Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 7 December 2015

Cara Delevingne Accused Of Stealing Feminist T-Shirt Logo

Cara Delevingne Accused Of Stealing Feminist T-Shirt Logo

The Debrief: ‘The Future is Female’, but as feminism becomes a commodity, who benefits from it? And who loses out?

A few weeks ago, St Vincent was spotted sporting a ‘THE FUTURE IS FEMALE’ (FIF) T-shirt. Shortly afterwards, girlfriend Cara Delevingne was spotted wearing it, too. Cara has understandably been deluged with requests for the T-shirt and so is now stocking her own ones. Posting a photo of herself and a friend in matching FIF T-shirts to her Instagram, the caption read: ‘THE FUTURE IS FEMALE A lot of you have been asking for one of these – so I decided to put them up for sale, with proceeds going to Girl Up! ~~ LINK IN BIO ~~ thank you @lizacowan @otherwild @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y’

Girl Up is charity ‘changing policies and raising funds to support United Nations programs that help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.’

Which is great. However, after many edits made to her caption (which now reads as above), Cara’s getting criticism.

You see, Otherwild, the company which sells the T-shirt Cara and St Vincet have been sharing, isn’t impressed. They got the slogan from an Instagram account called Her Story, which is run by Kelly Rakowski, who shares ‘Herstoric Lesbian Imagery’ (follow it, it’s super cool). Kelly got that image from Liza Cowan, the photographer who took a photo of a woman called Alix Dobkin wearing the T-shirt in 1975.

The story behind the T-shirt is really cool, as Liza explains via Instagram:


I took this photo of #alixdobkin in 1975 for a slide show called What The Well Dressed Dyke Will Wear. The t-shirt was made by Labyris Books, the first women's bookstore in NYC. The photo has now gone viral on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Often without citation. So here is a version with watermark credits. #artintheageofinternetreproduction @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y @otherwild

A photo posted by Liza Cowan. (@lizacowan) on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:06am PDT

Liza worked with Her Story and Otherwild to copyright the TFIF T-shirts, so they can be sold in a way that gives 25% of the proceeds of each T-shirt to Planned Parenthood, the sexual health clinics facing government de-funding thanks to anti-choice efforts from the religious right-wing. But Cara’s T-shirts won’t give any money to Planned Parenthood.

One commenter saw this as a good thing, explaining, ‘I prefer to support @CaraDelevingne’s effort by buying one o these slogan shirts from [her] as 100% of profit will go to the VERY worthy @girlupcampaign rather than “Otherwild” giving 25% of profit to “Planned Parenthood”’

But regardless of where the money goes, it doesn’t quite add up that something copyrighted has been borrowed by Cara for whatever her own use might be. As Otherwild explained on their Instagram, ‘Otherwild’s redesign and reissue of the FIF tees and buttons is protected under copyright law… Delevingne’s choice to lift and manufacture Otherwild’s design, claiming it as her own to sell with an undisclosed charitable offering, is indefensible.’

‘Her actions ironically counter the very message of the slogan “The Future is Female” and it’s confounding that she would do this to a small queer feminist-owned business after purchasing the product from us just a few weeks ago… she has not yet offered to wholesale from us nor cease and desist blatantly copying and selling our designs.’

Sounds like the future isn’t only female, but full of much tussling over which women’s cause is most worthy of funding from the sale of a logo T-shirt. The sad truth is both Planned Parenthood and international development for young women should be fully funded, regardless of the T-shirt a model/actress wears or sells.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

'Why I'm Still Talking About Sexism In The Music Industry'

Gemma Styles: It's 2015 And Feminism's Still A Dirty Word On The Internet

We Spoke To The Woman Behind Cara's Free The Nipple T-Shirt

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: WTF News, Feminism, Cara Delevingne