The Hart of the Matter: Feminism as a trend

By Lily Hartenstein

Feminism is becoming a trend. Walk into any fast-fashion store and one can easily find a shirt with some vague feminist slogan printed on the front or a fun quote about being a “boss lady” to put in an Instagram caption.

This mainstream movement of feminism has created some issues. Many say these empty slogans and Beyoncé quotes are detrimental to the women’s rights movements, as they distract from real, hard hitting issues.

It is true that the fresh availability of graphic T-shirts that say “Powerful Woman” on it are not exactly ending the prevalence of rape culture or closing gender disparities in certain workforces, but this does not mean that this shift in public acceptance isn’t making significant change.

Large scale change must come from the public. Yes, government plays a significant role in forming and fixing the woes of today’s society, but this can only come from a shift in public perception catalyzing a legislative response.

The craze version of feminism is watered down. It is an easy to package, easy to swallow form of women’s rights that is made specifically to be non-offensive. This has spread rapidly, exactly as a trend does. Easily packed trendy feminism will not draft any legislation to solve the wage gap or sexual assault, but it will deliver the idea of women’s rights right to your doorstep.

Allowing feminism to become part of the mainstream is a gateway for a real, meaningful dialogue to occur. Without the taboo, more and more people are able to learn about women’s rights or be able to speak out on their experiences. This is where change begins.

I didn’t learn what feminism was until I was in middle school. When I started to use the term, I was met with disgusted remarks about how all feminists hate men. I couldn’t talk about the issues I faced as a girl without hearing the term “feminazi,” or other comments about how over dramatic I was being. Today, children have the opportunity to learn about feminism sooner, with less of a social stigma around discussing women’s rights, thanks to a “fad.”

The current state of trendy feminism is not causing harm to the women’s rights movement, and it is allowing a foundation for more and more citizens to identify as feminists. A jacket with the word “Feminist” in a fun font on the back may not be significant, but the little girl who proudly wears the jacket around is. She will learn the word’s meaning and change the world one day.