Given the recent political turmoil it’s no surprise that we have seen a mass resurgence of the political slogan T-shirt. Particularly with Trump boasting about harassing women on social media, women around the world from celebrities to working women to housewives are wearing the famed ‘This is what a feminist looks like’, or ‘we should all be feminists’ T-shirt. These slogan T’s even made an appearance at the Dior runway show at Paris fashion week and was the talk of the town. Which on one hand is fantastic; it raises awareness and fashion is a form of expression so why not display your views on a T-shirt.
However, there’s a bit of a conflict here, fashion and feminism hasn’t always gone hand in hand. Firstly, celebrity glamour and feminist activism occupy two very different worlds. And some contend that the mass of images appearing on Instagram of celebrities and models sporting the T-shirts in heels and on catwalks sexualize the movement and ultimately subvert and devalue. Understandably so, it’s difficult to feel solidarity with a world where the volume of your voice depends on your fame and beauty. After all wearing the T-shirt doesn’t necessarily make you a feminist.
Arguably though, the expansion of the movement override the reasons for joining, whether it be trend or core belief. There are enough hurdles for feminists to climb without alienating would be members.
Issue number two, the ethics of mass production, here lays the fundamental hypocrisy. People are more than happy to buy and wear these shirts proclaiming solidarity with feminists everywhere with little to no thought to how they’ve been made, often in unsafe factories staffed by an exploited female workforce for companies owned by men. Of course it is possible to buy ethically made feminist T-shirts, but these are certainly the lesser know ones.
There is one common thread to this knot of social correctness. The new slogan ‘This P***y Grabs Back’, creates a new paradigm for feminism and fashion, a sense of humor, both having historically been ridiculed for their lack of. The ability to turn a word formerly synonymous with misogyny into a joke to shock the establishment is powerful. The addition of the word pussy into this new brand of slogans definitely adds an element of shock to the movement in a world where the word is essentially banned from mainstream TV and radio for being ‘vulgar’.
It’s doubtful that a T-shirt can change the world but it is also undeniable that this trend has generated significantly more awareness regarding the issues, which can only be a good thing. So I say wear your feminist T-shirts proudly, just make sure they don’t come from a sweatshop.