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Feminist Current

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Feminist Current was founded by Meghan Murphy, a freelance writer and journalist who has been writing about feminism since 2010 and has been producing feminist radio since 2007. Meghan is from Vancouver, B.C. and holds a Masters degree in Women's Studies from Simon Fraser University. You can find more of her writing in New Statesman, Truthdig, Vice, Ms. Magazine, Herizons Magazine, The Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Observer, Al Jazeera, and more.

‘Prostitution Chic’ is a thing now

| March 29, 2013


Earlier his week, The Gloss featured old photos of prostituted women in order to highlight the fact that being poor and having to service nasty-ass dudes in the early 1900s also involved wearing cool tights. A comment left on the post reads: “Well, I’m obviously going to be an old school sex worker for Halloween this year.” I can’t tell if that’s sarcastic or not, but I think it shows that The Gloss really made their point.

Of course, I think it’s super awesome that The Gloss, who claims to be “a big fan of both sex workers and women of the past,” is promoting prostitution as an outfit you put on. What I think is even more awesome is Louis Vuitton’s ad campaign promoting “prostitution chic.” Working the streets, hanging out in alleys wearing lingerie, and getting into cars with strange men is super chic and sexy, y’all. Apparently some think “the film is tongue in cheek, and playfully risque,” but I tend to think violence against women isn’t a super cute, playful, sexy joke.

Katie Grand, the editor-in-chief and a collaborator of Louis Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs, has now issued a completely sincere apology that shows how very clearly she understands the implications of glamorizing exploitation and abuse, saying: “It certainly wasn’t my intention to cause offence.” No, no. It wasn’t your “intention to cause offence.” It was your “intention” to sell clothes.

All this does is reinforce my impression of the fashion industry as one filled with vapid, self-centered, bougie hipsters who think they’re artists and, therefore, post-oppression.

Luckily not everyone buys this BS, and a number of lefties, feminists, and intellectuals complained about the campaign, accusing it of “assimilating luxury with the world’s second most profitable criminal activity after drug trafficking.” A letter published in Libération, a leftwing, French newspaper asks if Louis Vuitton realizes “they are promoting violence, pornography and sexual slavery.”

Oddly, a writer at The Gloss complains about the campaign -- though mostly concerned that it “stereotypes” prostitutes, the author, Jamie Peck, also represents those who spoke out against the campaign as being naive about the fact that the fashion industry (are you all sitting down?) also objectifies women. DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

Peck goes on to say: “So long as you support a capitalist system whereby people are forced to sacrifice their time and bodily autonomy in exchange for food and shelter, you have no business telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do to survive.”

Well true that. I hope no one ever tells the author that most abolitionists are not actually fans of capitalism, that the Nordic model is a socialist model, and that most feminists who advocate for an end to the exploitation of women also advocate for affordable housing and social safety nets (which are decidedly not capitalist concepts), because that might blow her mind.

Anyway, where’s the apology from The Gloss? Do they really believe that being “fan[s] of sex workers” is the same as representing prostitution as fashion choice or a costume?



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