Not too long ago I wore my beloved ‘Radical Feminist’ shirt to work. Now it’s not written in a fancy script, nor is it embellished with pictures or designs. It is black with big bold white lettering that states to the world “Hey world, I, Hillary, am a Radical Feminist…now bite me!” My smack talk is obviously outdated and stuck in the 5th grade. I also do not wear the shirt in a “bite me” sense. It just not to cause uproar, but it represents my opinions and allows for dialogue.
It was interesting the reactions I received from not only my students, but my co-workers. Many students voiced that they liked my shirt, while others asked questions in regards to what it meant. It opened up beautiful dialogue between myself and the students inside and outside of my classroom.
As for my co-workers, it was interesting how it was primarily the male co-workers who seemed to voice their opinions. They voiced them in a way that one may talk about a child’s artwork. They said things like “that’s cute” or “super rad” (this one was followed by the rock and roll hand gesture), accompanied by awkward smiles or giggles.
Nothing offensive was necessarily said, but the difference in reactions based on gender was significant. The women, both young and old, responded supportively and positively, while the males, specifically the older gentlemen, were uncomfortable and seemed to speak to me more like a child when they addressed the shirt and the conversation that followed.
Wearing the shirt allowed me to see the comfortability people had around the topic. It also showed me the questions and also the understanding my students had for the topic, and the need for it in the classroom. It’s important because having that dialogue now is essential for a variety of reasons, for both genders, and it prevents them from possibly having the same reaction my co-workers did at a later age.
This is me dancing in the shirt. It has nothing to do with this article, except for the fact that I’m wearing the shirt so why not!