Glamour brings to our attention these Another One Bites the Dust shirts by Meg Kinney of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which capture the dates that powerful men have been publicly accused of sexual harassment and assault this year, starting with Bill O’Reilly in April and ending with Trump, TBA. The designs both capitalize on fashion’s current thirst for “tour” merchandise, and attempt to capture the glee that, apparently, some women feel seeing men like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose and Al Franken face real-life consequences behavior ranging from inappropriate to outright predatory.
I also hate these men and while I understand the impulse to commemorate this wave of them finally being held accountable—particularly because, based on experience, it feels ambiguous at best whether it will continue beyond the new year—it hardly feels like a time worthy of glee, or gloating. Exactly the opposite: I and every woman I know, from my coworkers at Jezebel to a handful of relatively apolitical acquaintances, have been wracked with anxiety and depression related to these revelations. The courage of the “silence breakers,” as Time called them, is heartening, but the sheer volume of them—of us—and the seemingly unending trail of stories is unearthing the sorrow and stress of our own experiences with harassment, misconduct, assault. And so listing the dates on a $59 sweatshirt—of which ten dollars each will go to the worthy New York Alliance Against Sexual Assault and Women’s Support Network of York Region, Ontario—feels like a dumbly mirthful way to commemorate this moment, particularly as we are sorting through the ashes left by men, like Franken, who in public life have purported to be our allies.
Those conservatives who would accuse women and men of embarking on a “witch hunt” during this public reckoning seem to misread the fundamental motivation behind it; they seem to think there is any joy and happiness in recovering from sexual assault just enough so that you can speak your abuser’s name in public, or that women are out to get men in some grand feminist plan to supplant and subvert them. In actuality, it is awful work, it is retraumatizing, it keeps you up at night and in the end, there is rarely any justice. The fact that we do not know how it will turn out makes it even more fraught; we have lived our lives knowing that women are not usually believed by the masses, and so now that, for the first time, it seems like we are, it can feel like waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for people to go back to just not caring.
And so I won’t be supporting this shirt that I hate; I’m glad all these men are getting out the paint, but it kills me—is actively destroying me!—to know what the women and men had to go through for it to happen. I would like to see more powerful abusers removed from their perches, because that is what is right and just, but I will not celebrate it with a commemorative tour t-shirt, as though remembering a Justin Bieber concert, because absolutely none of it is fun.