There has been a lot of controversy in the media about empowering “feminist” T-shirts, even charity T-shirts, not being made in the same spirit as they inspire.
I recently did a talk here in Phnom Penh about why fashion is a feminist issue at a feminist festival. It was a powerful day, full of supportive energy that deeply inspired me. I’ve wanted to talk about this topic in more detail since, and what better time than the week leading up to International Women’s Day?
Feminism. It’s a word that has power and meaning. Where ever you find yourself on the feminist spectrum it’s just as important today as it has ever been. Feminism embodies many important issues as equal pay, harassment, misogyny, and women’s rights. That includes tackling the rights of women in developing countries. Often these women are the ones making our clothes. That is why it’s so important, no one should suffer to make our clothes.
One part of my talk was about fake feminist T-shirts. Just like fake designer clothes you can also get fake inspirational T-shirts.
With the rise of the #metoo and #timesup movement many T-shirts have appeared with slogans like, “Feminist,” “This is what a feminist looks like,” “Feminist AF,” you get the gist. By championing and empowering feminist ethos, the retailer hopes to sell its latest designs to make consumers feel good about the purchase and wear it with pride. The problem with this is most of these T-shirts have been found to be made under unethical, contradictory standards.
Feminism is not a fashion trend.
Women make up 80% of all fashion workers in the world, we literally make this industry run. Textiles and garment production is commonly seen as women’s work. It is skilled labour that creates a significant contributor to export revenue and economy in home countries.
Women’s livelihoods and economies have become linked with garments. In the course of a few decades, tens of millions of young women migrated from rural agriculture to work in urban factories. But, the majority of women employed earn the lowest wages, and are the most vunerable.
It’s been 6 years since the Bangladesh Rana Plaza disaster that took the lives of 1,131 people. Most of them young aspirational women, forced to work in visibley dangerous environments.
On top of poor working conditions, it has been widely documented that women garment workers are often fired when found to be pregnant. Women have also been sacked on mass when striking for better wages and prevented from creating effective unions. In a predominately female industry, this is a colossal problem. Particularly when coupled with the workplace sexual harassment that’s often reported as commonplace.
It is a helpless situation. Take a minute to imagine life in their shoes.
While feminist sentiment is on the rise, the industry that employs millions of women worldwide, and sells to women, still whole heartedly fails to benefit women.
Producing feminist T-shirts unethically is hypocritical and unprogressive, as they don’t seem to honour the women within their supply chain. The feminist movement should include all women.
I’d like to discuss the common misconception about feminists, that we are angry. Women should not believe that fighting for proper representation, staying relevant and taking control of our narrative as a negative. Being a feminist is nothing to be ashamed of. We really should all be Feminists.
How about rebranding it as compassionate, enthused, with a strong sense of camaraderie. We fight for our rights not just for ourselves, but for women we have never met before. Women who have different life experiences and opportunities to our own because it is still necessary to do so.
We are not angry, we are proud.
I am proud to wear this real feminist T-shirt. Produced ethically by Dorsu. Dorsu sells high-quality fashion basics (that are anything but basic) all made in house at their own factory in Kampot, Cambodia. I am so happy to have discovered them here.
Taking it one step further, this T-shirt was made in a special collaboration with SHE investments. For every WOMEN piece sold 100% of profits go directly to support women lead businesses and organisations in Cambodia.
In the name of transparency, they have even provided an open breakdown of the costs behind this T-shirt and how much money gets donated. Yes, it costs more than $10 but it is reasonably priced for the quality, support of ethical production and independent business. Finally, for peace of mind.
This is what a Feminist T-shirt looks like, and it makes me feel strong, every time I put it on.
Love, Lottie xx
Into The Eco
P.s check out
Photos by Josh John Photography Available for all your photo and video needs here in Cambodia.
Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and join us Into The Eco.