Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meet Dov Charney.


Yes. Please. Let's meet the asshole.



Dov Charney is the CEO of American Apparel. He has also had three sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him just in one year by employees. He also frequently walks around the office in his underwear and makes a habit of calling his female employees, "sluts," because he considers the term to be endearing and a normal part of "welcomed conversation."


I get it, companies need to be edgy to make it these days. But that edge doesn't have to come at the expense of objectifying women. When questioned on it, Charney claims his style isn't a shtik but rather a business model. He urges that, "the financial guys will miss an opportunity if they are offended by superficialities." Superficialities? Hmm, not so much. Putting up a billboard in the middle of Manhattan with an almost nude model bent over, facing the other direction is objectifying. No doubt about it and no superficialities either. And if the billboard itself doesn't bother you, maybe the fact that it was spray painted with, "GEE, I WONDER WHY WOMEN GET RAPED," will. Not that Charney can control what people tag his billboards with but he should hear the message loud and clear. Advertising like his perpetuates a culture of rape and victimization.





So, let's "Meet Dov Charney," the CEO of American Apparel.


The text on his advertisement (top of page) acquainting us reads, "Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence, maybe one is involving a man. And this has made a victim culture out of women.” Wait, what? Where the hell is he getting his information? Because that's clearly not the case.


Also, since when do CEOs of companies make it a point to appear in the company advertising? And since when are they so creepy. He looks like a rapist and she looks like she's drugged. Not helping your point, Charney.


AA's clothing has gotten such mass approval for being made in "non-exploitative settings." In a way, that's true. Rather than being made in sweatshops overseas like so many other companies, AA clothes are made in an air-conditioned factory in LA and employees are paid a fair wage as well as receive full health benefits. I can't say anything bad about that, it's a shame more companies don't follow in AA's lead in terms of anti-sweatshop labor. But "exploitative" can mean other things, too. Like regularly being sexually harassed at work, being forced to laugh and cheer as your boss runs through the office in his underwear, and being called "slut" as a term of endearment at work.


More on Charney here...

12 comments:

NS said...

God, he sounds like a complete douchebag. If my boss called me a slut he'd go through the rest of life with only one testicle. Pathetic.

K@ndi said...

The source of global warming has been identified as the biological waste product of overactive earth worms who consume dirt from composters. Those who compost and reduce their waste are actively contributing to the destruction of the planet.

There. I just said so crap too. It's easy. You try.

Anonymous said...

that isnt an aa ad. it's a real quote from him, but thats a fake ad that someone put together. im not really sure how you didnt notice that.

FeministGal said...

Anon, not sure what you mean? Whether or not that was an actual AA ad has nothing to do with WHAT Dov is quoted saying, nor his sexist and objectifying business practices...

Anonymous said...

It's one thing for him to have said that. It's quite another for a company to put that up on an ad as its motto. I'm just saying that you claim this is an American Apparel ad, when it's clearly a photoshop.

Also, you bring up foreign exploitation of workers, but I don't feel like you give it enough thought. Sure Charney is a bigot. If you want to boycott the company that he runs because of that go ahead. But I think you should look a lot further into the origins of the other clothes you wear. I can guarantee you that a sexist CEO is one of the least scary things you'll find. So if you actually care about where your clothes are coming from, boycott the ones made in sweatshops and and work camp like conditions before you boycott the American Apparel.

FeministGal said...

Welcome to the blog, Anon. And trust me, in my household we do very much "look a lot further into the origins of the other clothes" we wear and avoid those companies with unethical practices like the ones you mentioned.

K said...

This reminds me of a similar situation a few years ago...

Neil French, an advertising executive, was pretty much forced out of his job a few years ago for saying several patently offensive comments about women, the most glaring of which was that women rarely make it to the top of the business chains because "They're crap." Yes he really said that, among other things.

I'm noticing a pattern here, among advertising businessmen and their attitudes towards women...
Well maybe it's not a pattern yet since so far I can cite just these two individuals off the top of my head but I'm sure there's more... there must be more, considering how so many advertisements market to men and & women. So much of it is stereotypical.

As for AA itself, well. I don't have any AA clothing. But when I search around online for one of my staple winter clothing items (thigh high socks,) AA's selection came right at the very top of google's results. They're marketed in a particularly objectifying way but, perhaps in fairness, it's not just AA doing that. I guess they're just an easy product to turn into something that can be objectifying, due to their very nature.
I don't really know how to feel about that.

Rob said...

I wouldn't say "He looks like a rapist" even in jest. There's no type, no look, so even jokes about it reinforce the idea that there is a type. I think that's bad because it makes an "other", you know? There's no look, no race, no clothes, you know?

FeministGal said...

Rob, you're 100% right - sorry about that. It's true there's no "look," i shouldn't have joked like that.

Rob said...

that's cool!

the other day i super got called in in a bad way for being a total privileged ass!

and, even as i wrote that i wondered, you know, should feminism have dogma? you know what i mean? i get nervous about that.

i've enjoyed you're blog. i just discovered it and have been reading it today here at work.

FeministGal said...

Thanks Rob :) I totally agree, it's tricky sometimes navigating between what you "should" be doing as a feminist or as someone who supports equality and what you say/how you act. My post about getting engaged is a perfect example. I grappled with it a lot but felt like i had to come clean. ALthough i recognize not everyone has a right to marry in the US (even though i strongly believe they should) i didn't feel that this was a reason for me to deny myself this privilege. Even writing out my guilt and my feelings in the blog post brought about controversy from others who disagreed with me.

But i think it's good to call each other out on situations like that. It makes us more deeply think about the issues. your comment was a perfect example, i was being snarky by saying he "looks like a rapist" but when i read your comment i realized you were 100% right and it's never ok to joke about that. I'm glad you called me out on it and hopefully i can do the same next time i hear someone else saying something similar.

Gracie said...

Gawd!!!!!!!!!! I may be only 15 years old and a freshman, but serious I can see a jerk when I hear one!!!! It's already hard for girls and woman in this world as it is!! Does he have to make it harder?!?!?!?!?