“Nike Gold Digging Shirt: Funny Or Offensive?” asks the Huffington Post. Well, let me think. They made a pun based around women being gold diggers! Just in time for the Olympics! Ha! Hilarious! So what if it equates the ultimate female sporting achievement with becoming a WAG? Who cares? Not the majority of respondents to the HuffPost’s poll, who at this point in time are clicking away on “Nah! It’s just a playful joke”.
Playful or otherwise, I don’t tend to wear jokes on my T-shirts, not even if they’re good ones. A humorous slogan might amuse someone the first time they read what’s emblazoned across your chest, but if you’re with them for any length of time, you start to look miserably over-persistent, unwittingly telling the same joke over and over again – is it funny? Is it funny still? And it wasn’t even your joke to begin with. To make matters worse, you might wear that same T-shirt around the same people more than once. If that happened to me, I’d feel huge pressure to be a comic genuis, coming out with endless one-liners just to show that my humour extended way beyond “But what if the Hokey-Cokey is what it’s all about?”. Of course, it wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t be funny, just socially inept, if not actively frightening. So anyhow, that’s why I don’t do jokey T-shirts (plus I’m rather top-heavy, meaning some slogans get partially lost underneath the “shelf”, as it were).
This morning I almost wore my Fawcett Society “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt. It’s a very flattering fit. Obviously I question the feminist ethics of wearing such a T-shirt simply on the basis that it makes my tits look great. But hey, if it’s all about challenging stereotypes, it might go some way towards laying all that “bra-burning” nonsense to rest. Whatever, I didn’t wear it. I’ve only ever worn it in bed. I might have written the words “pro-choice” in eyeliner on my stomach when nine months pregnant but when I’m actually out in public, I’m genuinely scared about provoking aggression (I did once wear my “I’m brilliant and everyone else is an arse” T-shirt – a double-edged gift from my partner after we’d had a row – to a toddler group. Nobody made a single comment, but I’m not going to take this as tacit approval of the top’s central thesis).
As a recovered anorexic, I have obviously been tempted by those “I beat anorexia” T-shirts. Except they only ever come in XXXL sizes and, tits aside, I’m quite small. You’d almost think it was a terribly misguided joke – hey, I’m fat but at least I’m not anorexic! But I can’t possibly see what would prompt anyone to make such a joke at their own and every single anorexia sufferer’s expense. So I guess they just got the size estimations wrong with that one.
As shit T-shirts go, I suppose the Nike Gold Digging one isn’t the worst of the bunch. I’d probably place it on a level with those shirts that have, in teeny tiny script, “If you can read this stop staring at my breasts” (because – ha! – you actually make people stare at your breasts to read it! Whoever thought of that? Genius!). I don’t find these slogans quite as annoying as those found on “pregnant, therefore mere vessel” maternity tees – “Baby on board”, “Under construction” and the like. And even those T-shirts are significantly better than full-on misogyny wear (although, as has often been pointed out, if all men who thought rape was trivial and amusing wore T-shirts stating this, it would make it a whole lot easier for the rest of us to steer clear of them).
It goes without saying that I won’t be purchasing the Nike T-shirt. And, as a humourless feminist, I will of course be ticking the “Yes! It’s sexist to single women out like this” box in the HuffPost poll (because that’s the level feminist debate is apparently at – “it’s sexist”. Or, if you read the Daily Mail, “it’s ‘sexist’”). In case you are wondering what I actually am wearing, T-shirt-wise, it’s purple, has 12 multi-coloured cupcakes on and asks the somewhat baffling question “what cupcake are you?”. If I thought about this all too deeply, I’m sure I’d be able to find this offensive, too. But anyhow, I haven’t yet, so for the time being I’m the pink cupcake on the right, third row down.