Out of all of my hobbies, shopping is one of the dearest yet probably the most questionable. I am the spitting image of Carrie Bradshaw with her ten paper bags, except that instead of heelss I wear sneaks and I work my sweatsuits like she struts in her Prada. Because class is the word. And I love it.
There’s so much more to fashion than what meets the eye. The choices about our looks are one of the most important daily choices we make. It might seem superficial when you think about it like that, but there’s no denying what we wear gives out the most important details about us before anything else has had time to matter. Basically it’s our clothes are the reason why people approach us or not. Harsh, but that’s what we are.
With our fashion choices we reflect attitudes, emotions, ideologies and generally let out what we think about ourselves. I don’t think that a super dapper look is the only possible indication one has a good self-esteem but it’s undeniable one’s appearance has become very highlighted. In today’s world being beautiful, sexy or curiously distinctive is a very desirable currency that may open many important doors for you.
The clothing industry has seen many phases what comes to making the “it products”. Back in the early 2000’s, I remember buying sweaters that were made of cotton so thick they will probably live longer than me and with much less wrinkles. I called the material “nuclear war cotton” because I was sure they would survive one and probably live longer than me. Also the prices back then were a fragment of what they are now. Now the most important thing about fashion is that it suits your mood right now and it’s affordable when you feel like deserving it. Plastic or organic - who can tell the difference anymore. Anything goes as long as it’s pretty. And if it breaks within a year, it gives you an alibi to buy a new whatever-you-need-at-the-time.
So hell yeah to reckless consuming and capitalism to the win! But that’s not exactly what I’m going to rant about today. Today we’re talking about women, men and power.
In general fashion is considered a pretty womanly interest. Compared to men, women spend far more money on beauty and apparel and that’s why it’s understandably profitable for shops to dedicate at least two thirds of the space to us only. And how to lure women in - by feeding them with what they want. What they “need”. What suits your mind at the time. And as fashion is more than just clothing, many companies reflect their ideologies and political stances in form of colors, logos and slogans. And what has lately been more on top than female rights. Feminism has gained a huge popularity in trendsetting clothing and EVERYONE is aware of “who run the world.” Including the snappy caption’s main target: guys. And as I have been taking my vogue strolls, I haven’t been able to stop wondering what guys think of the “Power Pussy” and “Future is female” shirts they see in the windows. Is it a joke? I mean can you take that seriously? Does it provoke anger? Or does it actually bring the so much hoped for enlightenments? You tell me.
I totally get it though. It’s not a secret women have had to fight for their rights in order to gain them. A pioneering feminist Minna Canth (yes, her name was Canth) spoke about women’s right to vote back in 1880’s and advocated girls’ education and criticized the double standards for women’s and men’s morality. And she’s just one amongst many who speak for women’s rights. But, despite all the attitude given, still the majority of people doesn’t seem to know what feminism actually is. With people moving on from one conflict to another, the image of feminism has twisted over time and Minna Canth’s achievements seem quite little to people now, as “women already have the right to vote.” Women ask: “What about the rest?” And they have to right to ask. What are we going to do with the wage gap other than denying that it exists? What are we going to do about women’s education in developing countries? Why do some still feel intimidated about taking advice from a woman if she talks from a position of authority? Well, these questions remain to be answered, but as a much quicker response has come the anger. Some of it is unfounded, which many feminist warriors are very aware about, but some of it comes due to the sudden, surrounding, all-devouring message that YOU have lived your whole life exploiting others. Just because you are a man. “Feminism has never been about equality.” “Feminism is just to demonize men.” And damn how many, many people there are who think like this.
So what is feminism then? Just to clarify it properly at this point I’m going to quote Chimamanda Adichie, who’s Ted Talk was also sampled in Beyonce’s 2013 hit song “Flawless”:
But what does the human nature love more than a good battle. The shine of a possible victory. Feminist shirts for all. ❤︎ Hasn’t been a time or two when I have heard “Wait - isn’t feminism like female chauvinism?” And it never is. That’s why I haven’t ever been able to bring myself to buy any items with a feminist slogan. Because the people carrying them have a shit ton of responsibility on their shoulders. And as much as I would like to answer all the looks with conversation and define my attitude to the last detail, it hasn’t and never will be a one woman battle.
Going back to fashion and the sensational slogans - is it really equality supporting to say “Girls to the front”? Isn’t that actually female chauvinism or am I missing something here? Wouldn’t the correct way to put that be “Girls on the same line”? How about “Future is equal”? “No, because the starting point has never been equal!” some women defend. There are many good slogans too, but wearing a shirt that says “Rip off his ego with your fresh nails” makes me wonder what you actually want to accomplish. I might have to get “Power Dick” hoodies for me and my friends. Just for the sake of equality. ✌︎
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with empowering women and supporting everyone having the right for equal choices in life, no matter what starting point in life, but again — education will work better than force. Conversations, no matter how long or difficult, must be held. Feminism should be more than passive aggressive textile sports, vulva pendants and Instagram captions saying “women rule fucking all.” Some could perceive that slightly counter productive, wouldn’t you say? Have wisdom, women. We do not rule “fucking all” and you can’t be fucking serious to say that. What feminism needs is time. Hard work and joy. Less guns, more outreached hands. Because harmony is always better than war.
Of course I acknowledge that the battle is totally different for a 20-something white girl from a Nordic country than for someone of less privilege, and because things are seemingly good here, it’s easy to get frustrated about the subject. I could say I have the prerogative of getting tired of fighting for women's rights. This might sound idiotic and arrogant, because there’s still a whole world left to cure, but like good marketing companies know, people can only handle a powerful stimulus for so long. In other words, human rights will also go out of style at some point. I wonder what the next trend is.
So. Dear consumer - act responsibly. You have the right to represent whatever you want but if you wear feminism, remember to share its wisdom as well. No overpower, but equal power. Instead of ripping each other apart, for a while we could concentrate on the fact we would be nothing without each other.