In a May 29, 2014 posting I featured a Kickstarter project for nanotechnology-enabled men’s swim trunks/shorts,
It seems like a pretty good idea, swimwear that doesn’t get wet, as noted in the Frank Anthony Kickstarter campaign (the comments about the design are after the technology descriptions),
We were tired of having to change shorts every time you leave the beach, having car seats soaked and not being able to go from the beach to a restaurant.
I then went on to comment about one of the designs (there are several others), the Lexis desiign, which I’m not going to reproduce here (you can see it in the May 29, 2014 posting) but here’s a description,
I’m trying to imagine who’d wear this with an image placed so the model appears to be staring into his (the wearer’s) crotch, mouth held invitingly open.
I next related this example to a culture that regularly demeans women and included an extreme example of then recent mass killings in Isla Vista, California, where the shooter who committed suicide had produced a number of videos and a manifesto claiming that women owed him. A commenter for the May 29, 2014 posting later attempted to suggest that I had correlated shorts and a mass shooting. I guess that’s one way to look at it (I replied at some length to that comment).
In any event Mr. Shaw sent me a couple of emails outlining his position and with his permission I am reproducing them here. The first was dated June 2, 2014,
I read your post with regards to my nanotechnology startup swimwear company based out of Toronto, Canada. It was a very interesting read and most of the things within the first few paragraphs I felt displayed what we’re trying to achieve as a company.
After reading your response with regards to objectifying women and relating our ‘Lexis’ shorts towards the mass murder which took place in Isla Vista, California I thought that an explanation was needed to be given.
The Lexis garment was never supposed to be taken as objectifying women in any way. The model is a very beautiful woman who is simply posing for an artistic photograph. I would be lying if I did infact say I didn’t position her on the garment to appear as if she was looking upwards towards the wearer but it was never intended to be taken as “sexually explicit”.
At Frank Anthony swimwear we believe in beauty, whether you are a male or a female we believe that you should embrace your inner sexuality and not be afraid of those who question it. This design is simply showcasing the beauty of a woman and capturing her admiring expression towards our wearer.
We understand it is a “risky” design but then again we are in the fashion industry. There are allot more sexually thought provoking advertisements shown which display both males and females as sexual objects in fashion, because in the end its fun to break the barriers of society once and awhile. It is not meant to be taken as objectifying or disrespect, it is simply just pointing towards a direction that our users have to fill in the blanks mentally to conclude.
My thoughts go out to the victims of the attack in Isla Vista, California. Mental illness isn’t a funny subject nor should it be taken lightly. It was an extreme case of an untreated illness and we are sorry for the families of the victims.
Thank you for your article.
CEO, Frank Anthony
Note: The man who killed those people in Isla Vista had been treated for mental illness for many years and was under treatment at the time of the killings.
I received later on June 2, 2014,
At this time I would appreciate that our conversation remains respectful of both parties and that you kindly release my statement with regards to the Lexis design in a separate article.
I am not doing this for publicity nor do I expect anything in return, but I just really don’t tolerate when people call me out for something I don’t stand for such as sexism.
Not having used the word ‘sexism’ in the May 29, 2014 posting, I’m not sure what he’s referring to but perhaps it’s this,
McDonough’s May 27, 2014 posting about Rodger has a title that allows me to take my commentary on the Lexis design from one of mere bad taste to an indication of something far more disturbing, “Rebecca Solnit on Elliot Rodger: “He fits into a culture of rage,” “a culture that considers women tools and playthings and property.” Getting back to Lexis, she’s on a pair of swim shorts where she looks as if she’s perpetually ready to perform a sexual act. She is at once a tool, a plaything, and a piece of property.
The design sits there on the Frank Anthony Kickstarter campaign webpage and, at this time (June 13, 2014 1040 hours PDT), the company (Canadian, by the way) has raised over $61,000 ($51,000 more than the original goal) with 11 days still left before the campaign is ended. Many news outlets have featured the Frank Anthony Kickstarter campaign along with images of the designs. For example, Olivia Fleming’s June 9, 2014 article for the Daily Mail online focuses on the technology aspect, mentioning that Shaw is 19-year-old, while showcasing some of the designs but omitting the Lexis,
A high school graduate tired of having his car seats soaked after a day at the beach has created swimming shorts that stay dry – even while in the water.
Frank Shaw, from Toronto, Canada, is funding his Frank Anthony swimwear line through Kickstarter, and after 15 days he has already surpassed his $10,000 goal to raise $45,000.
‘We wanted to create a garment that could transition from a day at the beach, to a workout at the gym and a night on the town all without having to change,’ the 19-year-old told MailOnline.
As I understand it, the Daily Mail (a UK newspaper) is not known for its highbrow taste. In fact, I have not seen a single news outlet reproduce the Lexis design as an example of the product line. My guess is that I’m not the only one who thinks the design crosses a line.