The Foschini Debacle and some silly feminists

As per the usual Twitter ‘shitstorm in an egg cup’, today offers up the debate of Tasteless Tshirts offered by Foschini. If you read the comments below, it only reminds me that I am very, very glad to have left university.

Friend Thomas has adopted a life philosophy that makes perfect sense: ‘haters gonna hate’. Once I realised that he has a pretty good point, I realised that the best thing I could really do in my life is be a good example. I like to hope that when people say things like ‘atheists are horrible people’, others will say, ‘actually, all the atheists I know are good’ based on positive interactions. The same goes for feminism or vegetarianism or cheese-making or whatever belief system everyone wants to follow.

While I can see how the t-shirts might be offensive, I don’t think it helps anyone (and least of all the feminists) by calling for a company boycott. I mean, people’s jobs depend on those stores, whether it is the store manager or the cleaner or the cashier. It seems a bit childish to put someone out of work over an admittedly ridiculous shirt. If some sad idiot wants to wear it and advertise his inability to think further than his next porn download, then let him. Let him advertise his unsuitability and perhaps he will contemplate his shirt further. But when I think about how people have threatened to boycott my company at a time when we’ve already let go of a lot of staff (thanks, mitigating factors) over something as fucking stupid as keeping Playboy, then this all rings rather hollow to me.

(And Playboy is much less of an enemy to women than Cosmopolitan, I assure you.)

So, it is a little bit embarrassing sometimes when other feminists do things like this, but that’s up to them. We’re a big family in a way, and sometimes family does embarrassing things. I’m still a feminist (there isn’t really a better term yet) and while I might not agree with what the others say, I support their right to say it. I believe that people should be able to say what they feel is important as long as it isn’t hate speech. It might not be comfortable but if it needs to be said, then huzzah. Perhaps Foschini should have thought a little harder before they made the shirts, but perhaps we can direct this energy elsewhere. I know picking on the stores is easy but perhaps we need to consider that sometimes an opinion isn’t worth an innocent bystander losing their job. Thankfully this shouldn’t grow to the kind of level where people will lose jobs (I hope!) because its just a couple hundred people.

Still, I think it would sour the whole point if the cleaning lady lost her job because some other women were threatened by a t-shirt.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen Thorpe says:

    Is the preferred option to ignore things that are sexist in the hopes that nobody will take them seriously?

    1. Zo says:

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree that the t-shirts are misogynist (especially the revolting STD one!) but there’s a line between bringing attention to them and calling for a boycott that might impact the livelihoods of others who had nothing to do with the decision one buyer made. The shirts have been pulled and hopefully Foschini has learned their lesson. But there are tons of offensive shirts out there and I don’t like the idea of feminists being seen as the clothes nazis, especially when we’ve been ordered to wear certain things for so long. Its not an easy issue and there’s no clear-cut methodology but I do not believe that boycotts are the answer. Social media is definitely a powerful tool, and a wonderful one for us since it cannot be clamped down so easily, and that seems to have done the trick.

  2. Clea says:

    I am pleased the t-shirts have been pulled, as promoting such beliefs (paticularly in such slippery and ubiquitous public discourse) only entrenches them further in the subliminal areas of our minds. but I agree that boycotting the store is over-reacting. Finally, the beliefs of the cheese-makers…heeheehee!

  3. Darryl "Nega - Ninja" Fleming says:

    Just looked at the shirts now. To me some of them seem funny. I don’t really take them seriously. I’ve been to dozens of comedy shows that rip on virtually everything and all they do is mock silly aspects of society.

    The first shirt there actually makes a good point and really rips into something that should be mocked. Biologically we are driven to mate with those who have resources, unfortunately based on sensory and intellectual deficiencies we sometimes are driven to those who only *appear* to have resources. If I was wearing a shirt it would be mocking the guys who adopt this strategy and mocking the girls who believe them. It’s a simple equation that all girls should recognize that wealth does not equal love. You should be more skeptical of a richer lover. In the same way a man should be more skeptical if a beautiful women was hitting on him when he’s at the front of a long queue, does she really ❤ him? Is she really interested?

    The second shirt is meh. It's not really clever at all. If someone wore that I would think they're an idiot and if they were my friend I would tell them so.

    The third shirt is funny. The main reason why I laughed is because I've seen so many of those stupid lovey dubby things like, "If I could re-arrange the alphabet I would put u and I together" (WINK SMILEY FACE HEART). This shirt clearly rips on that. I don't hate the lovey dubby stuff but I sure love watching it getting mocked. In fact when I looked back at it I realized that there are no gender specifications on the shirt(although it has been placed in the mens section) so it could be equally worn by a girl or guy.

    The fourth shirt is also a resounding meh. I don't feel it's really that clever or mocks anything that much :/. Again you're an idiot if you think this shirt is cool.

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