Elevate Difference

Tattoo Flash Print Dishtowels

Sin in Linen, purveyor of retro and punk rock patterned household goods, sent Elevate Difference and this feminist reviewer a pair of their new Tattoo Flash Print Dishtowels. I’m not sure what to review: their utility? As Courtney Love once sang, “I don’t do the dishes, I throw them in the crib.” Do I test them for feminist purity? Included among the sacred hearts, horseshoes, and flames are bikini-clad pinup girls, one of whom strikes a squatting-at-the-strip-club-in-platforms pose that is less Bettie Page than Jenna Jameson. Ew.

Lest you accuse me of typically second wave prudery, I assure you that I do like vintage pin-ups. My husband knows that Playboy is verboten in my house not because naked ladies are bad, but because naked ladies who are shaved, starved, and siliconed into looking like pneumatic twelve-year-olds are bad. My husband, incidentally, is our household’s usual dishwasher, and he approved of the Tattoo Dishtowels. “More absorbent than the crap we got at Ikea,” was his take. Unfortunately, when he draped the towels over the oven door to dry, my five-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son got an eyeful. She liked the mermaids and butterflies; he wondered why on earth there would be women in bathing suits on the new dishtowels. I told him I didn’t know.

I see the appeal of applying tattoos to household products instead of human bodies; the consumer remains au courant while avoiding the inconvenience of a lifetime commitment. What I fail to understand, continually, is the use of voluptuous pin-up girl as shorthand for “I am different. I am alternative.” When I gaze at the designs on the Tattoo Dishtowels, I think of an aging Korean War vet’s meaty forearms. A dishtowel of tattoos for the new millennium might feature Japanese kanji, Celtic knots, or Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s name in Sanskrit.

But the purpose of these towels is not to celebrate the history of tattooing; it is to send the following message to the neighbors on laundry day: I am no ordinary housewife. This is precisely what I conveyed last week when I attended both kids’ school open houses in rumpled jeans and a pair of maroon Chuck Taylors, so I understand this impulse completely. I just don’t agree that a half-naked babe, however luscious, is the best way to do it.

Now if that bikini babe were in the company of the shirtless Old Spice Guy, then we’d really be cooking (pun totally intended). Equal opportunity objectification could be all that’s needed to unite feminism’s many waves—even if it’s only over the kitchen sink.

Written by: Shannon Drury, September 16th 2010

I like fun dishtowels. The more colorful, the better. Typically, I go for the kind that have been modified with a crochet wrap-around and button, so they don't fall off my oven door handle. In my kitchen, you might see colorful strawberry bunches or festive rooster scenes hanging from my oven door. As far as the tattoo desgins, I think I would be more in favor of one tatto per dishtowel. Because I am a feminist, I would not choose a dishtowel with the bikini-clad women in subservient poses. These tattoo prints belong on sexy women's underwear or men's boxer shorts, not kitchen towels.

Great commentary! I agree that the idea of "equal opportunity" for "objectification" is non-existent. Women, sadly, tend to be the status quo for any objectification. What i think is odd is that this occurs even if the point is to, somehow, empower women to make them look "hip" and "modern," even as they do the most mundane tasks.

The question is why do we need to empower women that washing the dishes can be cool and hip? Are we really shackled do this identity so much we need something to make us 'feel better' about it? When, in reality, i bet men do the dishes as much as women. The time of men vs women household chores seems to be fading, perhaps popular culture should catch up to the 21st century.