Hershey’s HerForShe Ad for Women’s History Month Sparks Backlash

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Hershey is joining M&Ms as conservatives’ least favorite candies. Months after Fox News host Tucker Carlson repeatedly attacked the “spokes candies” for going “woke” and including a same sex relationship in an ad campaign, Hershey’s dropped their HerForShe Ad on the second day of Women’s History Month.

The ad was dubbed “HerForShe” in a play-on-words reference to the UN Women organization HeForShe, which has been backed by numerous famous women, including Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway. Today’s Hershey ad included activist Fae Johnstone, who is the executive director of Wisdom2Action. The organization serves Canada as a “consulting firm and social enterprise facilitating change and strengthening communities, working on 2SLGBTQ+ issues, GBV, mental health and more.” Johnstone is also a transgender woman.

https://twitter.com/FaeJohnstone/status/1630960853192445952?s=20

In the ad, Johnstone speaks to her desire for equality of the sexes, and speaking from personal experiences, equality for trans and nonbinary people. The ad did not sit well with the conservative media and conservative voters alike, who repeatedly misgendered Johnstone on Twitter.

Many are calling for a boycott of the brand after the ad was released. Some viewers felt that a woman who was assigned male at birth should not have been the spokesperson for the candy during women’s history month. These beliefs also align with Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF), a set of beliefs more recently called into question after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling espoused them in a viral and controversial essay titled TERF Wars

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https://twitter.com/Terfs_R/status/1631341522527428626?s=20

Despite the backlash, many expressed support for the HerForShe ad. Hershey is one of the oldest candy companies in the U.S., and to take such a progressive step was an important move towards representation in the eyes of many.

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Hershey was founded in 1894, and remains one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. Many fired back on critics of the HerForShe ad today, stating that the real issue with the company is the impending child labor lawsuit against them and not their LGBTQ+ inclusion.

https://twitter.com/CEOOfGeno/status/1631284541636608009?s=20

Today’s ad and ensuing strong reactions comes after weeks of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being at the forefront of the national conversation. Most recently, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee voiced support for an anti-drag bill, after referring to drag queen performances as “dangerous” for children. The biggest irony of it all is that a yearbook photo of Lee dressed in drag surfaced online after weeks of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

Onlookers urge people to offer support to the trans people in their lives, and to respect their identities this women’s history month.

https://twitter.com/bruce_steiner/status/1631346123838464000?s=20

Despite the decades of debate regarding the validity of trans identities, the Biden administration has been working towards expanding access to gender affirming healthcare. Popular TikTok creator and trans woman Dylan Mulvaney even met with Biden to raise awareness regarding transgender healthcare.

Women’s History Month honors the many contributions of women towards equality and access to education and politics, and trans women have long played an important role. From Marsha P. Johnson to Renee Richards, trans women have long worked towards the equality of all women, and it only makes sense for them to be honored this month.

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