also given these challenges, traditional quantitative methods may not be especially effective (Millman and Kanter 1975; Personal Narratives Group 1989). However, in suggesting that more qualitative, post-positivist approaches may be appropriate, feminist scholars rarely claim a distinct feminist method per se. Rather they advocate the use of post-positivist methods to better define research problems from the perspective of women's experiences and develop explanations that address the needs and wants of women (as opposed to others such as policy makers, marketers) (Harding 1987). As a starting point, introspection seems well suited to the task.


It is a rare consumer researcher who does not think about her or his own consumption experiences. Yet we rarely read about them in the academic literature because when the subject and object are inseparable, it is difficult to ignore the emotional and experiential aspects of consumption. The inclusion of emotion in our papers is generally seen as inconsistent with scientific procedure (Holbrook 1990). As various critiques of traditional science have pointed out, objectivity is a masculine characteristic associated with science which emotion is a feminine characteristic (cf. Belk 1991; Harding 1986; Holbrook 1990; Jordanova 1980, Keller 1978). Further, the premium placed on rational, logical activities may help explain why consumer researchers have frequently overlooked emotion and experiential aspects of consumptions as legitimate consumer research topics (Holbrook 1990; Holbrook and Hirschman 1982). The net result is that emotion and the more feminine aspects of human experience are frequently not integrated into the practice or reporting of research. Like Holbrook (1990) and Holbrook and Hirschman (1982), I believe that we need to recapture these dimensions for a more complete understanding of consumption.

To more fully understand consumption, we do need more research on consumption experiences and emotions. Yet because consumer research does have masculine underpinnings (Belk 1991; Bristor and Fischer 1991b; Holbrook 1990), and because women may have very different consumption experiences (cf. Millman and Kanter 1975), traditional research methods may be insufficient when considering women's issues. Other approaches are necessary. One approach is to use of bigender research teams, as was suggested by Janeen Arnold Costa the 1991 Gender and Consumer Behavior Conference. Bigender teams help overcome the fact that male and female researchers may observe and learn very different things about a given phenomenon (cf. Warren 1988). Another approach is to use introspective techniques (Cook and Fonow 1986).

Introspection, or the conscious awareness or self examination of experiences can be used as a technique for examining emotion as a product of individual processing of meaning, as well as socially shared cognitions (Ellis 1991). Thus, Ellis (1991) suggests that introspection is a way to generate interpretive materials for the self and others to better understand lived experiences of emotion. In some cases, introspective techniques provide an opportunity to study unique biographies and life experiences, and to take advantage of situational familiarity (Brown 1991; Reimer 1977) or a complete membership role (Adler and Adler 1987).

Given forementioned difficulties of studying women, female introspection may be a useful way to generate research questions that may be less apparent from a male perspective. As Ellis (1991) notes, who better knows what questions to ask than a social scientist who has had the experiences of interest? On the other hand, introspection has potential liabilities as well. Problems associated with auto-ethnographies may apply to introspection as well (Hayano 1979). Further, some researchers may be uncomfortable with introspective techniques because the subject and object are, by definition, inseparable. Some may also be opposed to introspection as an end in itself because then there is no attempt to generalize or validate against others' experiences. So little has been written about introspection (see Ellis (1991) for the most comprehensive treatment) that many issues remain to be addressed. My position is that introspection, particularly interactive intropection, where a researcher works back and forth with others to study the emergent experiences of both parties (Ellis 1991), can be a useful starting point. However, I see introspection as one component of a research program that is supplemented by other methods which, while still adept at focusing on the more feminine aspects of experience, use larger samples.


When I was first asked to participate in this special ACR session, I was asked to use introspection to describe my experiences as a feminist consumer, with the added suggestion that if I were going to explore some of the negative aspects, some of the positive aspects would be appreciated as well. After a couple of days of struggling, I finally realized that many of my consumptions experiences were in direct conflict with my feminist value system. Further, in talking to other feminists, I've discovered that my feelings and emotions are shared by others. So while I am quite uncomfortable with personal-disclosure and self-introspection, there are two reasons why I see it as a valuable starting point. First, while I do not pretend to speak on behalf of all women, or even all feminists, I have discovered that I am not unique in my reactions to certain marketing activities. Second, since traditional consumer research has largely ignored feminist perspectives and concerns, my introspection as a feminist can be used to suggest research issues for broader investigation. For this paper, I have chosen to focus on two consumption areas: marketing and politics. Concerns about a third consumption area highly relevant to me, consumer research, are described in Bristor and Fischer (1991a; 1991b).


Marketing is a pervasive institution in our society. I was so fascinated by it that I chose to study it as my profession. As a feminist, however, I do not like everything that marketers do. In particular, I think many marketing actions are based on a traditional white, middle class, male ideology about gender and appropriate gender roles. This ideology is shared and transparent, as air is to humans and water is to fish. It's only noticeable when one tries to breathe in the other's environment. Likewise, as a feminist, the male ideology is evident because my perspective is so different. Although the ideology has arguably contributed greatly to the notion that in the U.S. one can get "ahead" through individualism and hard work, it may be less true for women then white middle class men (Anderson forthcoming; Faludi 1991; Morrison et al. 1987). Thus, while from a male perspective, certain actions may be seen as neutral, others may see the same actions as imposing unwanted conditions and constraints. The result is a contribution to and reinforcement of the lower status of certain groups such as women. While I'm not arguing that marketers bear sole responsibility for social conditions, their actions are not a neutral reflection of them either. To show how this might happen in marketing, I will use three illustrations: the beauty industry, advertising, and products marketed to girls.

Beauty Industry: My first example of male ideology is the mega-billion dollar beauty industry. This is the industry that implores women to: keep up with the latest fashions; be thinner; have perfect breasts; apply makeup and other cosmetics; remove body hair and so on. As a feminist, I am caught between my desire to participate and my intellectual recognition that beauty is largely a male social construction. Thus, regardless of the historical context, definitions of beauty are based on male notions, for male use and consumption. Although use of the traditional appeals to women that they should use beauty products to appeal to a man (e.g., "Gentlemen Prefer Hanes") have lessened in favor of more self-indulgent messages, the change is quite superficial. The industry, with a few notable exceptions such as Liz Claiborne, Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and EstTe Lauder, is largely controlled by men. This construction of beauty is closely linked to constructions of femininity and has several potentially negative consequences for women. First, the constructions of beauty are superficial and have little to do with qualities such as morals, ethics and compassion that might make our planet a better place for humanity. Second, women constantly receive the message that we are fundamentally flawed: we are too fat, our breasts are too small, our eyes are too close together, or too far apart, our eyebrows are too unshapely, our complexion is too uneven, and so on. As an example, Maybelline has an advertising campaign for its product line in the October, 1991 issue of Vogue. Each ad begins by defining certain beauty standards, for example for eyelashes. Then, they cast doubts on whether a woman could meet the standard naturally. Maybelline, of course, offers the solution. Although such messages convey standards that are unnatural and unrealistic; they are rarely challenged. Thus, when a woman doesn't measure up, it's not the fault of the product or the standard. It's hers.

Third, achieving these beauty standards may have emotional and physical consequences (Chapkis 1986). Too many women suffer low self esteem, negative and distorted body images, and feelings of inferiority that are reinforced by media images of ideal, and usually unnatural, women. Too many products are potentially dangerous because they contain ingredients such as formaldehyde, harmful dyes, and allergens. Too many women suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Too many women suffer foot and back problems caused by shoes with high heels and/or unnatural shapes (i.e., severely pointed toes). Thousands of women may now be experiencing serious health problems due to breast implants. To suffer such consequences in the name of beauty seems very sad to me. Yet, it seems easier than to do so than reconstruct notions of beauty.

Fourth, these notions of beauty create a lose-lose situation for me and many women. On the one hand, I stand to lose if I do buy into beauty industry rituals. If I wear makeup, polish my nails, and engage in related beauty rituals, I highlight my femininity. But in light of the bipolar gender dichotomies referred to above, the more I feminine and "womanly" I am, the harder it will be to be viewed as a competent researcher and college professor. Further, If I follow current fashion, which currently includes spandex, tight clothing and short skirts, I feel fashionable and attractive, especially since my figure is trim and my muscles highly developed from years of running and aerobics. But since my looks may also be read as provocative, I may receive unwanted attention, such as whistles, stares, and touches from those who seem to view me as an object of public consumption. Worse, I like many women, fear the possibility of violence. And then, if the worst were to happen, I fear that the blame would be placed on me. On the other hand, I also stand to lose if I don't buy into beauty industry rituals. It's impossible to avoid the message of advertisers and others telling me that without performing certain beauty rituals, I don't measure up. Further, it might have very real economic and legal consequences. If I refuse to wear makeup, I might risk being fired from certain jobs, as happened to Teresa Fischette at Continental Airlines (Reidy 1991).

In using these examples to show how participating in various beauty rituals creates conflict for me as a feminist, I want to be clear that I am not opposed to beauty, or aesthetics -- for myself, and certainly for others. The tension arises because so many women, including myself, have been socialized to participate in beauty rituals mainly for the gratification of others. Regardless of whether I set my own standards and/or participate solely for my own gratification, others may interpret my actions differently.

Advertising: My second example of male ideology is advertising. Sexism in advertising is an issue that has received critical attention over the last couple of decades. Indeed there has been a great deal of positive response from advertisers. Perhaps, however, in contrast to many others' views, I do not see sexism as a problem that is on the verge of extinction. Certainly, the use of blatantly negative stereotypes of members of certain groups, like women and blacks has diminished dramatically, but much more subtle and unrecognized forms of sexism still exist. These forms include portrayals of men as producers and breadwinners with responsibilities in the public sphere, and of women as mothers and wives, consumers and shoppers, with responsibilities in the private sphere. Men are also portrayed as dominant and aggressive; women as supporting and passive. What's wrong with these images? Several things. First, they contradict the experiences of the many men who participate in household activities and even more women who work both inside and outside the home. For example, a recent study reported that 19% of men cook meals and 28% grocery shop (Research Alert 1991).

The second thing that is wrong with these images is that they reinforce outdated stereotyped of male-female relations where men are the experts, the bosses and the decision makers, while women are the passive and unquestioning followers. As an illustration, over the last several months in the Houston area Volkswagen has been running a couple of radio ads for their Fahrvergnngen campaign. The ads generally start with a woman named Helga singing. Suddenly Helga is aggressively and abruptly cut off by the spokesman who proceeds to provide the substantive product information. When he is done (and of course he decides that too), he issues a recall command to Helga. Depending on the version of the ad, it is to finish the music, or move over so he can drive. In other words, the important task of providing product information is clearly men's work; the supporting, accessory roles are clearly women's work. Apparently Helga isn't even competent to drive.

The third thing that is wrong with these images is that advertising appeals targeted to women often contain exploitative stereotypes of women as self sacrificing nurturers and caretakers of their husbands and children. I'm not implying that a caring wife and mother are undesirable roles. But neither are a caring husband and father and there is a dearth of such male advertising images. Such appeals reinforce outdated gender roles by implying that a woman's identity, sense of accomplishment and creative outlets are derived from the private sphere -- her relationship to her husband and children (Friedan 1963). Men, are rarely shown as the key player in domestic scenes; by implication, they are out in the public sphere working and producing an income so their wives will be able to consume. The Wall Street Journal (1991) recently reported that Stuart Tobin, who handles most of his family's shopping, household chores, and childcare is boycotting certain advertisers who specifically target "mom". "How do I perceive these commercials? That I'm inadequate and inept at taking care of kids? Not only are they offensive, but they're dumb. They aren't talking to me, when they should be," (pg. B8). Believe me Stuart, I agree with you. Of course if I boycotted all the products of advertisers who portrayed women as inadequate, I'd have a lot more money in the bank! Advertisers need to portray both men and women in much more positive and less stereotypical ways. Wouldn't it be great if more ads portrayed men as caring husbands and fathers (doing something more than displaying laundry ineptitude)? Wouldn't it be great if more ads portrayed women in the public sphere, as competent professionals?

The fourth thing that is wrong with these images is that violence and domination are all too prevalent. It's far more than a feminist issue, but much is directed at women. As one example, Bijan has a three page spread in the October issue of Vogue which incorporates several images and symbols of violence. On the first page is a photograph of a women's perfume and a men's cologne bottles linked together by handcuffs. The perfume bottle and cologne bottle are each shaped like a hollow doughnuts containing perfume. Their caps differ in one important respect however. The cap of the women's bottle has a hole in it which is very suggestive of a vagina. The cap on the men's bottle is round like the tip of a penis, and ridged like a screw. However, for it to fit into the hole in the perfume bottle cap would require force because it is substantially larger. The text extends the theme of domination: "a woman who had all the right moves...and a man who know exactly what he wanted..." This theme is continued on the next two pages. On the next page, a red-lipped and nailed, sultry but lifeless, woman named Nikki is wearing handcuffs. She is holding a card above her large, semi-exposed breasts indicating that she has been arrested by the New York Police Department for wearing Bijan. The text reveals that she is being held with out bail and that her one phone call was to 1-800-99-BIJAN. Is the message that if a woman wears Bijan, she can experience bondage, arrest, etc? Is the message that the not-so-innocent get what they deserve? Are these outcomes supposed to be desireable? To me, they are horrifying.

Products Marketed to Girls: My third example of male ideology involves products aimed at young girls which reinforce the same stereotypes that I have been describing. More than any other example perhaps, these are disheartening because if our society is ever to change, we must change the way we socialize, educate and raise children (Dinnerstein 1976). Previously, Eileen Fischer and I (Bristor and Fischer 1991a) pointed out that Barbie dolls, if enlarged to life size, are estimated to have a 44" bust (McKillop 1990). What kind of message does this send to girls about their own bodies? How does such an image affect the self esteem of a developing girl? Why doesn't Ken have similarly exaggerated sexual organs? We also described Parker House's new game called "Careers for Girls" which included career possibilities such as supermom, fashion designer and college grad. Noticeably absent were any careers reflecting substantial power, leadership, or policy making activities (Ellerbe 1990). College graduate as a career? Supermom? Would the game's developers consider superdad to be a suitable career for boys?


The other area that I wish to discuss with respect to my consumption experiences is politics. Politics may not be the most salient type of consumption, but politicians are nothing if not marketers, and we, willing or unwilling, are consumers. For me, the recent U.S. Senate hearings to confirm Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court were a very painful example of political consumption. The confirmation process may have had several flaws; my focus is on one particular aspect that further the notion of a male ideology. The hearing process was a graphic example of how women's voices may be discounted if they are different from men's. (I fully recognize that men can also be victims, but will focus on the more common situation of women as victims.) In sexual harassment cases, it is generally problematic when women's experiences, perspectives and feelings do not mirror men's. Women who do talk about their experiences face several risks. They may not be believed or seen as credible "witnesses" to their own experiences; their complaints may be treated in a joking fashion or trivialized; and their character may be attacked. Being a sexual harassment victim is terrible; the price of being a victim for the second time as a result of complaining, testifying or taking other public actions is enough to consign many women to silence. Unfortunately, this may have the effect of silencing others who would describe their own experiences.

The hearings were especially difficult for me because they revived a lot of recent memories of my own. In a previous job, I experienced sexual harassment over a long period of time. As I began to realize the problem had to do with my sex and gender, I tried to explain the problem to my superiors. My motivation, albeit naive, was that we were all rational, intelligent and educated individuals and that if I just explained the problem and how I felt, they would take steps to stop it. Instead, I was met with denials and suggestions that the problem really did not exist. There usually was an alternative explanation for each incident and it was implied the I was oversensitive, overemotional, but humorless woman. On the few occasions that a problem was acknowledged, I was also told that the people involved weren't going to change, so I would just have to put up with the problem. In my frustration, and to do a sanity check, I began to keep a log of incidents. After a particularly upsetting series of events, I decided to use my own experiences as the basis of an essay that explored the particular form of sexual harassment I was experiencing, the "hostile environment" or "chilly climate" (Bristor 1990). In writing the essay, I examined my data, in s systematic fashion. In spite of my knowledge that the problem was harassment, not my overactive imagination, I was astonished to discover how clear the emergent patterns were. While any one isolated incident had an alternate explanation, as a dataset, there was none. In a sense, my experiences have been validated by the many women who have read my essay and commented that they have had very similar experiences, both as a victim of sexual harassment, and when they have chosen to seek a remedy.

Although the exact nature of sexual harassment differs from woman to woman, Hill's, there are many similarities in the experiences of describing them to those in power. Regardless of the timing, for example I sought remedy as incidents occurred, and Anita Hill was compelled to testify long after the fact, the pattern of reactions was quite similar. Specifically, reported events are strongly denied, even though the loudest voices often have no direct involvement in the alleged incidents. It is thus very difficult for the woman to be believed. In many cases, the only women who are believed are the ones who deny that they have experienced harassment, suggesting that if it didn't happen to them, it didn't happen to anyone. The situation can then treated be "democratically" as a vote, and on the basis of majority rule, the victim's complaint "loses". If the victim has not been silenced by this process, and continues to speak out about her experiences, her character comes under scrutiny and doubts will be cast on the her sanity and emotional stability. Yet, similar doubts are rarely raised about the harasser. In my case, this continued to happen even after a substantial legal settlement had been reached: "You have to differentiate between the way she experiences things and the way they might have happened," said one dean in a newspaper article (Bass 1990, pg. C1). "I would say she has a very different perception of those incidents than other(s)," said another. As an example of such an "incident", I frequently experienced certain colleagues touching me without my consent, for example rubbing their hands against my rear end. When I described this as inappropriate conduct to one of my deans, in a conversation witnessed by the sexual harassment advisor, his response was that I was misinterpreting a friendly gesture. A friendly gesture? What a convenient way to appropriate both my body and my feelings of violation!

After experiencing harassment personally, hearing about similar experiences from dozens of other women, and watching Anita Hill's case emerge publicly, I have two conclusions. First, the experiences and voices of women are not given equal value or epistemological status. Second, victims of sexual harassment pay at least twice -- the first time when they go through the experience, and the second time when they attempt to speak the truth -- for whatever reason.


This paper has described some ways in which prevailing male ideology that underwrites various marketing actions creates conflict for me as a feminist consumer. In my criticisms of certain actions, I am not suggesting that marketing is a hopeless institution. What I am suggesting is that women's experiences and perspectives should be listened to more carefully. Being different should not be grounds for automatic dismissal or discreditation. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, women have tremendous spending and voting power. Those marketers who better understand the wants and needs of women, although this is not to suggest that women represent a homogeneous group, will have an edge over those who continue to impose old stereotypes and ideals.


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Julia M. Bristor, University of Houston


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19 | 1992

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