This image of two signs at an area restaurant captures so much of what characterizes our culture and arguably of what is wrong with our nation today. When I saw them tonight, I was immediately offended and surprised, and then I took a picture in anticipation of writing a blog about them.
These signs celebrate guns; praise male-dominated, chauvinistic mores and rhetoric; suggest women are property; and contain grammar errors (when referring to people use “who” not “that”!). Reading further, these signs speak from a male-is-default point-of-view, emphasize capitalism (or perhaps what we might call proto-capitalism), and not only demean women as being property belonging to a man, one speaks to how a “gal” should or shouldn’t smell.
I know from experience that some will say, “AJP! You’re reading wayyy too much into this.” (Updated 3/4/14- check out this wonderful response to “you’re reading too much into it.”) Perhaps so…but as a cultural studies practitioner, anything is fair game. Also, women face all kinds of subtle discrimination as it is so ingrained in our everyday life. As a cisgendered male, I can’t even begin to see or understand all of the ways, but I can, and will, speak to those I can and more importantly listen. And these two signs in no way support the equality and full humanity of girls and women.
Rhetoric matters. Signs matter. Symbols matter.