naked people have little or no influence in society / by mrm

I like clothes. I also hate injustice. So this is actually a big quandary. Even if you're not as mad crazy about cute dresses as I am, you probably wear clothes. And your clothes are probably made by exploited workers in third world countries. This is one of those things we all prefer not to think about, because what can you do, right? Right. I wish I had an easy answer. Obviously I don't, but I do have a few ideas.

For one, I'm happy to have learned about the existence of the Clean Clothes Campaign.  They focus on:
  • Putting pressure on companies to take responsibility to ensure that their garments are produced in decent working conditions;
  • Providing solidarity support in urgent cases of labour and human rights violations;
  • Raising public awareness about working conditions in the garment and sportswear industry and mobilising consumers to push for change;
  • Exploring legal possibilities and lobbying for legislation to promote good working conditions and to compel governments and companies to become ethical consumers.
 (kindly note the British English spelling). I am, however, a little depressed by two things: 1) they're active in 15 European countries, but no North American ones, and 2) they've been around since 1989, and well, here we are. That's not their fault, of course. It's a lot of people's faults. Yours, mine, and most especially various governments. Because it is still really hard to buy fair trade clothes.* (And why is it so much easier to buy fair trade coffee? If you know, please tell me) I want to buy a new bra, and I thought to myself, I wonder if I can buy a fair trade bra? The internet has only succeeded in showing me these four, none of which I'll buy. Ugh.

Another thing I love (although it doesn't solve my bra problem) is shopping at thrift stores. What a nice way to op-out of exploiting labor and also not be naked! In San Francisco, at least, you can dress yourself real nice, pretty much head-to-toe (at least outerwear) from thrift stores.

Finally, I want to point out the genuine and total awesomeness of women-owned co-ops. Poking around the internet just now to see what I could find that would be positive and inspiring and action-oriented, after getting all depressed (justifiably so!) over sweatshop labor, I came across Mata Traders. They have some super cute dresses, as well as jackets, jewelry, and more. Got a couple leagues up on Ideeli, that's for sure.

And if you're all like wait, what does this have to do with feminism? Well, let's see: Women are constantly being encouraged to adorn themselves and their attention is constantly directed away from the way they're participating in post-colonial oppression of women, men, and children in other parts of the world. I'll go ahead and chalk this up to a feminist issue.

(p.s. Know of an awesome anti-sweatshop movement or source of fair trade clothing that I'm ignoring? Super! Tell me all about it!)

*And I am not even going to start on American Apparel. Talk about a wasted opportunity to be awesome. That's all I'm going to say about them.