19/04/2017
It’s ridiculous to think a tee can effect change.

Words by

Bianca O'Neill

Following last week's brief insight into the questionable marketing minds behind Pepsi's latest campaign (and its subsequent, just-as-quick yanking from the air), I got to thinking about fashion’s newest trend: Faux Activism.

Our answer to the rise of social media clicktivism is similarly ineffective and just as annoying. Tees emblazoned with the vague statement of "feminist" in order to generate attention at fashion week, or regrams of various Emma Watson quotes to rake in likes on Instagram, currently pepper my feed on the reg. 

It’s not only ridiculous to think a tee can effect change, it's downright insulting.

A far cry from House of Riot's provocative cries of 'Shameless Slut' and 'Some Girls <3 Cunt', a cheap tee proffered from Topshop's logo section emblazoned with the generic statement of 'feminist' hits the mark with about the same potency as Kendall Jenner channelling Black Lives Matter activists by handing riot police a Pepsi. 

It doesn't mean anything, and it was generated solely for a guaranteed universal nod of agreement.

Yes! Feminism is good! Clap at the fashionista who has no real connection to what they stand for! But just like Pepsi, I fear many of these women are headed for dangerous, casually offensive waters. 

Just like the people who wear band tees in selfie photoshoots probably haven’t ever seen the band in question, people who wear generic ‘feminist’ tees are likely to have no experience with being on the outer. These are by-and-large privileged women who are invited to fashion week, are mostly thin and white, and likely get paid for promoted posts on their curated feeds.

These are not women who have felt the brunt of sexist workplace attitudes, as they work in an industry that is mainly made up of females. And the sexist attitudes that allow models to put their health at risk in order to be thin (because, didn’t you know, thin = beautiful)? Yeah, the mainly-female industry doesn’t do a damn thing about it. But they ARE wearing that T-shirt tho!

These women make their money from being, or promoting, heteronormal, accepted versions of the female identity. The influencers who whack on a ‘feminist’ tee for fash most likely work for themselves, far from the male-heavy boardroom, or the women at risk of being made redundant on maternity leave, or the sexist overtones of a denied request for a raise.

Feminism isn’t about being photographed in an attempt to appear three dimensional or ‘deep’. Feminism is about battling your way through the glass ceiling after endless, bitter rejections – and once you’re there, hiring other women and supporting their careers so that they have it better than you did. 

Feminism is about protesting loudly and messily when politicians put women’s rights at risk, when they promote heteronormal policies or refuse to make equal pay law.

After all, the appalling reality of one woman a week being murdered by their partner in Australia due to domestic violence crime isn’t fashionable at all.

Feminism isn’t fashion, it’s a daily battle. Feminism isn’t a trend, it’s a way of life. Equality certainly can’t be achieved by wearing a fucking T-shirt to fash week. 

And don’t even get me started on the guys who wear them…

Follow Bianca’s journey through the minefield of terrible trends that don’t mean anything over at @_thesecondrow.

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