The "Women Power" Symbol

A story of how consumerism oppresses women and how women fight back

"Turn on the electricity and see her glow. It's American Women, 1963. She's better than a robot: she's self-programming. Her environment is filled with a complex set of instructions about how she should look, act, think and feel. It comes from all around her: the books she reads, the songs she sings, movies, TV, family, school, friends. Thus we can guarantee satisfactory performance within general limits." 

"WHY DOESN'T IT FIT? Little irregularities in a person's figure" 

"Slims your waist 2 sizes"

"Plastic surgery is something I can't do without"


"As a woman, you may lose much more blood-iron every month than you replace through the foods you eat. It is this loss of blood-iron that can leave you looking and feeling tired"

"Douching is a nuisance"

"What Makes the Perfect Wife?"

"I am so pleased with myself and my developer and surprises my husband. I went from a 32A to a 36B"

"Best-loved results are guaranteed"



"Weathered brown spots on the surface of your hands and face tell the world you're getting old-perhaps before you really are. Fade them away with"

They are trying to tell us what to do with our body and our life
But we decided not to listen

The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media


Gaye Tuchman 

"Dominant American ideas and ideals serve as resources for program development, even when the planners are unaware of them, much as we all take for granted the air we breathe. These ideas and ideals are incorporated as symbolic representation of American society, not as literal portrayals"(8).

"...although women are fifty-one percent of the population and are well over forty percent of the labor foce. Those working women who are potrayed are condemned. Others are trivialized: they are symbolized as child-like adornments who need to be protected or they are dismissed to the protective confines of the home."(8)

The Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press (Baraba Smith, Audre Lorde)

Killing Me Softly

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. "The “Industrial Revolution” in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century." Domestic Ideology and Domestic Work: 375-97. doi:10.1515/9783110968842.375.

Jhally, Sut., and Jean Kilbourne. Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2010.

Keiles, Jamie Lauren. "Barbara Kruger's Supreme Performance." The New Yorker. November 12, 2017. Accessed December 17, 2017.

Kruger, Barbara. 1987. Photographic silkscreen/vinyl: 111 ''by 113''. New York. Mary Boone Gallery. Accessed December 18, 2017.

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Visual and Other Pleasures, 1989, 14-26. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-19798-9_3.

Smith, Barbara. "A Press of Our Own Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies10, no. 3 (1989): 11. doi:10.2307/3346433.

The "Women Power" Symbol: "Our History: Feminist Symbols & Images," The Radical Notion, October 28, 2016, , accessed December 06, 2017,

Toward a Female Liberation Movement, Rochester Feminist Collection, 1970-1986, 1:9 d.416. Rare Books Special Collections & Preservation Department, University of Rochester.

Tuchman, Gaye. "The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media." Culture and Politics, 2000, 150-74. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-62965-7_9.

Kilbourne argues “Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most importantly, of normalcy” (2010).