The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Degradation of women is not the new black

Posted by Cate on January 22, 2010

I was disgusted to read last night about the new Roger David t shirts that are being sold.

Pics and discovery of these t shirts from here

The t shirts are a new range called “Blood is the new black”. Gagging women, sexual violence, degradation…I mean seriously how can these things be depicted as acceptable themes in fashion?  Many of us have long contended that there are sexism and misogny in fashion (see American Apparel’s use of retail staff semi naked in their ads) but this takes things to a new level. I have to wonder who had the great idea of featuring degrading, dehumanising photographs of women on these t shirts. It’s not edgy, it’s not cool, it’s not provocative, it’s simply ridiculous and shows a deep contempt for women. It suggests that violence against women is something which should be sexualised and viewed by a mainstream audience. The name alone, is suggesting that blood (and violence) is in fashion. This is not ok.

These images present the message  that it’s ok to present women as restained, dehumanised, blind folded, gagged, mute and blind, their helplessness a  source of sexual pleasure.

On the Roger David facebook group, the owner states:

Blood Is The New Black offers independent artists the opportunity the display their work and points of views on one of the most common threads in society, the T-shirt. As with any of “the arts,” discussion, discourse and debate is often sparked, due to unique and controversial ideas. Art is meant to inspire and educate, and the meaning and interpretation is left in the hands of the viewer – we are here to inspire ideas, not mediate or control them.

The artist Dan Monick believes there is little to no meaning behind the shot. “She was wearing a headband and it started to slide down her face and she bit it. The shot is a snapshot from me and Annie hanging out, it is not a premeditated image. I took 3 frames. If I had put any meaning behind the image it’s more about the messed up aspects of Hollywood silencing individuality and unique voice. It’s about Hollywood silencing the human.”

Err… nice attempt at saving face hiding behind the excuse that it’s all about ‘art’.  Sounds more like a deliberate ploy to get in the media with some offensive pics. I’ll be interested to see if anyone buys the t shirts, I’d hate  to think of a friend, male relative, or young person thinking such t shirts are acceptable because they are created by an artist.  Blood will never be the new black. Sexual violence should never be in fashion. Ever.

Write to Roger David here to show your disgust.


10 Responses to “Degradation of women is not the new black”

  1. au revoir said

    I think the second T Shirt shown is the cover of a Roxy Music album.

  2. au revoir said


  3. gauriyardi said

    This is horrible. I wrote to Roger David. Unlike art which is often confined to galleries and adult eyes, clothes are taken out into the public and are easily viewable by children and teenagers. I find this horrendous.

  4. Hurts said

    OMG…This hurt my head to read. Have you been to the website? Like the above comment pointed out, the second image is a roxy music album cover. oooh! Nudity. Us women should run for the hills now.

    So let’s just consider the first image. I can see, that if you were a superficial person, that by seeing the name of the t-shirt range, “blood is the new black” and that one image, you might be concerned that ‘Blood” and the girl “gagged” are related.
    But look at the website! It is one t-shirt design. All the other designs are tame, and have nothing to do with violence against women or blood. Of all the artist/designers – at least 11 of them are women.

    the t-shirt. Look at the image of the t-shirt. It doesn’t really look like she is being gagged. It is not tight, she doesn’t look distressed. You have obviously never been gagged. And what, a girl can’t consent to being gagged? fuck, trust feminist to take the fun out of sex and nudity. Post like this make all us women seem like prudish whiners.

  5. Anita said

    Pretty pathetic really – a label for much older men trying to get some cred with a younger market … and hopefully failing miserably.

  6. Erin said

    Oh it’s ART? Well as you were good sir. You don’t mind if I kick you in the bollocks? no? It’s for a controversial artistic project…

  7. MarianK said

    I’m still trying to come to terms with the passing of the name ‘Jackie Howe’ to refer to a blue singlet, in favour of the grotesque Americanism, ‘wife beater’.

  8. MarianK said


    ‘Post like this make all us women seem like prudish whiners.

    It’s posts like yours, Hurts, that confuse the issue by muddying the distinction between wowserism and the public objectification of women. The former is about the supposed disapproval of sex; the latter is about the distribution of power across the genders.

    On its own the t-shirt image of a young woman with her mouth obstructed by a gag-like object is probably not doing all that much harm. However, in the wider cultural context, it reinforces a sense of female inferiority by being one of many thousands of routine public portrayals of women in ways that are submissive and/or physically restrictive.

    And while we’re at it, even wowserism in general discourse is portrayed in a deliberately confusing way, to imply that those who are discomforted by the unfettered portrayal of sexuality in public (especially sexualised images of women and girls) don’t like any form of sex in private – which would be ridiculous if it weren’t so widely believed.

  9. gemma said

    On the roxy music album cover the women’s faces are not covered, unlike the terribly ‘artistic’ t-shirt where they are depersonalised, objectified and degraded by having their eyes blacked out. That’s why the image is offensive to me – not the nudity per se.

    It seems a pretty common reflex to suggest someone is prudish or uptight if they object to these kinds of depictions of women – apparently this is something that Natasha Walter discusses in-depth in her new book, Living Dolls, which is coming out soon and sounds interesting. The Guardian has an article about it:

  10. Vivian said

    A major reason why images of women like these are sexist is because, not only do they portray women as passive, vulnerable objects to be acted upon, but because men are rarely ever portrayed in the same way.
    Sexism is, afterall, mostly about double standards between the sexes.

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