Wednesday, June 25, 2008

American Asshole?

I've been doing some reading about the clothing company American Apparel -- why, I can't really explain. I'm pretty sure I clicked on an article from that lead to more clicking that landed me on an article about the company's founder and CEO, Dov Charney. I also had recently read a discussion about how hard it is to buy clothes that are made in this country, and American Apparel is one of the few major clothing companies I can name off the top of my head that actually makes clothes here, so I was interested in reading more.

Anyway, it would seem that there's a lot to like about the company, even if you don't like its clothes. As mentioned, the clothes are made here, in L.A., and not overseas in a sweatshop. The factory in L.A. is not a sweatshop either. By all accounts, the company takes good care of its factory workers, paying them $12 to $18 an hour (the numbers I read vary), offering health care and other benefits, etc etc. The company and its founder have been praised time and time again for how the company is run and for being sweatshop-free. The only criticism, business-wise, that I've come across is that it's not unionized, and that unionization is frowned upon. (Shocker!) It really does sound like a good company, one of the few good ones you might read about in an industry long accused of using child labor and having horrible working conditions overseas.

However, the article I happened to click on was about the founder and a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him recently. Much has been said about Charney's sexuality, sexual exploits and sexual tendencies. To all that, whatever. Whatever he wants to do, have it. Couldn't care less if he walks around naked or jerks off in front of a reporter (who, by all accounts, was just fine with him doing so). But the claims in that article are just ... wow. And weird. I have no idea if they're true, I have no idea how this lawsuit will turn out (other sex. har. suits against him have been dismissed or settled), and I'm not going to assume he's guilty of what he's being accused of. It doesn't bode well for him though, given his already-questionable track record with female employees, which seems to be documented all over the Internet.

As if that isn't enough on its own to make me question the guy, he had to go and say stuff like this:

“Feminism is extremely restrictive. You can’t call a woman a bitch, you can’t call her this, you can’t call her that. But that’s what life’s really like. Yet she can do whatever she wants. It’s out of balance and that’s why young people haven’t embraced feminism, because it’s out of balance.”

And this:

“Out of a thousand sexual harassment claims how many do you think are exploitive? There are almost no sexual harassment charges from men against women. They’re not acceptable – it’s considered that only women are the victims.
Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence maybe one is involving a man.” And this, Charney decries, “has made a victim culture out of women.”

But don't worry, because he also said this!

“I don’t want to be paraded around like I’m trying to demean women. That’s not my point. I love women. I care for women. They make great contributions to American Apparel.”

For fuck's sake. Way to take one clothing company I might actually consider buying clothes from based solely on its business practices and turn it into one I have very little interest in anymore because its owner is a complete asshole. Actually, I'm pretty sure I own a few band T-shirts that were printed on American Apparel shirts. But it sure won't be something I seek out in future purchases.

To sort of step away from Charney (I feel like I need a shower), I have to mention this review of the 15-year anniversary edition of Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville." For the record, I love the album, but I probably won't pick up this copy of it. (Doesn't sound like there's much good going on with the extra features.) The review is a positive one. Glowing, one might say. But the fact that the guy who wrote this managed to work in the idea that guys (in general) should take some credit for the album because "they preened for her, dicked her over, and taught her how to push back, inspiring her and making it necessary for her to write these songs in the first place" is just asinine. Sorry guys, you don't get to be proud of being a dick. Even when such behavior might help shape a good album.


Anonymous said...

I can understand there are two sides to a story, but come on....I went from one article to the other reading mostly negative commentary on his social interactions and this guy is a complete wreck. Who cares if he's amicable and full of life...who wants to see him jerk off!? I just can't imagine people thinking that stuff should fly (at work/in public/in an interview).

Rosie said...

I can't imagine it either, but some people just don't care about that kind of stuff, or are into it, or too afraid to complain, etc. And the mostly negative stuff you read is probably because that's what I linked to. :) There's a LOT of positive press out there about the company, but most all of it does at least mention his "quirky" behavior.


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