Monday, December 22, 2014

Again with this? Dear Famous Footwear, Please stop.

Dear Famous Footwear,

I guess ya'll didn't read my last letter.  Or if you did, you didn't pay it any mind.

Because you've gone and misconstrued arrogance for confidence again:

Recently my phone broke and I found myself in a Sprint store.  Ahead of me was a mother with two pre-teens, a boy and a girl.  Each was sitting on a stool, waiting for the mother to finish her business.  Speaking of business, the pre-teen girl was minding her own, but the boy was all over her space, putting his shoes on the rungs underneath the stool upon which she was sitting.  The girl didn't want the boy's feet on her stool.  She asked him to stop putting his feet on the stool she was occupying.  But he wouldn't.  Again and again, I watched the boy, discontent to simply occupy his own space, demand to also occupy the girl's space by repeatedly putting his feet on her stool.  Countless times, she nudged his shoes off of her stool with her own feet.  Again and again, he showed that he felt that it was his right to occupy her space by placing his feet immediately onto her stool.  It was a footsy war.  Finally, the mother took notice.  Can you guess whose behavior she counseled? 
That's right.  The girl.  The mother wanted to know what the big deal was.  Why couldn't the boy put his shoes on her stool? 
What's the big deal if a boy wants to occupy your personal space?
It's here that I want to iterate that I am not a mother, nor do I live with these people.  I simply observed them for a period of about half an hour (which is ridiculous, but that's an open letter for Sprint).  I don't know that the pre-teen girl is not a difficult, holy terror on a regular basis, removing any benefit of doubt she may have and prompting adults to regularly correct her behavior before any others'. That may be true. 
But what I observed broke my heart.  What I observed was a pre-teen male asserting the belief that he has claim to another's personal space.  This is privilege and entitlement at work in its most basic form. 
Perhaps this was just a typical sibling squabble.  That may be true.
But that breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart that I suspect it may be typical in our society for a mother  to deem her daughter's wishes for personal space to be petty, while constantly and consistently pairing with her son to defend and promote his growing sense of entitlement and privilege to take up any space he chooses. 
It broke my heart to watch the girl simply remove herself from the stool and find another place to sit, when, in fact, the boy could have moved to the stool immediately to his left, and stretched his legs onto the other, unoccupied stool.  There were three damn stools!!!
I recount this incident, Famous Footwear, in this blog post open letter, because I want to tell you that real life incidents of girls losing their sense of entitlement to their own space, their own bodies, is real, and it's a problem.
And you, Famous Footwear, are now part of the problem.
Your commercial is all about the boy's confidence.  Just like, again, in your other commercial I had a problem with, you lure us into rooting for a false underdog - the boy presumably who, without shoes he's (his parents) purchased from Famous Footwear,  lacked confidence to kiss a girl under the mistletoe. 
You want us to watch and applaud and notice the effect of the shoes, because the product is the point, after all, right? as the well-heeled boy sets down his cup of cheer and marches toward the girl and kisses her.
Because now he has shoes from Famous Footwear. 
Because now he has confidence.
Somewhere along the way he lost the sense that perhaps a girl has a right to her own personal space, and the right to choose who kisses her rather than merely existing as a receptacle for boys' confidence, but never mind. 
Never mind. 
Perhaps I'm making something out of nothing.  Perhaps I'm being ridiculous. 
Perhaps the girl could have, should have, pushed the boy away if she didn't want his kiss because it's always the girls' fault, because girls are always responsible for whether or not their space is invaded by wearing slutty Christmas dresses and not saying no and letting it happen
Maybe they were both drinking spiked punch.
I mean, girls shouldn't even show up to parties where there are boys who are wearing confidence-boosting shoes if they don't want to be kissed, right?  Am I right? 
I mean, maybe it's just a commercial that has nothing to do with reflecting, and promoting, the attitudes of current society and I should just calm the hell down.
Let me see.
Me: Self, should I calm the hell down?
Self: Nope. 
With so many better ways to promote true confidence, and to promote your product, shame on you, Famous Footwear.  Again. 

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