Women are filling stadiums across the country this summer, clad in sequins and cowboy hats, for Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” world tour. They are convening in Facebook groups to design friendship bracelets to trade on Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour. They are flocking to movie theaters dressed in pink to see Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” And they are wearing their favorite team jerseys while watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which has attracted 22 million broadcast viewers and sold over 1.7 million tickets.
“They’re all offering visions of power as writeable within women’s worlds, which is incredibly appealing to audiences,” said Phyllis Thompson, lecturer in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. “Of course empowerment feels good because women as a group still are not actually getting that much real power. It seems like a feel-good response to that lack, which I think there’s some desperation for.”
“Eras,” which launched in March, is on track to earn more than $2 billion in sales, making it the highest-grossing concert tour of all time. “Renaissance,” which launched in May, may also surpass $2 billion by the time it ends. Gerwig’s “Barbie,” which opened in theaters less than a month ago, is on track to become the highest-grossing movie of the year and has made $574 million domestically and more than $1.2 billion worldwide. On its opening weekend — the biggest ever for a movie directed by a woman — the audience was 65 percent women.
These events, Thompson said, share a “neoliberal feminist vision of empowerment” that is attractive to women in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement and the rolling back of reproductive rights in the U.S. since the overturn of Roe v. Wade.