[update 4:56pm 30 Nov 2010 — Apparently CV meant the ® as a joke. I suggested that she might want to include a footnote for the clueless, like me.]
I read this post, which castigates the MAC Cosmetics company for using the Juarez Mexico landscape as an ‘inspiration’ for a product campaign. Apparently Juarez has unusually high levels of violence against women, and various groups have stepped forward to complain.
Personally, I think this is a tempest in a teapot. Imagine the situation where some cosmetics company decided to use the harsh winters of Boston as an element of a campaign for winter skin care products for black women. Some groups might complain because of the riots and violence against blacks in the ’60s during court-imposed forced integration. Or a campaign for Chinese food inspired by San Francisco could be condemned for the racist treatment of ‘coolie’ laborers. And so on.
Everyplace in the world can be held up as the locus of some particular sort of hatred, violence, racism, or bias. Everywhere.
My position does not mean that I am in favor of violence against women, and neither does MAC Cosmetics use of the Juarez landscape, either.
Buried in this story, though is something equally odd.
Faux-ial Awareness(fo-shall) is the social equivalent of greenwashing.
Organizations are fauxially aware when they have superficial campaigns to address social issues but demonstrate in their behavior that they are totally blind to the complexities and realities of these issues.
CV Harquail has registered a trademark for a term she is offering up to define the sort of social greenwashing that she and others believe that Mac Cosmetics is engaged in: an insincere apology intended to quiet some group of activists, but which does not actually mean that the company believes it did something wrong.
Leaving aside the Mac Cosmetics issue, I am surprised that someone would try to control a term — like fauxial awareness — in this day and age. In a time where we are theoretically committed to sharing ideas openly, it strikes me as old-fashioned and clumsy: a faux pas.
Besides, social awareness — specifically not trademarked — is a perfectly good term, and I don’t have to explain to people how to pronounce it.