Bound to be Visible


Do you ever see an ad and just think. . . an effort was made. Was it successful? Absolutely not. But the company tried. Is that always enough though? How close to a good amount of effort is close enough to accomplish the purpose? How far off does a company need to be to be ineffective? These are all questions I’ve been asking myself and my friends in regards to the “High Neck Longline Bra” from Girlfriend Collective that swept the media (well, swept my targeted ads on social media) a bit ago. This product is marketed as a supportive and compressive sports bra, but the caption on their Instagram ad, pictured below, is “Full coverage plus a layer of power mesh for extra support. *Wink*”. Yes, they wrote out the word wink in asterisks. No, I’m not sure why they didn’t just use a semicolon-parenthesis combo. 

Girlfriend Collective [@girlfriend]. Picture of Instagram ad for Girlfriend Collective’s High Neck Longline Bra. Instagram.

If you’re in a pretty intense sport, you might look at this bra and see a good supportive bra. If you’re somewhere in the genderqueer category, you can squint a little bit and see a potential binder alternative. Not only is it possible, but this realization already happened very visibly in the comment section. This realization has both positive and negative side effects, as I’ll explain later. Below are some of the comments on this ad, with names and profile pictures marked out for privacy. My personal favorites are “Binder 💞light💞” and “besties this is a binder”. 

Screenshot of comments on Girlfriend Collective’s Instagram ad. Girlfriend Collective [@girlfriend]. Picture of various comments on the ad above. Instagram.

These sorts of comments are harmless, or at least seem to be. Using sports bras as binders is not a new concept to people with breasts that do not identify as cisgender women. Buying actual binders can sometimes be inaccessible to people who might not be out to the people they live with. Many times, young people will bind unsafely with Ace bandages or sports tape instead of a binder to either avoid outing themselves or accommodate their financial situation. At times like these, it’s easier for someone to convince their parents to buy a sports bra over something marketed as a binder.

Does it actually work as a binder though? According to two of the TikToks I found, yes!! Isn’t that exciting? Accounts @salemnight (he/they) and @cowboinary (they/them) on TikTok both did reviews on the High Neck Longline Bra from Girlfriend Collective. Salem gave a holistic and visual review of how the bra looked in comparison to his other binders and bras as well as answering some common questions, while @cowboinary focused more on how the bra felt and compressed in comparison to their other binders. These TikToks I found after simply searching “girlfriend collective binder” can serve as an incredibly useful resource to young people or closeted people looking for binders that are accessible to them, as well as assuring people that it does actually work as a binder. 

Screenshot of comments on Girlfriend Collective’s Instagram ad. Girlfriend Collective [@girlfriend]. Picture of an exchange in the comments of ad pictured above. Instagram.

However, the visibility and accessibility of this product might also serve as a detriment to its usefulness in some ways. Above, with names and profile pictures yet again blocked out for privacy, you can see an exchange between two users in the comments section of this Girlfriend Collective ad on Instagram. One person asks “WHY would you want a HIGH neck bra??” Another user responds explaining that it’s a binder, marketed as a sports bra “so those who are in the closet or in an unsafe environment to come out in can get one to help with dysphoria without outing themselves and risking harm”. The first user responds positively in a reply. However, imagine for a second that you’re a young trans man, looking for a way to convince your transphobic parents to buy you a binder or allow you to get one without coming out. They think it’s an odd request, to get a high neck bra, go onto Instagram, ask this question, and get a response that could potentially force you into an uncomfortable situation. This may or may not happen, but it’s not ideal, right?

The rise of social media and marketing on these platforms has resulted in a multitude of both problems and benefits. Benefit: people are funny in the comments of what, to them, is an obvious secret binder. Problem: the discrete nature of the marketing can be ruined by people thinking it’s funny. Benefit: TikTok provides a platform where multiple people can assure you in different ways that a product is going to work how it says it will. Problem: TikTok provides a platform that brings so much attention to a certain product that even a month later, most sizes are sold out (including my own, sadly). These pros and cons don’t necessarily cancel themselves out, but it’s an interesting and complex issue that companies who aim to produce these discrete products should consider.

So. With this High Neck Longline Bra ad, I just think. . . an effort was made. Was it successful? In my mind, partially. It’s rather expensive for an improper binder at $42, where there are other less expensive options. However, the brand is incredible with size-inclusivity and sustainability. The company tried. Is that always enough though? How close to discrete is close enough to accomplish this subtlety? How far off from discrete does the company need to be to have people aware that this is a secret binder? Is the *Wink* enough, or should they have just put a semicolon and a parenthesis? Many of these questions are unanswerable, as we don’t yet have enough experience with these hurdles (I really do think they should’ve just used a little 😉 though). These questions and conversations are important, regardless of our lack of answers, as our goal as consumers and producers of media should always be to learn more and adapt to the times. While we have these conversations around discrete marketing, I’ll be watching my email carefully for an update on when the bra/binders come back into stock. For, uh, research.

How the Clueless Creators of “Clueless” Contributed to a Harmful Culture Around Gay Men Clueless : Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy,  Paul Rudd, Donald Adeosun Faison, Dan Hedaya, Justin Walker, Donald Faison,  Elisa Donovan, Breckin Meyer, Jeremy Sisto, Aida Linares, Wallace Shawn,  Twink Caplan,

Arguably, one of the most iconic movies ever created is “Clueless.” This movie features everything you could want and more from a classic 90’s high school movie. The lead, Cher, is the “it girl” at Bronson Alcott High, and she seems to have her life fully figured out. With her side-kick Dionne, she takes on some typical challenges accustomed to the privileged teenage life, like failing her driver’s test, going to parties, and meeting a cute boy she might have a crush on. His name is Christian, and, despite Cher’s keen eye, she fails to realize that he is gay. 

Cher tries every play in the book to try and seduce Chrisitan, she drops her pen to bait him into picking it up for her, invites him out to parties, and brings him to her house when her father is away. She puts an entire roll of cookie dough in the oven, in the hopes that the warm, sweet smell in combination with her domestic abilities will be enough to woo him. She ends up burning the cookies, and they move on to tour the house. As they walk through the backyard, Chrisitan is telling Cher what a beautiful art collection her father has and comments on all the statues talking about the various artists and meanings behind the works. This is a stereotype associated with gay men, a love and appreciation for art. This is only one of many different stereotypes the creators of “Clueless,” put on Christian, however.

Clueless': Cher's Love Interest, Christian, Was Almost Played by This  'Twilight' Star

All the characters from the movie continuously point out the effeminate qualities Christian has. His love for art and fashion comes to mind. He is also the most well-dressed and groomed man on the show. All these things are associated with and are stereotypical qualities of gay men. After the not-so-romantic night between Cher and Christian comes to an end, the movie flashes forward to Cher in the car with Dionne and her boyfriend, Murray. Murray is trying to teach Dionne how to drive while the two of them listen and try to counsel Cher about her failed date. After she says she was ready to, “go all the way,” and have sex with Christian, Murray laughs out loud and says, “are you bitches blind or something? Your man, Chrisitan, is a cake boy.” The sexist language he uses here and throughout the film is enough for a whole other essay, but he uses an old derogatory term, “cake boy,” meant to put down and make fun of effeminate men. He then goes on to list more stereotypically gay things that Christian does, like enjoying disco music and reading Oscar Wild. He then finishes his line by saying “he’s a friend of Dorthy if you know what I’m saying.” After all of that, Cher finally realizes that Christian is gay.

While the creators of the movie did a good job at making Chrisitan a likable character, they abused gay stereotypes and the “gay aesthetic” of the time to perpetuate a misguided view of what being gay means. The Hollywood interpretation of gay men specifically, was one of two character archetypes. Either a creepy, predatory character that you are meant to hate and fear, or an effeminate one that is clean, pristine, and loves to shop. Chrisitan is clearly the latter. 

Having this “gay aesthetic” be so wildly loved, admired, and used in media is damaging to gay youth. We’re told this is what it means to be gay. You have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, and like specific things to be “gay.” This puts pressure on young gay men especially to behave like this idolized character of fashion, art, and shopping. If you don’t look put together you aren’t good enough to be gay. If you don’t love shopping with your girlfriends then you’re either in the closet or some kind of outcast. These characters often become the “gay best friend” of a powerful female character as well. Effeminate gay men were never portrayed as powerful or independent, they always had a popular girl to take care of them and protect them from the rampant homophobia and toxic masculinity of high school. This is damaging to watch as a young gay child. You are told that to fit in and be accepted, you have to be feminine and hide behind other people for safety. When you stand up for yourself a bully will knock you down, and if you don’t act “gay enough,” neither the gay nor straight people will want to include you. Yet, this feminine gay aesthetic was one of the only positive representations of gayness from before the 2010s. Despite how damaging it is to be told you must be and act a certain way, it was the only way to survive.

Gayness is more than being effeminate and liking clothes and Britney Spears, however. As more modern media is starting to realize, gayness looks different for everybody and there isn’t one box of mannerisms and inflections that you can sort us into. Gay people each have their own personalities, behaviors, and interests. Being gay is just one part of us, one identity we have, nothing more. It can mean to you whatever you want it to. That’s why having this kind of representation (as in characters like Christian) is damaging to the gay community. Although Christian is seen as this perfect, sexy man better than all the other men in Bronson Alcott High, his character perpetuates a harmful culture around being gay.

written for Autostraddle |

work cited:

Heckerling, A. (1995). “Clueless” movie poster. Amazon. Paramount Pictures. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from

Heckerling, A. (2021). Cher and Christian watching a movie. cheatsheet. Paramount Pictures. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from

From a Pantsuit to They/Them: How “One Day at a Time” Promotes Everyday Conversations on Gender and Sexuality

Main Characters of One Day at a Time. From left to right: Alex, Lydia, Penelope, Schneider, and Elena.

Are you looking for a new show to watch where you can get your fill of comedy and strong feminism? No?…Um, uh, okay then; you probably do not need to continue reading this then. Yes?…Well then One Day at a Time is definitely the show for you. Based off of the original show One Day at a Time that first aired in the 70s, the modern One Day at a Time (2017-2020) is available on Netflix and brings humor, feminism, sexuality, and family all together. The show follows a Cuban-American family in California, which includes the grandmother who immigrated from Cuba, Lydia, played by the stunning Rita Moreno, the daughter of the grandmother, Penelope, and then the daughter’s two children, Elena and Alex. It is so hard to pick one episode of this show that displays feminism and social justice best because every episode of the show introduces or addresses a large variety of modern issues elegantly. For this reason, I will highlight a few episodes from the show that display how modern and influential the show is. Honestly, explaining just one episode does not serve the show enough justice for how significant it is. 

The very first episode of this Netflix original show introduces some of the main characters that appear throughout the show’s duration, including the mom, Penelope, and her daughter, Elena. Elena is fifteen years old at the beginning of the show and the first episode focuses on her opposition to having a quinceañera. Elena is opposed to having a quinceañera because of its misogynistic roots and does not want to be put on display like a show horse (and personally, I cannot blame her for feeling that way). This is very upsetting news to her family as they fully embrace their Cuban roots because they are proud, as they should be. While Penelope and Lydia try to get Elena to embrace her Cuban roots with them, Lydia also tries to tell Penelope that she does not need the antidepressants she has been prescribed. Lydia is a little old fashioned and does not agree with the use of antidepressants. Going against her mother’s opinion, Penelope eventually does take the antidepressants for the betterment of her mental health. This is promising since being a single mother, and a non-white single mother especially, is not easy to say the least. Elena does eventually decide to have a quinceañera by the end of the episode to please her family, as long as some things are done to Elena’s liking, such as what the dress she will wear will look like. Lydia eventually makes her a pantsuit to wear to her quinceañera, and it is a truly touching moment later in season one. 

Elena in her school uniform at home.

Further into the first season, the show addresses sex, porn, and sexuality. When porn, a video of a threesom specifically for those who are curious, is found on Alex’s computer, the household breaks into chaos on what to do. Penelope approaches Alex about this, but he remains adamant that it was not him watching the porn. We later learn in the episode that it was actually Elena watching it on Alex’s computer. Penelope tries to give Elena the sex talk so she is prepared if things begin to go further with her boyfriend at the time, but in the process, Elena comes out to her mom as gay. Penelope is surprised, but supportive (phew, thank god). Side note: it is also mentioned in that same episode that Elena loves to read Autostraddle articles, so yay, we have made it to television everyone (and honestly I think she has got good taste in blogs)! Elena being honest to her mother and coming out shows bravery while Penelope approaching Elena shows motherly compassion, all while tying in humor in addition to expression of sexuality. 

In season two, Elena invites over a friend of video gamers who introduce themselves to the rest of the family with their preferred pronouns, confusing Penelope and Lydia as to why the teenagers are doing this. One friend of Elena’s, Syd, uses they/them pronouns. Elena’s friends introducing themselves with their pronouns casually normalizes this concept for the audience and provides a learning opportunity on gender for Elena’s family as well. As season two continues, Syd and Elena begin to grow closer to each other, eventually forming a relationship together. The two are very awkward with each other at first when they both learn that the other is gay, but it is a joyous and funny moment well written into the episode. Their relationship hits bumps like any relationship does, but it also displays Elena still figuring out her sexuality and who she is as an openly gay person now. Syd has had girlfriends before, but Elena has not and watching Elena learn to be authentically herself is an encouraging storyline. Syd being supportive of Elena discovering who she is is another lesson with sexuality seen in the show. One Day at a Time brings many modern issues into play and goes deeper than the surface level, taking many factors into account. It hits on many difficult subjects, but it is all portrayed tastefully with humor added in. 

Elena and Syd both learn that the other is gay in this awkward, but funny scene from season two.

These are only a few of the many topics that are crucial to today’s society that this show addresses, without giving too much away for those interested in watching the show now. This show is honest and displays how sometimes feminism is not what everyone understands, however, when one feels strong enough to educate others around them, like Elena, then these ideas continue positively. Elena is a really important part to introducing and addressing many social justice issues head on through being intelligent and well educated. One Day at a Time addresses queerness, sexuality, feminism, gender, heritage, race, class, and so much more. This show is amazing, funny, and progressive, and I highly recommend it be a show that you add to your Netflix list (at least for those who said yes at the beginning of this article anyways, and if you said no, why did you still read this far?). One Day at a Time tells us that educating others on today’s issues, including feminism and sexuality is often not a simple task. However, taking the time to explain ideas thoroughly is worth it in the end for both the ones who care deeply enough to teach others, and the ones that listen and are just beginning to learn.

Written for Autostraddle |

Works Cited

Kellett, Gloria Calderon, and Mike Royce. One Day at a Time, Netflix, 

Lawler, Kelly. “Isabella Gomez as Elena Alvarez in ‘One Day at a Time’.” USA Today, 23 Jan. 2017, 

“ME GAY TOO – One Day At a Time Elena and Syd.” Youtube, Netflix, 2018, 

Poniewozik, James. “From Left, Marcel Ruiz, Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell and Isabella Gomez in ‘One Day at a Time,’ on Netflix.” The New York Times, 4 Jan. 2017, 

Progressive period products: degendering language and representation in the menstrual hygiene industry

JUNE [@thejunecup]. Photo of Model Holding Menstrual Cup. Instagram, 29 June 2020,

One of the most recent items to surge in popularity with advocates for eco-friendly bathroom swaps is the menstrual cup. These cups are typically made of silicone and shaped like a cone or a bell and have cult followings because they minimize risk of toxic shock syndrome, can safely be used for more hours at a time, produce less waste, and are often cheaper than other hygiene products over the long term. For decades, the market was dominated by a single brand; however, in recent years there have been a handful of new brands, campaigns, and curious cup-users.

June is a menstrual cup brand that was founded in 2017, among a small handful of cup competitors. What sets them apart from many other menstrual hygiene product brands is their shift away from heavily gendered language for periods, such as “feminine hygiene”, or referring to their customers as women and girls. One of their Instagram posts during the summer of 2020 depicted a model with shorter hair and masculine features, smiling and holding a June cup. The caption of the image reads: “At JUNE, we strive to make sustainable menstrual care accessible and affordable to everyone. We’re excited to be a part of a community of inclusivity that’s always growing”. This was posted nonchalantly and without any fanfare, hashtag, or huge announcement of a related marketing campaign. The social media ad does not specify the gender of the model, and the caption only refers to “inclusivity”. Yet the post still stirred up many more likes and many more comments than is typical of their posts. Why? Because their model, Skylar, is a nonbinary trans man.

The fact is that some people who menstruate are women, some are not, and there are also some women who don’t menstruate at all. Yet having a period is often explicitly tied to womanhood and femininity, a narrative that is often initiated in health class and incessantly perpetuated through media depictions of girls “becoming women” and ads for period products. Menstruation in and of itself can cause significant dysphoria for many trans men and nonbinary folks, even without alienating advertising. For a while the primary menstrual cup on the market was called the Diva Cup- some other brands now have names like Femly, Blossom, Athena Cup, Duchess Cup, and Lily Cup. And of course, the cups come in pink and purple with cursive fonts, and the packaging is stamped with floral patterns. Doesn’t seem to welcoming and inclusive, right? The majority of the imagery and language associated with advertising menstruation products is hyperfeminine and does not present the product in a way that is inclusive of their potential customer base.

What’s interesting about June’s advertisement is that by casually introducing diverse menstruating bodies as the faces of their campaign, they are not only signaling that they are a brand that welcomes all genders, but they are encouraging people to challenge their assumptions about who menstruates and the language that they use to have these conversations. They acknowledge on their webpage that they used to use gendered language to advertise their products but have realized their error and corrected it. Of course, we have to keep in mind that June is a brand, and their number one mission as a company is to sell their product. Even if their goals and values are aligned with authentic diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, it is difficult to consider that inclusion in isolation from their marketing strategy. Since June didn’t introduce Skylar as trans in their initial post, comments ranged to enthusiastic support, to angry bigotry, to confusion. Most of the comments were expressing support and excitement for both the model and the brand.

“Messaged yall a while back about more inclusive language and so happy to see youve done the work 🤗💜 appreciate ya!” – @ileak_balance

“thank you so much for recognizing that menstruating bodies exist outside of the false binaries we’ve been taught. Thank you thank you thank you” – @novadame

However, many commenters were expressing disgust or anger at the post. A few were initially confused as to why someone who is not a woman is representing period products but seemed to understand once the brand responded in the comments.

Screenshot of comments from June’s Instagram post. JUNE [@thejunecup]. Photo of Model Holding Menstrual Cup. Instagram, 29 June 2020,

Since they don’t identify the Skylar’s gender, June is assuming that followers will draw their own conclusions from the image. An example of a menstrual cup brand that was not so subtle and took a much different tone was Ruby Cup, which posted an article discussing how they were going to change the language on their website to be more inclusive and started off with the words “Dear Transgender Community, Sorry for being narrow-minded and for discriminating against you”. Was June’s approach to inclusivity more powerful because of its subtlety, or was the bold acknowledgement and education that Ruby demonstrated taking more ownership?

Either way, the reality is that some menstrual health brands are shifting their brand away from ultra-feminine, binary-reinforcing language and imagery that isn’t inclusive of everyone who has a period. It is important to keep in mind that these are brands with marketing goals that are behind these changes, but the hopefully representation and inclusivity demonstrated by brands like June continues.


JUNE [@thejunecup]. Photo of Model Holding Menstrual Cup. Instagram, 29 June 2020,

We Need to Apologize., Ruby Cup,

Real Men Clean? A husband in the household goes viral on TikTok.

Written by Jack Muldoon for Jezebel

Maya and Hunter Leppard are the social media duo whose recent day in the life series has launched them to star status. The videos displaying a wife doing her day job and her husband cooking, cleaning and other daily chores have allowed the couple to rack up just short of 500,000 followers.

The quickly-paced video has racked up just shy of 20 million views and over a million likes. It is just one in a series of viral videos in the same bane.

The tone of the video may seem mocking at first, with the meme favorite Home Depot soundtrack playing in the background and #girlboss description, this short clip could be written off as another misogynistic joke about a wife’s expectations. It appears however that the roles in the house are for real, and while they certainly want the series to be a laughing matter, the joke does not lie in the wife and husbands’ roles in the house. The short video has Hunter completing household tasks that are often still viewed in many parts of society as feminine. Making the bed, cooking breakfast, and feeding the dog are somehow the highlights of a video with over a million likes. While the humorous commentary does have a part to play, it is the fact a man is completing these tasks while supporting his working wife that draws most of the attention.

 These videos claim to fame is a man doing mundane tasks that millions of people complete every day, and this was seen as undeserved by some commenters. They argued that there was nothing extraordinary about this video and that the completion of these tasks by men should be as normal as working a construction job. The people, however salty they may be that their daily life hasn’t made them famous, are absolutely correct. These commenters are likely missing the point of the video though. The goal was not to get famous from displaying how different their life is from the “normal”, but to dispel the idea of a normal straight relationship that many still hold. While society has moved past the 1950’s era of housewives, the notion that a husband supporting his wife’s career by taking care of the house is an oddity still persists. While the number of stay-at-home husbands has hit their highest numbers ever at 2.2 million in 2016, they still only account for 16% of stay-at-home spouses. ( Seeing women take a role in the household that was traditionally reserved for men could be a small part in dispelling incredibly harmful notions about gender that still linger in society. Exposure to these videos and other media displaying women as the breadwinners will undoubtedly signal to young girls that the concept of marriage does not mean they need to put goals to the side and hit a pause button on their careers. These videos do participate in the idea that women are the ones typically supporting their husband’s career by addressing the relationship is not what society normally expects. While this does play into the myth in some ways, and a woman being the breadwinner in media without it being discounted as odd may be better representation, I would argue that this video is a benefit because it provides young people with an exampling differing that held in the mainstream.

Other commenters prove that these genderless still have strong gendered connotations in society. The couple recently mocked commentators who claim that this dynamic is unnatural and that Maya’s and all women’s job in a straight relationship is to support their significant other. These comments are proving the theory that every action we take is gendered, even when we believe that we have progressed as a society to the point that cleaning is not associated with women, there will always be people who assign these roles and judge those who do not conform to their standards. This video series utilizes a new medium, TikTok to help disprove a harmful trope. Young people seeing a financially strong wife and a husband complete housework and will hopefully help in dispelling the mythos of the traditional straight marriage, and as the video says, smash the patriarchy that upholds these standards.

The most recent video in the series put Maya’s point of view center stage with a retitled “Day in the life of a working wife”.

The societal pressure still lays on women to be the ones taking care of the house, but these viral videos and their “like to smash the patriarchy” slogan could be helping. With the massive viewing they have, these videos may offer a fun and upbeat alternative to the societal norm. Young girls can see Maya hard at work, pursuing her goals while maintaining a healthy relationship like a true #girlboss. Seeing these strong examples at a young age and in a lively video could provide a new option that opposes the gender norms children are being conditioned to accept. 

Old Spice: Perpetuating Genderism Through Advertising

Written by Billy Schoel for Autostraddle

Who would’ve guessed?! We all know Old Spice: the pinnacle of male hygiene and every straight man’s best friend. The American-based men’s hygiene company has produced multitudes of popular commercials over the years, now laying claim to the largest share of the men’s grooming product industry. Even with the over-the-top, absurdist style of advertising that they’ve become known for, their commercials still perpetuate the heteronormative worldviews present in most contemporary advertising. In the recent commercial titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, Old Spice makes assumptions that support and perpetuate unrealistic expectations, heteronormative approaches to society, and the gender binary.

While this absolute gem of heteronormative marketing is only a mere thirty seconds, its featured fast-paced monologue is where the meat of this advertisement lies. For those who don’t have the pleasure of watching our knight in shining armor, I would be honored to transcribe: “Hello ladies. Look at your man. Now back at me. Now back at your man. Now back at me. Sadly, he isn’t me. But if he stopped using lady scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me. Look down. Back up. Where are you? You’re on a boat with the man your man could smell like. What’s in your hand? Back at me. I have it. It’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love. Look again. The tickets are now diamonds. Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady. I’m on a horse.” Visuals aside, see any problems? I sure do. Let’s talk about it.

Within the opening five seconds, the commercial establishes its audience and general premise. A well-defined, half-naked man nearly bursting with masculine energy exclaims “Hello ladies…look at your man…sadly, he isn’t me.” From the get-go, the commercial sets unrealistic expectations for men by comparing them to a representation of perfect masculinity. Despite the delivery’s fast-paced and absurdist nature, the commercial still establishes the inferiority of men who don’t meet the society’s standards of masculinity. The man continues, “if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me.” Not only does this disparage identities outside heteronormative masculinity by implying the inferiority of “lady-scented” body washes, but it also enforces unrealistic expectations for men. Additionally, by stating “he could smell like he’s me” instead of “he could smell like me”, the commercial continues its degradation of imperfect masculinity by clearly defining the ideal man and the other, forcing their separation and inequality.

The public dragging of the “imperfect man” quickly proceeds with the progression of the scene, painting a beautiful, idyllic picture of the life of the “perfect man.” He states, “you’re on a boat with a man your man could smell like.” Of course, this broadens the disparity between the perfect and imperfect men, implying that the lady would prefer the more masculine alternative over other men, even if they represented normal men in society. The precedence given to overly-masculine men concludes with the final moments of the commercial, the man stating, “Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.” Not only does it appear that Old Spice doesn’t know “ladies” smell good, too, but the quote places direct preference towards the ideal of overly-masculine men smelling unquestionably overly-masculine (talk about a tongue-twister), perpetuating, and ultimately strengthening, heteronormative conventions such as the gender binary.

Speaking of the oh-so-popular topic, this post would be quite incomplete without mentioning the commercial’s shameless defense of society’s gender binary. For starters, let’s address the assumed heterosexual relationship that the commercial stamps down as its starting point. Old Spice confines the audience into normality. Who is being addressed? A woman! Who must she love? A man—of course! What else could it be?! You mean to tell me that people have non-heterosexual relationships?! Nope, not never. Moreover, Old Spice expands the binary’s gap by implying that girls not only want just men, but the most masculine men life can offer. Men should not be wearing Old Spice to be hygienic—why would they? Men should wear Old Spice to be masculine, to attract women, to be men. Duh! Why would any woman ever be attracted to anything but the most masculine of men?! Despite my flippancy, the assumptions that this commercial makes are significant. In a world where gender/identity equality was reality, the heteronormative structures of society that enable this commercial’s marketability and ultimate efficacy would be relics of the past. Truly, the marketing of deodorant as a way to enhance heteronormative validation for men, even among their own partners, is almost as absurd as a deodorant commercial abruptly ending with “I’m on a horse.”

Also—newsflash—Old Spice works on everyone! While I’ve yet to find a man who doesn’t like Old Spice, I know plenty of other people who wear Old Spice too. Just because it is marketed to men doesn’t mean that only men use it! It’s deodorant, not a walking beacon of unapologetic masculinity. No matter how hard Old Spice tries to be the lodestar of manliness, at the end of the day, it’s a hygiene company. I could go on—but the point is that they shouldn’t be the deciding factor on what’s masculine, what’s attractive, or even what’s normal in our society. Old Spice may be a great deodorant company, but their marketing clearly needs some tweaks. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the tone of the whole commercial is rather belittling—I have to save something to write about next week.

Prada takes a racist turn down the runway

Written by Anna Newman for the website Jezebel

Fashion changes the world by controlling the definition of beauty. Designers like Prada, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Marc Jacobs hold positions of power as they are all high-fashion industries, catering to the materialistic needs of the white, upper-class. However, with this position of power comes global publicity and attention, which can be good and bad. One designer in particular, Prada, dug themselves into a hole of backlash after displaying a gadget with racist connotations in the window of the SOHO store in Manhattan. This gadget appeared to resemble the Golliwog, which was a blackface caricature in the 19th century. Given that Prada is a world-recognized and respected retailer, the world was shocked by this decision to display a gadget with references to “Little Black Sambo” and discriminatory black facial features. In response to this criticism, Prada took down the display, rightfully so; however, simply taking down the display was not enough to reconcile the damage that the retailer had caused. Prada decided to form a council within the company focused on diversity and inclusion for their clothing, accessories, and models. To go the extra step, Prada sent the proceeds from the remaining gadgets to a New York based non-profit that advocates for racial justice. In conclusion, the danger of the fashion industry is that they hold so much power and authority in determining what the beauty standards are and what the trends are, which means that people idolize these companies; when these companies begin suggesting racist ideas and connotations about their products, that is when we, as citizens, should start questioning where this position of power is coming from. Why does the high fashion industry have the authority to deem what is considered beautiful and trendy? To answer this question, we must refer to Foucault’s stance on how power is defined. Foucault believes that power is “multifaceted [and …] not just top-down” (Foucault) which means that even though we may think that Prada, being high ranking and respected worldwide, knows what real beauty and fashion trends are, true beauty is determined within society on a fluid level; it something that is ever changing and subjective, a concept that cannot be determined by a single company or power. 

Relating to challenging the norms, the Three to Infinity Movie about getting rid of gender labels in order to live a happy and boundary- free life for trans and queer people. The movie’s message is about challenging the norms of a binary society, recognizing that one does not have to be either male or female, realizing that you do not have to be the same gender you were at the time you were born, and accepting that gender can change and fluctuate throughout your life. This idea of an ambiguous and amorphously genderless society relates to the fashion and beauty construct that large franchises have created. These physically and monetarily unattainable fashion standards have been labeled and idolized by the industry as the sole way in which one can be beautiful, which creates discrimination on the socioeconomic and appearance level. Additionally, Marilyn Wann published an article called The Fat Studies Reader which discusses how the weight loss industry is worth 58.6 billion dollars and it feeds off of the public’s desire for a smaller, more model-like body. The weight loss industry and the high fashion industry go hand in hand; without the high fashion industry, the weight loss industry struggle to find an incentive for people to get involved with losing weight because the attractive, trendy, and chic styles would no longer be modeled on the bodies of skinny, white women and the end goal would be masked from the public. In conclusion, high fashion and social media has a significant impact on how people perceive themselves which creates tension and standards which are unachievable, demonstrating the self-serving and money seeking nature of the workplace. 

Figure 1: Blackface Prada gadgets

Smelling Like a Female: Versace Eros Pour Femme 2014 Campain

Written by Tramanh Le for Jezebel

Two years after the launch of Versace Eros in 2012, Versace launched Eros Pour Femme. The story of Eros continues when the ad opens with the return of the male model from the 2021 campaign entering the same mysterious setting. He is again shirtless to show a sculpture-like muscular physique holding a bow and arrow to symbolize the Greek god Eros. A few seconds later, we see a slim, female figure with an elegant pose floating towards the light from the dark water. From her silhouette, you can see she wears a dress with gladiator sandals, which continues the Greek motif. When the female model emerges from the water, the two encounter each other.

In this snapshot, there is a sensual scene where the female model, Lara Stone, slowly brushes Eros’s hand to take the golden arrow. Enchanting music accompanies this scene to help create a dramatic effect for the seduction of Eros by Lara Stone. Although this sensual act is supposed to symbolize the strength of women, her strength is only validated by the ability to seduce a male. In the 2012 Versace Eros campaign, there was only a male actor, who was accompanied by a fast-paced and intense soundtrack. This choice in focusing on just the male model assumes that men are powerful by themselves and do not need to have a woman to contribute to this power. However, a woman’s strength is characterized by the ability to successfully seduce a male. This depiction of women is a common trend in advertising with a woman depicted as a support or the seductress next to a man.

In this last snapshot, the light from Olympus shines on Lara Stone as she lies on her side with a seductive pose while holding the golden arrow she had successfully taken from Eros. Placed next to her is an enlarged, glamorous, and golden fragrance bottle adorned with the iconic Versace Medusa head. In contrast to this scene, the Eros campaign’s ending scene is dark and mysterious with a turquoise blue bottle, which has historically been a color associated with males. We can see the different marketing techniques companies use in order to sell specifically to men and women. This bright and gold bottle is for women, while this dark and blue one is for men.

Not only does the bottle look like it is for women, but the fragrance smells feminine. The words pour femme show that this fragrance is the female scent interpretation of Versace Eros cologne. Those words also state that this perfume is only for women. The heart of the Pour Femme fragrance contains jasmine infusion and jasmine sambac absolute, which Versace states on their website, “conveys an authentic and timeless femininity.” Unlike its counterpart, Versace Eros does not have floral notes that dominate the scent. The Versace website states that the fragrance was supposed to “interpret the sublime masculinity through a luminous aura with an intensely vibrant and glowing freshness.” My question is what determines which scents are feminine or masculine. The answer is the cultural and societal frameworks that have constructed certain scents as either feminine or masculine, not that we are biologically wired to do so. Perfume companies have taken advantage of these frameworks and contributed to the manufactured idea of gendered smells in order to sell products specific to men and women separately. Because we associate floral scents with femininity, it shows normativity of gendered scents.

Versace Eros Pour Femme | Fragrances – YouTube

Versace Eros 100 ml for Men | US Online Store

Versace Eros pour Femme 100 ml for Women | US Online Store

Simplifying Sexuality through Wine Labels

Written for Wear Your Voice by Molly Murphy

Let’s just be honest here, sexuality is complicated.  There are times that you don’t know exactly who you love and where you fit in. Having these feelings of insecurity and unsureness, and THEN trying to describe your own sexuality in a way that makes sense to others is even more complicated. In the hit series Schitt’s Creek, the main character engages in a conversation that perfectly balances the importance of openness and honesty in these conversations. This series follows a rich family of four who suddenly lose all of their money and their luxurious lifestyle. They are forced to pack up what is left of their property and move into a small town, their only remaining asset. Schitt’s Creek is the town that the father once bought the son as a joke for his birthday. That son and main character of the show is named David Rose. Presumably gay to the viewers and other characters in the show, he finds himself one night sleeping with a female and straight character named Stevie Budd. Stevie is confused, and decides to confront him while out wine shopping for an event. She hints, “Just to be clear, I am a red wine drinker, and I only drink red wine… and up until last night, I was under the impression that you too only drink red wine.” Catching on, David responds to her, “I do drink red wine. But I also drink white wine. I also have been known to sample Rosé. A couple summers back, I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, it just got a bit complicated.” Stevie is a bit confused, and David goes on to say, “I like the wine, not the label. Does that make sense?” This iconic scene would go on to be quoted in many articles, printed on tee shirts, and used to give confidence to thousands of youth helping them come out to their parents and peers.

What is great about this use of a wine metaphor is how it is so unconventional, but so easy to comprehend. It allows even the most conservative and closed minded individual to understand that David is pansexual. And as a bonus- who doesn’t love wine? Everybody can relate to how David is describing to his sexuality through the use of this metaphor. David is able to bring forward his very complicated history of experimentation and self-discovery. He is so secure with himself and his journey, that he can calmly explain his sexuality to Stevie in an amusing way. David educates Stevie in a manner that is lighthearted but clear, and it is centered around inclusion and positivity. These conversations can be hard to have, but Stevie reacted in a way that let David come out to her while also not downplaying the importance of having “no labels” to David.

Society’s social constructs and biases make coming out a traumatic experience for so many people. How can they help not feel frightened at the possibility of having their loved ones turn on them for revealing their true self? Throughout every episode of Schitt’s Creek however, the creators challenged that idea that coming out needs to be traumatic. (As a disclaimer, they do not ever downplay the importance of that experience; having somebody working up that courage to finally be unapologetic and open with who they really are and love. There is an episode where David’s partner comes out to his parents in distress, but even then, his parents were only upset that he felt he couldn’t be honest with them about his sexuality, and not that he was actually gay.) By not making sexuality such a huge ordeal, it forces the viewers to imagine a world where there is no bias or judgment when two men are in love and holding hands in public. There is no talk among the characters of anybody’s sexuality beyond this scene, so the reaction to these couples is the same as any reaction would be to a heterosexual couple walking down the street holdings hands. This amazing directing is what sets Schitt’s Creek apart from other series. The series LBGTQ+ representation fosters an inclusive environment, free of bias and full of love and acceptance with no shame.  

Schitt’s Creek has made a difference in this world, right when we all needed it! It’s constant celebration of unconditional love and wholesome relationships between all of the characters really resonated with viewers, making it become one of the most popular and successful shows to ever hit the big screen. The series’ defiant representation of different races and sexualities throughout both acknowledge that facts that anybody in the audience who identifies with the characters are valid, and that they should be proud of themselves and love who they are. This show has won the battle of representation, and has helped pave the way in media for impenitent openness and inclusivity.

“We Raise Our Cups” to Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown

Written by Zoe Smithwick, for

When I think about a musical geared towards social justice and societal change, my first thought would not be about a depression-era retelling of a Greek myth. BUT, if I tell you that this same musical is entirely women-directed, inspired by cultural and political tones in modern society, and focused on shedding light on the application of age-old themes to current topics of discussion, I bet you would change your mind. After watching Hadestown, I was blown away by the ability to not only tell the classic story of Orpheus and his journey to retrieve Eurydice from “Hadestown,” but also the ability to resonate with many of the songs and emotions portrayed in the show.

Hadestown Broadway Trailer

To start, there is the attention to feminism in every aspect of the show. Anaïs Mitchell, a singer/songwriter, came up with the vision for Hadestown and wrote the music, lyrics, and book associated with it. The musical started off as a story told through an album that Mitchell was writing, which, with help from director Rachel Chavkin, became an off-broadway and finally a broadway and touring musical. The musical made headlines with Mitchell as the first woman in years to have sole credit on a Broadway show. 

Looking back to high school, who dominated the theater-kid scene? Overly-dramatic girls who always outnumbered the less-enthusiastic guys. Yet looking at the professional scene, it seems as though a majority of the main roles on Broadway and the majority of directors/playwrights happen to be male-dominated. It’s interesting to see such a shift in a field that is primarily more “feminine” to where the majority (as per-usual) is cishet white men. This shift impacts women so heavily because in creating an atmosphere where women are not even able to succeed in their stereotypical niche, how would they be able to break out of the shell of modern gender roles? Mitchell’s work allows for younger girls and women to be empowered by her bold leadership in such a male-dominated field, not unlike the movement for women in STEM. Some other shows with similar experiences of women leading the way have been covered in this New York Times article by Michael Paulson and this Bustle article by Leah Marilla Thomas.

Additionally, Mitchell’s creative choices in music allowed for the show to highlight the female vocal range (specifically catering to Eurydice and Persephone’s songs), while she made the male range the separate ends of the range (Hermes in the middle, Orpheus at the top, and Hades at the bottom). In doing so, she allows the female characters to have a strength and versatility that is not provided to the male characters, which reflects in their individual portrayals; Eurydice and Persephone are both strong figures in their relationships and hold a lot of power over their male counterparts, whereas Orpheus’ high range mimics his innocence while Hades’ low range presents his power-driven personality. 

In the video trailer above, at the 0:32 mark, you can hear an example of Patrick Page as Hades singing in his gravelly, seemingly unnaturally low voice, marking his love for Persephone and somewhat “claiming” her as his territory. At 0:24, you can hear Persephone’s objections to the intolerable conditions that Hadestown creates for everyone there, adding to her constant efforts to ameliorate Hades’ world. On the contrary, you can hear Orpheus’ song of desire at 1:25, calling out to Eurydice and saying that he will do essentially anything in his power to bring her back to be with him, even traverse the treacherous conditions of the underworld. Meanwhile, Eurydice sings her version of his song at 0:50, singing of her experiences in Hadestown and of her love for Orpheus. In singing her song, Eurydice asserts that she chooses her path, so after stepping away from Orpheus and voluntarily joining Hades in Hadestown, she is ready to return to her husband.

Even in the setting of the show (depression-era, coal-mining, steampunk-esque), the woman’s place is considered. The silencing of women by men and society as a whole is reflected in Eurydice’s and Persephone’s main conflicts being with men and with their powerless position in the ways of the world. By recreating the myth in such a setting, Mitchell was able to communicate the timelessness of the issues faced by each character. Hades’ character was based heavily on a capitalist, upper-class leader who, while his morals were “broken” in a sense, was constantly trying to get back on a path to win back his wife. Orpheus, an artist stuck in his own head, dealing with the dilemma of how to win back his wife and conquering any obstacle in his path to love. Eurydice, a poor girl, trying to find a balance between surviving and listening to the Fates who govern her every decision. Persephone, a woman who has seen how bad the world can be, struggling to maintain an acceptable life for everyone. The intersection between doing what it takes to survive in desperate times and living a life full of wonder and love, as seen in Orpheus’ and Eurydice’s drastically different characters. We can see this in our world today, looking at how the power-hungry upper-class rules the world, how the climate is changing and those who have the power to change it aren’t doing so, and looking at poverty and finding the balance between a life of struggle and a carefree philosophy. 

Works Cited

Browne, David. “The Hell With Broadway: The Story of Anais Mitchell’s ‘Hadestown’.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 22 Oct. 2019,

Brunner, Jeryl. “Hadestown Is A Broadway Musical Like No Other.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 July 2019,

Kallstrom, Megan. “Hadestown’s Tonys Triumph Was a Win for Women.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 11 June 2019,

Sernaker, Emily, et al. “The Ms. Q&A: What Led Anaïs Mitchell to Hadestown.” Ms. Magazine, 15 Sept. 2020,

Thomas, Leah Marilla. “Anaïs Mitchell’s ‘Hadestown’ Is Making Broadway History For Women – But She Wants It To Be Normal For The Next Generation.” Bustle, Bustle, 6 May 2019,», Dominique Rossi