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How Capitalism Exploits the Feminist Movement

“Nevertheless she persisted”, “Grl Pwr”, “Fight like a girl”. These are all phrases we know well because we see them online and in pretty much every store we walk into. They are empowering on their own but as the feminist movement grows, big companies exploit it for money. 

Walmart endorses Trump, sells assault weapons and also “feminist” apparel. The company is the opposite of everything intersectional feminism stands for and yet they are benefiting from our movement. 

Forever21 is a huge fast fashion company. They sell feminist products that are unethically made in poor countries by underpaid employees. 

These products are pure irony, when we buy them we are supporting the companies that are benefiting from oppression. When we wear them, we are treating feminism as a trend instead of an important social movement. 

Showing your feminist pride is great! But look into the companies you buy them from. Look for labels that say “Made in Bangladesh” or China or Vietnam. The people who made them are underpaid and working in horrid conditions so the companies that employ them can save money. 

Support companies like The Outrage who donate a portion of every purchase to a deserving organization and tell you exactly where your money is going. They link customers to online voter registration in checkout and produce using ethically sourced materials (they are WRAP certified).

 

 “Year of the Queer” Tee $28, the-outrage.com Beneits ‘The Trevor Project’

A lot of companies are sneaky. They promote their “ethics” buy donating to a prominent organization while still using production methods that harm people, communities and the environment.

Apps like Buycott look up close at companies activity and inform consumers of their actual ethics. You can search for a specific company or scan the barcode of a product to find out all the information you need. They even give you the option to contact the company and tell them about your concerns and decision to stop using their products. 

Shopping ethically can be expensive so, at least right now, it isn’t practical for the average college student. But mindfulness is the first step. Think about the environmental impact of buying another pair of nikes when you already have two pairs. 

Look for specific pieces you want instead of just shopping to shop. Check thrift stores and facebook marketplace for specific items instead of buying them brand new and spending more money. Learn some basic sewing skills and turn second-hand pieces into trendy items. Reselling apps like ThredUp, Poshmark and Depop are great resources for finding second-hand items and it supports an actual person, not a faceless company. 

Feminism is not easy, it is a constant uphill trek. Buying the easy fast-made products are against everything feminists are fighting to change. To truly embody the movement through apparel, support small business, individual makers, or make your own! 

 

Tess Ware

C Mich '21

Hi, my name is Tess and I’m a double major in Journalism and Women and Gender studies at Central Michigan University. Planning to become a media writer after I graduate. I want to empower people through my writing and hope to someday write a book on the intersection of Feminism and Paganism. I’m a huge crafter, I love knitting and altering clothes I find at thrift stores. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in my free time. I’m really excited to be co-campus correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for HerCampus-CMich and continue to develop my voice, writing and leadership skills.
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