THE FUTURE IS FEMALE.
Everyone from feminist author Jessica Valenti, to actresses Tatiana Maslany and Gillian Anderson, to the cool hip queer girl that lives in your apartment building is wearing it. Fashion writer Eva Chen’s daughter has it. I’m wearing mine right now.
Although it may seem like perfect timing, it’s not a Hillary Clinton shirt. The first “The future is female” t-shirt debuted in 1972. It was made for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City, which was opened in 1972 by Jane Lurie and Marizel Rios.
It then gained more traction in 1975, after photographer, Liza Cowan, took a picture of musician Alix Dobkin, her then-girlfriend, wearing it for a project titled, “What the Well Dressed Dyke Will Wear.”
She is a lesbian feminist, artist, activist and writer who was part of the lesbian separatist movement in the 1970s. In 2015, she told Vice that she saw separatism as “a way to figure out what it meant to be a woman, without having to bother with men telling you what you could not think or say… It was a way to develop networks of women’s businesses, publishers, bookstores, conferences…”
The concept of lesbian separatism was born out of the frustration that women were often left out of gay rights organizations. Lesbians encouraged each other to cut ties with men and create a strong community to fight for the rights of gay women.
It’s a sad but true fact that even within the LGBTQ+ community, there has been — and still is — sexism. When people hear the word “gay,” they usually think of two men.
The slogan is over forty years old and does rely on the gender binary, which critics have rightfully pointed out. “The future is female” is a product of its time and can be given a new life and meaning in today’s society.
The product description of the shirt on Otherwild’s website reads:
The phrase is a rallying cry for anyone who identifies as female and wants to see a change in the world. The slogan reminds everyone that, when women’s voices aren’t being heard, they’re not afraid to yell and make sure they’re part of the conversation. Women fought hard for their rights and will fight hard to keep them, no matter how often they come under attack. Feminists know that patriarchal oppression can and will end, but we have to actively work for it.
Especially now, women and queer people need a rallying cry.
Having Hillary Clinton as the first female candidate for a major political party was a huge step towards gender equality. Progress is being made and generations of young girls are aiming higher than ever before.
In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton gave this advice to young women:
Many people are saying that our first female president is out there right now, watching Hillary Clinton speak on television while she does her homework or studies for an exam.
The future is still female; we just have to keep fighting.
Otherwild sells the t-shirt, as well as a tank top version, sweatshirt, kid’s sizes and more. They donate 25% of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood. For more herstory, go to the h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y Instagram account.