Ruscher, Obama, dancing, feminism.

July 19th, 2008 · 3 Comments · By

There’s no huge noteworthy event tonight, just a few small unrelated things I thought I’d take the time to mention here:

John Ruscher, founder of NailgunMedia in 2005, has left town. John started this blog from scratch when he was a UVa student, and was more or less it’s sole writer for almost three years (with a lot of technical help from Tom). I actually met John — whom I’m now proud to count as a good friend — just because he was that guy who ran a great blog and came to every show. He showed a tireless, uncynical commitment to Charlottesville music, and I’m honored to be taking over the blog for him in his absence (along with occasional contributor John Bylander, who sadly will also be leaving town soon). John graduated from UVa in 2007 and spent the past year writing the Feedback column for the C-Ville Weekly, and he’s spending the summer traveling before he decides what to do next. John may be back in town at some point, but the Charlottesville music community is missing him already.

The Obama Campaign’s Charlottesville office opens tonight — it’s in the old A&N space at the east end of the downtown mall. They’re having a reception / opening party starting at 7pm. I’m not quite sure what that will entail apart from having the opportunity to register to vote, so if you’ve never registered, just moved to town, or have a friend who fits either of those criteria, now’s a good chance to do that.

There’s not too many shows I’m aware of tonight, apart from the Nice Jenkins show at Gravity Lounge. They’re playing with the Pomegranates and Pornado. {UPDATE: oops, that show is actually on Monday the 21st. sorry folks.}

Additionally, DJ Western Front will be spinning tonight at Cassis. He did an excellent job at the CCDC dance party last night — good taste in songs, and impeccably tight segues. It often stuck too closely to the top-40-house-remix-style for my attention span, but it must be said that he seriously knows what he’s doing and knows how to work a crowd. Now that OXO is departed, everyone other fancy downtown restaurant is trying to make it as a late-night weekend dancing spot; this is one of the ones that’s actually worth checking out, for my money. (Ha! as if I had any. I’ll actually be working tonight.)

Also, on an almost-completely-unrelated note, can I just take a moment to mention how ridiculous and offensive I think this is? As the Progess notes, The Corner-based lingerie store Flirt is now offering a service where one can hire lingerie-clad young women as party hostesses. I have no problem with the Flirt store to begin with — it must be said that they do sell great lingerie — but as a feminist, I find the idea of a service that hires out young women as eye-candy in a position of servitude to be pretty unconscionable. Please don’t mistake this as some sort of sex-phobic, backlash-fueled reactionary complaint — my distaste for this idea is based around my feelings that the Charlottesville community should be offering young women more positive, actually-empowering roles, rather than merely serving as eye-candy for insecure yuppies who are worried that their parties are going to fail. And what kind of aristocratic snob has such a huge sense of entitlement that he would patronize this service? Is the success of a party now solely judged on whether or not your drunk male friends feel sufficiently paid attention to, sexually? Way to go, guys.

I also liked how the women quoted in the article spend the entire time attempting to justify the service they offer, claiming “We’re not floozies out there getting paid for our sex appeal” as if that weren’t the entire premise of this business venture. Flirt’s owner says they intend to eventually intend to donate proceeds to women’s groups, which to me seems like more of a retroactive attempt at justifying this service, rather than a well-thought-out charity project. Here’s a much, much better example of how to raise funds for women’s groups in a way that is actually positive and empowering — C.L.A.W. events do occasionally feature an element of burlesque sexuality as part of the whole theatrical mayhem, but there are plenty of women participating who have nothing to do with that sort of thing. And both of those things are great — as I see it, C.L.A.W. is an event that allows women to create an indentity and present themselves to the world in whatever way they want, whether that role is sexual or humorous, feminine or masculine, young or old, fun or frightening, or some unprecedented combination of all of those things. And the entire premise is based around the idea of negating the traditional stereotype of women as weak and unassertive; it’s deliberately the opposite of that, and the event was started specifically to raise money for women’s groups, rather than the other way around.

The “Flirtresses,” by comparison, are doing nothing more than resigning themselves to regressive gender roles and feeding a bullshit patriarchal system where the men command the authority and the women are literally treated like objects, however “fun” they try to make the whole thing seem. The Flirt article’s final quote is a nice touch as well: “It’s like when Budweiser sends out girls to a bar to promote Budweiser drinks.” (For the record, I think that kind of thing is pretty disgusting as well.)

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Jul 20, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Update on the flirt thing: there’s a discussion over at CvilleStyle about it, wherein someone from Flirt posted with a clarification / defense. Apparently it’s less associated with the Flirt store itself, and more associated with corporate beer company promotional efforts. Also, they apparently wear waitress-style black dresses to most events, although lingerie is present at some.

    I’m still not convinced. This defense is basically just throwing around the word “fun” as often as possible, while using empty corporate buzzwords to highlight their “unique business strategy.” I don’t even think this strategy is all that unique or unprecedented, frankly — I’m just shocked by how transparent it is. Their innovation was just got rid of the middle-man and come right out and actually say “buy those women!”

  • 2 Jones // Jul 20, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I wasn’t as offended until I read the two articles. Now I’m just sort of baffled. Is it really possible to be so deluded that you think this sort of thing isn’t exploitative? Does Allison Hurt really think that just because she came up with the idea that it is somehow empowering?

    I have no problem with a lingerie store hiring women to wear their lingerie when the purpose is selling the lingerie. That’s called modeling. There are certainly ways to be misogynistic in the world of modeling, but the pure act of putting somebody in clothes in order to show better what the clothes look like is not, in itself, wrong.

    But to put women in sexy clothes for the express purpose of showing off the WOMAN, even if the woman never gets naked or interacts with people around her, it’s hard to argue that’s not a form of sex work. Call that person a “Flirtress,” and the argument becomes even more difficult. (The politics of sex work are far too layered and complex to delve into here.)

    What baffles me most is how Hurt can claim this to be an innovative idea. “Marketing 3.0” she calls it.

    Hiring beautiful women to stand around looking beautiful is not innovative. Vegas hostesses, old-school party strippers, the practice has been around forever. Just because you coin a new term for it (“flirtresses”) doesn’t make it innovative.

    I have nothing against any woman who chooses this as a way of earning money, especially in this job market. Hurt in on shakier ground; it seems evident that she doesn’t understand the sexual politics surrounding this situation, and will never be able to contextualize the arguments against her service.

    In the end, though, I just have to shake my head and say “meh”. It’s sad, it’s stupid, but it’s nothing new. I just hope everybody stays safe. It’ll probably be very successful if they do.

    Serious as it all is, I’m suddenly struck by the possibilities of having every store in Charlottesville have its own army of costumed drones. The Chaps “Chappers,” dandy young lads in vests and blue aprons handing out tiny ice creams at luncheons. The Cafe Cubano “Cubanistas”, installed around any corporate gathering as a scowling crowd control force. The “Lucky Sevenettes”, a team of punk rock riot grrls handing out free cigarettes at rock shows. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

  • 3 James // Jul 20, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Actually, I realized after I wrote the rant that nobody from Flirt has yet to use the word “empowerment.” They just keep saying it’s “fun” over and over again.

    Personally, I don’t find situations where there’s a really drastic social gender imbalance fueled by monetary transactions to be in any way “fun.” Which is why I don’t go to strip clubs. But apparently that’s just me.