Being a feminist is all well and good, or so I’m told, but it makes the holiday season a real minefield.
What do you get the feminist who has all the gold-plated labia necklaces and notorious RBG tote bags they could possibly want? How do you find the perfect gift without upsetting someone who obviously has no sense of humour (because, you know, feminists)?
Never fear, intrepid shopper; I’m here for some glorious tongue-in-cheek seasonal swag sourcing advice for your nearest and dearest killjoys, thanks to an online discussion myself and my friends had a few days ago. Here’s some of our best suggestions. After all, everyone knows that capitalism and materialism are foundational tenets of real feminism…right?
- First off, let me start by saying that no self-respecting feminist would be caught dead without her low-key, high-end bling. For a mere $325 (£256), Fred+Far, an LA-based jewellery company, offers a ‘self-love pinky ring’ touted as an anti-engagement ring. How could you say no? “Woman,” the website lauds, “reclaim yourself … choose power, choose fulfilment, choose choice … choose yourself.”
Utter bullshit, you say? How very dare you.
- It’s a strange phenomenon, but some feminists actually like to read. An easy way to quench the seemingly never-ending thirst for ‘knowledge’ (and gain nice guy points in the process) is with some in-depth feminist literature. May I suggest this modern masterpiece?
I’m sorry, what? This doesn’t count? You think it oversimplifies feminist ideology and fetishises male feminists? That a straight, white, able-bodied, cis man disjointedly regurgitating nuanced feminist theory whilst looking hot ISN’T legit? Well, you’re allowed to be wrong.
- Next to address the real beacons of feminism that drive forward the noble cause. Slogan t-shirts. Everyone knows that the mark of a true feminist isn’t their dedication to intersectionality, making meaningful choices about how we live our lives, nor a commitment to standing up against oppression and demanding justice and equality. No, the real test of feminism is how many of these babies you can cram into your wardrobe.
There are literally hundreds to choose from, so make sure you buy enough to keep your activist in supply for the year – the more expensive, the more they count. Oh, and if they’re made in conditions that violate human rights (and particularly affect the rights of women), that’s obviously even better.
- For some reason, feminists these days seem to think that it’s okay to be proud of how they look, and to take time for ‘self care’. No, I don’t understand what’s going on either. It’s a difficult one; you want to support their continued struggle for equal access to MAC and Sephora, but need to make sure they know just how little you care about how they look.
So, splash out on some top of the range beauty products (what’s $275/£220 in the grand scheme of things?) but DO NOT forget to attach a note reminding them that you specifically think they look better without it. After all, who else would they be wearing make up for if not for you?
- When all else fails, why not take a tip from America’s favourite televangelist, Pat Robertson? According to this businessman and ultra-conservative political activist, writing in 1992, feminism “is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” So, what does every good feminist witch need? A broomstick, of course. You won’t be allowed into mine or any other worthy #girlgang without one of these bad boys.
As well as hoping for a chuckle, this article has a serious point too. In a world where market forces appropriate, subjugate, and alienate, it’s little surprise that feminism and its messages have fallen prey to commercialisation.
Brands are capitalising on the hard-won popularity of female empowerment, gender non-conformity, and notions of self-care. It is, in all honesty, a conflicted time to identify as a feminist. On the one hand, the spotlight is on gender equality more than ever, and increased representation in media and advertising is at an all time high. On the other, superficial focus on co-opted feminist issues in the name of profit does precious little to address the day-today challenges of those still struggling with oppression in their lives.
Gender equality isn’t an exclusive club, but the need to ensure that the movement maintains its authenticity is a crucial one.
We need to ask ourselves some difficult questions, and keep our conversations open and inclusive. Are we content with our message being diluted because pop culture sells? Are we tolerant, at least, of these companies providing a platform for dialogue/conversation? Or are we too suspicious of their motives to see past the bandwagoning and heavy-sell ‘corporate social justice’?
For me, the fascination with feminism currently being played out across the global market feels a far cry from the political movement I love. The design of capitalism relies on inequality in all it’s forms and, as such, multimillion dollar corporations cannot and will not be true advocates for equality. Businesses thrive and profits soar only when there is an underclass whose exploitation forms the baseline from which we both gain and judge luxury.
With that in mind, why not check out Everyday Feminism’s Guide to Spending Money Like an Activist? It offers a useful guide making sure that we’re minimising support of companies that actively and knowingly exploit their workers and instead support businesses that are showing support for lower-class needs and progressive interest. Yasssss.
Happy holidays, everyone.