Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeCulture WarBacklash grows against the business world of woke

Backlash grows against the business world of woke


THE giant US retailer Target is the latest company to suffer a public backlash after attempting to cash in on the woke trend.

It released a new line of clothing to celebrate Pride month, formerly known as June, which includes female swimwear featuring ‘tuck-friendly construction’ and ‘extra crotch’ coverage, intended to disguise male genitalia, and has introduced children’s books instructing them about the use of transgender pronouns.

The result has been a catastrophic drop in the firm’s share price, with Twitter CEO Elon Musk warning that Target is likely to face lawsuits for ‘destruction of shareholder value’.

The drive by companies to appear supportive of the social justice movement in protecting the environment, promoting labour and human rights, gender equality, transgenderism and whatever else is SJW flavour of the day has been called ‘social washing’.

In the USA every Fortune 100 company has adopted so-called Diversity Equality and Inclusion (DEI) programmes. In Britain it is claimed that diversity in the boardroom and the workforce means greater profits.

However, such DEI initiatives are often used to further critical race theory, gender ideology and other woke issues. Whatever ideology companies choose to impose on their employees is entirely their own affair, so long as it is legal. It becomes problematical for the rest of us when they begin to meet the demands of identitarian social revolutionaries by promoting ideological conformity through their products or outlets.

The giant US store Walmart has told workers that they are guilty of ‘internalising racial superiority’, while Lockheed Martin have told their executives to deconstruct their ‘white male privilege’. Coca-Cola bade employees to ‘try to be less white’.  Ben & Jerry’s stopped selling their ice cream in East Jerusalem, calling the area ‘occupied Palestinian territory’.  Amazon Studios have an ‘inclusion policy’ setting percentage benchmarks for casting such as ’30 per cent white women and non-binary people, 20 per cent men from underrepresented races and ethnicities, 20 per cent women and non-binary people from underrepresented races and ethnicities’.

However, to the annoyance of progressives, social conservatives and middle-of-the-road customers are beginning to push back on the woke agenda. Although big US retailers including Target, Walmart and H&M have been selling rainbow merchandise for a decade with little comment, this dynamic has shifted with the rise of transgender activism and its perceived threat to children. Among the items Target has withdrawn after customer complaints are Satanist-themed products merchandise designed by London-based Erik Carnell such as pendants emblazoned with ‘Satan respects pronouns’.

A petition has been started to oppose plans for ‘Pride Nites’ at Disneylands in California and Paris. It says: ‘This is a step away from Disney’s legacy as a place for pure, family-friendly fun’ and invites people to ‘join our petition to ensure that Disney stays true to its roots – storytelling that enchants children and adults alike, free from explicit sexual or political themes’. Last year two Disney films criticised for being woke lost $300million. Strange World has a gay main character and Lightyear, a spinoff from the Toy Story franchise, features a lesbian kiss.

The biggest pushback so far has been against brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev’s disastrous Bud Light collaboration with transgender exhibitionist Dylan Mulvaney which has caused the parent company billions of dollars of market value.

According to Nielsen, in the week ending May 20 sales of Bud Light were down 24.3 per cent year on year, while competitor Miller Lite recorded a 20.7 per cent increase in sales in the four weeks to May 20. AB InBev quickly ended the partnership and two of the executives behind it took a ‘leave of absence’.

Just as in Soviet-dominated Europe jokes were the commonest form of resistance to totalitarianism today social conservatives have discovered the power of humour. YouTube is filled with videos mocking Bud Light. These are short and punchy, perhaps some of them lack in production values but they make their point and the creators are clearly enjoying the push-back.

Why are social conservatives finally having an effect? It is a movement from the bottom up, a groundswell of opinion. Most social conservatives don’t much care who does what with whom in the bedroom. What they do object to is being told they must celebrate what they don’t want. Why is it that we have a single annual Remembrance Day when we commemorate those who died for our freedom and a whole month when we laud LGBTQ+ people? LGBTQ+ advocates have gone for overkill and ordinary people have begun to react.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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