What the Nips?: Tune in Tokyo Tank top
Okay, the last thing that I want to be called is a humorless feminist, so I'll tell a joke: “How many men does it take to wall paper a bathroom?” “One, if you slice him thinly enough.” No, that's not funny. And it also illuminates the fact that female mutilation and battery are much more common in 'humor' than the reverse, or maybe women put a lid on their bitterness as a survival strategy.
I once pointed out to a professor that our language had the term 'misogynist' but lacked the inverse, and suggested 'mishomonist.' Bless Ernst Bernhard-Kabisch, he wrinkled his brow and replied, “That mixes Greek and Latin. That offends me. How about 'misandric' instead?” Perhaps tastelessness is equal opportunity, but I have to admit that the Tune in Tokyo tank top gave me pause, and not only because I couldn't fit into it. (This fall, an employer re-announced the 'no tank top' policy after I committed a violation, distributing conventional tees with the institution's logo at the morning 'pep' meeting. No-one complained about the twenty year-old B-cups wearing them beneath our baggy work jackets. Apparently double the volume and vintage is not acceptable. I suspect a double standard.)
I only recognized the phrase, upon receipt, by recalling a pal's complaint about her boyfriend's standard approach when soliciting a less-preferred practice. “...like he's trying to tune in Tokyo...” Ella Lou had drawled, rolling her eyes. When I'm feeling inspired, I'll try to concoct more metaphors for male ineptitude, God knows I've experienced enough of it. A painter friend described a bad kiss like having a “cat's penis” stuck in her mouth. But I digress...
Victoria Wilkins' line of comic underthings originally appeared as visual art at a gallery in Cleveland, Ohio. The site offers cute visual pun tanks (e.g., two little owls over the ta-tas for 'Hooters'—I liked it when the group Sister Serpents defaced a 'Hooters' billboard by the expressway by gluing a big sausage on the front of the lounging waitress's orange hotpants, and spray painting the ad so that it read 'SHooters'; traffic slowed to a crawl), boy shorts, bikinis, and a thong. Silly me, I originally thought that the boy shorts were for boys, and that the ones with the strategically located cupcakes were rather cute.
There are the ever-popular 'Capitalist Tool' boxers out on the market, but not at this site. Prices range from ten to twenty-five bucks, and the white “itty-bitty titty committee” tank with pink band-aids is sold out. Maybe my discomfort is standard second-versus-third-wave feminism, although I'm somewhere between punk and riot girl in cultural chronology. Sometimes I just can't buy the 'lipstick is empowering' argument, as its logical extension seems to advocate liposuction as a means of social change. Does claiming your commodification put you in control? Or are you perpetuating reification that harms us all? Or should I lighten up because it's just a shirt?
It's an American Apparel t-shirt, and all the ambivalence I could vent there would fill a separate review. I tried to give the tank top away at a recent reading as a prize for anyone who could recite “Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop,” but no one knew the Yeats. Note: to any graphic designer reading this who would like to collaborate, please contact me, I have a tasteless tee idea, but favor a spare, international-logo design style...