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Post Info TOPIC: American Apparel Period T-shirt


Mookish Deity Most High

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American Apparel Period T-shirt


I wanted to start a conversation about this because I am having an internal debate with myself as to how I feel about this tshirt.

http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/chatting-with-petra-collins-about-her-menstruating-vagina-shirt  I haven't linked to AA's site but this is an interview with the woman who designed it and shows the tshirt at the top.

So, my basic thoughts are that periods and female masturbation are not/should not be taboo subjects and bringing them out into the realms of the masses helps to open a dialogue.  However, the woman talks about being a feminist and everything yet AA is (from what I've read, not done my own research) a rather anti-feminist/child-models-in-sexual-poses type company.  Is it a bit of a sell your soul moment to get your art into the public domain but by making it something to controversial you can maintain your feminist stance? 

Would it have been better to sell them herself and create the same noise through things like tumblr or whatever the cool kids use to hype something up?  If people want it, they would buy it.  If they don't, it's not going to make a blind bit of difference if it's a huge label like AA or not. 

I think I see "controversial" tshirts as no longer really being a "thing".  Most of the slogans or pictures are now so overdone and mainstream that putting a design on a tshirt is probably going to make me even less likely to bother with it.  (Apart from those creepy rapey Topman tshirts, those were just beyond acceptable). 

Thoughts?



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I love the idea, but I agree it's unfortunate that it's being sold through AA. I wish she'd set up an independent company and got some attention by contacting the media, or at least reached out to a better store, but if possible I'm gonna get my hands on one of these t-shirts because of my own personal beliefs surrounding the vagina/period subject and the fact it's okay to promote one part of a woman's body but consider another to be shameful.

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Honoured Mook

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Hmmm, I'm still not sure what I think, but to be honest, my initial thought was that whilst periods and female masturbation shouldn't be taboo, I don't think genitals belong on a T-shirt. Male or female. I wouldn't like to see a T-shirt with a penis on.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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There's nothing wrong with it,either on an artistic level or as a factual depiction of something natural. However,I think the issue with it is more about it being seen by inappropriate audiences. Say a five-year-old kid sees that worn by someone in the street and asks their mother what it is. How would that scenario play out? If it were a painting in some adults-only art exhibition,you can bet the critics would praise it as a "vivid description of the female condition" or something. There's a time and a place for everything ; I don't think on a t-shirt,for anybody to see it without being asked if they want to see something that explicit or not,is the right place. Same would apply if it were a dude's 'parts',for the same reasons.

Dave.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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See, I'm all for children being aware of body parts (and they wouldn't understand the sexual context at age 5) and natural functions so it's not even so much a "what about the kids" issue for me. People do need to be less uptight about the naked human body and there are ways of explaining things to children without saying "well, dear, it's a line drawing of a menstruating vagina while the woman is masturbating".

Am I uncomfortable about it because women constantly cry out about the patriarchy portraying women as body parts then this feminist goes and does the same thing. There is no body, it's just a couple of body parts with no context.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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^ I agree, (to Gemma and Dave) I don't think it belongs on a t-shirt. Not because female masturbation or periods are taboo.... because there should still be limits. I wouldn't want people walking down the main road naked, I don't want to see naked bits on their clothing either. Something less obvious, I'd be perfectly fine with people having prints of it in their homes, or even it being on notebooks and stuff... Just not on display at what is basically eye level to a child. It depends where and how you wear it, of course, and I don't doubt that mooks would be considerate enough to think before they wear it to a school fundraiser or grandma's birthday party.

I don't really like AA as a company either. Their clothes only really suit one particular body shape, you'd think it would make sense to have at least a couple of things that suit others. And their advertising is frequently just shots of models' arses in leggings.

There are billions of ways to sell your own t-shirt designs, it would have made more sense for the artist to consider them first... but maybe she did. Having a huge brand swoop in and take up your work must take a lot of the cost and stress from your shoulders. We just have to hope she can use the media exposure to promote her own work, or at the very least she doesn't find herself stuck working for major brands and forced to create what they want to sell.

And I hope this trend of wearing offensive things almost for the sake of it (predominantly to get people complaining and to then accuse them of being too sensitive) dies down.

Edited because my computer posts slowly and things moved on...



-- Edited by Angels+Eyeliner on Wednesday 9th of October 2013 06:08:00 PM

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Spikeyfaerie wrote:

See, I'm all for children being aware of body parts (and they wouldn't understand the sexual context at age 5) and natural functions so it's not even so much a "what about the kids" issue for me. People do need to be less uptight about the naked human body and there are ways of explaining things to children without saying "well, dear, it's a line drawing of a menstruating vagina while the woman is masturbating".


Am I uncomfortable about it because women constantly cry out about the patriarchy portraying women as body parts then this feminist goes and does the same thing. There is no body, it's just a couple of body parts with no context.





You're right-once kids get the idea certain things are "dirty" and "not to be talked about",then that's where the trouble starts. What I was getting at was that the t-shirt may cause some parents to have to have conversations with their kids that they haven't prepared for,or didn't feel was appropriate yet. Surprise awkwardness,basically. It's the same reason nudist beaches have signs advising of their existence.

Dave.

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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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I've seen a lot of t-shirts that are a lot worse. Usually by using letters to say something vile.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Because it displays masturbation, it's wandering into the realm of pornography, which is too much if you ask me. And I think it looks very fake-y arts-y and abstract almost on purpose; female genitals make great art but here, I dunno, its ugly and soulless. And call me a prude but I don't see the point of having a vagina on display on your tits!

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I actually really like it. I was expecting something a lot worse when I heard about it. I don't think I'd be brave enough to wear it out because people would probably have a lot to say, but I'd like to own it anyway. Grumble.

I personally think it's very different from how adverts & things (especially AA, actually...) like to take bits of women's bodies. Usually that's awful stuff like using women as tables and just WEIRD stuff that really turns them into objects... To me this is a completely different thing because while it's body parts, it's more about an act/the state of those body parts than it is just saying "here's a vagina." And yeah, it's making a statement.

I quite like the way it looks too :) I see the slightly try-hard artiness but eh, overall I like it. I'm slightly surprised about the negative reactions to be honest. Not that it's a bad thing, we're all different and I like that we can discuss things safely on mooky.

One thing I will say is that I think it might have made a better art print than tshirt. I'd like to go about wearing it at home and in safe spaces, but not in public (generally) and I do think there'll be some folks who'll go "haha vagina haha" and wear it to offend people and be cool and edgy, which is a shame.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I like that we have a few different ideas about this. I agree Payton that it would be a good art print.

Dave, I see what you mean now about kids and questions.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I personally have no issues with the shirt, but as other people have said, perhaps is should be worn selectively, as I don't think society's currently at a point where there'd be no issue with wearing it walking down the street, but perhaps that's what we should be working towards.

I'm also not seeing the issue with it being sold by American Apparel, it's not a company I know too much about, but even if they've had questionable morals in the past (and perhaps continue to), why should that invalidate the message this shirt is trying to get across? Why isn't this being considered a step forward for them? If I was the artist, then I know that I'd want my creations to reach as wide an audience as possible, and to infiltrate mainstream fashion, because isn't that the point? It's all fine and dandy to market a message at people who already understand and agree with the points being made, but surely that limits the impact?

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I agree with what Inky said. I also don't know much about American Apparel, but I don't think that invalidates the message of the shirt.

I definitely think there needs to be less taboo attached to the vulva, vagina and menstruation, but I also think that, as Chris said, the shirt is borderline pornography and so would only be appropriate to select audiences - and, at the same time, it is only a drawing, so perhaps the audiences don't need to be too select. And, I've seen many a t-shirt with photos of breasts on them.

Kind of related, kind of not, but I remember seeing a whole bunch of cocks in a science textbook and deciding to draw a vulva to complement them. The next lesson, I heard, "That's absolutely disgusting, someone's drawn a fucking vagina in the book." When I questioned this person on why it was so disgusting (and screamed at them that it was a vulva, not a vagina), they said, "Cocks are funny, vaginas, vulvas, whatever they are, are disgusting."

I'm sorry this is so incoherent but the female genitalia / period taboo makes me really, really angry. My computer doesn't even fucking recognise 'vulvas' as a word, but it's fine with 'vaginas'.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I also feel the need to point out that the article with the image actually has one of those "yes I am over 18" clickthrough page bollocks thingys...

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Mookish Deity Most High

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skgogosfan wrote:

There's nothing wrong with it,either on an artistic level or as a factual depiction of something natural. However,I think the issue with it is more about it being seen by inappropriate audiences. Say a five-year-old kid sees that worn by someone in the street and asks their mother what it is. How would that scenario play out? If it were a painting in some adults-only art exhibition,you can bet the critics would praise it as a "vivid description of the female condition" or something. There's a time and a place for everything ; I don't think on a t-shirt,for anybody to see it without being asked if they want to see something that explicit or not,is the right place. Same would apply if it were a dude's 'parts',for the same reasons.

Dave.


I agree with Dave, there's a time and a place for everything and that t-shirt could create some very awkward situations. A couple of days ago, a little boy in my class heard the word ''period'' and asked what it was. He asked that question two minutes before the end of the day and I tried to explain it as good as I could in such a short time frame. It was weird and I wish the subject would have come up at a better time. Spikey is right when she says that people need to be less uptight about the naked human body and there are ways of explaining things to children but I really, really don't like the idea of having to explain the naked human body right there on the spot because the lady on the sidewalk is wearing a period/masturbation t-shirt.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Hm. I'd wear it but I wouldn't pay for it. I kind of want to make my own version, maybe a selfie haha. I think I'd redo it as a slightly more detailed line drawing without the coloured nails. I think it could be made more aesthetically pleasing as a piece of art. I am a little bit over the focus on vagina/uterus imagery in feminism though. My friend has a really nice patch on her coat similar to this. It's line drawings of 3 vaginas being rubbed in different ways and it says "love yourself". And kids masturbate at all ages and need to know it's natural. I think it's fine for kids to see and I think it's fine for kids to learn about periods and masturbation and pubes at a young age. Not having conversations about these things is what fucks kids up more. My mum was pretty open about her periods and explained why she had pubes and sometimes blue string coming out when we shared baths when I was very small. When it came to sexual stuff though she was very closed off and I think if there had been as much frank discussion about masturbation and sex when I was little I wouldn't have felt like I was the only one in the world who touched myself and I wouldn't have felt dirty and ashamed every time I did it.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I feel naive because I didn't realise she was masturbating, I thought she was just sort of... Parting the folds so you could see what was what, haha :') I agree with Isaac actually, growing up I felt quite sick and ashamed after masturbating because, due to the silly school stigma of girls 'fingering themselves', I actually did assume it was just me! Kids do need to be educated, and although a shirt may not be the right medium to start the conversation with a child it does highlight some pretty important points.

As for a time and a place- I'd be happy walking about town wearing this t-shirt, mostly because with a skirt and jacket it blends in with the outfit and is less in-your-face, but I probably wouldn't roll up to a nursery in it. Same reason I probably wouldn't stroll in wearing my tiny shorts, stockings and suspenders or my Ann Summers bondage dress- there's nothing wrong with them or wearing them in public, but it probably wouldn't be appropriate in that setting.

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Regular Crew

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I understand the artist wanting to address society's view of female sexuality as a taboo but I'm not sure if this is the right way to go. I'm sure that most people who would feel uncomfortable about that t-shirt would feel the exact same way if it was a naked penis. I don't think it's got anything to do with women's bodies being inherently shameful in this instance. Masturbation is always going to be a taboo subject, otherwise it wouldn't be illegal to do it in public!

But I do agree that there are certain things women are made to feel embarrassed about when they really shouldn't. I for one still get embarrassed buying feminine hygiene products even though I know I shouldn't. What I think would be an interesting campaign would be to see a range of t-shirts emblazoned with famous Tampon brands in a trendy vintage style, like the t-shirts you see in the shops with Coca-Cola or Jack Daniels on them. That might make people uncomfortable but then they would question why, because it's just a brand name like any other, and a brand that they regularly buy and make good use of.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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That is an awesome idea!!!

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