Why PacSun’s Visual T-Shirt Line Should Offend You Too

Why does outrage about sexual objectification coming from a conservative woman have to be labeled as censorship?

Yesterday a story spread across the Internet about a mother who was so offended by the explicit nature of a new line of T-shirts at popular retailer PacSun that she bought every inappropriate T-shirt in the store to keep them off the shelves. This woman from Utah, called a “conservative” and a “Christian” by different news sources, became a nationwide source of laughter and finger-pointing for trying to prevent the sale of what she considered “pornographic” material.

I stumbled across the article originally on Buzzfeed, which tends to have a liberal bias, and then found another article mocking the woman on Jezebel.

Jezebel stated:

A mother in Utah was so offended by “indecent” t-shirts sold at a local PacSun, she did what any sane, rational person would do—she spent almost $600 to buy all of them up so they wouldn’t be able to corrupt the young, impressionable, God-fearing Christian youths who shop on the regular at PacSun.

Just last month Jezebel ran an article criticizing Urban Outfitters for misappropriating Native American culture for profit and selling greeting cards with gay jokes. Jezebel, which claims to be a blog about “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing,” as well as other liberal news sources out there who are bashing this woman for her conservative values, should maybe take a step back and consider the fact that we should all find PacSun’s new line of T-shirts offensive.

Now, I may not agree with her protest method. I tend to believe that using my purchasing power by not buying products I disagree with is more powerful. However, this line, called Visual, has a number of T-shirts printed with innocuous pictures of planes and skylines scattered between design after design with women in bras and panties, even pictures that solely feature women’s butts and thighs.

Thanks Jezebel and the media for your utter blindness to the fact this woman is pointing out yet another blaring instance of sexual objectification of women and the commoditization of our bodies. How about instead of painting this woman as an idiot foolishly promoting her conservative values, we recognize her as a woman who is also outraged that all of us and our children are constantly surrounded by advertising and products that degrade woman and reduce them to a picture of their breasts or butt that will now be worn as clothing like it’s no big deal?

The mother from Utah, Judy Cox, said to the Associated Press:

“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall.”

Yes. Yes. Yes! This woman isn’t trying to shut down the porn industry or censor the “f-word” out of an indie film. She is saying that there is something wrong with wearing a woman’s body as a T-shirt. She is saying that we are constantly surrounded by a culture that uses women’s bodies as a way to sell a product or make a statement instead of treating them like they are a part of an entire human.

Why does outrage about sexual objectification coming from a conservative woman have to be labelled as censorship? Conservative women and liberal women are affected by sexual objectification alike, as demonstrated in the 2008 election coverage of both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, which focused heavily on their appearance and their sex appeal. 

Every woman has a stake in fighting sexual objectification. Every woman has a right to protest our bodies being used as a way to sell T-shirts. Tell me, liberal or conservative, if you were a woman who met a man at a bar wearing this, would you not feel uncomfortable and objectified?

Judy Cox: I am a progressive, liberal woman and I am offended too. My body is not a way to sell T-shirts.

Rachael Watkins is a Southerner, an occasional blogger and an advocate for women’s equality. Find her on Facebook or twitter.

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