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Women’s Business: Summary, N0tes, QAs

Women’s Business

Writer: Ilene Kantrov


The writer Ilene Kantov is a feminist writer who supports most of the ideas of the women and their notion in the essay in the modern trend of globalization. She portrays a portrait of Lydia Pinkham and she goes on to tell about other business women who follow her footsteps. Lydia Pinkham combines her business with social service. She supports women’s rights, temperance and their social as well as economic reform. Her kind and beautiful face shine in the pages of papers to advertise her medicinal products to cure the diseases of women. She expects a militant feminist would support the business policy of Pinkham. She would certainly support women’s rights, independence as well as social and economic upliftment. She would react positively to Lydia’s advertising to champion women’s rights, temperance and fiscal reform. She would equally support the women’s advice on nutrition, exercise, hygiene and child-rearing. She would thus praise the activities of Pinkham and other women who tried to make the women race socially aware and economically independent. Lydia Pinkham and many other women of her time playing different roles to promote women’s business. They competed with their male counterparts and didn’t hesitate to go to the court of law like male businessmen. A militant feminist would no doubt praise and support all these activities of women in this essay.

However; there are some debatable statements of the writer which are not digestible for a militant feminist. Lydia Pinkham suggests her women customers not to go to the male physicians. A true feminist wouldn’t support such an idea. She also wouldn’t support the altitudes of Helena and Elizabeth who attracted women to use cosmetics in the hope of getting married to European aristocrats. She would object to the idea of limiting women’s business within their own race. A true feminist may think that men and women are interdependent. In the absence of either men or women, the world will not run. Thus, the businesswomen should focus on the equality of men and women.

“Women’s Business” differs in many ways from their male counterparts. The businesswomen combined their business with social service. They displayed their images to advertise their products. The women offered their customers more than their products. They supported women’s rights, temperance, and social and economic reform. They gave advice to their customers about diet, exercise, hygiene etc. They printed reports for the women to cure physical problems, infertility nervousness, hysteria and even marital conflict. They used their images as women to promote their business. Helena and Elizabeth, for example, took advantage of their images as women to promote their business of cosmetics. Some businesswomen tried to show their roles as mother and grandmother and some other developed their images as glamorous fashionable women. They advertised their products, promoted their business and earned a lot of money as well. Some women even invested some part of their profit into good works and social reform. However, women were more sex conscious. They helped only women and promoted traditional women’s skills. Lydia Pinkham, the leading American Businesswoman of that time advised her customers to avoid male physicians. In the realities of the market place, some business-women didn’t support feminism.

Important Questions and Answers:

1. Which of Lydia Pinkham’s business methods did later women capitalists adopt for their own enterprises? In what ways did they depart from Pinkham’s model?
Ans: Like Lydia Pinkham, the other capitalists sold their products and wanted to show their customers they were doing activities to raise their social and economic life. Most of the customers were mostly women. Lydia Pinkham’s methods were practical. For example, she used her advertisements to champion women’s rights, temperance, and fiscal reform. She also encouraged women to seek guidance from women physicians and gave practical suggestions about diet, exercise and hygiene. Similarly, Arden sold make-up products but also gave advice on nutrition and exercise at her salons. Helena Rubenstein also did the same: she sold cosmetics like Arden but she also expounded the benefits of eating raw food. Thus, these two women like Lydia thought they were providing other women with something more than a product. Most capitalists also used their image cleverly in their marketing activities. Jennie Grossinger, like Lydia, managed to remain the ‘grandmother’ in the eyes of her clients. Her hotel business was very successful. Another woman, Margaret Rudkin built a successful career in the food industry by making additive-free wheat bread to supplement her husband’s income much like Lydia did when she started making herbal preparations to supplement her husband’s real estate business.

However, Lydia, unlike Arden and Rubenstein, did not put on a glamorous outlook. She did not marry any aristocrat(s). Rubenstein and Arden, on the other hand, developed their image of glamorous fashionable women. Lydia, through her product and clever marketing campaign, became a pioneer woman in the history of American business. She claimed herself to be the “Saviour of her sex”, which was extraordinary as other women like Grossinger, Annie Turnbo-Malone and Helena Rubinstein were philanthropic and showed more concern to women cause than did Pinkham. Pinkham sold alcohol while she was advocating against alcohol use. Thus, Pinkham combined marketing with socio-economic transformation in the most successful manner of all female entrepreneurs. However, there are more similarities among these entrepreneurs than there are differences.

2. How did the businesswomen the writer introduces in her essay differ from their male counterparts? In what ways did they resemble male entrepreneurs of their day? Ans: Women differed in many ways from their male counterparts in many ways. The first difference was in their approach: the male contemporaries were more motivated by profit and their business had no room for social service, whereas women cleverly complimented profit motive with service motive. Women like Lydia E. Pinkham, Helena Rubinstein, Jennie Grossinger and Annie Turnbo-Malone were exemplary in their social drive. Similarly, women capitalists did businesses that catered to female tastes, and these businesses grew out of traditional women skills. Thirdly, women entrepreneurs cultivated a certain image in order to advance their businesses and establish their position among fellow women. Thus, Lydia Pinkham, Margaret Rudkin and Jennie Grossinger acted like grandmothers in their respective businesses. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden created an image of glamorous socialites, and Turnbo-Malone that of a social activist. Thus, women entrepreneurs had two roles in society. One was businesswomen and the other was mothers or grandmothers or fashionable women. However, there were many similarities between these women entrepreneurs to those of their male counterparts.

Although women entrepreneurs aimed to serve as well as sell, however, these businesswomen frequently put profit ahead of altruism, and like male counterparts, they made extravagant and misleading advertisement claims about their products and services that regulating bodies like FDA and FTC had to intervene or take stern actions against them. Rubinstein was forced to withdraw some medical claims she made for her products. Also, the feminine ideals they loved so often did not go very well with the realities of the marketplace, where they acted as a businesswoman, not as ladies.

3. What is the thesis/main idea of the essay?
Ans: The main idea of the essay is that women’s new marketing strategy helps them to achieve their aim in capitalistic. Lydia Pinkham combined her business with social service. Along with her products, she advocated women’s rights as well as economic reform. The essay is mainly concerned about the combination of women’s marketing effort with strong social activism.
Women’s business presents the main idea that businesswomen were much successful in America. They are much popular too. Their production and business benefited many people in different ways. Businesswomen were involved in producing some useful things to women like cosmetics. They produced not only useful things to women but they also suggested and helped to cure womanly problems like nervousness, hysteria, barrenness, and so on. In America, businesswomen like Lydia E. Pinkham, Elizabeth, and Jennie Grossinger were very much successful and they earned a lot of money by selling their products by means of advertisements, suggestion and inspiration. So, in conclusion, the essay Women’s Business expresses that women can do as good a business as men can, and they can get success in business with the help of media and their own ingenuity. tools.

4. How would you expect a militant feminist to react to this essay? Are any of the writer’s general statements debatable?
Ans: A militant woman is someone who shows a fighting disposition without self-seeking. She would express great satisfaction at the way the women entrepreneurs of America combined social activism into their marketing effort. She would support their innovative marketing techniques to make a profit but she probably wouldn’t like extreme claims like the ones made by Lydia E Pinkham, who made extraordinary claims of Vegetable Compound of being “the greatest remedy in the world.” She would appreciate the effort of Lydia Pinkham and Margaret Rudkin who started their businesses as support to complement or support their husbands’ income. She would be inspired by their effort to market their homely skills to great profit in the marketplace. She would support social marketing efforts like temperance and fiscal reform as well as advice on nutrition, exercise, hygiene, thriftiness, and diet, however, she would hate marketing techniques like the Department of Advice that encouraged women to seek medical attention from female physicians only. She would consider this as a sign of weakness, and an impediment to the greater goal of female independence from the psychologically imposed barrier. Likewise, she wouldn’t appreciate Elizabeth Arden’s facial treatment system that used painful procedure to get glowing feminine skin. She would be happy with the skin she has got, and not bother to get an extraordinary one to show it to a male. She would find it all right to create a certain image to further her business. She would praise Turnbo-Malone’s effort to uplift black women’s lives and to make them economically independent so as to create a discrimination-free society, but she wouldn’t like the publicity stunts of Elizabeth and Helena who drew attention to themselves through their marriages to European aristocrats. She would marry a man who understands her rather than looking for a man from an aristocratic background. Finally, she would like women to go beyond the businesses they are good at traditionally and make a foray into all kinds of businesses, especially those that have been traditionally male’s territory.

5. What was Lydia Pinkham’s cleverest marketing technique?
Ans: Lydia set up the Department of Advice, and then encouraged women to bypass male physicians and seek guidance from a woman. She also gave practical advice on diet, exercise and hygiene. She endorsed her herbal medicine too.

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