Meet "Matriarchy Now" Founder Chiara Hardy
Chiara Hardy is the woman behind the brand: a 17-year-old student, activist, installation artist, and Capricorn based out of New York City. For the past year, she has been hard at work developing “Matriarchy Now,” selling T-shirts with the slogan ironed on in bold red lettering with an exclamation point afterward, firmly punctuating her demand. The shirts are available pink, blue, black, and white (oh, and she sells stickers, too), so you’re basically spoiled for choice. You’re welcome. Naturally, we also thought it only appropriate to dive deeper with Hardy and hear the sentiment behind “Matriarchy Now”, so that’s exactly what we did. Check the full interview below.
Firstly, as the creator of the brand, how would you define “Matriarchy Now,” and why do you feel it’s so important?
It means something different for everyone, but to me, it embodies a vision for the future, a demand for disruption and a declaration of power. Matriarchy Now is about changing/disrupting the predominantly hierarchical and patriarchal systems that we live in, and yes, I am wholly aware of the broadness of this claim. In its entirety, the demand for a matriarchy is a demand for the end of systemic violence of all kinds that are upheld by patriarchy. The literal definition of Matriarchy is part of the meaning that Matriarchy Now takes on, but Matriarchy Now aims to repurpose that definition into something greater. It’s a vision for a future in which women in positions of power uplift and change our society, because “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I think something people don’t get is the very simple thing that women’s rights are good for everyone. This perception that has really overshadowed a lot of the movement exists in the idea that when you empower women, you oppress men, and that just isn’t true.
What inspired you to put that slogan on a shirt?
The statement was born out of a time of great unrest at my school and it served as a kind of unifying badge of solidarity. At that time the term ‘Matriarchy Now’ was rooted in the overwhelming frustration of boys and men committing acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, and consistently being supported by the governing systems that are meant to protect all of the members of our community, not shield those that make it unsafe. I was acting as a facilitator by ordering and supplying the shirts, and as they gained more exposure, an incredible amount of people outside of our direct community resonated with it and wanted to take part–so, I started selling them online. The community of women and especially women of color who were fighting against the administration for days on end was an incredible moment of protest and I feel like they are the true embodiment of what Matriarchy is.
When you initially released the shirt, who was buying them and what sort of reactions were you getting? Were they the reactions you had been hoping for?
There was definitely resistance towards it from both men and women who thought ‘Matriarchy Now’ was encouraging misandry and oppressing men. There is also a level of insecurity, I think, for women who fear it threatens their femininity and don’t want to emasculate their male counterparts by taking on this powerful position. But for the most part, the response was overwhelmingly positive. I had so many people reaching out and wanting to take part in it. I think initially it can be quite scary to wear the shirt because it can feel threatening and can be easily misconstrued– many of my friends have been confronted for being sexist while wearing it– but after a while, it is quite exhilarating to make such a strong claim for what you believe.
When I wear my Matriarchy Now shirt, I’ll occasionally get in a conversation with somebody (typically a man) who says that by wearing the shirt I’m advertising an unfair hierarchy that excludes men from the equation entirely. What do you have to say to the people who would call a brand like Matriarchy Now “exclusive” or “sexist.”
Again, I think it is easy to misunderstand for both men and women. There are many people who see it and immediately identify with the message while others are quite disturbed by it. For the latter group, I think the best way to explain it is that a matriarchal society seeks to empower people and to form strong and interconnected communities. It is not the same model as patriarchy instead with women who oppress men, it is a proposition for a new way of thinking and governing that departs from creating hierarchies. It is also a declaration of your own power and a demand for that power to be respected.
What do you have planned for Matriarchy Now?
The future of Matriarchy Now is bright and bountiful. I am so excited about all of the different direction that it could go, but in its more direct future, I am in the works of producing organic cotton underwear with a discreet condom pocket to promote womyn taking control of their sexual health and safety. Ultimately I want to create a matriarchy, full of people that come together and share their skills and knowledge and love with each other– a community that has a space and a platform to project positivity, creativity and social change. A community for people to feel safe and to learn and to get uncomfortable. Ultimately as the brand grows, I will create a grant program with a percentage of the profits that will be awarded to young entrepreneurs to help them get off their feet. I was in a very fortunate position to have been able to fund the beginnings of this project and I want to give that same thing to other young people who have exciting ideas too. I have a lot of aspirations for what Matriarchy Now can turn into. As of right now, I’ve pretty much been doing it on my own and I want to start working with more people to make the Matriarchy into a reality.
Stay tuned to Milk for more female badassery.