A critical read of H&M’s clothing line

H&M has a feminism t-shirt.

Okay, great. Let’s look at the other articles of women’s clothing they have with words. What sort of feminist ideology does H&M hold?

1. “Can’t Touch This” in camouflage.

The modern woman needs to hide from the male aggressor and his unconsensual ways.

2. “Youth Tribe”, colors and patterns on gray.

The modern feminist, while intersectional, doesn’t hold with the excesses of online feminist word policing. See “tribe”. The modern feminist’s generation might be an even bigger hold on her self conception than her gender.

(Note to self – did H&M predict the Iowa caucus months in advance?)

3. “Unavailable” – white band on black dress

The modern young lady knows she’s hot, knows she’s wanted, and wants you to know that she knows it. Perhaps not.

4. “Unavailable” – white text engulfing black shirt

The modern feminist knows that callow youth see her as an an object of desire. To combat this, she sets up a test for all would-be suitors. Do these men (and yes, they’re almost always men) still talk to her when they perceive sex is off the table? Either way, she wins.

5. “don’t steal my wifi” [sic]

One might see this as a bold declaration of extreme selfish libertarianism. Rather than allow neighbors to access even humble radio waves, the straw man feminist encloses a bountiful common resource and sets up a sign. “No trespassing on my land” the shirt says.

But a sophisticated observer knows that the modern feminist is a very different animal. Following in the footsteps of Shulamith Firestone and her opus “The Dialectic of Sex”, the modern feminist is down with all struggles for liberation. This shirt is a not-so-veiled critique of the modern surveillance state. “Don’t ruin my internet”, she declares. “No NSA allowed”. The government is literally trying to steal away her WiFi experience, and she’s taking to wearing even garishly ugly shirts as constant messaging of her democratic discontent.

6. “Ain’t got time for that”, caps on white shirt

The modern intersectional feminist knows that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. But she has no time for your turgid marxist pontification. No, she has a class war to win. If you’re here to organize, welcome. But if you’re here to quote whatever mangled interpretation of the latest issue of Jacobin you managed to remember – back off! Ain’t nobody got time for that.

7. “Dance, sleep, repeat”. booty shorts.

This item is a wry satire on the limits of the famous cry of “8 hours for work, 8 hours for living, 8 hours for rest” of the early 1920′s. The modern feminist appreciates the struggle for a 40-hour work week and the freedom it posed. Though she is aware of the erosion of those gains, she also undermines the materialist unpinning of the whole enterprise.

“If I can’t dance”, this modern Rosa Luxembourg says, “then I want no part of your revolution.”

8. “Wake Up, Bring it, Work it” shirt

This is a more straightforward version of the allusion to the historic fight for a 40-hour work week already discussed in our section covering the booty shorts.

9. “I Love” heart sweater

The modern feminist loves. But what does she love? There’s no object to her verb, no target of her emotion. And yet, she loves holistically. As Ernesto Guevara put it, “at the risk of sounding ridiculous, the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love”. And so the modern feminist is stockpiling ak-47s and forming cells of comrades, ready to lead a trotskyist revolution to overturn bourgeois and patriarchal society. Just as soon as she gets something cute and leather.