UK Prime Minister David Cameron is being criticized after refusing to wear a t-shirt promoting feminism. Elle magazine asked Cameron to wear a t-shirt with the slogan ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ for its feminism issue. Celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch, and high-profile UK politicians–including Cameron’s Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Opposition leader Ed Miliband--have been photographed wearing it. Cameron declined. Lorraine Candy, editor-in-chief of Elle, said “I was personally disappointed that we couldn’t feature Mr. Cameron in our feminism issue because it is Elle’s aim to engage with men in the fight for equality: because of parliament’s current gender imbalance, it is men who have the power to make changes in every area of British women’s lives. When the man in charge doesn’t engage, it doesn’t bode well. Given the huge international male support for the UN women’s #HeForShe campaign, it does rather make our prime minister look like the odd one out.”
While many online commentators have been critical of Cameron’s decision, others think that he did the right thing. “I’m glad David Cameron said no to wearing the Elle t-shirt. I really don’t want the Prime Minister to wear slogan t-shirts for publicity,” reads one tweet. “He’s the Prime Minister not a top-shop model,” reads another. Others think the idea of Cameron wearing the t-shirt would be hypocritical. One tweet reads “Prime minister responsible for policies actively damaging to women refuses to wear feminist t-shirt for women’s magazine. *massive shrug*” As for Nick Clegg choosing to wear it, one comment questions if that is such a good thing. “The fact that Clegg is wearing the t shirt for ELLE’s feminist issue makes him marginally less of a tool than Dave- NOT a feminist.” This is not the first time that Cameron has come under fire over women’s issues. In 2011 he was criticized after telling the Labour MP Angela Eagle to “calm down dear” during a debate in the House of Commons, and when Red Magazine asked him if he thought he was a feminist, he gave a wishy-washy response. “I don’t know what I’d call myself … it’s up to others to attach labels. But I believe men and women should be treated equally.” Is this latest incident a serious political misstep or just storm in a t-shirt?