If you want to subjugate women and violate their rights and their bodies, use religion. Nothing can ever justify selling a harmless Topman T-shirt making fun of ugly women, though.
As you might expect from neurotic members of the Great British public whose lives (if they can be described as that) revolve around desperately seeking the slightest trigger for their OOD (Obsessive Offensive Disorder), this has caused a level of outrage falling just short of a diplomatic incident in terms of severity. The effect and significance of this outrage has been generously increased and distorted by social media, and Topman has withdrawn the T-shirt.
A cynic might suggest that the whole exercise was meticulously orchestrated and engineered by the retailer itself for publicity, but even that would be quite telling because it shows that the frenzied taking of mass offence is almost part of our culture now.
I would rather people take offence at things worth taking offence over, where actual rights of actual people are infringed, such as the issue of Sharia law.
There has been a feminist dimension to some of the criticism of Topman’s T-shirt/publicity stunt: the claim that these T-shirts are misogynistic. You would expect these modern-day boulder-holder-burners to be equally vocal, and ideally more so, when it comes to something like Sharia law, and of course many of them are. But other women, including some who would describe themselves as feminists, will tell you that Sharia law:
“has to be viewed in the context of a particular culture”.
For those of you who are not totally fluent in relativist bullshit or who just find it difficult to follow, let me run that through DR. ABBOTT ® for you (a piece of software I developed myself: De-Relativising And Bullshit-Busting Online Translation Tool):
“The rights of these women have been infringed for a long time now. Therefore those rights must continue to be infringed in the future because that is clearly the culture of these women. Once a beaten woman, always a beaten woman.”
Sharia law does have to be viewed in one context and in one context only: in the context of the victims being human beings with the same human rights as me, you and our own families. Would you want your daughter to be subject to Sharia law? Why not? You’re not suggesting it’s a defective, barbaric legal system, are you? Hey, maybe you’re a racist? SOMEONE CALL SECURITY OR TREVOR PHILLIPS.
Even the daddy of Feminism, Germaine Greer, has said that female genital mutilation has to be viewed in the context of a particular culture. Figure that one out. If I were a woman and that was the best that Feminism had to offer, I reckon I would gladly take my chances with chauvinism and misogyny; they would probably be a welcome relief.
People have the right to get offended or not as they see fit, and if they want to use powerful and useful tools like social media for such a lame purpose as criticising an unfunny but completely harmless T-shirt then that’s their choice. I just think it’s a shame not to use those tools for more noble pursuits.
And how noble a pursuit those tools can indeed can be used for, as anyone watching the BBC’s excellent programme, How Facebook Changed the World: The Arab Spring would have seen.
Maybe the majority of people in this country simply take freedom for granted and assume “Mission Freedom” was accomplished a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It is said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and I say it is also eternal education for the benefit of those who have freedom by those who do not have it and who have to fight for it – whether it’s Arab Spring revolutionaries or inspiring individuals like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Oh, if you’re a bloke whose precious male pride has been mortally wounded by the suggestion on a crap Topman T-shirt that you have an ugly girlfriend, then poor you, because you probably have an ugly girlfriend. The more fuss you make of it, the more likely your girlfriend will suspect you consider her ugly.