This blog today has been a hard one to process. I have to be honest, reader, I am writing without planning. That is a no-no according to your local high school Language Arts teacher (wait, that’s me!). One should always brainstorm, outline, write in complete sentences, and make sure the reader NEVER is confused or you will loose them in the fray of your work. The work should always be focused, well researched, and without emotion so that the reader will feel that you are unbiased. Well reader, I am ignoring all those conventions this month. I have committed to wearing a dress daily, raising awareness for IJM and the modern human slavery epidemic, help get donations for the cause, and personally writing about it. Writing daily has been difficult in and of itself. But I have managed to do it and I have actually grown my blog and twitter following by doing so. This isn’t a popularity contest but people are following me WHILE I am posting almost exclusively about this world crisis called slavery. That makes me feel like I may be making a little drop of a difference in the big bucket of the world’s problems.
SO…. for tonight’s topic….
I wrote a little today in my journal while I was at school as suggested by my lovely daughter but what I processed tonight while I was out shopping is a little more pressing.
Shopping is not my most favorite thing to do. But, alas, it is a necessary evil. I needed to get an outfit for a wedding and for my grandmother’s 90th birthday later this month, so a shopping I went. I bribed my lovely husband to go with me. As I was out I began to think about what I needed to write about for my blog post. After shopping my husband and I went out on a little date. In the car on the way to eat we heard an NPR post about an Irish writer who came to the US and her first visuals of all the strip clubs (there is more to the article but that is what stuck out to me). This made me realize that I needed to post about commodities.
We live in a society that is driven by commodities. We “need” things daily. There is apparently NEVER any food in my house, ask my two boys. I always “need” to go to the store and buy new (FILL IN THE BLANK)__________. Commodities. They are what drive us daily.
We always look for a deal. We want the cheaper version of the same thing somewhere else. I confess I am this way too. See the tag in the lower right of the picture? Yep, I bought that marked down dress! I didn’t really NEED another dress (I have more than I need, I am realizing that this month) but (enter invalid justification here) _________.
When I went to purchase the dress (yes you will see it later this month) the lady at the counter asked if I had any coupons.
I said, “no.”
“What about retailmenot?”
“I don’t subscribe to those because they made me want to shop more because I would be ‘saving’ money.”
“You are a wise woman.”
I looked at my husband and said, “I like to keep him around so we watch what we spend.”
She smiled wider and said, “Yep, you are very wise indeed!”
With the dress purchased we were off to the next store, my husband “needs” new running shoes. We are visually stimulated to buy. So we look for that section of clearance priced shoes in the back. However, if you are a savvy shopper you know to look for the real clearance section on the rack in the middle. Here are the questions that ran through my head as I looked at ALL the clearance items, “Did the workers who made these get paid? How much did they get paid? It is a living wage fore the economy they live in?” We walked out of the shoe store without shoes, he didn’t need them that bad, he said.
The next store we went in was a barrage of images. Images that hyper-sexualize the clothing, not to mention the people in the clothing. They are really what’s for sale. I know that our culture doesn’t think of it that way but it is true. We wouldn’t buy that man’s shirt it it didn’t “read” well on a model. We don’t want to purchase something that might make us “look” bad. Walk past a V.S. or any other store that sells lingerie and you will see that particular brand of salesmanship. It may not be the literal trading of humans but it is just that in so many ways. Now, think of those images with sale signs on them it is a crippling though. What, exactly, are they selling? It is difficult to decipher. A lifestyle? A body image? A particular type of skin and hair color? The actual product? What is the commodity? (This reminds me of an art exhibit my daughter did in her book store a few months ago but I’ll talk about that in another post.)
What does this have to do with Dressember? Well, quite a lot actually. Images of hyper-sexualized females and males promote the issue that Dresssember is working hard to fight alongside IJM and their work freeing people from sexual slavery and slavery in general. Slaves make many of the commodities we use. I know that if we carefully select the products we use we can get away from slave made products but it usually means we spend more money and cannot shop the deals (that is a huge and hard sacrifice!). It means we buy from retailers who care about the same issues we care about. It means we talk with them about the hard issues.
As I there yet? I am working on it. It will take time and a concerted effort on my part. But now that I am aware, I am working harder to do my part in the economic arena.
And now for the real reason you read this blog…. 😉