Try as I might, I cannot end a week of writing posts about sex without voicing my thoughts about this week’s public apology by the Land’s End Corporation to its customers and supposed customers from the so-called religious right. Last week I wrote about apologies and what passes for apologies. I wrote that some people are unapologetic, and others are steadfast in their desire to sound apologetic when they are not. I write this morning in praise of Gloria Steinem and Barak Obama, examples of people who apologize and people who do not. I also praise them for being openly sexual in ways that irritate the crap out of people.
President Obama recently signed into law a bill that seeks to block goods and products involving the use of slave labor from entering the U.S. In doing this, our president helped erode a bit more of the estimated $150 Billion a year market in slave-produced goods. Do not wait for him to apologize for any increases in the cost of coffee, cocoa, cotton, or school uniforms any time soon. Within hours of Mr. Obama’s signing of that bill, Land’s End CEO Federica Marchionni apologized to customers for an interview she held with Gloria Steinem posted in their social media accompanied by a pledge to donate some profits to equal rights for women. The manufacturer and seller of durable totes, accessories, and clothes had apparently stepped on the toes of anti-abortion, anti-women, and anti-healthy sexuality forces, namely the tax-exempt religious far right.
These same forces appear to be okay with the huge pornography industry in the U.S. They appear to be fine with pedophilia and sex trafficking, the former clearly in their midst and the latter an object of their indifference. The tax-exempt religious far right are opposed to condom distribution and same-sex marriage, but they are fine with anal sex as birth control among teens who have limited access to contraception. These bigots fight hard all year long to preserve their tax-exempt status, while preaching to their members about how to vote and for whom.
Allies of women have decried Ms. Marchionni’s statement of apology to the tax-exempt religious far right for partnering with 81-year old Ms. Steinem’s life-long crusade for equal rights for women. Some of their comments are harsh and personal. My own position is that I cannot know what I would have done in her place. She heads a company whose workforce is likely majority working-class women whose jobs rely in part on contracts with tax-exempt religious schools who take political action with their purchasing power. While I would have preferred a show down with the tax-exempt religious far right, I also know they would have preferred to buy slave-produced goods than to buy from a company that featured an interview with a dedicated woman who fights for the rights of other women, including their rights to human sexuality.
That the Catholic Church is the wealthiest organization on the earth is well-documented. That they and other anti-sexuality, anti-women, tax-exempt religious far right groups weigh in on the public relations decisions of a manufacturer and purveyor of durable totes and school uniforms should tell us two things. First, the range of their hate knows no bounds. Second, they are a political group whose tax-exempt status needs to go.
The only thing I can think to do right now to get this bad taste out of my mouth is search for some online footage of Mr. and Mrs. Obama beaming at each other while dancing. Maybe I can find a clip in which Ms. Steinem looks at them with pleasure.