They are part of the problem, not the solution
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
You see them in almost every clothing store. You know the one: The plain white t-shirt with the black, bolded words printed across the chest, “feminist AF” or other slogans like “girl power” and “we should all be feminists” being sold for $29.99.
The commercialization of feminism is both a positive and an awful thing. On the one hand, it gets the message out and it gives the word “feminist” a more accepting and positive connotation. What was once seen as a bad word is now proudly printed on t-shirts in almost every young adult clothing store. On the other hand, it trivializes the very movement it claims to be supporting.
The unfortunate irony behind these feminist shirts is that many of them are being produced by mainly female factory workers in third world countries. These workers are often subject to abusive and exploitative conditions, and are paid practically nothing for hours of labour so the company can make a profit. The shirt claims to be for the equal rights of women “AF” but instead reinforces a cycle of inequality for women in third world countries, which goes against everything feminism stands for. If feminism means fighting for equal rights, shouldn’t that include the people making the shirts?
Feminism has become somewhat of a fashion trend recently and these shirts are a testament to that. Instagram has been abundant with pictures of celebrities and models wearing these shirts ever since the Women’s March on Washington and now it appears everyone either wants one or already has one. But by turning feminism into a fashion statement, it dilutes the its true meaning and people are less inclined to take it seriously. It also contributes to the corporations that use cheap labour to make these shirts. Trends come and go but feminism is much more than just a fashion phase, it is an important political statement that should not be diminished to just a slogan on a t-shirt. Wearing these shirts just because everyone happens to have one right now makes the word lose its meaning and goes against everything the feminist movement stands for.
I understand that some people actually want to show their support for the movement, but there are better ways to do it than buying a shirt with a feminist slogan on it from a corporation that capitalizes on feminism as a trend. It contradicts the very meaning of it. If you really want to showcase your feminism with your clothing, more power to you, but buy from local and sweatshop-free clothing stores, or, even better, make your own.