The harder sell

Advertising, commercial feminisms

I hate shopping. People who know me well are aware of the lengths I will go in order to avoid it, especially clothes shopping. When pressed and I have no other options (there is only so many times you can sew something up aparently), I conduct myself with assassin-like efficiency – in and out in seconds with minimal bloodshed.

The cold strip lighting and oppressive body fascism of the high street is not my comfort zone, but having made as many xmas presents as I have time for (and can get away with using my solid B- craft skills) there are certain things that will require action.

My 14 year old sister’s present is yet to click into place and as a result on my way home I made the spur of the moment decision to walk through H&M. Whereupon I stumbled upon this jumper….


I’m sorry what? Surely this should read ‘Feminism – a word now routinely used to sell things to women’. Thanks for reducing the radical fight for the emancipation of everyone from gender binary patriarchal control to a slogan on a jumper, that’s super helpful.

I’ve never read anything as accessible as Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman (2009) on why this kind of thing is problematic, (specifically the chapter Feminism(TM): Two Sides of the Same Con). Power makes the point that ‘stripped of any internationalist and political quality, feminism becomes about as radical as a diamanté phone cover.’ (Power, 2009: 30).

I’m not adverse to putting the word feminism on things, go ahead, but (unfortunately) we can’t all be Kathleen Hanna. Watch The Punk Singer (2013) if you haven’t already – that woman is a genius.


So all my trip to H&M achieved was me contemplating the complexities of using both the word, and ideology, of feminism to get people to buy into a system that ultimately oppresses them. Selling/buying a T-shirt is the easy part, getting people to understand and identify as feminist AND live their feminism, that’s the harder sell.


…and onwards to plan B for Jenya’s Christmas present.




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