Jocelyn's Other Desk

The writings of Jocelyn Smith, aspiring author, soon-to-be lawyer, once and future politician, all-around opinionated twentysomething.

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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

I'm a lawyer in Florida, working on three novels, a screenplay, and half a dozen pieces of fanfiction at any given moment.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sex Sells. Get Over It.

Oh dear. Warning to Clair, the Jammers, The Other People, and any of my more socially-conservative friends who may be stopping by: I fear that this post will probably make you MAD. You will most likely NOT agree with my position.

But you know how I feel about any meddling with speech and expression, or even suggestions of such meddling.

I'm going to Renaissance Faire tomorrow (big surprise there, eh?) And on Monday, I'm making a trip out to Tyson's Corner, in Virginia. I'm going to the new Victoria's Secret store that just opened, and I'm going to buy something. Not sure what yet, since VS isn't really my style, but I need a sexy slip for part of my costume in Cabaret, and there's some kind of seamless underwear they carry that's supposed to work under a leotard.

It'll be the first time I've ever bought anything at Victoria's Secret. Why?

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1005/266383.html That's why.

I've read the transcript and watched the video. The following are my reactions:
  1. To the clothes (or lack thereof) on the mannequins: Ytch! Also not really my style. Not my style at all, actually. I find that kind of underwear downright ugly, not to mention that it looks damn uncomfortable!
  2. To the complaint about the poster/mannequins engaging in lesbian sex/foreplay: Big deal, lingerie stores and magazines show posters or mannequins of men and women feeling each other up all the time. (Still not my style, however. I prefer landscapes and city skylines.)
  3. To the Americans For Traditonal Values woman: go shove your morals down someone else's throat, lady. The store wouldn't sell that kind of stuff if people didn't buy it by the truckload.
  4. To the "shocking" presence of children in the store: It...is...not...the responsibility...of ANY store...to babysit...your...children!!! WHY are ABC 7 and that Conservative Busybody Female ranting and raving about how shocking the STORE is for having children present instead of shoving their microphones and their pamphlets up the nose of the parents who bring the little tykes INTO the store in the first place?!

# 4 is my primary point. Ohhh, it's so shocking to see a kid sitting alone by a fitting room while Mommy goes and tries on her BDSM costume. Don't get me wrong: I don't like it, nor do I approve of leaving kids unattended in ANY store.

But it's a well-documented fact about pedophiles that they hang out in toy departments, not Victoria's Secret. And for those who are fearing that the poor little innocents will be somehow turned into raving sex maniacs by seeing those mannequins or posters, ask yourselves: did YOU find underwear sexy as a child? Or did you just mutter, "Ewwww!" and beg Mommy to let you go play in the Toy Department while she perused the bras and underwear?

Above all else: Victoria's Secret did not put up those mannequins and posters as part of some nefarious scheme to turn children into sex fiends. They did it to sell the clothes those models are wearing. And people are buying, obviously, or they wouldn't be bringing their little urchins into the store while they try things on. And Victoria's Secret wouldn't spend the advertising dollars and the development money (imagine how much cash putting together a line of products like that and displays like that must cost!) if people were not buying.

Whether an interest in the kind of sex that the store is promoting is "moral" or not is not the issue. My point is that either way, stores sell what people buy. Stores display what people want to see. More people want to see those types of products than don't, or else VS wouldn't have bothered.

As both an American consumer and a militant believer in free will and free expression, I object rather strongly to some pompous female and sensationalist reporters trying to prevent a STORE from selling adult materials to adults.

They are not peddling kiddie porn. No mannequins were harmed in the production of those displays, no models were raped in the photo shoots. They are dealing in adult products for adult consumers.

If there are children in a store that sells adults-only products, the nature of that store's advertising is the LEAST of this country's problems.

What does it say about the number of PARENTS who stroll right on in with their kids in tow? Why are the media and the Self-Appointed Morality Police attacking the store and not them?

So the store has my support, even though I personally do not like what's on those mannequins. And when I go spend some cash there on Monday, I will tell them so.

8 Comments:

Blogger Claire said...

For the record:

I'm a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.

Socially liberal doesn't mean socially stupid. Depictions of two mannequins (regardless of gender) all but naked on a bed apparently having sex is 'over the top' for a public display that's not sitting in an art gallery. If they have an 'adults only' section, it should be cordoned off and screened.

Apparently, Victoria's Secret agreed and bowed to public pressure (not to mention the potential sales dollars).

You've such an odd idea of myself and the jammers and the parents, etc. All we ever say is exercise common sense. Since you're the attorney, why don't you research what is considered appropriate and inappropriate public display.

As far as buying underwear, my husband laughed. He remembers waiting outside the ladies' fitting room holding his mom's purchases, bored and embarrassed while she tried on bras (no doubt 18-hour styles and white undies and slips). I doubt she'd have left him in the lobby of the 'over-21 only sex shop' while she perused dildos and sex toys.

Those stores are usually by themselves in a block with appropriate warnings posted and staff who take it seriously.

Sex sells, so does common sense. Grownups known when to draw the line.

(by the way - I'm a full-fledged adult of the female gender, old enough to be your mother. I don't want to walk into a store selling ladies' lingerie and find a display of two people having sex in my face. I wouldn't expect it and I would find it as disgusting as if I were invited to somebody's house for dinner and the hosts opened the door dressed only in their underwear.)

****
Y'know, Jocelyn, I know you're part of that childfree group and you don't think society has any responsibility for anybody's kids, but kids are part of a society. That's the meaning of a society - courtesy dictionary.com - the saliant definitions:

a. The totality of social relationships among humans.
b. A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

That means kids have as much right to be here as adults. And since they are children and not adults, they need a certain amount of protection. If common sense isn't going to rule the day then they need laws to protect them. We have laws that attempt to ensure the protection of our sick and our elderly, why are kids so very unimportant?

Any civilized society makes provision for its poorest, its weakest, its youngest and those unable to care for themselves. We attempt the same with our animals, especially domesticated.

Sorry, off the soapbox - just your view of myself and the others is so damned odd and I'm not sure exactly what you are hyped-up about. Do you want Victoria's Secret to post a notice forbidding entry to their story by anybody under eighteen years old? That's sure to cut their busy by a significant margin.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

I don't want to walk into a store selling ladies' lingerie and find a display of two people having sex in my face.

I admit I was harsh last night (in my defense, it was 4 in the morning and I couldn't sleep), but I do respect your opinion. You're perfectly entitled to dislike the display, or to "vote with your wallet," as the line goes, by refusing to go to that store or complaining to the management.

My objection--and anger--is toward those parties who seek to FORCE the store from engaging in an action that is perfectly legal, even if it is arguably not moral, by the dint of demands to the police and mall owners and security to override the decision of the Victoria's Secret management.

Y'know, Jocelyn, I know you're part of that childfree group and you don't think society has any responsibility for anybody's kids, but kids are part of a society.

While I am a member of the Childfree groups, that does not believe I think SOCIETY has no responsibility for anybody's kids.

My feeling, shared by many of the CF members, is that when a parent is negligent or abusive, that parent is the FIRST and FOREMOST person responsible for the injury, whatever form it takes, to the child. (Ie, not the store the child happened to be in when the mother left him alone and unsupervised, not the driver who was obeying the traffic laws when the unattended child ran into the road, etc.)

I believe an adult is first and foremost responsible for their OWN actions, and a minor, mentally incompetent to make decisions for himself/herself, is the responsibility of their parent or guardian.

I don't argue that kids have no "right" to be in a lingerie store. Simply that parents who walk into that store with the kid in tow knowing FULL WELL what is inside (in the Tyson's Corner case, there's no way you could fail to know even as you approach it), have no right to scream and howl that their child is or could be "damaged" by being inside that store. I'd argue the same if a parent took a child to a violent movie or a scary haunted house.

THAT is what I'm hyped up about.

Since you're the attorney, why don't you research what is considered appropriate and inappropriate public display.

The entire reasoning behind free speech laws in this country is that the definition of what is appropriate or inappropriate public display is never entirely hard and fast, varies greatly based on the individual viewing it, and cannot be determined by any one person.

Take these examples: a statue in a public park shows two men (or women) fully clothed, sharing a chaste kiss. Another statue is a replica of "David" (classical nude.)

People who find homosexuality of any type offensive will undoubtedly want Statue A removed. But people who object to nudity will want David removed, regardless of its classical and historical renown. Both will insist that it's "common sense" that one statue or the other is inappropriate.

Yes, I'm probably young enough to be your daughter--but please don't assume a lack of common sense on my part because my views happen to differ. The fact is, although I find the clothes on the mannequins downright ugly and uncomfortable-looking, I am not offended by sexually-provocative clothing on display in a lingerie store--that's what lingerie is for! I won't BUY the stuff, but I don't contest VS's right to advertise and sell it when a legitimate market exists. VS doesn't market their skanky skivvies to kids.

However, I seethe with rage when I see cigarette ads in the pages of magazines that cater heavily to teens--THAT, to me, is far more disgusting and inappropriate than the sluttiest of VS's mannequins.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

However, I seethe with rage when I see cigarette ads in the pages of magazines that cater heavily to teens--THAT, to me, is far more disgusting and inappropriate than the sluttiest of VS's mannequins.

We're not discussing cigarette ads.

VS is a women's underwear shop. It is a place for women's lingerie. Lingerie doesn't necessarily mean sex. It means pretty frillies that ladies like to wear because it makes them feel beautiful. A display of mannequins getting it on in a ladies underwear shop in a crowded mall is not on par with The Thinker sitting outside the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.

My reference to my age was simply to let you know that I've been around the block a few times, not to demean you. However, there is something to be said for considering the words of people with a few more decades under their belts. Age is a weird thing. Tends to make us more tolerant and more intolerant. Ideas that seemed so black and white at 25 blur to grey. I'm pretty sure it's not just because I need a new prescription and I know for damned sure that I'm not some little biddy who flips out everytime somebody flips the bird. You should see my writing, Jocelyn. It's definitely for mature audiences only.

VS's display may not be entirely legal (let's not forget the Calvin Klein fiasco of a decade or so ago - the more recent one, not the Brooke Shields one). Provocative poses belong in a properly marked section and screened off. Staff should take admonishments for 'adults only' seriously.

Entering VS does not give license to be offended by mannequins feeling each other up in scanty scivvies. I sure as hell don't presume I have to leave my children at the door if I go inside VS. Then, again, it's been a while since I've purchased there. Are there other stores at the mall I have to worry about bringing my kids into? I don't remember there being anything very worrisome. But, times change.

As far as VS goes - looks like Tyson Corners got what they wanted - VS wins and so does Tyson Corners.

I'm still not certain what you're hyped up about.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

VS's display may not be entirely legal (let's not forget the Calvin Klein fiasco of a decade or so ago - the more recent one, not the Brooke Shields one).

If the display falls under some standard of LEGAL violation, I will accept that.

Provocative poses belong in a properly marked section and screened off. Staff should take admonishments for 'adults only' seriously.

Why? Why is it the store's responsibility to PREVENT children from entering if the parents are walking in with their eyes open and still with their kids in tow?

And who defines "provocative?" Been into Abercrombie & Fitch lately? The one in my hometown mall has a huge poster of some boy toy in a DARN provocative pose right in front of the doors.

What I was hyped up about was the caterwauling in the press story I linked by the reporters and that "Traditional Values" woman acting as if they had some right BEYOND what the law allows to police what people see and advertise.

If they don't like it, they don't have to shop at VS. If they're worried about its effect on their own kids, they don't have to bring their kids. Nobody's forcing women to bring their kids to this place. You still haven't convinced me why the store should do more than they've already done.

Nobody could fail to know what kind of product is in that store.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Sounds like VS did what it should do. It removed a mannequin and it screened off an offensive display. End of problem.

I was thinking about the concept of marking something in one's store as 'Adults Only'. Almost confers a presumptive responsibility to the store. If they are saying Adults Only, then they should enforce it. Or do they say 'adults only' as a come on to entice adults into that section? Are they checking ID's? Making sure that people under 18 aren't buying whatever's in the Adults Only section? Nobody told them to mark ANYTHING adults only. Nobody told them to put up displays inappropriate for the general public. If I can't bring my kids in there, then they should just post a sign telling people that anybody under age 18 is not allowed.

It'd be interesting to see what a court would say about the legality of that display. My guess is that discussion with their lawyer told them they were on shaky enough ground from a public relations and a legal standpoint that it just wasn't worth the risk of losing customers and gaining notoriety.

They could fight. But why? They want to make customers happy, not drive them away.

Nobody could fail to know what kind of product is in that store.

They sell women's underwear. Right? Isn't that what they sell? Lingerie. Nightgowns, pretty panties, lace bras and other unmentionables. Not the sort of place one typically finds a man. Although a place one would typically expect kids because, well...women buy women's lingerie and women have kids and it's entirely possible they have thsoe kids because of the lingerie, though I sure wouldn't tell any kid as much. It's frillies and pretties. What else is it?

How cute is the young man in the Abercrombie and Fitch ad? How provocative? Is it worth a trip to the mall? (wink)

1:46 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

It'd be interesting to see what a court would say about the legality of that display.

Not certain, but unless the display is legally obscene, there's probably nothing that could legally be done about it, although it is true that "commercial speech," like advertising, which the display is, has less protection than other types of speech.

How cute is the young man in the Abercrombie and Fitch ad? How provocative? Is it worth a trip to the mall? (wink)

Only if you're into frat boys. There's something about the A&F boys that just rubs me the wrong way.

I like sexual confidence as much as the next hot-blooded woman, but to me, SMUG is not sexy. "You know you want me" is one thing, but "I know everybody wants me so why should I assume you're any different" seems to be all over A&F boy's face.

*shrug* To each their own.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Nonny said...

*applauds*

Fully agree with you.

(And I find the A&F boys a turn-off, too. Granted, I'm a goth, but still. :P)

9:46 PM  

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