Lately, I have started every single draft of every single blog with some version of the same first sentence: I am very tired. I am very tired of violence against women. I am very tired of men using our suffering for their (and only their) political gain. I am tired of men telling me what I should be doing. I am tired of watching Congress do nothing on issues I care about. And in those moments of existential exhaustion, before I start working on a second draft with an opening you will actually want to read, I turn to two websites: Go Fug Yourself, and Tom & Lorenzo. Why? I enjoy them.
Enjoyment alone, I realize, is not enough. Humans enjoy lots of activities, running the gamut from questionable to barbaric. But Olivia Munn today got me to pause and think for a moment about why I enjoy the work of Go Fug Yourself so much after she accused them of playing a part in the suppression of women. Yes, she said that fashion criticism, done by women, is actually suppressing women. The full quote, near the bottom of a two-page essay, was: “A lot of people have had to wake up and acknowledge the part they’ve played in the suppression of women. And to The Fug Girls and all of your peers: Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re not part of the problem. The world woke up in 2017 but you stayed sleeping.”
Seriously? In a world where women are still murdered by the men in their lives, paid less than the white men in their lives, and struggling to get child care, the real suppression is fashion criticism? I guess this is the biggest problem you have if you, like Munn, make millions of dollars. But that’s not most women. Even if this were a valid criticism (and it’s not), the idea that Munn thinks the best use of her celebrity is to signal boost a war on fashion criticism seems misguided. Have you seen who is in the White House right now?
So here is why, when I need a break from my job which does not pay me a million dollars, I read Go Fug Yourself: It’s damn fun watching people be good at their jobs. Yes, fashion criticism is a job and Go Fug Yourself is good at it. The same way it’s Munn’s job to appear in movies, then show up to promote those movies, and then show up at that promotion creating a certain image that benefits her brand as well as whatever project she’s selling, it’s the job of Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan to provide us with the context. How does this image fit within Munn’s history? How does it fit within the history of women on red carpets? How does it fit within the history of a certain fashion house or a certain designer. What can it tell us about where fashion is going and what I will be buying four years from now from a sale pile. Cocks and Morgan do this so well, with wit and brevity and insight, their publication has done so for more than decade, in an industry where longevity is not assured.
But, honestly, what I found most most curious was who she left out—the other best fashion website, Tom & Lorenzo. Because Tom & Lorenzo also are damn good at their jobs, they responded to Munn.
For the record, Tom & Lorenzo also didn’t like the outfit. They didn’t call it out as specifically as Go Fug Yourself, instead using it to speak on their concerns about the potential rise of the clownsuit, writing “we’d rather see folks get their clownsuits on than step out in something generic or forgettable.” Hardly a compliment. It was a tough criticism but also one that was valid and necessary and somehow left out of Munn’s screed.
Maybe she just forgot. Maybe she was having a rough day. Honestly, I have those days too and it’s fine! I too am very tired, and a part of me wants to be sympathetic to Munn and say, “I feel ya. I long ago lost track of my bad days.” But the solution isn’t lashing out at other people who are doing their jobs, just because their jobs are inconvenient for us and our personal narratives. Sometimes it isn’t about you.