“The Future Is Female,” a phrase that has dotted a lot of mainstream feminist arguments in recent years, has become representative of many different ideologies, depending on who you talk to. The alliterative reference speaks to a sort of inevitable feminist utopia — a rejiggering of gender dynamics and power that we’re all hurtling toward — but also of women’s increasing professional prowess, resources, and ingenuity. I’ve heard the phrase used in reference to changes in rape culture, in wielding of political influence, in praise of women’s presence in corporate America and growing entrepreneurial acumen. I’ve also heard it used in reference to projections and statistics about how the world is shifting in “our” favor, like some women eventually owning two-thirds of private wealth.
Somewhat analogous to “pro-woman” rhetoric, “the future is female” has unfortunately swelled to encompass anything and everything remotely female and positive.
How this phrasing came to represent so much mirrors how it came into the mainstream in the first place. According to Google, the first noted spike in public interest in “the future is female” arose in 2015, after queer public figures like singer St. Vincent and her then-partner Cara Delevingne started wearing apparel with the phrase. It peaked in early 2017 around the time Hillary Clinton used it in her first public appearance after Trump’s inauguration. And most tellingly, the top searches were all about products, like “the future is female shirt,” “future is female sweatshirt.
What Was the “Nasty Woman”?
A writer digs up an old t-shirt from the 2016 election that feels like a relic from another civilization
It didn’t originate this way. “The future is female” has a deeply radical history that begins with lesbian separatists. How a lesbian separatist “call to arms” ended up on a Nordstrom clothing rack and came to embody everything from shameless capitalist ascension to Instagram hashtags is the perfect case study in white feminism.