Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The most universally sexist decision possible

Recently, Barnes & Noble made the decision to require the magazine Dossier to conceal its newest issue in opaque plastic because of the potentially offensive nature of the cover. A cover which featured the bare chest of an androgynous male who had been stylized rather femininely. Now I can see how such an image might make some especially sheltered or hetero-normative individuals uncomfortable, but it hardly seems to warrant being treated like an R or X-rated image. Especially when it is displayed alongside other shirtless, more muscular men and women wearing bikinis.

Jezebel first reported the story, complaining that the decision was sexist against slender, less muscular men with atypical builds. Skepchick followed up, complaining that it was instead targeting female or feminized individuals. I tried to find a neutral report of this story, but there doesn't seem to be one out there. You'll have to look at the two opposing viewpoints and decide for yourself what motivated Barnes & Noble's decision.

To me, though? It's pretty clearly a discriminatory decision. I'm actually impressed with the scope involved. I mean, is there anyone they managed to avoid offending?

Men? Well, you better have a traditionally masculine build with lots of glistening muscles! Otherwise you might be mistaken for a woman or a queer, and we can't have that! Might upset the ladies.

Women? We can't have anything even resembling the female body being displayed uncovered. What do you think this is, a porn store? Cover them titties up! Preferably with some tight-fitting spandex, because that will sell lots of magazines.

Androgynous? Trans? That's just fucked up. If we can't tell whether you're a boy or a girl, we don't want to have to look at you.

This kind of business decision is just a slap in the face to anyone trying to promote the idea that non-traditional bodies are still beautiful. Though I suppose we don't have to worry too much...Barnes & Noble isn't exactly a relevant company nowadays. Still, it's remarkably ridiculous that images as tame as this one are treated so controversially because the subject matter is unfamiliar.

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