Economy or Morality?

I´m sure you all have heard about it. Most of you have things from it, and some of you even adore it. I must confess I also have pictures with the hot, half naked guy that greets us at the door. Yes people, I am talking about Abercrombie & Fitch. Those stores that can be smelled 500 meters away from the building. Those stores, which appear to be a hardcore disco, with practically no light on the insides and a combination of gorgeous people and mini winy t shirts, shorts and vests all around us.

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Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1989 and began operating as a store that sold hunting clothes and materials. Of course, a lot of water has flowed since then. If you want to read the whole history of the company, click here. Anyway, we don’t really need a lot of history to judge the following quotes. Let me tell you an interesting story about their current CEO. Our protagonist´s name is Mike Jeffreys and has some really…”interesting” views about his business which he doesn’t really try to hide from public knowledge. These are just some of the testimonies he makes with relative frequency:

“We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.” (Yes Mr Jeffreys…you are SO handsome…)

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“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.” 

Click here if you want to read more… “interesting” quotes.

I´ll try to handle this in an objective way. I guess in the “companies’ world” at the end, we are always left out with two different ways of looking at things: the economic perspective, where making money is what really counts, and the moral one: where the important thing is to owe fidelity to our principles and values on the firsthand. There are very different kinds of people, as well as very different kinds of businesses and CEO´s. And Abercrombie is certainly one which looks at things with an economic approach. BUT… feeding a superficial society only brings problems…for the people, of course. Companies establish beauty canons and we must adapt to them, no matter if this will cause us traumas, psychologic and physical illnesses, insecurity and therefore… sadness. We will always try to adapt to them, because we feel that this is what will make us truly happy (if so many people think that, and so many companies sell that, they are probably not that wrong… aren´t they?)

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This same week, I spoke with a friend who had been working in Abercrombie for 9 months. To work in Abercrombie, as old Mickey says, you have to meet certain physical requirements: height, width, have a pretty smile, good hair… you have to be hot as hell, to make it short. I asked him what he thought of that, and he argued in favor of hiring whoever you want, selling whatever you want and under the conditions you prefer… it´s a free market I guess. I can understand this approach…sort of.

What I don’t understand is how a company that exists to serve society and to make our lives… “better” can have that mentality. I think social responsibility is extremely important. If you are aware of the huge worldwide impact you have on teenagers and young people you should not, under any possible marketing excuse, contribute to the segregation of the “cool – thin – pretty” and the “geek – fat – ugly”. Because, at the end, beauty is nothing more than a lottery, transient and far… very far away from the really important things in life.

So, what do you think?… Economy or morality

B.

I am a Woman, not an Object

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Every extreme is somehow harming. Throughout history, we have seen how extremist points of view and actions (Nazi Germany, the Communist Soviet Union, The Church´s Inquisition, long ect list) have always brought bad consequences for society in general. The problem with extremism is that its members are not able to feel empathy with someone who doesn’t share their same point of view. But extremisms sometimes show up to defend a certain minority who lives under another imposed extremism, but so camouflaged in culture, that they don’t realize it anymore.

Those of you who are Spanish, will probably have seen this not so long ago: “CLICK HERE”. And if you didn’t know anything about it I encourage you to read it. I also suggest you read more news about the issue so that the article is better understood: “Femen in the UK”, “Femen in Saudi Arabia”

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FEMEN is a feminist activist group known for appearing on their protest with bare breasts. Their slogan is: “My body is my weapon”. They claim for a “sextremist revolution”, in which they want to end up with what they consider a society dominated by men and are prepared to fight with anyone. “We live in the world of male economic, cultural and ideological occupation. In this world, a woman is a slave, she is stripped of the right to any property but above all she is stripped of ownership of her own body”. They believe women should stand up to patriarchy and end with the forces that have controlled their lives since the beginning of times: dictatorship, sex – industry and the church. For more info, click here and see their official webpage.

I have to admit I love them. I know I just said extremes are always harming, and indeed they are. But I really think this case is different. Women have always been the “weak gender”, the ones who stay home and take care of the kids, who have to be protected by the strong guy, the delicate… but this is not the worse. They are also the sexual objects. The way women are portrayed in society: by advertising, stereotypes, magazines…even politics! There is one thing I can´t stand: positive discrimination. In 2007, Spain put forward a law stating that companies should incorporate at least a 40% of women in their board of directors. WHY do women have to have “special” rights to get a job when they are as valid as men? Reinforcing the “obligation” to hire women is degrading. Why are we the weak gender? I think we definitely have to fight against this type of things, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia where women are not even allowed to drive.

Women´s perception in the world needs to change. Of course, I would never justify hurting someone or violence as a form of protest, but I think FEMEN is on the right path. There are certain pillars in society that need to be demolished, and no matter how many egalitarian laws are passed to try to protect women, until these things are eradicated, women will never be equal. And I agree with FEMEN on them:

Dictatorship. Women´s submission to men in most societies. Men in control of the incomes, the plans, the strength. Until women are not seen as the “weak gender” anymore, we will not be equal.

Sex – industry. Prostitution: buying a woman´s body. Seeing women as sexual objects and therefore reinforcing the importance of superficiality and being “hot as hell” for boys.

Religion. One of the most damaging and viral excuses behind denigrating women. There is an incredible need for the absolute separation of religion and state. Laws and culture should not be ruled by religion under any circumstance. Until the concept of having “a superior being” who wants us to be objects to men doesn’t disappear, we will stay where we are.

But the first step is that US, women, stop seeing ourselves like this. We do not have to depend on anyone and we do not have to subdue our life to the search of being “the good woman”. I support FEMEN on what they do. And I think that it is our duty to prepare a fairer world for our daughters. Because change exists, and it´s possible. Of course I do not mean we should take our shirts off, paint our breasts and go to the Senate, but for a big change to take place, a lot of small ones are needed first. We should change our own perception of ourselves, our own surroundings, our views on education…and let the big changes come with time and effort.

 “I am a woman not an object”.

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B. 

DOCTRINA PAROT

Today, Monday 21st of October 2013, Spain has been forced to move a step backwards concerning human rights. One of the fairest laws approved by our Spanish Supreme Court (I must say there are not a lot of fair laws at all) has been derogated and beaten up by the Strasbourg Courts. Ok, let´s start from the beginning. Promise I´ll try to be objective.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, killing someone is condemned with 30 years in prison. If my maths are still ok, killing two people would mean spending 60 years in prison and so on. But this, as most things, has a trick. At the end, assassins cannot stay in jail more than 30 years in total: which means that, it doesn’t matter if you kill one or fifty people, at the end you will only stay in prison a maximum of 30 years. The problem with this is, it is certainly not the same to kill one person (I´m not entering on specific cases), steal something or belong to an extreme political ideology than to put a terrorist attack on a public place in Madrid, commit 24 assassinations or rape more than one girl. Here comes another problem: thirty years in prison are never thirty years. Years get all the time cancelled with “good conduct”, “good work”, “good study”, “good whatever crap stuff they can come up with”, and they end up leaving jail eighteen  years after assassinating, raping, narcotrafficking etc. Therefore, what the Spanish Supreme Court decided to implement, was what was known as “Doctrina Parot”, by which this let´s call them “extreme terrorists” would pay for their crimes fairly and accordingly to what they had done.

The new doctrine stated that for more than one assassination (imagine someone kills two people and therefore is condemned to 60 years) the discount of years for good conduct would count for the totality of years you are condemned and not for the practical 30 years you will actually spend in prison. Let´s put a practical example to understand it better.

In the case of Inés del Río, who belongs to the Basque terrorist group ETA, she was condemned to 3828 years of prison for killing 24 people in a terrorist attack in Madrid (the years of condemn would be the summation of 24 assassinations, a terrorist attack, the planning of it, belonging to ETA etc). If she is found to be marvelously well behaved in prison, and gets 10 years of condemn reduction, she would have 10 years removed from the totality of 3828 instead of 30. What the Spanish Supreme Court was trying to avoid was that del Río (for example) could be out of jail in 20 years instead of 30, to create a fairer system and to avoid that extreme terrorists received the same treatment as someone who murders one person.

Our protagonist, Del Río, asked the Strasbourg Courts to study her case alleging her right to freedom was being violated. The Courts have decided the Parot Doctrine goes against extreme terrorist´s right to freedom and have called for its suppression. The Spanish Courts took one day to assess the results and finally decided to let Del Río out of prison. End of my objectivity. She is now as free as a ladybird. The Court is also studying each case specifically as every single prisoner put to jail under the “Doctrina Parot” is asking for it. It is shameful. And it is not only this. Just imagine for one second being the son, mother, husband, uncle, cousin, friend (long etc list) of a person who has been brutally assassinated, raped (another long etc list) by one of these people who is going to leave prison in a couple of years because someone considers they have the right to freedom. What?

No dear people, this is not like this. We live in a society where there is not, or should not be, any right without its associated obligation. From the moment we are considered to be “free citizens full of rights” we are also considered to have attached specific obligations which cannot simply be ignored or punished with some years in prison (whose extremely good conditions I will not list or debate because I have enough of a bad mood right now). Members of the Victim Association Committee of course feel that their rights are the ones being violated with this resolution, and have asked the Spanish First Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to avoid it from being implemented (which of course hasn’t happened).

 What can we expect from a society that works like this? Do you think this is fair?

I would certainly love to hear your opinion on the subject, so please, leave your comments so we can discuss more about this!

B.

Be Beautiful, Be Happy

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting restfully watching TV on my sofa when an ad showing a beautiful blonde twenty year old girl appeared. She, with a particularly orgasmic voice, told the world how the new Garnier cream left her “non make up” face that perfect. Unconsciously, my brain stayed with the name of the cream and I thought to myself “hmm, maybe I should try that one”. Immediately after thinking that, I felt extremely stupid.

According to Dove’s Global Real Truth About Beauty Study carried out in 2010, only 4% of women all around the world actually consider themselves beautiful. That means, that 96% of women think they are not pretty or have something in them which should change for the better. My question now is, “how is this possible? Why do women not see themselves beautiful?” Precisely me, I think there are a lot of very beautiful girls and women everywhere I go!!! But then I realized that, five minutes ago, I was watching an ad thinking I should buy the cream in order to, as superficial as it might sound, look prettier. If at the end ads have that same effect on every woman, we can deduce that insecurities are extremely present on our society and that type of advertising only contributes to make it worse.

Achieving perfection is imposible. We don´t realize that  because we spend our whole life actually searching for it, without really knowing that being perfect is not, and no matter how much technology and science advance, will never be possible.  You might now think “well…why do models appear to be so? If I decide to go on a macro diet and wear 20193 creams and 36484 different types of make up on won´t I achieve it too?” For those of you who have sometime in your lives thought that, please click here

Yes ladies and gentlemen… the answer is PHOTOSHOP. Nowadays every single image goes through a “photoshoping” process before being posted anywhere. The problem with this is that us, real people, living on the real world and who do not benefit from a computer modification process before leaving our homes, have created a dogma around perfection and the importance of achieving it. We think beautiful people are better. We want to look prettier and we have a superficial cult around physical appearance which is being the cause of a lot of mental diseases such as anorexia or bulimia. The direction advertising takes, the way it plays with our self esteem and the tactics it uses since the very beginning of our lives to reinforce the “importance” of physical appearance is what has made society obsessed with this idea.

Barbies, make up, creams, models, diets, the hot cool guy going with the perfect blonde and extremely thin girl in every single film or series… they are all products of a massive strategy companies have to sell their products. They try to convince us that our up to now “miserable” lives will be better when we buy them. I agree. It is very difficult to fight against this and to change it is even more. But every big change happens when a lot of small ones take place…change your ideals, priorities and have a critical view over advertising.

PS: I have just logged on to Facebook…and guessed what has appeared on this precise moment?? Take a look at this ad:

“It has been discovered how to measure beauty .Discover how to measure the factors that make you beautiful and happy: Learn to be happy: Click here”

Judge for yourselves… beautiful and happy? God save me from that ideal.

B.

Come on Press! Let´s get loud!

There´s something on the Spanish press that has been going on and being front page of some of the most important newspapers of the country (such as the ABC) for weeks. It pissed me off since the beginning and now it just makes me mad.

The news is about a twelve year old girl, Asunta Basterra, who was apparently assassinated by her parents inSantiago de Compostela (Galicia). I agree that this is a piece of information which should go on the press. But it has been going on for weeks now, without any clear direction and been the centre of some of the most seen debates of the Spanish TV (such as Espejo Público on Antena 3 and even in TVE, the national television network).

I ask myself “when I read a newspaper, what am I exactly looking for as a citizen?”… I suppose I want to inform myself about what is going on in the world, and specially about issues that concern me directly such as economy, politics or society in my country and city. But do I really choose what to know about? NO. I read and know what the journalist writing the newspaper wants to tell me. As a “nearly journalist” I can ask myself “when I write a piece of news…what do I exactly want to express?”…my answer would be issues of concern which citizens must know about in a fair and ethical way. And then, why are journalists in my country not doing so?

I know it is extremely disgusting and terrible that there are parents who are capable to kill their children, but thinking it objectively…it´s really not of national concern and a very delicate and painful issue to treat it as the media is doing so now. They are just looking for sensationalism, to have the “boom” they know society likes in order to get them talking about it and consuming more and more pieces of news about the same issue which don’t really say anything but just add disease and get the people talking about something.

This is not good journalism. It isn’t ethical either. There has even been a professor of Journalism in the University of Santiago in Spain who has decided to leave her job because she feels shame of how some of the journalists she has taught are behaving (click here to read the complete news). Journalists justify themselves saying “people have the right to know about this and they actually want to know more about the issue”. But the truth is there is actually no legal code in Europe that talks about the right of society to know anything and that we are all subject of what journalists want us to know. It is tough, but a reality. And that is why it´s so important to create good and fair journalism and to leave behind the tendency of putting together trivial and sensational stories with the justification “people want to know about it”. Because people will not want to know about anything if they don’t know it exists.

We usually associate media attention with importance and relevance…this is not true. The press knows that we as humans sin of “liking” tremendous stories which can get us for hours talking about how horrible is the world and the monsalks about it then it must be important. Consume news that are really objective and relevant, eters that walk amongst us. Don’t fall into this type of sensationalism. Don’t think that if the press tthical and which have a clear path and direction.

If you want to add anything to this or give your opinion please do so!

B.