A group of anarchist feminist Christians from the website JesusRadicals.com have taken credit for stealing calendars with racy pictures of women from a shopping mall and leaving behind signs reading “fuck the patriarchy” and “sorry, misogyny is out of stock.”
WSB-TV Atlanta reports theft of nearly 200 ‘girlie’ calendars — featuring pictures of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models — from a small mall kiosk venue. This story draws upon a post on JesusRadicals.com titled ‘Calender Grrlz‘ which encourages people to “disturb” their environments with “friends” and provides tips to facilitate theft including establishing a team including a bagger, lookout, and distractor; obscuring view from cameras; and wearing layers of clothing to avoid detection by later removing layers following theft.
What was the reasoning behind this theft? The post describes the calendars as “sexist and objectifying products” which “forced a specific sexuality and beauty standard.”
The author explains, “…we couldn’t take it anymore. We were sick of being told that our worth is equivalent to what aesthetic pleasure our bodies can afford someone else (typically a man).”
The signs left behind suggest that the group stole the calenders on behalf of “every girl who struggles with eating,” “who always followed his lead,” and “was only valued for her body.”
The response to speech people affiliated with JesusRadicals.com did not like was theft — depriving a small business of merchandise — and encouraging more theft.
In a free society, we are going to encounter speech we do not like. As mature adults, we should not resort to crime and use language of “the patriarchy” and “misogyny” while assuming to act on behalf of girls with eating disorders to justify/excuse crime. Instead, a response to speech we dislike may come in the form of education, protest, or maybe even speaking with people who sell merchandise we dislike to change their business practices.
When I encounter speech I dislike and feel passionate enough to respond, I respond with more speech rather than theft or censorship. I have realized that censoring others’ speech is not an appropriate way to resolve conflicts. I find opportunity when encountering speech I dislike and attempt to educate others while sharing my perspectives.
In addition to theft being an inappropriate reaction, the reasoning behind the theft is flawed.
It hardly seems to be the case that women who, of their own volition, model for calenders are subjugated by “the patriarchy” and “misogyny;” instead, these women likely value their jobs, think highly of their appearances, and enjoy profiting off people [mostly men, but note women also buy these calendars – challenge your heteronormative, cissexist assumptions, as some may say] purchasing the calenders and paying the women for photo rights.
Too many feminists, like these calendar thieves, shame women for their occupational choices [especially sex workers, but that’s a topic for another day] and deny volition of these women – casting them as victims subjugated by “the patriarchy.”
Shaming, in this situation, attempts to impose guilt upon swimsuit models and cheerleaders – casting them as people who are responsible for girls’ eating disorders and tools of “the patriarchy,” women oppressing other women on behalf of men by…appearing in calenders.
I hope these criminals reconsider their actions, return the calenders, apologize to owners/renters of the mall kiosk, and resort to other means of response to speech they dislike. Your brand of feminism is not a sufficient reason to steal calenders. This is no way to “smash the patriarchy.”
As always, feel free to comment below.