Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two Axes to Grind

Two things on my mind this week.  Well, three actually.  First, feeling guilty that I didn't write a blog last week.  It's strange how I have to be motivated, pissed off, or concerned about a topic to cover it here.  Kind of like now that I'm in my 40s, I can't go in the pool unless I am really hot.

So my guilt is now off my chest and I will continue to work on being a human who doesn't feel guilty.

Yesterday I read an email by a colleague about a campaign on campus encouraging students that it's ok not to drink.  Part of the campaign will involve staff and students wearing t-shirts that express this notion.  My colleague asked us to sign-up with our t-shirt size. I called her and asked her what type of t-shirts they were.  She replied "non gendered t-shirts."

First I have to say that this colleague, and dear friend of mine, is most definitely a radical feminist.  I would never question this.  However, I have been someone, over my almost 22 years in higher education, who has become a true hater of the "non gendered t-shirt."  Let's deconstruct this.  These t-shirts, first of all, are NOT non-gendered.  They were designed for men, plain and simple.  If you are a woman with no boobs and no hips, yeah, sure, you can probably look okay in a small or a medium, but if you have a woman's shapely body, in anyway, you're in trouble.  First, the t-shirts are always too long.  If you try to fit one according to length, they probably won't fit your chest, or you'll look like a pancake.  If you try to fit one according to your chest size, it's probably going to look like you're wearing a mini-dress or a mu-mu. 

I'm not sure why a men's t-shirt is somehow considered the "neutral" t-shirt, particularly in student affairs where we buy t-shirts all the time.  All my colleagues think I'm over-the-top, but this is another way, as a society, we expect women to conform to what we think is neutral or normal, like all those gendered words:  freshman, chairman, mankind, etc.

There are so many other examples of this.  Cars.  Cars are made with men's bodies in mind.  There is no place to put your pocketbook.  It comes slamming off the passenger seat if you have to stop suddenly.  Seat belts that aren't adjustable cross by your neck if you are a petite woman.  I'd love to hear more examples of this from my followers.  Even my desk at work is designed for a man.  For me to sit properly at my computer I have to keep my feet on a foot rest because they can't reach the floor.  And I'm not THAT short!

And we buy these men's t-shirts in the name of cost-savings.  We frugal student affairs practitioners say "I can't afford to order two TYPES of t-shirts.  It would be too expensive."  I'm just asking that we think about how what we often call non-gender is really gendered. And as for me, I'll wear a men's t-shirt if only I can re-purpose it to look cute. (Repurpose a men's t-shirt) 

My second Ax to grind is really about AXE Body spray, gel, soap, cologne, or whatever they encourage boys and men to wear.  Their commercials are so sexist they make me want to puke.  The latest one explains that women, I mean, GIRLS, are getting hotter and hotter, which is a world crisis.   There are so many things wrong with this commercial.  First of all, to equate women's attractiveness with a world crisis when there are people being slaughtered in the Middle East is ethnocentric.  Second, they refer to women as girls, which shows they are marketing to a young male market.   And I'm shocked more men are not complaining that not only are these advertisements sexist but that they make men look like idiots and bumbling fools.  Seriously.   Make sure you're not having breakfast or lunch as you watch this.  

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