the disparity of internet attention between shitty comments made by a&f’s ceo and the garment factory disaster in bangladesh. human deaths in the context of extreme exploitation - less shocking, less rousing.
thank you thank you thank you for saying this. i’ve been feeling like an angry curmudgeon about this over the past week, yelling at my computer screen. here’s an angry (franglais) comment i left on a friend’s post about the “shocking” statement made by the company’s ceo, which is being covered around the world:
FYI Je m’excuse mais je trouve ça surprenant que les gens ne savent pas déjà a quelle point cette companie n’aime rien qui n’est pas blanc, skinny, hétéro, préférablement “Homme.” En plus, they have sold awfully sexist racist t-shirts (whose slurs I won’t repeat) for decades, and issued unapologetic press releases in response to organizations that call them out for it. (2005) They have produced and sold shirts for girls (not women, girls) with slogans like “Who needs brains when you have these?” referring to breasts they do not yet even have. They have had numerous successful lawsuits (2003) proving everything from the fact that they only hired men for managing positions, and discriminated against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women at nearly every level of their hiring practices. And what a surprise, they discriminate against people with disabilities as well (2009). Those are just SOME of the reasons why I don’t understand how people still shop there. (Oh yeah, and they even sued Beyoncé if that’s not enough)
other facts that have boggled my mind:
- the statement by a&f’s ceo that has gotten people so up in arms in early may, 2013? was made in 2006.
- people are talking about this ad nauseum in canada/quebec. there are no abercrombie & fitch stores IN THIS ENTIRE PROVINCE.
- the internet’s response? let’s put the clothes on the least cool people we can think of… homeless people! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.
i seriously wonder, are we at a point where we really believe “plus-size” clothing is/should be accessible to everyone, by every brand, that a statement like his - which if you actually read it, is more about “cool” kids/class privilege than it is necessarily about shaming fat people - is beyond shocking and merits this much outcry? where was your outcry when the company was using racist hiring practices? selling racist and sexist products? why do you give a shit what some old rich white guy says about your body? and from where i stand, why the fuck do you care about a company that doesn’t even sell shit where you live?
why does it get so much traction when just last month, 1,127 workers die (and countless others seriously injured) in a garment factory collapse? when nearly every major brand, sold in every part of the world, uses garment labour from that part of the world?
it simply reminds me of flavia dozan’s words:
“Here’s the problem I have with this neoliberal feminism: they have traded an in depth geopolitical and social analysis involving gender and the position of women in the West in relation to women everywhere else for the promotion of consumer empowerment dressed up as “choice” and career advancement. “Here, improve your chances at success by wearing the garments of your choice!” or “Here, see the latest fashion trends and pretty outfits! Wear this to succeed in your office job”, promoting this aspirational, mind numbingly decontextualized consumerism. The role models of this neoliberalism parading their manuals to better lean in and “having it all” chants as the only kind of gender analysis we are afforded. As women, we should aspire to rule the corporations that caused this death toll; as consumers, we should aspire to close the wage gap that prevents us from buying more “stuff”, with nary a word about how that “stuff” is produced, by whom and under which conditions. And when faced with over a thousand deaths, this neoliberal feminism will induce us to some form of rightful indignation (OMG all these people died! OMG this is terrible! ad infinitum) while obscuring the root causes of this death toll.”
is it easier for people to vilify a brand that doesn’t even market their clothing to you than it is to step back and see the impact of a globalized market? to look at the textile factories that closed down in the 80s and 90s as brands decided paying their workers the least amount of money possible for their work led to the creation of this system? that your demand for the most amount of clothing for the least amount of money may have led to this system?
get your fucking priorities straight.