This piece was produced in partnership with My Sister.
I was born a feminist, against all odds.
I grew up in a conservative household, attended conservative churches, and didn't think of myself as a feminist until late high school or early college. But from a very young age, I bristled against gendered expectations on principle. I didn't like that people expected me to wear pink, be sweet, smile constantly, and volunteer in the church nursery. I didn't like that people just expected me to be cute. I didn't like that my particular faith tradition thought that the only way to keep me from having sex was to convince me that Jesus was my boyfriend.
In middle school, my whole PE class was amazed that I could beat the boys in King's Court (I'd shoot hoops with my dad at home every week). In high school PE, the boys were amazed I could catch a baseball. As a picture framer, I can't tell you how many people sized me up before asking for the "man framer," assuming that I couldn't meet their needs like a man could. One time I borrowed a drill from my boss and my coworker asked me if my husband was making something. I informed her that, in fact, I was the one planning on using the drill. And it gets darker than that. I was sexually harassed on a daily basis at several of my jobs, typically by my boss or close male coworkers. It took me months after I left those jobs to understand why I felt anxious and depressed on my way to work each day.
Women can't catch a break! I never tried to make myself attractive to men. I was never "asking for it." On the flip side, I was never intentionally antagonistic. I was, for the most part, just trying to be a person.
The fact is that no matter what women do or don't do, we're bound to be targets of bias and harassment. That's why it's important for me to call myself a feminist, loud and clear. We still need feminism.
I really like this t-shirt because it associates the feminist movement with anti-trafficking efforts. As I discussed in my post about Dressember, I think it's incredibly important that we view trafficking, first and foremost, as a human rights issue, not as a purity issue. Trafficking of all stripes is a feminist issue because it denies the full equality of fellow human beings. It strips people of their rights, their autonomy, their sense of self, and their futures. And sex trafficking disproportionately affects women. Between 4-5 million women are sold into sex trafficking each year and human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world.
We need to rise up in solidarity with our sisters who are trafficked.
That's the premise behind My Sister...
MY SISTER's mission is to prevent sex trafficking, educate communities, empower the population, provide after-care for survivors and offer growth opportunities to at-risk women through the sales of our statement-making, ethically-sourced apparel and accessories.My Sister sells clothing and accessories with inspiring messages about equality and gives a portion of proceeds to programs that offer care and opportunities for women taken out of trafficking. To date, they've raised $77,500 for their charities. As a registered B-Corp, they are beholden to a certain set of social good standards, and all of their designs are printed on ethical and/or domestically produced t-shirts. They also produce my favorite lip balm.
Ethical Details: Tee - c/o My Sister; Dress - c/o Synergy Organic Clothing; Tights - PACT; Sneakers - Etiko; Cardigan - old
In light of an uncertain political future, it's important to declare and live out our values and to seek communities that share them. Wearing this tank top makes me feel strong. Scratch that. It reminds me that I am strong, and that I have the power to speak out against injustice.
You can read more about My Sister on their Press Page.