November 03, 2005

But Officer, They're Two Brains!

Cross-posted from American Princess.

Known for their always-classy fashion suggestions, Abercrombie and Fitch is taking a step toward encouraging further decorous behavior. According to a fun little girl group out in Pennsylvania, Abercrombie is taking the "wear your attitude on your chest" one step further: by allowing you to advertise the purpose of your chest.

Fashion made a statement Friday. A group of Pennsylvania teenagers is calling for a boycott of Abercrombie and Fitch.

They are angry about the company's tee shirts with slogans. They say are degrading to women.

In Illinois, State Senator Steve Rauschenberger said today he will introduce a resolution on the Senate floor later this week asking Abercrombie and Fitch to stop selling a line of in Illinois.

The shirt sayeth "Who Needs A Brain When You've Got These" or something like that. Sure its offensive to women. Sure its ridiculous, and sure its stupid. Merely referencing this idea is just plain ridiculous. We have come so far in our quest for female equality, and Abercrombie and Fitch is holding us back with these sexist and degrading tee shirts. We should girlcott them!!

Wait! What am I talking about! "Girlcott"? Isn't that a lot like replacing "semester" with "ovester" as "semester" shows a blantant favoritism to males? Okay, kidding aside, I find this tee shirt is not only fine, I find it acceptable. Not under my own standard, but on the same feminist standard that's leading this "Women and Girls Foundation" to boycott the tee shirt in the first place.

Lets get two things out of the way. This tee shirt is stupid, as are most tee shirts that are sold at Abercrombie and Fitch. Do you really believe that its healthy to wear a shirt that says "If at First You Don't Succeed Try Buying Me Diamonds" or "Anatomy Tutor" or that the slogan is going to get you a date with anyone other than a drunk frat boy? You probably don't have much of a right to (or much of a self-image). And if you do, and you do purchase this tee shirt for any other purpose than to make a political statement, you're an idiot.

But that said, Abercrombie and Fitch isn't committing a crime by designing and marketing tee shirts with slutty slogans: its doing exactly what it should be doing. Catering to its demographic and providing them with exactly what they appear to want. In other words, the people are buying, so Abercrombie keeps selling. They are doing what every successful business has done throughout eternity: giving the people what they want.

The question these girls should be asking isn't "why is Abercrombie selling this crap?" but rather "why are girls buying this crap?" Lets face it, if the attitude wasn't culturally prevalent, these tee shirts would disappear off the shelves faster than last years Juicy at a Loehmann's clearance sale. If people didn't want this stuff, JCPenny wouldn't be carrying tee shirts that say, "Trix are for Kids!," "Hot Stuff" and "Sleep with Me, I Beg You!" Okay, so I made the last one up, but lets face it, you've seen it before with a different translation. The question these girls should be asking is, at what point did women's equality start requiring women to be sexually promiscuous? At what point did the prevailing female role model stop being Susan B. Anthony and start being Jenna Jameson?

At what point did being a modern woman start meaning I had to be a slut? And not in a good way, either.

Maureen Dowd (ugh, can't believe I am about to do this) makes my point:

Before it curdled into a collection of stereotypes, feminism had fleetingly held out a promise that there would be some precincts of womanly life that were not all about men. But it never quite materialized.

It took only a few decades to create a brazen new world where the highest ideal is to acknowledge your inner slut. I am woman; see me strip. Instead of peaceful havens of girl things and boy things, we have a society where women of all ages are striving to become self-actualized sex kittens. Hollywood actresses now work out by taking pole-dancing classes.

A lot of women now want to be Maxim babes as much as men want Maxim babes. So women have moved from fighting objectification to seeking it.

No matter how its justified, its true. Although Ms. Dowd insists that this is some form of retaliation against the no-bra Seventies sisters, and unshaved armpits (which don't even look good on the French), I prefer to believe that this is not a reaction to feminism, but a symptom of feminism. What started as a quest for equality has morphed into a self-centric individualistic theory that has stolen women's feminine nature along with their souls.

Radical feminsim was never intended to be nice: it was intended to be militaristic, and successful. Women were nice and that was the problem: content to be dominated, and be mothers (the latter probably viewed as the more foul), women had wasted away their best years keeping house while their male counterparts cavorted around, earning real money, and having real sex. The radical feminists viewed this as two separate problems: first money, then sex. Money was easy. Once women hit the work force in record numbers, the pay gap closed. The education gap closed. Power suits and Cheif Executive Officers defined the image of the new woman, and ushered in an era of Yuppism and greed-centric personality disorders.

But even equality on paper is not enough. No matter how "equal" you become in the statistical realm, you can lag far behind in the area of genetailia. No matter what a woman wears, or how many people she bosses around, the end result is the same: she's still a woman, even if she's recognizable only by a DNA test. According to radical feminism, the differences between the sexes weren't a gift, and they certainly weren't indicative of any fundamental differences, just of gender-assigned roles. Sex, they determined, had to change. From now on, feminism was no longer about being equal to men, it was about being men. And being a man meant thinking like them.

Gone were the days of sexual decency, since the men that harmed women the most practiced sexual deviancy. Gone were the days of sex as an act of sharing, since the men women hated the most viewed sex as the reproductive equivalent of burping. Sex became a bodily function, merely for pleasure, and when sex becomes recreational, sex becomes individualistic, and in time, pornographic, because sex became all about me: where women were commodified and exploited there needed to be ownership, instead. Suddenly, being empowered means being crude: where women once saw objectification, they now see inspiration. Confidence no longer meana taking the entrance exam to Harvard Medical School--it's measured by how many Girls Gone Wild videos you appeared in, how many martinis you can drink before that guy two stools down looks good enough for a one-night stand, and then how many of those you've had in your life. Why? Because feminism became all about me, and about wielding the power that we all assumed that men had. And we complained about men who thought that way.

Witness the birth of feminine "independence:" sex was the power that men wielded over women, so with a perverse form of penis envy clouding their vision, women decided to use sex as power, too. The result? Well, Abercrombie and Fitch can attest to that.

Women, in the end, despite all of the power lunches, flex time, and opportunity, just want to be women. Wasn't the real objective of the women's movement to give us just that--a choice, an option, the ability to follow our hearts and our dreams without fear of glass ceilings and degredation. The point of equality is choice: the choice to be and do without fear, Its what Barbie has told me since I was five: Girls can do anything.

When Barbie said that, I hardly think that she was indicating the positions in the Kama Sutra. More likely, she was indicating that I had all kinds of abilities, and I had all kinds of rights to follow those abilities to success. If I want to be a lawyer, I can be a lawyer. If I want to be a mommy, I can be a mommy. Either way, I've chosen a noble profession and more importantly, I've chosen the vocation to which I'm called--the vocation that I wanted.

But there is no forgetting, simply because I happen to have the choice of a million jobs, doesn't mean that I'm a man, and it doesn't mean that I want to be. Aside from all of that annoying scratching and the amazing preoccupation with the remote control, there are other qualities that are undesirable about being a man, mostly that I was born a woman, I like woman things, I have woman traits. No matter how masculine I dress, I still have the natural inclination to nurture. I can still multitask better. And there's nothing wrong with celebrating that.

The problem is that women don't know how to do that. What women have been thrown is Sex and the City, Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls. What they reaped is despair, self-hatred and self-destruction without really understanding why. There's no mistaking the feeling of waking up to an empty bed that was occupied the night before, knowing he'll never call you again. There's no ignoring the eating disorders, cutting and psychological problems that plague my generation. This is not happiness, clearly. If anything, its hopelessness.

Fashion magazines are showcasing frilly skirts, pearls, and Claire's is selling cutesy aprons and dishgloves. Its not so bad to be a Desperate Housewife anymore. Is this indicitive of a change? Maybe, but its not a huge change: the dishgloves are probably a joke, and a lot of this is marketed as playing to male fantasy. Even DH is a pretty decently bubbly soap opera. But what it is is an indication that femininty is not dead.

Being a porn star is a job, and a bad job. Its an imitation of life, and a bad imitation. Its not empowerment and its certainly not womanly.

And its about time it ended.

Posted by E. M. Zanotti at November 3, 2005 10:32 AM

Back to the T-Shirt issue: T-shirts are a form of Advertising. If a person is wearing a stupid or offensive T-shirt, then the public should be glad that we have an opportunity to know who the idiots (or worse) are, without ever having to speak or otherwise deal with them.

The same goes for drivers of cars with stupid or offensive bumperstickers. Sort of a "Heads up! I'm a Jerk!" signal.

My solution is to let them buy and use them. At least I know who they are when I see them.

Posted by: pb at November 3, 2005 02:48 PM

That is quite a post. I agree with every word of it.

Posted by: Barbara at November 3, 2005 07:38 PM

Dowd made your point... even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at November 4, 2005 12:16 PM

what concerns me is the resultant sexual aggressiveness of young girls. my mom and dad were cautious about who i dated and how i was treated by boys and how young ladies behave. they feared for their daughters. as a mom of an 11 year old boy i have those same feelings about him. when i taught in a jr. high i saw lots of girls putting their hands and rubbing up against boys. they are sensual flirts these days and i'm sure the phone calls will start pretty soon. kids are surrounded with sexuality whereever they go, particularly on tv, the movies, seventeen magazine, and the grocery checkout stands. more and more kids are sharing their homes with mom's boyfriends and one night stands. it's no wonder the girls are ramping up the sexuality. it's scary.

Posted by: sue ellen at November 4, 2005 03:27 PM

But what do the porn stars have to say about all this? Arn't their views as important as Ms Dowd's?

Porn stars are getting a bad rap, if you ask me.

Posted by: Carl W. Goss at November 5, 2005 12:06 PM

Don't like it, don't buy it. If they don't sell enough, they'll find something else to market.

And the girl wearing it in the ad needs brains, "those" weren't enough to keep my attention.

Posted by: crazy politico at November 6, 2005 05:42 PM