Via (read ahead before clicking through) Melinda Tankard Reist, via @The_Ausmerican, Australian men’s fashion company Roger David are selling some rather horrific and misogynistic t-shirts. The information I’ve found has been unclear, but these appear to be available through a line, or in association with a label, called “Blood is the New Black”.
I’m not going to show you what the t-shirts look like on here, you can click through to Melinda Tankard Reist’s site if you want to do that. I’ll briefly describe them, though, so if you’re not inclined to hear about it, skip ahead to the next paragraph. The Annie Hollywood t-shirt features a gagged woman; the text on the gag reads ‘Hollywood’. She looks tired and bleak and defeated. The second t-shirt features, in black and white, two women posing in their underwear. One is grabbing her crotch, the other her bare breasts. There is one large black strip placed over both their eyes, as though obscuring (in this case, forcing them out of) their identities. Both t-shirts are quite jolting.
Every time I see something like this, I wonder how anyone can stomach putting such products on the market. They are putting women’s images and women’s experiences of violence, abuse and objectification up for sale. As though it’s stylish. I think about the large number of people who must have had to design and approve these t-shirts. I think about how a marketing team must have seen fit to send them out to the general public, because they knew lots of people would buy them. The thing is, these are not abstract fashion statements. They’re statements about how it’s acceptable to harm women.
The horror of this is in more than just the commodification of violence against women. It’s not just about the buying and selling of images, symbols of women’s oppression. It’s about the survivors of violence having to endure these t-shirts being thrust in their faces when they walk down the street, at a party, going about their everyday lives. The horror in this is in forcing on these women reminders of their assaults and that their experiences and feelings are just fine to use and make a profit from, so void of emotional hardship as to be suitable fodder for an up-market fashion chain.
There is a contact form on Roger David’s (rather unnavigable, I’m afraid) website which you can use to let them know what you think. A warning: the first t-shirt features as you load the page. Curiously – though it may be the website design – I can’t seem to locate the second t-shirt on the website itself, and the first one only features in the page design rather than in the collection sections. However, it’s been my experience that a company will take offending products off a website and continue to sell them in stores, at least for a time; to the best of my knowledge, Roger David have yet to withdraw the t-shirts from stores. In any case, in addition to the contact form on the website, Roger David has a Facebook page, in case you wish to contact them through there. (It seems that the t-shirts were on the Facebook page and have been taken down.) Feel free to take wording from this post when you write to them.
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