I bought this t-shirt and I thought, yes, feminism. I brought it home, styled it and went out immediately to take photos. But something was there, in the back of my mind, a niggling thought, a sort of distant whispering, someone saying ‘Christine, really?’
I tried to ignore it because I love this t-shirt and surely only good can come from wearing clothing that praises women and promotes feminism, right?
When I think of feminism I think of university. I think of tutorials and assignments, books that brought me joy and elation and a feeling of power and freedom. I think of literature and art and I think of the complexity of the word itself.
But I shouldn’t. I should think of women. I should think about it everyday and I should not think of it as an exclusive movement that takes place in a classroom.
There has undoubtedly been a rise in ‘new wave feminism’ of late and we have to celebrate this. The word (while still intimidating to some) seems to have lost at least some of its taboo with women and men declaring themselves feminist.
Feminism is having a moment but is this just appropriation or is is actually promoting change?
With Rihanna wearing the famous Dior ‘We should all be feminist’ t-shirt, the FROW suddenly seemed to hijack feminism and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me slightly uncomfortable. A t-shirt that has Adichie’s quote emblazoned across the front selling for $710 just doesn’t seem right to me. How can we talk about equality when the only people who can afford such a thing are millionaires? Perhaps the cost is not the worst part though, feminism has now become a marketing tool showing us capitalism’s eagerness to stay trendy.
It’s not just Dior however, all the high street stores now have a version of this Feminist slogan tee and my fear is that we are wearing it without really understanding what it means.
We should all be feminists but are we saying that because we saw it on Rhianna’s instagram or have we actually read Adichie’s text? And then, does it matter?
In defense of the t-shirt and indeed of ‘Pop Feminism’ Adichie said we need to ‘get over ourselves’ and that ‘the aim of feminism is to make itself redundant, and to get there it needs to be a mass movement.’ She has a point.
Perhaps every person who dons a Feminist slogan top won’t do anything else to further the cause, perhaps they won’t even know the issues surrounding the word but I guess it is a progression from the word being considered bra burning and dirty.
Maybe it will be a commercial tool that will not help progress the movement but maybe it will open up a new area of discussion. Maybe we will start to see t-shirts that address the specific and the less watered down, fashionable side of feminism.
In the meantime, I have come to terms with my t-shirt and I do believe that the future is female.
Shoes: River Island
Bag: Michael Kors