Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nike and their golden t-shirt

Have you seen Nike's new t-shirt? It's meant to be a celebration of the US Olympic team, specifically the women, who dominated the final medal count. If US women were their own nation, they would have come in third in the final count, that's how awesome our women were. So Nike has issued a t-shirt to honor that golden effort. But it's a shirt that is only available in women's sizes. (Totally off topic: but I hope whoever came up with the idea of women's cut t-shirts is now incredibly wealthy and sipping umbrella-decorated cocktails on a beach somewhere.)

Here's the kicker about the shirt: the slogan is "Gold Digging." So is that t-shirt sexist? Because calling a woman a gold-digger is pretty darn insulting and linking being a gold-digger with being a woman makes the gender issue pretty obvious. Or is it a fun, tongue-in-cheek nod to the nation's female Olympians? Saying, in effect, this is how awesome women dig for gold.

As a word play nerd, I have to admit I think this shirt is kinda funny. As with a certain "B" word, I am all for reclaiming negative, insult words and taking the sting out of them at least. Or at best, turning them into empowering words. For that reason, the Meredith Brooks song is on my 3-song life soundtrack. Just like Nike might be suggesting that women should take that pejorative term and turn it into something that we can be proud to be called.

The linked Yahoo! article suggests that there has been some internet noise about this, but this article has been the only thing I've seen. For their part, Nike has responded by saying, "The t-shirt uses a phrase in an ironic way that is relevant given it was released just as the world focused on the success of female athletes.” 

In the end, I think I'm just not that bothered by this t-shirt. I don't like that term (and I HATE the song). I especially don't like the idea that any women have to somehow satisfy outsiders about their motives for being in relationships or getting married. Generally, it bothers me how willing so many people are to assume people have ulterior motives or negative agendas and I generally see viewing people as gold-diggers as part of that greater problem. So, since I'm a believer in trusting people until they prove I shouldn't and Nike has a good history of supporting women and encouraging them to embrace sports and fitness, I believe Nike really was going for the winking, tongue-in-cheek reading. It's the sort of thing I would do, too. Though I have the luxury of not trying to fit my pithy saying on a t-shirt. Had I come up with the idea to include this twist on gold-digging when I wrote about the US women in the Olympics, I would have had enough room to make my post title, "This is how real women dig for gold" or something.

1 comment:

BellsforStacy said...

I think I hate it. That's my initial reaction. It doesn't have the rings on it. It doesn't say Olympics 2012.

I think I hate it. Enough to raise a fuss? Probably not. I hate a lot of nike t-shirts. (Okay but the "your pace or mine" shirt is tongue in cheek funny.) There's some store where I work out at the mall and they have this row of shirts and they just seem geared toward teenagers and it's all sexual innuendo and stupidity.

I think there could have been better shirts.

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