Consuming Women, No. 6: blender? He hardly knew her!*

March 14th, 2011 12:06 pm by Kelly Garbato

Trigger warning for violent imagery, some of which involves female nudity, under the jump.**

A subsidiary of the department store Beymen, blender bills itself as a “concept store.” (Caution: meat-loving hipsters ahead!) The “concept” (scare quotes because the whole concept of a concept store is way too fucking pretentious for this thrift store shopper to stand), as you may have already surmised, involves the pairing of fashion with misogyny, the conflation of sex and violence, and the linkage of women and nonhuman animals: consumable objects, unite!

With several locations in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, blender doesn’t just sell clothing and assorted shiny baubles; oh no! Nor are body dysmorphia and low self-esteem its only wares. Ever the hipster-catering douchebags, each blender store is also home to a butcher shop! Because nothing accents a $500 white angora scarf quite like ghastly blood smear stain. (No, really!)

Curiously, blender attempts to sell its audience on this concept by treating at least half of them like pieces of meat, too!

Blender Concept Store - Butcher Shop

In what is perhaps the most egregious example of the “woman as meat” meme that I’ve seen yet, this ad for “concept store” blender hits a new misogynistic low. Set against a monotone backdrop, a woman – almost mannequin-like in her blankness – hangs suspended in a supine position. Her nearly-naked body – her photographer/exploiter has so generously allowed her a gaudy amount of jewelry as well as black “fuck me” stiletto pumps – is carved into pieces. Each cut reveals a cross-section of “meat” – muscle, gristle, bone – underscoring the similarity between “us” and the “other,” the nonhumans who are our “meat.” Discrete links of chain dangle from the ceiling; at the end of each is a large “fish” or “meat” hook.
In each hook, a dismembered body part.

As always, the model/meatstuff is predictably thin, light-skinned, blond-haired, and conventionally attractive. Her stare is blank, emotionless, creepy;
think Paris Hilton’s “sex tape,” minus the night vision.

The advert’s tag line reads, “The concept store with a butcher shop.”

Fittingly, Ads of the World refers to this ad as “Blender Concept Store: Butcher Shop.”
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Though the misogynist “Butcher Shop” ad above suggests that blender caters primarily to men, it does sell women’s clothing and accessories as well. Once you enter the website past the landing page, the first image to appear is that of a pair of men’s jeans – coupled with a bloody, raw steak.

blender (screenshot 02)

The text under the slide reads, “These JBrand jeans | go well with a manly dinner.”

From there, you can continue browsing the men’s clothing items, or navigate (somewhat clumsily) to other categories of goods.

The website’s main feature is a series of four slideshows: one each representing men’s and women’s clothing (rtw) and accessories (shoes & bags). Each individual slide juxtaposes an item of clothing with a concept, feeling, or activity: a goes well with b; if you like x, you will like y. Whereas the men’s slideshows are featured more prominently, more total slides are dedicated to women’s clothing and accessories. (The men get 14 clothing and 2 accessory slides; the women, 20 and 8, respectively. See Appendix A for a rundown.)

The images are somewhat subject to traditional gender stereotyping, with greater potential for gender transgression in the women’s slides. For example, the men’s slides stress danger and adventure; cue: motorcycle stunts, road trips, boxing, and retro acts of rebellion. All served with an unhealthy side of meat.

Oh, the meat! 3 out of 14 of the men’s clothing slides (or 3/16 total) involve thick, “juicy” (read: bloody) hunks of manly meat. (Nothing says masculinity like heart disease, constipation and e. coli!) In addition to the very first slide (mentioned above), there’s:

blender (screenshot 05)

Slide #6, in which a super-sized piece of steak is coupled with a photo of a strutting male model, decked out in black skinny jeans, a black and white checked (flannel?) shirt, a black scarf and matching cap, and a gray (wool? fleece?) jacket. (Forgive me; a fashion maven, I am not.) “If you like our Dukkan steak | you might also like this J.V. Star USA jacket.”

and

blender (screenshot 07)

Slide #13, which pairs a thick, greasy hamburger with an image of two jeans-and-tee-wearing teenage slackers hanging out in a industrial park or similar. (There’s lots of graffiti, concrete and metal around.) “If you like our Dukkan hamburger | you might also like this [sic] DeHoghten jeans.”

An additional image of “manly” animal exploitation – a comical caricature of masculinity in and of itself – involves (wait for it!) BEAR WRESTLING!

blender (screenshot 06)

Slide #8 depicts the same red and gray checked flannel shirt, both draped on a hanger and worn by a slightly wild-eyed man. He prowls the forest, fists balled tightly at his side, angrily searching for a hapless bear to brutalize (at least, this is what we’re meant to assume). “This manly John Varvatos Star USA shirt | goes well with wrestling a bear.”

MANLY, MEAT-EATING MEN ARE SO MASCULINIST AND MANLY AND MERCILESS IN THEIR MASCULINITY! I bet that dude could flagellate a bear into unconsciousness with his bare penis! (The puns, I bring ’em.)

In contrast, only 1 out of 20 of the women’s clothing slides (or 1/28 total) promote meat consumption:

blender (screenshot 10)

Slide #9 pairs a photo of a female model strutting down a runway with a rather amateurish photo of a plate of meatballs. “This Paul & Joe cardigan | goes well with a dinner of Swedish meatballs.” I don’t know about y’all, but when I see an overpriced, dry clean only cardigan, I immediately start craving greasy finger food!

(This example in particular highlights a key difference between the male and female slideshows: whereas the men’s images seem to be matched on the basis of feelings and emotions, the women’s are more literal or aesthetic. The women’s images complement each other visually, the men’s, viscerally. E.g., in this slide, the shape of the meatballs mirrors the circular, button-like shapes that decorate the runway. Ditto: the brown color of the meatballs and the brown and beige tones found in the model’s backdrop. But I digress.)

Not surprisingly, both the men’s and women’s slideshows also include depictions of positive human-nonhuman relationships with “pet” animals:

blender (screenshot 09)

Slide #6 – This playful Love Moschino blouse | goes well with your best friend. (I.e., an uber-adorable, totally cute and fluffy dog wearing a large, red bow.)
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blender (screenshot 08)

Slide #2 (in men’s shoes & bags) – This retro John Varvatos Star USA boot | goes well with the next punk revival. (As is represented by a kitten sporting a mohawk, striped face paint, multiple ear piercings, and a skull necklace; note to Lemmy: your future Halloween costume, you’re looking at it!)
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thus reflecting our culture’s inconsistent and speciesist attitudes toward different “types” of nonhuman animals: some are for loving; others, eating; and still others, wearing. (And, if blender has its way, some are even potential UFC contestants!) Of course, this dissonance is only compounded by the clothing and accessories available for purchase at blender, many of which appear to be made of animal skins and fibers.

In summary, most of men’s interactions with nonhuman animals are marked by dehumanization, objectification, domination, dismemberment, and/or consumption. Though they receive greater visual representation, only one of the women’s slides overtly shows women engaging in cruelty toward animals. Even while reinforcing traditional gender roles vis à vis our treatment of nonhuman animals, blender tries to hawk its wares – including freshly butchered farmed animals – to men and woman alike.

That they do so using images of human women, similarly butchered and brutalized, is a bit of tragikarma (like a tragicomedy, but minus the lolz) in and of itself. For as long as we accept that some of our sentient kin – brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers – are ripe for consumption, we risk being turned into consumable items ourselves.

Hat tip to Katrina Fox for the image.

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* Hate that “joke.”

** Trigger warnings for images of violence against animals, both human and non: yay or nay? Or are visual and textual descriptions of violence against animals a given on this blog?

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Appendix A: blender Slideshows

Man, rtw

01 – These JBrand jeans | go well with a manly dinner.
02 – This Lot 78 top | goes well with staring out of a Manhattan diner all day.
03 – This Love Moschino coat | goes well with eating a marmalade sandwich.
04 – This Paul & Joe suit | goes well with a good corset.
05 – This DeHoghton jacket | goes well with speed racing.
06 – If you like our Dukkan steak | you might also like this J.V. Star USA jacket.
07 – This Paul Smith jeans-shirt | goes well with an evening listening to Joy Division.
08 – This manly John Varvatos Star USA shirt | goes well with wrestling a bear.
09 – This John Varvatos Star USA jacket | goes well with some vintage badges.
10 – If you like this William Rast outfit | you might also like being a rebel.
11 – This so-edgy-it-hurts Zadig & Voltaire outfit | goes well with an attitude people can feel across the room.
12 – This tight Zadig & Voltaire tee | goes well with a smouldering stare.
13 – If you like our Dukkan hamburger | you might also like this [sic] DeHoghten jeans.
14 – If you like this Paul Smith shirt | you might also like road tripping.

(Slides 1, 6, 8 and 13 include images of animal exploitation; none are suggestive of positive human/nonhuman interactions.)

Man, Shoes and Bags

01 – This John Varvatos Converse | goes well with Babyshambles.
02 – This retro John Varvatos Star USA boot | goes well with the next punk revival. [omg it’s a kitten with a mohawk!]

(Slide 2 is ADORABLE!)

Woman, rtw

01 – These super-tight JBrand jeans | goes well with a spot of cowgirl chic.
02 – This Love Moschino designer outfit | goes well with being in charge of a designer office.
03 – The details on this timeless DeHoghten jacket | go well with a knight in shining armour.
04 – This sumptuous Elisabeth & James dress | goes well with a night at the cabaret.
05 – This 3.1 Phillip Lim dress | goes well with getting your priorities straight .
06 – This playful Love Moschino blouse | goes well with your best friend. [i.e., a dog wearing a large, red bow]
07 – This Maison Martin Margiela dress | goes well with a Whirpool galaxy.
08 – These Maje Jeans and long sleeved shirt | go well with a baguette fight.
09 – This Paul & Joe cardigan | goes well with a dinner of Swedish meatballs.
10 – If you like this William Rast outfit | you might like the open road.
11 – If you like this Tara Jarmon dress, you | might like picnics in the country. [the second image is that of a mother cow and her child grazing in a small backyard yard, seemingly on a bucolic “small farm” in the country]
12 – If you like these Tara Jarmon pants | you might like being a femme fatale.
13 – If you like this Williams Rast outfit | you might also like being a rebel.
14 – If you like this Zadig & Voltaire top | you might also like a wild night out.
15 – These Maje Jeans | go well with a ride on the Highway to Hell.
16 – This Paul&Joe jacket | goes well with a girl’s best friend. [i.e., diamonds and other shiny baubles]
17 – If you like this Zadig & Voltaire knitwear | you might like being a little bit spooky.
18 – If you mike this Tara Jamon dress | you’ll like a little bit of mystery. [the second image is of a black horse with inflated black balloons obscuring her head]
19 – If you like this Zadig & Voltaire vest | you might like this very expensive diamond skull.
20 – This gorgeous Elisabeth&James top | goes well with a late afternoon ride on this schwable.

(Slide 9 includes an image of animal exploitation, whereas slide 6 is suggestive of a positive human/nonhuman relationship. Also featuring nonhuman animals, slides 11 and 18 are a bit more ambiguous.)

Woman, Shoes and Bags

01 – This 3.1 Phillip Lim bag | goes well with a perfect shade of red lips.
02 – This Marc by Marc Jacobs bag | goes well with your own private transportation. [i.e., a horse]
03 – This uber-slick Australia Luxe Collective | goes well with a stylish boyfriend.
04 – If you like this Dr. Martens | you might also like digging for gold.
05 – This Pierre Hardy boot | goes well with a walk under the clouds.
06 – This Marc by Marc Jacobs lace up boot | goes well with a quiet boat ride with friends. [on what looks like a fishing boat?]
07 – This velvety smooth Australia Luxe Collective boot | goes well with a midnight rendezvous.
08 – If you like this Pierre Hardy sneaker | you’ll like the new General Elektriks album.

(Slides 2 and 6 include images of what could be interpreted as animal exploitation.)

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