Paris fashion week showcased it. Topshop and ASOS are all over it. Hell, you can even get a version of it in Primark if you look hard enough. I am of course talking about the feminist t-shirt. Whether you prefer a more subtle ‘girl gang’ graphic or ‘the future is female, they’re everywhere on the high street and all over your Instagram feed.
The feminist tee isn’t a new phenomenon, however. The feminist icon Gloria Steinem sported a tee shirt back in 2004 with the words “I had an abortion” in a documentary. No More Page 3 used t-shirts in their campaign in 2013 withdemonstrators wearing them to parliament. Perhaps my favourite example of the feminist tee was when the Fawcett Society designed the ‘This is what a Feminist looks like’ t-shirt and none other than Ed Millibae and Nick Clegg wore them. Be still my beating heart.
There is no denying it, feminism became fashionable a couple of years ago and to call yourself a feminist isn’t really a radical stand point anymore. And why should it? As far as I understand it feminism is the advocacy of economic, social and political equality of the sexes. Simple as. Men, women, children- it is an all-inclusive term, anyone can be a feminist and we all stand to benefit.
But of course, as with any trend there has been massive backlash. The term ‘t-shirt feminism’ has been coined by those who deem this to be a superficial, attack on the cause. Viewing the trend as a frivolous, flaky attempt to make profit off the struggle of so many women all in the name of consumerism. And do you know what? I am about 100% sure Topshop aren’t putting the money they make off their ‘Girl Gang’ t-shirts back into women’s shelters. But there is something to be said about picking your battles.
This year I read Polly Vernon’s ‘Hot Feminist’. Without wanting to get embarrassing and fan girl-ish, Polly is the definition of goals (if you don’t know who she is, I implore you to look her up). One of the many things I took from it is that whatever you think you need to be, to be a ‘proper’ real feminist, you don’t. Shave or don’t shave, go to the gym and loose that weight if you want to, if you’re brave enough get your body waxed from shoulder to toe…
We are taught such backwards things from such a young age: that being funny negates sexiness and sexiness compromises feminism. So you can be hilarious and feel utterly shit about yourself but you can call yourself a feminist. Isn’t feminism about walking into a room of your best girlfriends and them all wolf whistling and giving you ridiculous compliments because you look great? What are friends for if not to be your biggest fans? When did it become a crime to put on a dress and look in the mirror and think “yes, today I look hot”?
I am not talking about dressing for men, but in this day and age when a naked pallet costs £45 any man who thinks it’s all for them is frankly delusional. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with beautiful, strong, intelligent women who push me every single day to be better. I firmly believe they will rule the world one day and can match any man you put in front of them. I also know they are going to look damn good doing it in the process.
Your outward appearance is absolutely an expression of you as a person. We use clothes, tattoos, piercings and the like to create an image of our inner selves. Isn’t accosting a woman for wearing a feminist slogan tee or crop top and heels just perpetuating horrendous patriarchal views of how women should dress?
When Trump is sat in the white house and Theresa May is about to get into bed with the DUP, we have a hell of a lot more to worry about than what each other are wearing. There is something to be said for empowered women empowering women. We could all do with being one big girl gang.