Commercial Feminism

Often, people believe that wearing a t-shirt or a hat with a feminist slogan makes them a feminist, but this is false. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that wearing feminist clothing is a great way to express oneself and support feminist efforts. I too, have a collection of feminist t-shirts. However, feminism is beginning to become about commercialization rather than action. In doing so, the commercialization of feminism has counteracted intersectional feminism. 

Today’s feminists have merchandise at their fingertips. It has become the norm to wear a t-shirt and automatically consider oneself a feminist. What some don’t realize is that feminism is so much more than a t-shirt. It is about action. Feminism is about putting your body on the line for the equality of ALL women. That means standing up for all women’s rights, not just the ones you are comfortable with–intersectional feminism. 


The lack of intersectional feminism can be seen within feminist topics that people display on their t-shirts. For example, equal pay t-shirts that say “you owe me 21 cents” only represent the gender pay gap for white women. These shirts are made because there is a dominant statistic that “women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men in the US.” However, this statistic is representative of white women and not representative of women of color. Currently, “black women earn $0.61 for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. Native American women earn $0.58 to every dollar, and Latina women earn $0.53 and Asian women earn $0.77.So when you see women with merchandise that says “you owe me 21 cents.” You must realize that the t-shirts and dominant statistics promote white feminism rather than intersectional feminism. 


T-shirts and signs can sometimes exclude other women. For example, during the women’s march, many women wore pink “pussy” hats. Although many women used it as a way of reclaiming their power, the hat excluded people who identify as women who may not have that body part. Some transgender women do not have that body part. By wearing that hat, it shows others that you must have a pussy to be considered a woman. That is a common way that feminist unknowing commit exclusionary acts to the same people they should be fighting for. 



This is where the action and putting yourself on the front line comes into play. As a feminist, you must pay more attention to what you wear and the message you display.  Consider how your slogan t-shirts may exclude the very same women you are fighting for. So the next time you put on that t-shirt, make sure you think about if it is inclusive or not. Make sure you have the knowledge to support your t-shirt. Lastly, make sure that knowledge is inclusive of all women. I know wearing a t-shirt seems like an easy fix, but there is a lot more that goes into it. Feminism is work. 



One thought on “Commercial Feminism

  1. I think this is an amazing article that critiques society as a whole. Not only have we done this with the feminist movement but over-commercialization today has become so normal. Take a look at how profitable Nike has become off the breast cancer awareness campaign or how pink ribbons are plastered everywhere during the month of October. I think this article does a great job of reflecting on the good while challenging these movements to become the best they can be.


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