Nothing to buy. Not yet.

[As one speaker said today, “Pretty much all the games today are the same five games in different packaging.”]

I have an Xbox 360. I want to buy more games. I mainly play sports (basketball and baseball) games and I have little interest in shooters with more guns, more blood and guts. I was perusing Amazon and I came to this conclusion: Jesus H there is nothing to buy. I thought Left 4 Dead would be fun but viewing the actual gameplay made it look like CounterStrike with a zombie skin (and since when do zombies leap like the Hulk?). And I didn’t think it’d be possible, but it might be worse than Dead Rising.

But luckily, there is reason to not be so pessimistic after I went to IndieCade’s exhibit/forum/workshop at Open Satellite in Bellevue, Washington yesterday. I went with my Little Broham which meant we weren’t there for very long (he forgot to have breakfast so he had little attention span or energy left after 90 minutes or so) but it was nice to check out some of the more artistic/innovative games that aren’t rehashes of stuff we’ve seen for years and years (because seriously, how many shooters and RPG games (new story!) can people make?) and aren’t meant to be The Game that you play for 80 hours. Merci Grace from GameLayers was there and she spoke about getting into the industry, securing funding and about her team’s upcoming game PMOG. It was interesting to hear about the creative process and how you don’t necessarily have to know all the code in the world (though it does help) to be a part of a creative team. I kinda wished I was still in college so I could maybe try and join in on the video game design fun.

This event/forum/exhibition was hosted by a volunteer that I work with and since it was a cool and kid/teen friendly environment, we mass emailed it out to all of our volunteer mentors. I didn’t stay for the entire thing and some might’ve gone to the later dates, but I was a little disappointed that we were the only match there. Specifically, I was hoping that a few Big Sister/Little Sister matches would’ve shown up because it would’ve been particularly great for them to see and talk to Grace because as we all know, kids (and society in general) still see video games and those behind them as a Boy’s Club.

For male gamers and readers, something embarrassing

The backstory: Assassin’s Creed is one of the most anticipated games of the year. When Yahoo! is talking about your game on the front-page, you know the buzz is pretty significant. The producer for this game is Jade Raymond who, like the lead-producer of every other game created in the modern age, gives a good portion of the interviews with the press. That is, if you’re a producer of a game and you’re noticeably articulate, you’re the one talking about it, you don’t tell the advertising executive or the intern to do that. As the game is being released, a comic/drawing surfaces, most infamously on the Something Awful forums depicting Jade performing fellatio on male fanboys (not to be confused with the photoshopped nude photos of Jade that are floating around). This comic is seen and shared by members of the SA forums at which point Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka of SA receives a cease and desist/threat of lawsuit letter from the legal representation of Ubisoft telling them to shut it all down and to let them know everything about where they get the image, who drew it, etc. At this point, the story becomes popular outside of SA and other blogs start picking it up, forming their own opinions (yes, just like me and just like this one). The story appears on digg and with it a rash of the most sexist comments (and some countering the sexist comments) appear.

The fact that someone felt the need to draw a pornographic comic of Jade Raymond is in itself is pretty disturbing. But what’s also mind-numbing is the consequent backlash you read from the blogosphere because Ubisoft dropped the hammer on SA. Reading some of the comments on SA, on digg and you start to see a trend. Most notably, the criticisms of Jade and Ubisoft go something like this:

1. It’s just a drawing. You made it a bigger deal than it was. By you making the lawsuit you just drew more attention to it so now more people know about it.
-Actually, no, I think it was SA who posted it on Digg saying that they were being contacted the attorney from Ubisoft so in fact they brought it to the public. It seems like Ubisoft wanted to keep this matter under wraps but Kyanka wanted to appeal to the public and get sympathy from the digg community (which, sadly enough, he actually seems to be getting). But getting back to the larger point, if someone draws something unbelievably offensive about you, you’re supposed to just ignore it? Brush it under the rug? Isn’t this what we tell women who get sexually harassed at work? “You don’t want to cause a fuss, it’s just going to take forever to fix it anyways to better to just ignore it.” If you ignore it then it implies that they don’t think it’s offensive. Ubisoft is doing what any employer should do when one of their own gets attacked like this: you stick up for your staff. Ubisoft is doing the right thing.

2. She’s just a pretty face who Ubisoft is using to “pimp” the product. She deserves what she’s getting because she’s just a show model for the game.
-Now, I didn’t think anyone would really be this stupid to actually say this publicly but alas, I am proven wrong again.

Quick history lesson. In prehistoric times, pretty cavegirls with cleavage hanging out sold rocks and sticks to horny cavemen. Sex sells. It’s always been that way and will never change. Everyone knows that. So when Ubisoft started pimping Assassin’s Creed, released this week for Xbox360 and PS3, they made pretty girl/producer Jade Raymond the poster child for the game. Whether or not she’s qualified to represent the game, or really had any involvement with its development is besides the point. To the jaded videogame nerd, she’s a set of breasts saying “Buy my game!”

It’s “besides the point”? Really? How is that besides the point? I think it very much is the point. If Ubisoft hired Jade Raymond and sold her as the “producer” and she has no experience or education whatsoever, then of course she’s there as a spokesperson, but Jesus H. Christ, look up her biography, she actually studied this shit as some people have figured out already. How are you going to dismiss the fact that this is what she does for a living? Have you seen one single interview of her talking about the game? There’s an obvious difference between a producer talking about a game and a spokesperson talking about a game and she very obviously is the former.

3. “That a surprise..Jade will act slutty to sell her game but can’t deal with the consequences of that.”
-Now, I haven’t been following this game obsessively since conception to release but since the story of this comic broke out i’ve been watching clips, interviews, reading stories, etc and i’m really struggling to see where this person gets where Jade acts “slutty.” She doesn’t pose for Playboy or Maxim, she doesn’t take “sexy” photographs (I mention these things becase they’re usually seen as indicators of one being “slutty”). I honestly think that his perception of “slutty” is Jade merely being in a stereotypically male-dominated space and simply being a woman, being attractive and having pictures of herself online where she’s smiling and looking happy and actually being confident, intelligent and articulate.

I can’t begin to imagine how something like this has to make a person feel after all the hard work they’ve put into something like this. After all the crap that she’s probably already gotten on the daily as a woman in the video game industry, to have this incredible achievement in her career marked by a select few idiots who decided to try and reduce her to a sex-object. Let’s make no mistake here, the men who do this are uncomfortable at the idea of women in power and women being in spaces where they see it being male-dominated. The men who do shit like this draw comics of women professionals performing oral sex on their “male fanbase” because it’s their literal attempt at inverting the actual reality: a woman producer is at the helm of an innovative game that is getting a lot of buzz and people are buying up in hordes. I don’t think these men can accept the fact that Jade is a success, I really don’t. I don’t think they can accept the fact that she did this without posing in Playboy or pandering to their ideas of what those Game Expos say women should look like and do to sell a product: wear practically nothing, smile, pose for pictures and just look pretty.

3 steps on how to attempt on fixing this mess:
1. If the comic is still around somewhere, delete the image of the comic, delete links to it, delete posts to it.
2. Apologize. To Jade. Whether you created the comic or spread the image or posted it on a forum.
3. Shut up about the game being some advertising ploy with Jade as the sex-tool. You’re going to make judgements about someone’s credibility as a professional when you don’t even know them? You’re going to base everything on her being a woman and you believing that she doesn’t belong in what you see as a “man’s space”? Really?

And yet he still has a (multi-million dollar a year paying) job

The last thing the NBA wants you to think about while the playoffs are in full and exciting swing is one of its most habitually toxic players pleading no contest and then being sentenced for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Ron Artest is, without a doubt, the single worst role-model when it comes to active professional athletes so it comes as no surprise that though reported, it’s of little concern to the sports world when upsets and game sevens are amuk in the NBA. Artest is also one of the best defensive players in the game and, strictly for his on-court performance, one of the most sought after. So sought after, in fact, that his current team, the Sacramento Kings, agreed to take on Artest after the infamous Malice At The Palace and then stood behind him throughout the entire DV ordeal with talk about “everyone makes mistakes,” “think of the children” and “second chances.” He likely won’t be dismissed from his current team and even if he is, there are always other franchises looking for a gun-for-hire regardless of how they conduct themselves off the court.

The NBA, and professional sports in general, is extremely forgiving (if not purposefully forgetful) when it comes to their male players physically abusing their wives or girlfriends (as well as sexually assaulting women). Jason Kidd’s career survived a leaked 911 domestic violence phone call made by his then-wife Joumana which chillingly illustrated his abusive and manipulative ways (“you think they’re going to believe you?!”). Jason Richardson of the GS Warriors, Shaquille O’Neal, and yes, Kobe Bryant have all been accused/alleged/convicted in crimes ranging from DV to rape and sexual assault. But of course it’s not just basketball. In baseball, Dmitri Young received a legal slap on the wrist for his DV charge and also (and this is going to become a common theme here) had no trouble finding another team willing to do as the Maloofs did and pay him the big bucks. In the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Santonio Holmes offered no apologies for his multiple run-ins with the law which without any remorse included hitting his wife. Perhaps even more unbelievably, the Denver Broncos, in spite of player Sam Brandon’s 2005 arrest for DV, rewarded him with a contract extension in February. In other words, the message in sports is this: domestic violence is a completely forgiveable crime and your career or paycheck is never in jeopardy (at least for long) when you hit your wife, bash her head onto the hood of your car (Julio Lugo of the Boston Red Sox) or harass, intimidate and assault your “girlfriend” (Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants). You pull a Qyntel Woods and engage in some illegal dog-fighting? You’re not only thrown off the team but for a mildly talented player, you’re never seen in the NBA again. But for something like DV this isn’t the case because, if you go by the Woods example for one, abusing dogs is worse than abusing women.

But let’s not forget about Bonds. Barry Bonds is perhaps the most depressing example of how people, the sports world in particular, don’t really care about how a player acts off the field so long as his performance is record-breaking. The volcanic Bonds has been said to have made some extremely racist and sexist comments, physically assaulted his former girlfriend and also stalked and continued to intimidate said girlfriend. After all of this was reported vividly in a best-selling book, the most pressing issue with Bonds? It’s whether the man took steroids and human growth hormones. I’ve heard people argue until red in the face about whether this man deserves to be in the record books, about whether his head has changed shape over the years or if steroids increase your cerebral response time, but absolutely no discussion about the violence. Who cares if he’s lost all integrity as a human being? Did he juice or not, that’s apparantly the big issue here.

In many ways, how the NBA chooses to deal with Bonds’ and Artest’s on and off court actions speak volumes for how the professional sports culture does so as well; that is, it echoes the general worldwide notion of “it’s a private matter, let them deal with it” coupled with “what do you want me/the owners/the fans/the coach to do about it?” (remember, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season for the fight with the Piston’s fans while getting nothing close to that for hitting his wife).

I don’t buy for a second that there’s little to be done about abusive, sexist athletes other than “letting the law take care of it.” Whether you’re the one who signs his check, presents him with the defensive player of the year award, reads his name on a highlight reel or buys his teammate’s jersey at the local pro-shop, as cheesy as this sounds, everybody plays a part in calling out the Artests of, if not the entire world, the professional sports world:

What General Managers and Owners Can Do: Don’t sign or trade for players that you know have been charged with domestic violence. Refuse to deal with players who you know have this problem. The message you send to fans when you do something like this is to say “we’re his second chance. He’s not going to screw this up, believe me.” In reality, the message is “I could care less what he does. If he helps us win then that’s all I care about.” Worried about signing a free agent, a college recruit, a newcomer who may turn to be the next Dmitri Young? Put a clause in the damn contract saying that if he is ever charged with DV, his contract and his paycheck are gone for good. Agents and GMs routinely put into contracts that players are forbidden from doing things like riding motorcycles, participating in dangerous sports activities for fear of physical injury. If you’re that concerned about a player hurting himself and being unable to play for a certain period of time, it only makes sense that if only for the selfish reason of having your talent readily available, you don’t want him to go to, you know, go to jail. If you’ve already got an abusive man on your team then either fire him or demand that he take leave for an indefinite period of time (regardless of any “but we’re right in the middle of a playoff series!” cries) for intensive counseling.

What Coaches and Managers Can Do: Refuse to play players that are under investigation for, being charged with, in the midst of a court proceeding for DV. Who cares about playing time when they get paid anyways, you say? Well, players often have incentives in their contracts that reward good play with cash bonuses. If you are pulled from the lineup for three weeks, you’re not going to reach that 100 RBI mark that season and there goes a large chunk of your non-guaranteed contract. When you don’t do this, when you play a player despite what’s going on in the real world, you are saying to everyone “I don’t care if he hit his wife, we need a strong starter for our series with the Yankees.” If you’re getting flack from the owners, the players for standing up for your beliefs then quit while standing up for your beliefs.

What Fans Can Do: The obvious one here is to boo and heckle the hell out of a player if you’re at the game itself. I’m not a fan of heckling in a sports environment but when someone is abusing another person, well, call them out. However, this of course isn’t probably the most productive thing to do as a fan so the best thing would be to either boycott those games, buying merchandise from the team harboring the abuser while letting the organziation clearly know why you’re choosing not to renew your season tickets or why you’re not buying tickets to give away at your work-place raffle. The message couldn’t be clearer to these franchises: if you condone this behavior by letting this person represent your team, then you aren’t getting my dollars.

What the Commissioner Can Do: Adopt and strictly implement a Code of Conduct for your entire league. David Stern, the NBA commish recently made one that, while vague, focused on the social responsibility of the league to maintain it’s integrity within world communities (think of the “NBA Cares” commercials). One of it’s big selling points was that it boldly promised to work with companies who had this same vision and as such partnered with corporations like Adidas which from what I gather, is supposed to be at least a little bit better than someplace like Nike. Establish from the get-go, especially with incoming players, that if you violate this policy, your contract is immediately terminated and your career is put on indefinite hold. The NBA banned Chris Anderson for repeatedly failing his drug tests so why not do the same to players who repeatedly beat their wives/girlfriends?

What Commissioners, Players and Franchises Can Do Together: For the love of god, be a little more diverse in the kinds of “charity” you involve yourselves in. Building basketball courts for kids is great, buying new computers for kids is awesome, teaching kids how to dribble is fun but i’ll bet you those kids who have abusive men in their lives would much rather have a safe, violence-free home than meeting Vince Carter and learning the pick-and-roll. Any charity is good, don’t get me wrong, but organizations must not shy away from causes like DV, rape, sex-health education and abortion-rights. The Seattle Mariners, to name one particular organization, actually did this in their “I Will Not Hit” ad-campaign from several years back where a few of their players brought awareness to DV (To no surprise, The Seattle Mariners is an organization that anti-sexist activist Jackson Katz lists as an org that he worked with.). Furthermore, work together with some different organizations than the ones you always collaborate with: believe me The United Way, the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America aren’t exactly going to go bankrupt if you become more diverse with your charitable funding this year. Even if you’re hell bent on donating specifically to kids and reading (as the NBA is famous for) do it at the Y-DOUBLE-YOU-C-A and maybe not the YMCA this year. Actively seek out local non-profits and larger organizations that deal with DV and rape awareness/prevention/advocacy and the people will follow. Locally, the Seattle Sonics always dish out food at a certain Seattle Christian-based shelter and, surprise of the century, they have more volunteers there than they know what to do with because people hear about Ray Allen spending time there and word spreads. Do the same about other issues for a change.

What Sports-Journalists Can Do: Report the news. When someone like Artest gets sentenced for DV, let the community know. When someone gets arrested for DV, let the community know and then follow up and then follow up some more. Even if you can only fit in a tiny blurb, let people know that these things aren’t just isolated incidents that magically go away after first report. When you’re writing an article about a player who has repeatedly been arrested for DV, connect some dots and question how this person continues to have a job in this league. Bud Selig can’t fire you for what you write or say in your column or newscast so say it.

What Individual Players Can Do: Almost every professional athlete earning more than the league minimum has some sort of charity in their name that they do “on their own time” usually at where they grew up or in the city which they first started playing in the NBA. Again, don’t do what 99.9% of other professional athletes do and instead donate your money, time and name to something that is seen as a “taboo” topic or something that men don’t normally take action against. Take Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU fame, for example. How many athletes, celebrities or anybody famous can you name that specifically and openly supports survivors of sexual assault?

The NBA, NFL, MLB are each communities. Together, (along with the NHL, NASCAR, etc.) they are a sports community and it has to be the responsibility of these kinds of communities, along with those within family and friends, those of the state, the city, and the federal government to be vocal and call out domestic violence for the scourge that it is in society and it’s own players lives. What clearer way is there for people to band together and begin to speak out against domestic violence than through the sports teams they root for? If you want to be truly proud of your team, don’t you want to be proud that it doesn’t condone men’s violence against women?

So Ron Artest is going to now enter classes on domestic violence, classes on the effects of DV to kids, do some community service and, whenever the court (or the counselor) says he doesn’t have to partake in those support groups anymore, call it a day. A few years ago I would’ve said that while he should get jail-time, this is the most we can do and sending him to DV support groups/counseling is what he needs. After reading Why Does He Do That?, I’m not so sure. Actually, i’m pretty confident that he’s not going to change or get better in any long-term way because, after reading from someone whose job it is to work with guys like Artest in DV support groups, the men there…most of them don’t get better. In fact, according to Bancroft, many get worse and the wives and girlfriends are told very specifically from the beginning to anticipate this potential increase in violent behavior. What I didn’t know about these types of programs is that while they from the outside look to be aiming to help folks like Artest, the main focus is in helping the abused women in the relationship. Whether that’s connecting them with confidential shelter resources or simply sharing vital information about the abuser that could save a woman’s life, the aid is in immediately minimizing the damage and assisting the woman in whatever stage of the relationship she may be at with the abuser. Whether that’s “making plans to divorce and relocate” or not, the point is that unless jailed, someone like Artest will likely continue his abusive ways with his wife, if not another woman.

After working at a place where we upheld supposed confidentiality Codes of Conduct and with a blind-eye harbored male rapists, DV abusers, drug-addicts, thieves and child-support dodgers, I don’t know what else to suggest than massive, parole-free jail-years. The folks I encountered on the job, minus the alcoholics (though many had combinations of “demons”), weren’t going to get any better in a “transitional program” so they coast on by by receiving slight penalties here and there and depending on “second chances” much like Artest. That is and will never be enough because minimizing abuse, while it certainly is necessary given that many abused women still live with their abusers, doesn’t stop the abuse and if you can’t help someone who is a danger to society, if you have the throw his ass in jail for a long, long time.

What does your t-shirt say? (now with MORE dumb t-shirts!)

With the popularity and availability of screen printing and selling t-shirts over the internet, seems like everybody’s got some idea, phrase or illustration they want to market in t-shirt form. So for anywhere from $7-25 bucks, you get to wear not only a piece of clothing but something that says something to everyone else. It’s what you want other people to read or notice or learn about. For that moment, whether it’s a wayward glance on the subway or the start-up of a conversation in line from a deep gaze, the t-shirt and its modern storytelling (oh, lets say in the past couple years) reveals another form of violent backlash and aggression by men to women.

The t-shirt: It’s about half-way between a bumper sticker and a tattoo. With a bumper sticker you face a limited landscape where simple text is the main projection and chances are you don’t see the person whose politics are being espoused unless you drive up and give them a good stare-down. With tattoos, you don’t know what you’re getting because it’s a tattoo. Some people hide them, other display, some mix and match. Now, with a classic t-shirt with illustration/text on the chest area, you’ve got something that says “this is what I think, this is what I think is cute/funny/cool.”

Now, I could give a shit what people wear on their t-shirts, skin, cars or whatnot. If you want to wear a tattoo with the Pythagorean theorem, great. A t-shirt with all species of marine life? Even better. But lately there have been a growing number of people and companies cashing in on misogynist, homophobic, and racist “humor” meant to be funny or worse yet, rebellious and gutsy. In other words, while what Ariel Levy calls “Raunch Culture” oppresses women (and men) through hegemony by co-opting sexual degradation and objectification as liberation and empowerment, for men, the passive-aggressive sexual aggression to women whether in t-shirt form with something like this or in street harassment with “cat-calls” and lewd sexual gestures, the patriarchy of men’s control and power over women is reinforced yet again.

So when a man wears a shirt that reads “If you’re already this close, why don’t you just suck my dick?” what are we to make of this? Is this just crude and typical guy humor? No, I don’t think so. Men, women, everybody engages in stupid, crude humor but when it becomes an immediate projection of sexual aggression similar to street harassment, that’s not funny, witty, rebellious or charming. It serves no purpose other than for men to exert their patriarchal bullshit sense of physical and sexual power over women. This is essentially delusional and idiotic men from the normalized pornographic culture that says treating women like you would a doormat, a sexual object of no humanity or worth, likes being treated like this. In many ways, such shirts become mental Viagras, immediately creating this impressive yet ultimately fleeting and hallow masculinity for men to be crude and somehow held unaccountable for the words on the shirt. “Hey, I didn’t say anything, you read it sugah.” In other words, its what they’re thinking, what they believe, what they think is appropriate and an acceptable way to talk to people, namely women.

But this isn’t just for gender issues and men’s sexual aggression against women. Just as in any areas of patriarchy you find sexist oppression, there are elements of racism through stereotypes. Can you start to sense who these shirts are marketed towards? A very specific demographic, isn’t it? And where there are issues of racism and discrimination are often the general glorifications of physical violence as well as generally being “rebellious” by deliberately being insensitive and “un-PC.” As a culture, we don’t encourage sensitivity. With how stigmatized Politically Correct has become, the cool thing isn’t to use a respectful words, its cool to go around with the “I don’t care who I offend” Eminem/Carmelo Anthony/Avril Lavigne/Ozzie Guillen type attitude that operates under the guise of being raw, real, and unfiltered.

Warming Up: For Exhibit A we have the obvious offender in Urban Outfitters. You’ll remember that they carried the infamous “Ghettopoly” board game a while back so these people aren’t very bright. Anyways, they chime in with some fratty type humor with these losers. “Down with panties and “Let’s make a dirty movie.” hahahah awesome shirt, Brad! Dude those panties will drop real quick when these chicks see it! Idiot.

Head on over to the women’s section of print t-shirts and you find….nothing remotely like what they got at men’s. Surprise? The only t-shirt I could find objectionable was one that just had the first names of famous supermodels which was just blah. This presents an interesting situation. Sexual aggression becomes extremely gendered because it’s a man only thing to street harass, to wear crude sexually charged t-shirts. In that sense, it becomes a sort of unearned gender male privilege to not be subject to sexual harassment or the visual filth of these types of t-shirts. But even so, as you’ll see below, there are a few t-shirts geared towards women to essentially “wear t-shirts like a man”/”have sex like a man”/engage in raunch culture.

Now we’re jumping straight into the icy water with this group. Presenting, the people of Santorum over at T-Shirt Hell.

Let’s see, where to start? How about “Ladies don’t spit” or the aforementioned “If you’re already this close, why don’t you just suck my dick?” or how about “Thousands of my potential children died on your daughter’s face last night”. Obviously these folks are going straight for the jugular with flat out offensive material under the guise of being funny, over-the-top and “we’ll say anything, fuck the FCC!” (raises fist).

How about
“I like my women like I like my coffee (ground and in the freezer).”

”If this is on your floor tomorrow…WE TOTALLY FUCKED (now go make me some breakfast, bitch)”

”Pirates do it for the booty.”

”Save a horse, ride a cowboy.”

”Soldiers need hummers. Please support the cause.”

”Everything is bigger in Texas.”

”I’m ready for a female president [to sit on my cock]”

Or, if you saunter over to the idiots at how about some t-shirts poking fun and celebrating the rape cases involving famous celebrities? Free Kobe. Free R.Kelly. Or if mass-murder is your calling, how about Charles Manson?

If those aren’t to your liking, the “Anti-PC” “Anti-establishment” band-wagon is gathering steam. The conservative case here with these t-shirts is essentially that the world has gone soft and that actually having and respectfully recognizing difference, different likes and preferences and lifestyles and cultures is a bad thing.

”I Hate The Environment.” Real witty.

Don’t like the spirit of America, I mean, “illegal immigrants” coming to the US? How about this shirt. How about some more latino stereotypes?

Remember those Burger King and Jack In The Box commercials celebrating macho meat-eating men? Now this.

How does the old saying go? “To not know is bad, to not want to know is worse”? Disturbing to see how that motto doesn’t resonate anymore.

Remember how I was talking about Raunch Culture being celebrated and normalized? Kinda like how that Pussycat Dolls “Dontcha” song is so popular?

“I taught your boyfriend that thing you like.”

”I taught your girlfriend that thing you like.”

Women pressured to make out with other women at parties? Girls Gone Wild normalization, anyone? In comes this bs.

Or how about jokes about rape or even child-rape, or those who are pro-choice?

T-Shirt Hell obviously creates a majority of the crap you’ve seen thus far. They’re fully aware of how offensive this is, but for the sake of the almighty dollar (and from what I imagine to be a crappy sense of rebellion and ego) they produce this shit at the expense of women and inevitably, men.

Even with all this, I mean god it’s just a t-shirt isn’t it? Obviously these people aren’t being serious. It’s just a joke. You’re taking this too seriously.

It is a t-shirt. So just as long as you put it on a t-shirt means its free from hate-spewing, sexism, racism, homophobia? If we’re going to be critical of oppressive legislation, the media, the tv shows we watch, the movies we buy, the music we listen to…why not the t-shirts that we see day-to-day?

What can I do? Seems like these crazies aren’t going to listen to reason so what’s the point of arguing. Aren’t you just promoting their website and giving more attention to them?

It’s true, I am giving attention to these websites and so I’ll try to offer some alternatives in the process.

A. You can write them to protest their garbage with something along the lines of: –

Urban Outfitters –

YQue –

One Horse Shy –

B. Spend your money elsewhere. There are plenty of great people out there making anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist, conscious, responsible t-shirts that don’t pull Andrew Dice Clay shtick and actually have something meaningful, original and funny to say. is one famous for their “I will not love you long time” t-shirts. I know there are more out there…let’s hear everybody’s favorite t-shirt joint 🙂

###UPDATE: Hey everybody! Found some more dumb t-shirts.

Dirty Shirty is a real piece of crap. Basically, this whole gimmick is trying to cash in on the Christina Aguilera drrty bit (which the video itself, I know to some has potentially redemptive qualities if you take it as a satirical piece criticizing the double-standards of sex, gender and music) and the idea that women who participate in Raunch Culture are then more attractive as women. Look at the shirts for men and women, many (6) of the t-shirts for women loudly display “DIRTY” while for men, only 3 do. For men, we have some frat-type humor t-shirts. That is where in comes in with this t-shirt in the men’s section: Because men think with their dicks, dude. You know, and those women always think with their hearts.

Pimp Your/My Oppression

[First a big shout-out to Tekanji, Lake Desire and for giving me the chance to guest blog! My name is Luke and I rushed this post out to press once I read jfpbookworm’s great post below that I think is a good branch-off point. I warn, however, that this post is a real behemoth in length. The more I went back to it, the more I added on so you might want to pack a ham-sandwich before diving in or something. Anyways, i’d love to get your feedback, thoughts, comments, criticisms, etc.]

We’ve all seen them.

It’s some night-owl hour and in-between reruns of Roseanne and ElimiDate you see for 30 seconds the uniquely American bazaar of young, thin, often blonde women with flowing hair and large breasts: In some form, you see “The Yes Girls.”

All-too-discreetly advertising itself as none other than a phone-sex line for men where young women dressed (or undressed, for that matter) in lace and satin seductively grasp their phones, bodies supine with eyes gazed towards the camera whispering lines of “We always say ‘yes’” like they know exactly what customers of the phone-sex line would want to hear in some meta-rape fantasy sort of way.

But phone-sex lines aren’t by any means some taboo cultural anomaly servicing the closet desires of perverts or deviants. Rather, their persistent popularity speaks largely to the ways in which men’s (and women’s) sexual identities are shaped—let’s make it “warped”—by what they’re told their fantasies are and in turn reinforced to fantasize again and again.

So placed between Roseanne, perhaps the lone television representation ever of a working-class white America with a stereotypically unattractive and wholly uncompromising woman actress at the helm who articulated a big “fuck off, Dan Quayle” season after award-winning season and ElimiDate, the “reality-TV” hit where petite, scantily clad women compete in a lascivious macho fantasy for the attention and affection of a man, usually tall, white, muscular and unable to hold a non-sex ridden conversation, in order to avoid getting “eliminated” each round, watching The Yes Girls gives us a jump-off point as to how men specifically are taught/cultured/socialized to think about women and sex. The two seemingly become synonymous if you begin to imagine what such commercials essentially say to men: “They’ll do anything…they never say no…they only wants sex…I must have her…I must have them…I must have sex.”

Even as I’m writing this, I’m hearing about how yet another season of The Bachelor is coming to ABC. Forget that every, and I mean EVERY relationship post-Bachelor has crumbled, forget that there is hardly a gender-equality of male and female bachelors and bachelorettes (didn’t ABC only make ONE The Bachelorette?) people love to see not just the paternalistic Cinderella chivalry fantasy anymore, they want to see one pimped out for the new age.

So if that’s what men are conditioned to want, to see as the ideal fantasy and to revolve their sexual and gender identities around, how do they go about achieving a constant state of sex with young women (who are often white, Latina, or mixed race)? If that’s the fantasy, then what’s the situation of the reality and what men are advised and told to do about it and how to go about it?

Based on the flurry of men’s “how to get women” books published largely in the past several years, you sense that what was once the immediate concern of meeting a soulmate, a wife, a husband, a life-partner has become one centered on men meeting and sleeping with as many “girls,” “bitches” or “chicks” as possible.

Like Samantha Jones drawing on the so-called liberating power of no-strings-attached sex (or “sex like a man”), the goal of “getting laid” then comes at a cost of women being seen as new hybrid of animal-commodity. That is, “animal” in the sense that these men’s advice books weave an intricately bullshit guide which adheres to the beliefs that #1, the behavior of women, like animals, is by nature predictable which involves a lot (and I mean a lot of animal watching), and #2, women’s bodies are the only things valued that one must possess through the consummation of sex—and I mean a lot of sex. And “commodity” in the sense that women, reduced simply to women’s bodies, are seen as goods that exchange hands through “purchase” by way of deception, backhanded-coercion and manipulation by men under the guise of having “skills” with women.

Just read the titles of some of these books that have boldly emerged recently in a symbol of immediately impressive yet ultimately fleeting macho bravado based identity:

What Really Works With Women: Do What Works, Get What Matters To You (2005)
The Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks (2003)
The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (2005)
The Layguide: How to Seduce Women More Beautiful Than You Ever Dreamed Possible No Matter What You Look Like or How Much You Make (2004)
How To Succeed With Women (1998)
Seduce Me! What Women Really Want (2003)
How To Get The Women You Desire Into Bed (1992)
The System: How To Get Laid Today! (2003)

The covers alone of many of these books tell a story in itself. On the cover of The Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks, we have the classic macho trucker/truck mud flap decal and sticker of a caricatured large-breasted woman with hair flowing in the wind.

In The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, we see another silhouette this time of women sprawled out in sexual stripper poses while the shape of a man twice their size stands proudly drawing upon celebrations of pimps and the prostitution of women.

Perhaps most ridiculously in The System: How To Get Laid Today! is a drawing of a young woman dressed in a corset, leather thigh-highs and cat-ears on knees and elbows seductively drinking a large bowl of what appears to be milk.

Dare venture into the book descriptions and you’ll find the animal-commodity storytelling continues flavored with the old “nuts and sluts” mentality made famous during the Kobe Bryant rape trial:

“We’ll take you from the day you’re born to the day you die and show you how women can be manipulated, frustrated, and ultimately dominated throughout the course of a man’s life. By illustrating the insanity of the female mind, we’ll show you why the flawed chick psyche causes them to continuously fall for the a**hole, no matter how many times they get burned.” – From the book description of A Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks

Or you check out similar-themed websites like where you see things like:

“You have to be the MAN who has all the sexual power. And when a woman (no matter how hot) sees and feels the presence of a man whom she recognizes as the dominant one while SHE isn’t, she does what every woman does – that is SURRENDERS to the more powerful being. And all that acting like she’s hot and knows she’s the stuff and all those other “head up in the air” tricks are just a test and a way to weed out all the men who are less powerful than her and don’t know their role as a MAN.” –’s “Be the Alpha/Dominant Male”

Ultimately, these books provide a crude and patriarchal and thus attractive-to-men analysis of why, if they haven’t “gotten any,” the women they want aren’t attracted to them. Of course it’s the same spiel that’s been revolving in pornography for year and only now seen in the forms of Eminem’s celebrity and the pandemic spread of “pimp” in the American lexicon: Women must like being treated terribly and that’s why they deserve what they get. Women must like bad-boys. Good-guys and nice-guys “finish” last.

To women, of course, the message then becomes that they should validate and be attracted to these images. Women must like being objectified and degraded, why else would they allow themselves to be put on a meat-rack on shows like ElimiDate? Why else would women like the delinquent Mark characters or the abusive Fischer characters on Roseanne and why else would women send love letters to convicted killers like Scott Peterson. He’s a bad-boy misunderstood with a soft-spot inside, really. Women, remember, it’s your job to change him and take away the beastly exterior. Or in other words, be like Belle before he runs out of rose petals and runs out on you, right?

Read the back-pages of any so-called “Magazines for Men” like GQ, Maxim, FHM, or Stuff and you see it’s older cousins in shady black-and-white rectangle ads: “Pheromones proven to drive women wild!…100 pick-up lines guaranteed to work with the hottest girls.” Listen to any recent episodes of Tom Leykis and you’ll hear “Leykis 101” in which men are taught specifically how to “bang chicks” through deception and macho posturing.

The message is clear: This is how you get that and we know this works because they instinctively respond to it—it’s in their DNA. You’d almost think you were learning how to catch Sockeye salmon off the Alaska coast. What lure do I use? Where do I go? When do I know to “go in for the kill”?

Head off into Amazon’s “Bestsellers” or autobiography section and you find the hugely popular I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell by Tucker Max. Max, a Duke law-school grad who writes about his supposed true-life escapades, proclaims proudly

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world.”

Again, even more telling than the subject of controversy itself is often the cultural response to it. Read any of the many five-star reviews in which men and women have bought, read and proudly promote the book to others and the attitude of praise and dismissal of any criticism of such praise is unbridled:

“Make no mistake, Tucker Max is a vile vile person, but his own admittance. And if you try not to think to much about his victims…er…marks…er… girlfriends/hook-ups, then this is a hilarious book.” – Jake Mckee

“For the people who think that he’s some terrible person who has sex with poor innocent girls, give me a break. It takes 2 to tango as they say. As my wife put it, if there weren’t so many whores in the world he’d have a lot less to write about.” – Travis Stroud

“Tucker Max is pure genius. An excellent writer, and even better comedian, he has Michael Jordan’s bball skills when it comes to women, and an eclectic, highly exciting group of friends and adventures he chronicles in this absolute must-read book.” – Michelle Park

“This stuff can make you laugh until you pee your pants, but I would only recommend it for those who can take racist, sexist, and despicable jokes lightly for that seems to be the life of Tucker Max. In other words, this book is beautiful.” – Samantha Miller

“I loved this book. The stories are funny and remind me of my college days. Good times, good times.” – Jeff White

So the response then isn’t that his behavior lacks repulsive qualities deserving of unflinching dismissal but rather that his life is humorous to women and men and a cause-of-envy to young men in particular. Like he says, summoning all the bad-boy machismo he can, “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell.” He knows he’s going to hell (well, assuming one believes in it) and that’s why he couldn’t care less. He’s a bad-boy and a “rebel” engaging in behavior so supposedly gutsy that it is suggestively a this-is-how-I-did-it guide as to having “success” with women. Why else would many aspiring sports-athletes read biographies and autobiographies about Michael Jordan, Brett Favre or Tiger Woods? “Know the legend, be the legend” as the saying goes?

But this type of macho posing behavior isn’t new and Tucker Max, as much as I hate to say it, doesn’t deserve all the blame. Look at what he probably grew up watching. Films like Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Old School, Road Trip, American Pie and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder all celebrate the stereotypical prime of sexual masculinity through the oppression of women: have as much sex with as many women as possible regardless of consequences, engage in high-risk drinking and drugs without any negative repercussions, feel no emotions, display little conscience and give the middle-finger while yelling “feminazi man-hating pussy faggot!” to anyone who says different. It’s college and that’s what you’re supposed to do in college, right? Or, as the Sean Michael Scott character in Road Trip says with his famous Stifler charm “Think about it Josh, you’re in college. The window of opportunity to drink and do drugs and take advantage of young girls is getting smaller by the day.”

The unfiltered Virginia Slims message here is the same. To women and young girls, this says that there’s a proper way to act as women and to have fun, to have some sort of an authentic experience. Worse yet, the message is that the only thing they have going for them is their bodies and by extension, the approval from men of their bodies and the use of those bodies for sex.

But to men, the message isn’t as closely examined or seen as having any sort of significance. Just as women are taught in this way to self-hate and reduce their own human being to an ass, breasts and vagina while validating so called “bad-boys,” the message to men is that this is what men do, this is what an authentic manhood looks like and this is what you want…this is how you’ll be happy. To so-called “nice guys,” the imagery leads to some dumbassed and disturbing deductions: “women like to be objectified, degraded and essentially treated like shit so even though I know something aint right, there’s no moral dilemma if I’m going to objectify, degrade and treat women like shit. Hey, at least I’m not a bad guy!”

So it’s clear then that young men are buying into these books and misogynistic attitudes in hopes of navigating the social scenes with some sense of direction in terms of women. And that I think is where a significant amount of unseen danger is. Not only does this supremely hurt women through yet again another form of men’s oppression of women, but it also denies men and young boys the ability to engage responsibly, honestly and freely.

We’ve all seen this. This reinforced sexist, homophobic and racist socially constructed cultural norm to nurture men simply as emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive whose only purpose is to engage in macho high-risk behavior, see women as animal-commodities and to have misogynist meta-rape fantasies by removing feeling any sort of personal human emotion, all sorts of attachment or desire for more in things like sex or relationships.

And this, to deprive men (and women) from living real lives and identities of free-choice without inflicting pain and suffering on others…to me nothing is more anti-male, man-hating or male-bashing than that.