It began, as I’m sure it began for many people, the day after the US election. There was grief, there was anger and, then there was a deep sense of helplessness. It wasn’t simply that Donald Trump won, it’s that we had less-than-zero expectation that he would even come close.
Moreover, we were all sure that this would be no ordinary election – it would be a new dawn for women. And, look, I don’t want to tragi-brag here, but my husband is from the US – a swing state, to be exact. So, I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt like someone had died.
There was only one mode of catharsis – social media. Facebook was too dark; twitter too piercing. But over on Instagram, the most female-dominated platform on the web, women had begun to mobilise. There were the seeds of the history-making March, and then, there was the merch.
T-shirts, mainly, although there were also tote bags and jumpers. All of them carried some sort of political slogan or deeply feminist message and a pledge that profits would go to a women-focused charity, namely, Planned Parenthood.
Dear Reader, I went bananas, buying up everything I scrolled upon.
Before that day the only club I’d ever been a member of was Country Road Benefits. This feeling, of finally being part of something, bubbled over within me. It could also have been the result of stress-eating a packet of liquorice. Well, in any case, the feeling seemed to overflow when, on January 21, millions of women gathered all over the world to protest the presidency.
Aflame with my awareness of my… awareness, I posted a photo to Instagram of my 1-year-old daughter wearing the Women’s March on Washington t-shirt. I even included an emoji of a fist punching the air, which gave rise to what I assumed in my heart was the exact feeling Gloria Steinem had when she stood beside Dorothy Pitman Hughes and clenched her own fist in 1971. This was it! This was change I could believe in… or get behind or, um, not get behind without its consent, but respectfully support! Yes! And I know I’m not alone.
From Dior’s US $700 ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt right through to Top Shop’s ‘Save the Future’ and everything in between, the political climate has given rise to a swell of feminist sentiment within the fashion industry.
The problem is, I’m not sure I can wear ‘MY PUSSY … AND MY RIGHTS’ to pick up the kids from day care?
I’m still brainstorming what sort of situation would be appropriate for me to don my dichotomy-smashing SEXUAL INTELLECTUAL top. The only regular meet-ups I have are with my own parents and, though they love me, I’m not sure they need to be made aware of my sensual side?
I adore my reproductive system sweatshirt, but if I’m out at the playground with my kids, is it going to look like I have a biology lesson waiting to teach them? Do I wear it at home as some sort of passive aggressive signal to my husband? I can’t wear it alone, that would be like protesting in my lounge room.
Do I wear it at home as some sort of passive aggressive signal to my husband?
Don’t get me wrong – I mean, I am woke AF. It’s just that, I’m at a life stage where even typing the words “woke AF” make me feel like I’m impersonating a much cooler woman. You know, the type who can go topless to protest marches because she hasn’t breastfed yet. The type who can plait her underarm hair and paint her face because the only other thing she’s doing that day is posting her smoothie to Instagram. The type who is letting her moustache and monobrow grow because she runs her own Frida Kahlo tea towel Etsy shop and not because, after ordering groceries for her family online, she forgot the wax strips for herself.
I know, I know, feminism has no parameters, and definitely no age limit. And, speaking of Gloria Steinem, that woman is 83 years old and she’s at the top of her activist game. But, she also wears ornamented Native American jewellery, and sensational light-transition aviators, so you know, she’s beyond hip. I can barely pull off a beanie.
During these times, if you’re not wearing a t-shirt with a political message, it’s because your beliefs are already tattooed somewhere on your body. But I’m super-sensitive to needles and besides, if there was one tattoo I could choose to depict what equality means to me it would be a pigeon pooping where it pleases, and that doesn’t really translate well to freckly skin.
I guess I shall have to make peace with the fact that, although my feelings were real, I didn’t really pause to consider the practical application of buying a dozen different feminist clothing items. Unless, you consider the practical reality that you can never have too many tops to sleep in. I remind myself that what really matters is the monetary support I gave to charity.
Well, that, and the likes I got on Instagram, and the feeling that for one brief, misogyny-busting moment, I was cool.