Fair trade as feminist activism

This month has been a big-deal news month in two major areas of my life: fashion and feminism.

In case you didn’t see it, the Daily Mail ran a story on November 2 that claimed unsavory origins for the popular “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts that have been spotted on numerous British celebrities and politicians. According to the Mail, the T-shirts, sold by the British feminist organization the Fawcett Society, are made in a sweatshop in Mauritius. The Fawcett Society, who sources the T-shirts through the stupidly-named UK clothing retailer Whistles (come on, you can’t tell me that’s not a stupid name), initially responded to the story by claiming that Whistles executives had promised that the shirts would, in fact, be made in the UK, and announced that they planned to investigate the allegations.

this is what a feminist looks like t-shirt

But is it also what the work of a sweatshop laborer looks like?

On November 4, however, the Fawcett Society posted an update to the story on their website, which was later picked up by other media outlets. “We are pleased to confirm that we have today seen expansive and current evidence from Whistles that the CMT factory in Mauritius they used to produce our ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ T-shirt conforms to ethical standards,” declared Eva Neitzert, deputy CEO of the Fawcett Society. The statement then goes on to outline the ways in which the factory conforms to said standards, and ends with a total refutation of the story by the Daily Mail. (The Mail, however, is sticking to its guns on this.)

So all well and good, right? Well, maybe not exactly.

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