The Style & Phenomenon of Today’s Feminism

By Sarah Grados

With the election being the prominent discussion in the lives of most US citizens, it makes sense that consumers would buy merchandise advocating for their nominee of choice. A new form of Hillary Clinton merchandise has hit the online market — and it’s not the typical “Hillary 2016”. Thanks to Donald Trump’s recent comment at the third presidential debate, in which he called Hilary “such a nasty woman,” the social media world has been buzzing. Merchandisers pounced on the opportunity to show the intolerance that the female demographic has for this kind of attitude, one that is pervasive not only in the highest level of politics (i.e. presidential debates), but also throughout many corporate offices and workplaces.

In response to Trump’s rhetoric, social media platforms have exploded with comments from women around the world:

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Hearing a presidential nominee use the word “nasty” to describe a woman inspired me to better understand the origins of the phrase. According to Caroline Light, a gender studies professor at Harvard University, “[The phrase] dates back to colonial times… A ‘nasty’ woman is one who refuses to remain in her proper place, as defined by men. One who challenges male authority.” This choice of language at such a pivotal moment in our nation’s history forces us to question the state of the country. Trump’s comment highlights the ferocity with which men have exercised their power in an attempt to keep women under their dominion and maintain the toxic culture of silence and inequality. Perhaps it even reveals the male fear of women challenging or overthrowing the patriarchal systems that have been so intrinsically wired into every aspect of our society. This is why it is so incredible to see people come together to turn such a negative comment into something positive and empowering for women everywhere. As women reclaim the word “Nasty”, they simultaneously show their desire for a female president and commitment to the feminist movement.

The store Nasty Gal is a pioneer in the “Nasty woman” merchandise franchise and has inspired many other online stores to create their own versions of political support by creating new designs on daily products such as clothing, mugs, and purses. Nasty Gal has released a tote bag displaying the words “Nasty Woman”, as well as Hillary’s face on it. They also sell a “Nasty Women Unite” tee and a Hillary tee with a nasty woman button. Each time these 3 items are restocked, they sell out within minutes, a fact which demonstrates the extent to which Trump’s comments have increased support for Hillary within the fashion world. Moreover, from a statistical economic viewpoint, this dramatic increase in political consumerism is a form of feminism we have not seen in the past — an active form of having our female voices heard by increasing the dollars spent in the market. This election has created a unique opportunity to show how powerful the united efforts of women can be, both on an economic level as well as a social level.

As women, our foremothers fought for the right to work, vote, choose what she does with her body (i.e. abortion), as well as for respect and equality in every job a man can have — including the job of leading a nation. Being a “nasty” woman now has a whole new meaning — today it means a woman who is strong, brave, intelligent, unafraid to speak up, and courageous enough to lead. If we, as women, continue to raise our voices, maintain our diplomacy and power by taking the higher roads, and increase respect for women then we will start to see a new wave of leaders, innovators, and peace-makers working to create a world in which both sexes can work in harmony. It is long past due that we put to rest the “battle of the sexes.” I am a nasty woman and I stand with my nasty woman presidential candidate.

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