The Problem With T-Shirt Feminism

The Problem With T-Shirt Feminism

A recent trend in armchair activism is making people think they're doing a lot more than they actually are.
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"This is what a feminist looks like," "Feminism: the radical notion that women are people," GRL PWR." I've seen these on t-shirts, pins, tote bags, hats, bumper stickers, etc. There's absolutely nothing wrong with showing the world that you're a feminist, in fact, I encourage it, but there's been a recent surge in feminist apparel tied to the mindset that wearing a t-shirt with the dictionary definition of feminism is the same thing as activism. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for those who promote women's rights, but armchair activism is not true activism, and buying an enamel pin is not the same as donating to Planned Parenthood.

Feminist t-shirts rock. In fact, I own three of them. One is from a school organization, one is from the time I worked with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and one is from the Newseum. So the Newseum tee with the Margaret Thatcher quote didn't exactly save the day, but it highlights my own initial naiveté and need to work on conscious spending. Awareness is a step in the right direction.

Maybe instead of buying the graphic tee from Forever 21, check out Feminist Apparel, who support local artists and donate proceeds from certain lines to three different organizations that empower women. The large retailer may be cheaper, or more convenient, but ironically, it's most likely made by women in sweat shops. It sounds harsh, but true feminism is standing up for all women.

It's not entirely the shopper's fault, clothing brands are co-opting feminism for sales, the idea has become a commodity in such businesses. H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, all profit from feminist clothing and accessories whilst taking advantage of cheap, unethical labor or "fast fashion."

For instance, when the "Nasty Woman" t-shirt trend surfaced during the election, more and more people began selling their own version, and it was hard for me to find a shirt whose proceeds actually benefited the campaign or any other women's organization. It would have been so easy to make my own shirt or buy the first one I found, but if I was going to wear the shirt I wanted to be all in. Samantha Bee, host of "Full Frontal", made her own limited edition "Nasty Woman" shirt whose proceeds 100% benefited Planned Parenthood. Bingo.

I understand that it's not easily accessible for everyone, but if one is going to buy a feminist t-shirt they should do so with the best intentions; seek out brands that are against fast fashion and actually benefit women. Or, if the "girls just wanna have fun-damental rights" shirt from someone's Etsy shop is too cute to resist, consider setting aside a day to volunteer or donate supplies/money to a women's shelter or an international organization. Simply wearing a feminist t-shirt is not hypocrisy, it's promotion for a good cause, but we are easily swept up in trends and must not forget what we are fighting for.

Make 2017 a year of giving after so much was lost in 2016.

Cover Image Credit: Elysse Vernon

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Stop Saying 'Love Is Love' And Then Shame Me For Dating A Republican

"How can you date a Republican?!" Quite easily, actually.

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"And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love." Other theater geeks like me probably also remember this quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony acceptance speech in 2016. Now, thanks to Lin-Manuel and his talent for catchy phrases, every time someone says "love is love," all I can think of is Lin-Manuel's emphatic cry for equality.

This cry is one that I support wholeheartedly. I think that you should be allowed to love whomever you choose and that you should do so without fear of hatred or scrutiny. If you are a guy who loves guys, great. If you are a girl who loves girls, great. If you are a girl who loves guys and girls, great. You are born a certain way with certain sexual preferences, and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you believe that people should be free to love anyone they choose, then, honey, you better start looking past gender.

Let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about my boyfriend of almost 11 months. Somehow (and I'm shocked that this hadn't come up before), my boyfriend's political preferences became the topic of conversation.

The conversation went something like this:

"Wait, so is Tom a Democrat or Republican?"

"He's a Republican."

"WHAT?! Are you serious?"

"Yep."

"How can you date a Republican?"

After that, I basically went on a five-minute rant about how at the end of the day, his political preferences only make up a small fraction of who he is as a person and that I am not so shallow that I would be deterred by something this trivial.

At our cores, Tom and I value the exact same things: compassion, knowledge, kindness, dedication, honesty, respect, and above all else, love. Tom loves me unconditionally and I give him that same love in return; honestly, what else could I ask for?

Tom and I do get in some political arguments from time to time, but we also agree on those issues that are most important to me: female reproductive rights, marriage equality, and support for survivors of sexual assault. All of those things are non-negotiables for me, and Tom understands that and possesses his own list of non-negotiables.

Before you ask, yep, he voted for Trump. Did that take me back at first? Yes. Did I struggle to understand what would compel a person to vote for him? Absolutely. Did that thought kind of terrify me at first? Hell yes.

But you know what? After I just sat and listened to Tom's reasoning as to why he voted for him and watched him delve deep into Trump's policies, I could understand why some would vote for him. And to tell the truth, once I fell in love with Tom, none of that mattered anymore. And what is sad is that people so often fall so deep into their own echo chambers nowadays, that they wouldn't even give someone with different beliefs their ear. Well, I'm damn glad I did because Tom is the most amazing person I've ever met and I fall more in love with him every day.

So to tie this all together with a pretty little bow, if you're going to go around and preach that love is love and that everyone should be free to love whom they choose, then that shouldn't change for me. Maybe you're a Democrat that would never date a Republican or maybe you're a Republican who would never date a Democrat; that's your choice. But we don't get to choose who we fall in love with (much to the dismay of my liberal family and friends). Just keep an open mind and who knows? Maybe you could find some absolutely epic happiness.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

But tonight that changed. I saw a post about how people who do not vote should be fined. I do not know why this ignited something in me, but it did. I have no problem ignoring every other person telling me to register to vote or vote a hundred times on my feed, but charging me a fine for exercising my right crossed a line.

Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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