You’ve seen them (or perhaps even bought them): T-shirts, tote bags and hats proclaiming that you’re a feminist. It may make you feel good to proudly share with the world that you won’t stand for the patriarchy. But does it actually help the cause? Worse yet, could you be unknowingly supporting the very systems you want to dismantle?
That’s what HuffPost U.S. reporter Casey Bond wondered. So, she started investigating the companies that sell such merchandise. And she found a number of companies that have profited from empowering apparel while undermining feminist principles.
One of the most egregious examples is Feminist Apparel. Last year, employees at the company, which has “feminist” in its name and even sells a feminist subscription box, confronted its male CEO after hearing he was an admitted sexual abuser. They encouraged him to resign. Instead, he fired the entire staff without severance.
Other brands have been caught stealing women’s designs and intellectual property, contributing to the gender pay gap, and disproportionately placing men in top-level positions — all while advertising feminist fashions.
So, what’s a woman to do? Not all companies are feminist land mines, and it’s possible to purchase feminist gear from a brand that is in line with the cause. Before making your purchase, Casey recommends doing a bit of research via Google to find out how a company treats its workers, who runs the company, how many women hold leadership positions and whether any proceeds from sales go toward organizations that help women.
Also, keep in mind that buying and wearing merchandise isn’t the most direct way to effect change; sometimes you’re better off taking action. “Donating to a reputable organization or even organizing a fundraising event are definitely effective, as is volunteering your time or skills,” Casey says. “Call or write your local representatives about issues that matter to you. Spend consciously in general, and when possible, support independent women-owned businesses.”
Then you can feel good about sharing your feelings with the world — and acting on them too.
How do you support feminist causes, either through your purchases or your actions? Share your favorite empowering companies and causes.
Thanks for reading,
Follow Casey Bond (@CaseyLynnBond) for more stories about money, home and life topics. And check out some of her other financial stories focused on women: women on Instagram who make personal finance look cool; making marriages with female breadwinners work; and how multilevel marketing companies are a nightmare for women.
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