To the Editor:
Urban Outfitters owes its customers more than just a “consideration” of their concerns and a retraction of its T-shirt (“Touchy T-shirt pulled from store’s racks,” 9/27). Some serious apologies are in order here.
For anyone who fails to recognize the danger and offensiveness of such depictions of women, I suggest this test: imagine that instead of a woman, this “BREAK THE DULL BEEF HABIT” T-shirt had pictured a black man, kneeling and labeled with the names of beef parts.
Any person of decency would immediately recognize this image as racist, deeply offensive, and outright violent. This is the sort of shirt that would be worn by a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Surely these days, an image like this would provoke an enormous response of outrage. It is unlikely that in the case of such a shirt, the store manager would have simply told a customer that she didn’t bring her philosophy or politics into the office.
So what is the difference? For some reason, in our culture, images of violence against women are somehow still “OK.” How odd, especially in these times, when violence against women is so prevalent not only in our own country, but all over the world. Just turn on CNN and you’ll see footage of Taliban officials beating women with clubs and executing them in the middle of crowds.
In such a context, I fail to see how this T-shirt could be taken so lightly. It’s time to remember the shameful prejudices and violence that our country once flaunted, and to re-examine the prejudices that we still openly condone today.
Julie O’Connor ’02
September 27, 2001