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Patriarchal Messages in Urban Outfitters Clothing

Urban Outfitters is a store known for it’s eclectic fashions at premium prices.  I have spent many a times sitting on one of there comfortable couches skimming an interesting book…waiting for my brother to finish his shopping.  I love much of the clothing, but the price points are not within my budget.  After reading a post on Feministing, I feel very disappointed by this organization.

Urban Outfitters is selling a top with the following message: “Fathers it’s up to you! To preserve your daughters’ virginity!” 

Such archaic notions are rooted in our history of patriarchy.  It begs the question of why these messages are being sold, and what implication it has on our society.  We live in a world where females are told their sexuality is something to be feared and protected.  A father should protect his daughters, and eventually marry her off to a man who can then protect her.  In an idealistic society, gender would not matter.  Whether you have a vagina or penis, you are first and foremost a human.  That is our commonality.  But the first “great thinkers” interpreted the physical differences between women and men philosophically.  Traits, clothing, fragrances, body movements, speech, everything was broken down into two categories: female and male.    Along with this came the notion that females are weak, defenseless, and need to be protected by males.  Women were commodities, to be sold for sex, to be owned by a father, and to be given to a husband.

Gender training starts from day one, when the first pink or blue blanket is wrapped around a child.  Girls are told that in this world, they are different, outsiders to the patriarchy.  They are told to be soft, delicate, submissive, and to follow.  The fear projected onto a girl is hard to fight.  With time she herself feels she needs this protection as well, after all it’s the story she has been sold.

What isn’t influenced by these notions of femininity?  A young girl may endure a female circumcision to “prove” her virginity, pledge her virginity to her father in events such as Purity Balls, or be labeled a “whore”, “slut”, “easy” and the likes for having sex.  And on the other side of the equation boys are taught to look at sex as the ultimate consumption.  With time girls become just body parts, and humanity is lost.  A boy is told he should lose his virginity as soon as possible, with as many as possible, for as long as possible.  Tragic outcomes such as not being able to process sexual assault properly leave boys in a whole other world of pain. 

What needs to happen is an integration of both sexes, to see each as the same, and not to impose false belief systems on either.  Girls and boys should be able to explore their sexuality, decide what’s right for them, and feel no shame about their decisions.  Differences in individuals should not equate in blanket beliefs of any group.  In the end sexuality, clothing, fragrances, cosmetics, interests, and such do not make you male or female.  These are just societal constructions.  There is no definition of what makes one a woman or a man, just what makes us human.  We are all individuals, and the sooner we let go of the stereotypes we have been taught, the sooner we can learn to accept people on their own merits.  And once this happens, messages promoting patriarchy will end their terror on fashion.

Side note: during my research for this post, I came across two other interesting posts about Urban Outfitters.  Please check them out, and make sure to research the companies you support.  Our dollars dictate the business practices around us.

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