#PinkNotGreen: A Topshop Disaster

Scarlett Curtis

Columnist & writer Scarlett Curtis recently published her first book ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies)’ - a collection of essays written by women about what feminism means to them.

Penguin, who published Curtis’ book, teamed up with Topshop to promote the book in their store on Oxford Street on the day it was released. In an attempt to get the girls & women who shop there to be exposed to the magic of Feminism, a pop up table was established where passersby could purchase the book & other related items to raise money for the organisation ‘Girl Up. However, mere hours before it was due to open it was dismantled; a decision made by the retailers chairman, Philip Green. The reason behind the decision hasn’t been confirmed, only that it was made shortly after Green had seen it.

Although a spokesperson for Topshop claimed the decision was in no way reflective of their stance on feminism, it is hard to ignore the glaringly obvious. A powerful man made the decision to dismantle a partnership that was supposed to be beneficial for all the girls & women who shop there. As Curtis stated in a tweet;

“It was a heartbreaking and shocking act from a powerful man and a true example of why the words in our book are still so needed. The patriarchy is alive and kicking and our entire team was really shaken by what happened. The fact they clothe entire nation of teenage girls but won’t support something that fights for their equality is awful and heartbreaking.”

It makes me wonder - would this decision have had the same outcome if the chairman was a chairwoman? It feels as though we are constantly being shown reasons why we still need feminism; almost all of which include the misuse of power from powerful men. Why was it his decision to make? How could he deny a platform for equality, of which would benefit 100% of the customers that walk through those doors? After all the hard work put into the project, they were denied the space to raise money & awareness for equality. This is a prime example of the patriarchy attempting to squash our efforts to create a fairer world for all those in it.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink_TOPSHOP

Calling feminism ‘controversial’ in 2018 seems incredibly ignorant. 2018 has seen a resurrection of a modern feminism upgraded from our 60’s sisters. Men are being called out for their actions - so is this some kind of pay back? Is Green throwing his toys out of the metaphorical pram by committing this act? It is undeniable that there are some powerful men who feel threatened by this surge of historical truth that came along with the #metoo & #timesup movement. They feel personally attacked and anxious they might be next. Nervous that his job may be on the line if feminism gets ‘its way’, he made the conscious decision to shut it down before it got to that point. Yet this is only proof that we are actually winning. They may have the power of money, but we have the power of spirit, persistence and anger. No matter how many times the movement gets knocked down, its soldiers stand steadfast in their determination to win.

Although this is a devastating realisation of who our enemies are, we have to do what we always do - and fight harder. Curtis’ book explores the humanity embedded in feminism;

This book is not here to tell you everything you need to know about feminism, it’s here to show you that at the heart of feminism is women. Women who are complex and complicated, who wear make-up and wear pink and laugh and cry and get confused just like you.’

She provides platforms to express the messiness, humanness and reality of the feminism that ties us all together. Feminism is non discriminative. Feminism is inclusive. Feminism is accessible for all. Feminism is done with your patriarchal bullshit that tries to keep us shut in a box. Philip Green, you’ve made a huge mistake. All you’ve done is give us more reasons to fight.

(At the time of writing this, Penguin is currently trying to find a space to host the pop-up and is determined to see this through. Thank you, Penguin)

Article by VERVE Operative & blogger Helena Burton-Jones