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Author Topic: American Apparel: sexploitation and possible harassment
lagatta
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posted 16 July 2005 12:15 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For all its cool, "non-exploitative" image, American Apparel and its boss would appear to exert undue control over its employees in very ... intimate areas, if not outright sexual harassment.

I've long found their ads in pseudo-alternative weeklies offensive, but I guess I'm just a second-waver....

God, it sounds like a great place to start a UNION. And perhaps to leaflet employees about Commission des droits de la personne provisions against personal and sexual harassment.... sexploitation, harassment at American Apparel?


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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 12:25 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I guess I don't have to fret about their rather high prices anymore.

Other than not making a point not to buy them... what else can we do?


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fern hill
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posted 16 July 2005 12:30 PM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another second-waver weighing in: I find the ads offensive too and that story you linked to makes the guy sound very creepy (not to mention that the pic of him shows him looking pretty creepy and cheesy).

Don't these stores sell men's clothes too, and employ male salespeople? What are the dress/ makeup requirements for them, I wonder.

The women employees are NOT to wear makeup, but pluck their eyebrows, NOT to wear underwire bras, and better yet, not to wear bras at all.

Oh, I hope this goes to court somewhere so we can have a companion thread to the 'Mandatory Makeup' threads.


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lagatta
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posted 16 July 2005 12:41 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What can we do?

Simply spread this news item and find out more about this story. Dov Charney has made a reputation for himself as an "ethical capitalist" - here, he seems anything but. Sexual and personal harassment were features of the sweating system as much as low wages and unsafe working conditions were. Many of the demands of working women a hundred years ago were coached in the moral language of their times: protecting working women's "honour" and "dignity", demanding foremistresses, etc.

Demand that this employer respect legislation on the subject of sexual and psychological harassment. Support all union organising drives (not just formally, but by word of mouth) in stores and on campus - a lot of AA employees are students. Idem for complaints about sexual or personal/psychological harassment.

Yeah, I almost bought a stretch cotton skirt there the other week (although it was far too expensive for what the cotton and labour must have cost) because it was a nice shade of green and would have packed well for travel. I always need clothes like that, that don't take up much room in a travel bag. But screw them...


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skdadl
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posted 16 July 2005 12:53 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have never heard of this outfit. (Pun = serendipity.) That never means much, of course.

Do they operate around here?

Because I recognize the name, though, I did a wee google, and I find that Dov Charney is the nephew of the well-known Montreal architect Melvin Charney. Not that that means anything either, but small world, eh? I very much admire M. Charney, and also his writer wife Ann. Lovely people. Again, I stress that that is utterly irrelevant to the topic.


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fern hill
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posted 16 July 2005 12:56 PM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, skdadl, there are at least two, maybe three stores in Toronto. AA has often taken the outside back cover of NOW magazine to advertise in its cheesy amateur-porn-looking style with amateur models. The clothes are 'no-logo', very hip. And as lagatta says, too expensive for what they are.
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skdadl
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posted 16 July 2005 01:02 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Can you tell me where one of these stores is, fern hill? Sorry: I used to know where everything is, but things caught up with me. I gotta get out more.

I wouldn't go to buy, just to sleuth.


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lagatta
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posted 16 July 2005 01:08 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, I admire Melvin and Ann Charney as well, but their nephew certainly seems like a creep. The kind of boss who natters on about "sexual freedom" and "hangups" and wilfully ignores his own power.

Here is a NOW article about them, although as usually, NOW is more than a bit soft on sexploitation (so old-fashioned!) NOW on AA

Skdadl, the closest outlet to you would be at the Holt Renfrew centre on Bloor Street (the others are on Queen, Church, and somewhere else downtown)... But really, they just look like any clothing boutique targeting people less than half our age. The only reason I even looked at their skirt was because there was a sidewalk sale on - and their duds were not actually on sale.


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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 01:08 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
Simply spread this news item and find out more about this story.

That's for answering that. I've been feeling somewhat overwhelmed and defeatest lately at all that's happening in the world. Like nothing I could do makes any big difference.

I reposted this link in my journal, and will probably also post it to a few online communities about human rights later on today.


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fern hill
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posted 16 July 2005 01:09 PM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One is on Queen, between Spadina and Bathurst. Can't remember where I've seen the other or others . . . (I may get out but if I don't remember, what the hell good is it?)
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Stargazer
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posted 16 July 2005 01:33 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure there is one in the Eaton Centre. I rarely see too many shoppers in it. The clothing is expensive.

[ 16 July 2005: Message edited by: Stargazer ]


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lagatta
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posted 16 July 2005 01:35 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
babble and rabble can play a useful role here. A lot of people read the site and even the board. Heather Mallick? Perhaps we should send her this exchange; we know she likes checking out boutiques...

I'm sending the article to trade union organising departments here. Such background info can always come in handy one day...


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skdadl
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posted 16 July 2005 01:44 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ok -- I read that interview with Dov in NOW, and to me, he reads sleazy, very like a nouveau Hugh Hefner.

And yet, I am immediately wondering: is that just me rediscovering my inner Second Wave self? I really will be curious to read younger feminists reacting to him personally and to the enthusiasm of the marketeers for a "postmodern" view of female liberation.

quote:
(Charney didn't support a union drive in his factory, and he says he's de-emphasizing the sweatshop-free angle because it's "pass.")

Oh, gawd, yes, dahlings -- so tawsome.

No question I hate to watch this, but I'm expecting a reaction to our censure.


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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 01:57 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't want to say that I can speak for all "third-wavers" or whatever due to my age, but thing for me, skdadl, is that any women's liberation postmodern or otherwise should be self-initiated. It seems like everything in this scenario is being directed my this man, this boss, for his own personal business interests. That's not liberation. For me, liberation would be accepting any look that women choose to make for themselves, not foisting one upon them.

I find it hard to comment on the ads especially, because I've been out of the country for a while and even when I was in Canada, I didn't buy (paper) newspapers or watch TV. I saw the AA store on Queen street when I was in Toronto last time, but to me it looked like any Gap or Esprit or large-name store.


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WingNut
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posted 16 July 2005 02:08 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
"ethical capitalist"

Is that like a fragrant skunk? The saintly devil? The compassionate conservative?

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Nikita
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posted 16 July 2005 02:28 PM      Profile for Nikita     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm all a tizzy! I had never heard about this company before (check the location line, Saskatoon isn't exactly a hotbed of, well, anything) so I went to the American Apparel website and looked at the photo gallery. To me, it looked like amateur porn, with lots of crotch shots and lots of shots featuring girls with their mouths half open and their eyes unfocused; it was vaguely disconcerting. I couldn't tell if they were wearing clothes at all, let alone the AA clothes.

I didn't get the impression Charney is celebrating women's sexuality for its own sake; he's using it to sell but also for his personal gratification.

Here's where the waters get murky for me: I'm 20, which seems to be fairly close to the age of the girls in the ads. I wonder what they think of the backlash, because it's not just Charney's work we're critiquing, it is the girls as well.

The girls who model for the pictures have obviously consented and been paid to do it. Basically, they are selling their sexuality. Who am I to say they shouldn't do that? If at the end of the day she has no moral qualms about it, who am I to judge her? It's not something I would do, but that's a personal choice. So if it is something they want to do is it really exploitation?

But I have another thought, albeit very fleeting, and elusive. Maybe on the surface they think the girls think they are doing it for themselves, but deep down there are other reasons like validation, or male approval?


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Albion1
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posted 16 July 2005 03:14 PM      Profile for Albion1     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
See these following links found at google.ca:


http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/10/fashion/sundaystyles/10HARASS.html?8hpib

http://www.gawker.com/news/culture/fashion/another-freaking-american-apparel-item-111928.php

http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/?p=786


this is the best link:

http://feministing.com/archives/001529.html


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Insurrection
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posted 16 July 2005 04:01 PM      Profile for Insurrection     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I happend to read the NYT article as well, you'll need to login to access the second part of it but reading it upped-the-ante of the Charney's creepyness for me...
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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 04:41 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another link

A friend of mine who's actually been in the stores (in California), tells me they were also sized very small. That seems to jive with the whole anti-bra thing, so I wasn't surprised to learn that.


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Melsky
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posted 16 July 2005 05:10 PM      Profile for Melsky   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was interested when I heard about sweatshop-free clothes but their ad campaign really turns me off. Not even dealing with the sexual politics, is there some law against being able to actually see what the clothes look like in the advertisements?
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BleedingHeart
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posted 16 July 2005 05:40 PM      Profile for BleedingHeart   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Buy you clothes from the Gap, Costco etc, realising that they are probably sewed by a 10 year old in a sweatshop, figure out what they would have cost made by an adult making a decent wage, donate the difference to Oxfam or some other worthy cause.
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abnormal
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posted 16 July 2005 05:49 PM      Profile for abnormal   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
...tells me they were also sized very small...

which is consistent with the text on their website:
quote:
for those who just refuse to wear the oversized, unshapely T-shirts offered elsewhere. Many of our fitted styles are stretchy and can accommodate a wide range of shapes
The Men's section contains similar text.

Somehow this reminds me of those manufacturers of designer jeans who, at one time, refused to make jeans in sizes above a 34. They were open about the reasons - they simply didn't want their logo on "large" people.


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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 05:54 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing is though... fitted t-shirts don't have to be small, either. I'm wearing a fitted t-shirt right now that's designed for women, yes, but still comes in a lot of sizes. I don't really like the traditional, boxy t-shirts either (they totally erase my waist), but rejecting those shouldn't be synonymous with nothing above size 6.
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Melsky
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posted 16 July 2005 06:00 PM      Profile for Melsky   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I get most of my clothes from thrift shops anyway. I also ordered some skirts from a local woman with a sewing business. I paid about the same for the skirts as I would have if I bought them in a department store. I also got to choose my own fabric.
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lagatta
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posted 16 July 2005 06:01 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
another link on this creep: http://www.nosweatshop.org/americanapparel.htm
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fern hill
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posted 16 July 2005 06:09 PM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ewwww, from lagatta's link there is a blog. Be ware. Seriously yucky. I find it fascinating how many people are using the words 'creep' and 'creepy' for this guy. This is soooo retro. I'm getting flashbacks on the disgust Hephner used to provoke in me.

edited to add: 'Hefner' looks better but I can't be bothered. . . .

[ 16 July 2005: Message edited by: fern hill ]


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kuri
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posted 16 July 2005 06:41 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That blog seems rather blas about the whole thing actually, especially the second part of the entry.
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skdadl
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posted 17 July 2005 08:32 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The blog does, although the musician's site doesn't. The blog is blase, I guess, because it is just profiling Dov C himself. The blogger (Rachel) and the other commentators she mentions (especially that reporter from Jane) seem to think of Charney's relations with his workers only in terms of sexual relations, and their position there is simply that everything is always consensual.

Consensual? Perhaps for some, and perhaps in a strictly literal way. But as a few women come forward to challenge Charney legally, to talk about the kinds of pressure they felt, I think they deserve support.

Man. This just ain't my culture. Definite Hefner flashbacks. Need to brush my teeth.


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Stargazer
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posted 17 July 2005 09:48 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am on MySpace so I joined the UnAmerican Apparel group and wow Nelly! There are a lot of ex-employees talking about their experiences while working at this place, and the experiences are not good.
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Michelle
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posted 17 July 2005 09:56 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Check out their job ad for sales associates.

quote:

Come join our team.


Innovation for the clothing industry.

4,000 people making it happen.

Challenging both the right and the left.

Not dominated by logos or politically correct tribalism.

Challenging the boomer dominance of the economy.

One of the fastest growing clothing companies in the U.S. Committed to doing things differently.

American Apparel is a progressive and provocative retailer, distributor and manufacturer of knit T-shirts and related garments. The company is committed to reinventing the way business is done in the clothing industry.

We are trying to make garments without having to resort to the use of exploitative labor. With over 4,000 employees, we do not outsource any cut and sewn work; all of our garments are made at our 800,000 sq. foot downtown Los Angeles facility.

We are opening stores all over the United States. Because the business is growing so rapidly, there is tremendous possibility for advancement. Sales people can move on to get management jobs at the stores, as well as design, merchandising and marketing positions. There are also great travel opportunities.

We are currently recruiting intelligent, friendly and hard-working people for our sales team. Submitting a picture is recommended but not required.


You know, it's really too bad, because otherwise it sounds like such a great enterprise. You can sell sexy clothes without sexually harassing your employees.

It's a pity, really.

[ 17 July 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


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lagatta
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posted 17 July 2005 10:06 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I guess that justifies them refusing to hire "boomers" aka middle-aged people.

Actually, I think some sectors of the economy at least are dominated by rather elderly people who are actually pre-boom...

Remember, AA employees, don't moan, organise!


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skdadl
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posted 17 July 2005 10:10 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A question: are the garment workers unionized? I mean, you don't (and never did) have to go overseas to find sweatshops.

Otherwise, a lot of code words there. They know that the "no logo" campaign has worked, but they are also trying to shift minds back a little by sliming the left for "politically correct tribalism." Hee.

Ooh, and boomers are bad. Check.

They still want a free ride on the word "progressive," but they want you thinking that anyone who isn't also "provocative" is not really progressive at all. Progressives have moved on from being boring and asexual, you know.

This is quite insidious, the longer one looks at it. It looks like an attempt to co-opt labour and the left generally, to shift the Zeitgeist. In fact, it is a very old tactic, goes back to Mackenzie King and the Rockefellers at least.


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Michelle
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posted 17 July 2005 10:12 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by BleedingHeart:
Buy you clothes from the Gap, Costco etc, realising that they are probably sewed by a 10 year old in a sweatshop, figure out what they would have cost made by an adult making a decent wage, donate the difference to Oxfam or some other worthy cause.

Ha. They don't have to cost what they do in any case. It's not the labour that costs, it's the advertising and shareholders that cost a lot.

GAP and other sweatshop emporiums are expensive not because of the labour practices but because they take a huge profit. Fair-trade, sweat-free clothes could cost the same as GAP clothes.

Personally, if I want to use that tactic, then I will buy clothes at Zellers, where the markup isn't so high, and then donate the difference to whatever charity helps sweatshop workers.

But actually, what normally happens with me is that I practically never buy new clothes anyhow, first of all because I can't be bothered clothes shopping when I have wearable clothes in my closet, and secondly because it costs too damned much. And I hate trying to find stuff on unorganized thrift-shop racks. So I usually make do with what I have.

BTW, I was amused at this quote from the NOW article that lagatta posted:

quote:
You might not know it, but you probably have an American Apparel T lurking somewhere in your wardrobe.

Yeah, I doubt it, considering that their XL is a size 12.

[ 17 July 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


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puzzlic
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posted 17 July 2005 12:40 PM      Profile for puzzlic     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another middle-aged boss who thinks he's so liberated that the usual rules of sexual harassment don't apply -- and imagines that pretty 22-year-olds ("preferably Asian") would be interested in having sex with him if their jobs weren't on the line.

(I wouldn't ordinarily consider 36 to be "middle-aged": god knows I'm almost that old. But if this dude is acting like he's having a midlife crisis -- he is. Eeuw.)

[ 17 July 2005: Message edited by: puzzlic ]


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lagatta
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posted 17 July 2005 12:43 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was wondering why you thought 36 was middle-aged!

But it sure isn't 22. And that thing about "Asian girls" is beyond creepy.


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Rufus Polson
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posted 17 July 2005 12:49 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Nikita:

The girls who model for the pictures have obviously consented and been paid to do it. Basically, they are selling their sexuality. Who am I to say they shouldn't do that? If at the end of the day she has no moral qualms about it, who am I to judge her? It's not something I would do, but that's a personal choice. So if it is something they want to do is it really exploitation?

As I understand it, the girls are employees. Which, while it's all nice and not-professional-model-ish as far as style is concerned, means that they *aren't* selling their sexuality, or at least they weren't originally. They were working in some normal capacity and at some point got approached about whether they'd do an ad. At that point, there's concerns--why are they doing it? Are they wondering how they'll get treated if they say no? Maybe not worried they'll get fired, but probably worried they'll suddenly find themselves with worse shifts and generally shat on for not being a team player. How personal does that make the choice, really?


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bardamu yossarian
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posted 22 July 2005 10:26 PM      Profile for bardamu yossarian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
UnAmerican Apparel is no longer on MySpace - does anyone know why?
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Nikita
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posted 22 July 2005 10:34 PM      Profile for Nikita     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read in one article that girls are offering to pose for the ads, which is where my comment came from.

However, maybe they were approached instead and felt pressured to pose for the reasons you posted, Rufus. I don't know, and if that's the case then Charney is an even bigger fucknut than I originally supposed, which is not a good thing.


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Michelle
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posted 22 July 2005 10:41 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why wouldn't a 22 year-old be attracted to a 36 year-old? I mean, obviously there are power imbalances in this particular case with a boss-employee thing, but really, I don't think the age difference is proof (or even overwhelming evidence) that a woman couldn't be attracted to a man 14 years her senior for any reason other than trying to keep her job. At 22, I was living with a 33 year-old. 22-36 doesn't seem like that huge a difference to me.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
giselle731
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posted 05 August 2005 12:31 PM      Profile for giselle731     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i can't find the employee blog on myspace? has it moved? does anyone have the blog?..curious to see what those employees had to say...
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rsfarrell
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posted 23 November 2005 05:17 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
[QB]Martin, I don't think the point is American Apparel being the worst company in the world, but their misleading advertising based on their "no sweat" cred, when actually the company has been involved in union busting.

I'd like to see some evidence of that. All I've heard is they don't like unions and tried to persuade employees not to join a union. I'm in a union and I like it that way, but, let's face it, no employer likes unions.

Having witnessed the disputes between my own employer and my union, I can imagine what "forcing them to attend anti-union meetings" was. Somebody called a staff meeting and posted that pay and benifits at AA were better than the (unionized) competition. Boom. Complaint. They could be bona-fide anti-union folks like Wal-mart, but I'd like to see the proof, given that the worst they're being accused of is pretty tepid stuff.

quote:
I find their porn-aesthetic ads VERY creepy (especially the copy), but then I'm not the demographic they are pitching to.

I love them. The sexy you usually get in Madison Ave ads is tired and predictable; dark-haired and rauchy, or blonde and perky, big boobs, thongs. On the other hand, a pale, semi-realistic looking girl in a loose white tee and tube socks. Very sexy, in a different way. Of course, it's very sexual, and some people find anything that hints at heterosexuality creepy.


From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
swirrlygrrl
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posted 23 November 2005 05:39 PM      Profile for swirrlygrrl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
some people find anything that hints at heterosexuality creepy

Some of us find "creepy" the way that power relations and exploitation have been normalized in mainstream images of heterosexuality. Just because they aren't airbrushed, doesn't make them empower/ed/ing.


From: the bushes outside your house | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
FourteenRivers
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posted 23 November 2005 07:00 PM      Profile for FourteenRivers        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here is the earlier thread that has resumed the discussion here. I am glad that this seems to be a hot topic, and that other links are provided in this thread. To me it seems pretty obvious by now that the activists have selected a fair target for their BND performance.

Incidentally, you can watch Dov starring in his own soft-porn-with-the-female-employees movie right on his own website. E.g.

quote:
The American Apparel Movie: American Apparel short film gives a thorough and insightful look into the company.

An "insightful" look? I'll say.

[ 23 November 2005: Message edited by: FourteenRivers ]


From: Quebec | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 23 November 2005 11:00 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
deleted, because it was the only way I could eliminate the long broken line. Re-written below.

[ 24 November 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]

[ 24 November 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
rabble-rouser
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posted 23 November 2005 11:29 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Found this article on the "Truth Out.org" website that originally appeared in the U.S. left-wing magazine "In These Times". This excerpt deals with UNITE-HERE's attempt to organize AA's LA factory...the rest of the article is quite interesting too.

quote:
The UNITE HERE campaign was launched in September 2003. Even though American Apparel workers made higher wages, they lacked certain benefits guaranteed to union garment workers. Stephen Wishart, a senior research analyst with UNITE HERE, writes on its Web site, BehindtheLabel.org, "Issues such as no paid time off, lack of affordable healthcare, production methods, and treatment by supervisors were the main issues of workers trying to organize."

When American Apparel heard the news, management got tough. Wishart reports, "The company's activities included holding captive meetings with employees, interrogating employees about their union activities and sympathies, soliciting employees to ask the union to return their union authorization cards, distributing anti-union arm bands and T-shirts, and requiring all employees to attend an anti-union rally. The company's most devastating tactic, though, was threatening to shut down the plant if the workers organized."

These are rather excessive means, especially for a company that made its name by touting improved labor standards. Eventually, a complaint was filed to the National Labor Relations Board. The company backed off from the tactics, but the plant remains non-unionized as a result of Charney's union-busting blitzkrieg.


rest of the article here

Bottom line? (IMHO) The head honcho at AA might pay people better than average, not employ third world sweatshop labour, but he is very much a viciously anti-union, sexist power-tripping shithead.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 24 November 2005 04:48 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
FourteenRivers wrote:

quote:
quote:

This strikes me as an appeal to prudery(by the activists, that is). According to the article, Charney asked permission to masturbate in front of the reporter, and she presumably said yes(or at least didn't walk out). Given that Charney was likely getting off on being watched masturbating, I'd say that qualifies as a consensual sexual encounter.

I think some would argue that it constitutes sexual harassment, especially if he proposes similar wank to his employees.


I would eliminate the word "especially" from your statement above. How does the wank session in front of the consenting reporter constitute sexual harassment? He's not her boss, and there's no indication that she wasn't free to walk out. In fact, at the end of the article, she expresses an interest in spending more time with the guy.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
FourteenRivers
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posted 25 November 2005 04:21 AM      Profile for FourteenRivers        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Look at the deranged Flash images:

http://americanapparel.net/index.html


From: Quebec | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
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posted 25 November 2005 10:07 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I saw some buses, a security guard resting on a bench, a happy looking black guy who probably doesn't get to be in too many ad campaigns, some pennants, an odd looking building... is this what you're going on and on about, Fourteen Rivers?

You're really sounding and seeming an awful lot like an OTL drone. Did they send you here?


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Hawkins
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posted 25 November 2005 02:00 PM      Profile for Hawkins     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Magoo, they have different sets of photographs. You only saw one set.
From: Burlington Ont | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
rsfarrell
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posted 25 November 2005 09:02 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by swirrlygrrl:

Some of us find "creepy" the way that power relations and exploitation have been normalized in mainstream images of heterosexuality. Just because they aren't airbrushed, doesn't make them empower/ed/ing.


Just because you took a seminar in media studies, it doesn't make "empower/ed/ing" the ultimate criteria of value, nor "power relations and exploitation" a mantra which absolves of speaker from providing evidence that their personal prudery is serving as society's conscience.


From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
rsfarrell
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posted 25 November 2005 09:20 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is what the company is saying:

quote:
The factory is not unionized. Last year, Charney and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, AFL-CIO, or UNITE, tangled over an organizing drive. The effort failed, and at one point hundreds of American Apparel workers staged a protest against the drive. The union says that the company management intimidated workers.

"By the third day of our campaign, people were not receptive. They were very afraid," says Cristina Vazquez, UNITE's regional manager in California and international vice president. She contends that American Apparel should set an example for other, smaller factories in the city by embracing the union.

UNITE, in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, contended that Charney had meddled in union talks with employees. In a non-monetary settlement, Charney, who denied wrongdoing, agreed to post flyers spelling out workers' collective-bargaining rights, have the list of rights read aloud to employees and stay out of future talks.

Kimi Lee, director of the independent, nonprofit Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles, says that the center typically supports UNITE's organizing efforts. But, in the case of American Apparel, the center did not believe that workers would benefit.

The Garment Worker Center hears few complaints from American Apparel workers, and those that come up are typically minor and resolved relatively easily, Lee says. They tend to stem from a lack of management experience among floor supervisors who have been promoted with little training, as a result of the company's fast growth, she says.


The Garment Worker Center seems to be legit -- at least, their name came up over and over in relation to consumer boycotts, worker education, and unionization drives. Anyone have more info on them?

I don't know who's spin is closer to the truth here -- I'd like to. I think it's important that the company get a fair hearing, because having been an activist for twenty years and helping in organizing many different kinds of protest, I think a major weakness of progressives is that we're never satisfied.

In order for negetive pressure to be meaningful, positive support has to be possible. If people become so tied in to the protest dynamic that they can find evil in everything, institutions have no motive to change.

Here we have a company which, everyone agrees, is in many ways performing above-par for the garment industry. That should not make them immune to criticism. But if that criticism should prove to be specious, and the company is harmed as a result, we are inviting companies everywhere to ignore protests and, making their products in the cheapiest, shoddist way compatable with exploitive marketing, treat protest as a cost of doing business. Because if everyone is always a sinner, there's no point in bucking for a halo by treating people well.

It's possible they deserve to by pillored. I'd like to see more evidence that it is warrented.http://www.americanapparel.net/presscenter/articles/20040704sfchronicle.html


From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 26 November 2005 04:08 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Magoo, they have different sets of photographs. You only saw one set.

I checked out some of the racier pics. Yeah, typical soft-soft-core fashion porn. Probably not the kind of stuff you wanna be showing to your grandma.

However, with even babblers unable to come up with a consensus on what constitutes exploitative pornogrpahy as opposed to tasteful erotica these days, I'm not sure if protesting a few crotch-shots on a fashion website is gonna be much of a rallying cry against the company. Best to stick to critiquing their labour practices, as suggested by rsfarrell.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mudd
recent-rabble-rouser
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posted 28 November 2005 12:27 AM      Profile for Mudd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Add these to the charges against American Apparel:

- spying on activists

- thuggery

Yep, that's right, American Apparel sent an undercover store security agent to infiltrate a Montreal activist group, posing as someone interested in Buy Nothing Day wanting to play in the jam.

The agent then identified the players to AA's security goons, who kicked the players to the sidewalk.

This didn't stop the performance, though, which featured guest players such as Dov's father Maurice Charney (the real Maurice Charney) who yelled at the actor playing his son (funny stuff) and the Montreal police (called in by the store).

If AA was really as progressive a company as they claim to be, you'd think they would rather engage the artists in a discussion than spy on them and kick them out.

I'm told videos and pics will be available soon.


From: On-Scary-Oh | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
rabble-rouser
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posted 28 November 2005 09:07 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mudd:

Interesting stuff. Do you gotta link for that?


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
FourteenRivers
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posted 28 November 2005 02:12 PM      Profile for FourteenRivers        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's a link with some details of the Montreal jam:

quote:
So, in the morning of Buy Nothing Day we get a few calls from people who heard about us from the Adbusters web site. About six people show up, three of them had a camera and asked if they could shoot the whole thing.

We get ready, explain what the script and roles and such, but when we show up at the American Apparel there were about 4-5 undercover security guards waiting for us. Which at this point we had no idea.

It turned out that the three people with the video camera were being paid buy america Apparel. Two of them looked like they could be AA employees asked to film the whole thing and the other one was a security guard who showed us his I.D. card:



From: Quebec | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
FourteenRivers
rabble-rouser
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posted 30 November 2005 03:19 PM      Profile for FourteenRivers        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's a link from the adbusters site detailing all of the fine theatre activism across the globe:

quote:
BUY NOTHING DAY 2005
You did it!!!

On Friday, millions of people across North America did not participate -- in the doomsday economy, marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that's subsumed our culture. Saturday saw celebrations erupt across much of Europe and Japan, making this BND one of the biggest and most international ever.



From: Quebec | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 30 November 2005 03:26 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What's an Adbusters cost these days?
From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
FourteenRivers
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9863

posted 01 December 2005 04:33 AM      Profile for FourteenRivers        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No idea...
From: Quebec | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged

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