Those ‘Feminist’ T-Shirts Might Not Be So Feminist

Photo: Courtesy of Whistles

Everyone who cooed over Benedict Cumberbatch wearing a “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt in British Elle might be surprised to learn that the shirt, also worn by Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Watson, and several British politicians, is embroiled in a very un-feminist controversy after Britain’s Mail on Sunday claimed the shirts, which are manufactured by Whistles, were made by underpaid women in Mauritius — to the tune of 62 pence, or roughly one dollar, per hour.

For what it’s worth, the Fawcett Society, the charity behind the message tees, is denying the allegations, telling The Guardian that the workers were paid above minimum wage. And Whistles issued the following statement: “Whistles will continue to work with CMT [the factory in question] to review the pay and work conditions at their factory. We are taking this opportunity to undertake additional reviews of all our suppliers.” Whatever the reality of the situation, it’s a good reminder that a progressive slogan doesn’t necessarily make something progressive by osmosis.

Those ‘Feminist’ Shirts Might Not Be So Feminist