That famous t-shirt with the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like” has gained traction among artists, celebrities and politicians worldwide. But it turns out this great t-shirt, with a great slogan isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The Daily Mail recently revealed that the t-shirts are produced by women in Mauritius who work in “sweatshop conditions”, earning only R11 an hour. Where’s the feminism in that?
The Fawcett Society, the women’s rights organisation that launched the t-shirts, has since defended itself, saying the t-shirts were made in a perfectly ethical manner.
“The evidence we have seen categorically refutes the assertion that the ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirts produced by Whistles were made in a sweatshop,” Eva Neitzert, deputy chief executive of the Fawcett Society told the Guardian.
Celebrities from Emma Watson to Joseph Gordon-Levitt have donned the bold garment, and even Ed Miliband, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, owns one. The Fawcett Society charges R266 for the t-shirt on its website, and a limited edition of the shirt recently sold for over R900. At this rate, you’d think they could afford to pay factory workers more than R11 per hour.
AJ Plus, a branch of the Al Jazeera news network, reports that women who work at the factory were forced to sleep 16 to a room.
“How can this t-shirt be a symbol of feminism when we do not see ourselves as feminists? We see ourselves as trapped,” a 30-year-old factory worker told AJ Plus.
This is not what a feminist looks like, but it could be what a hypocrite looks like.