Back to school – but in which decade?

“Back to school” has been and gone, and while we’ve been away this summer we’ve had friends and supporters on our Facebook page letting us know of the back to school horrors they’ve encountered, and indeed complained about in some of our high street stationery outlets.

Paperchase. You may have seen the internet ‘stink’ around this one, including quite possibly the rudest head of marketing on the face of the earth – well – one of them anyway. But really – is it such hilarious irony making the pink side of the back to school range “bake to school” complete with images of cakes and baking and 70s girls in pinafore dresses – whilst the blue side get sharks and adventure. Are our six year olds able to laugh hysterically at the so-called irony? Well, we think not. Whilst the original complainant found herself locked in a war of words with the aforementioned rudest head of marketing on the face of the earth, we actually felt the need to support her, and reiterate to Paperchase the importance of her original complaint. Which is what we did in this letter – as yet, with no response.

But it gets worse.

Scribbler. Words totally fail us on this alleged (once again) “ironic” humour – where quite unbelievably, in a shop which sells back to school stationery and products for children, we have badges, presumably for girls / women, with the words “cum queen”, “slag”, “fancy a tit wank” on them.  The list goes on, ready to be worn with pride for the benefit of who? Teenage boys? Grown men? The mind boggles. When Vicky Wharton wrote to complain, she was told that they wouldn’t be taken off the shelves because “they were humorous”. Again we are rolling around with the hilarity of it all, I can’t imagine for a moment that racist or homophobic language on badges would be considered humorous. Or that any parent finding their daughter wearing one would think it was funny? Can you?

Badges by Scribbler

We spoke to a journalist recently, who told us that she had heard a 13 year old boy refer to his girlfriend as “his gash”. But now retailers are “empowering” our young women to label themselves, all in the name of having a good laugh, as objects in the most offensive and derogatory manner, and quite frankly, that stinks. As this sort of language slips unnoticed into our everyday vocabulary, as even Stephen Fry ‘bitch-slaps’ his iphone, or Jim Jeffries thinks rape jokes are ‘not a problem’, but racist ones are, and as M&S sub lets part of its property to Hooters, as boys refer to their girfriends as ‘their gash’, and where anyone that dares speak up about it is accused of not having a sense of humour (at best) – well why not come at it from the other angle?  I defy any parent of a teenager to tell us that they would like to see their daughters walking around in a badge that says “cum queen”.

So Scribbler – don’t use that old chestnut “we only give people what they want to buy” – take some god-damned responsibility, and think hard about the impact this vileness might have on our young people and get it off the shelves.

Or don’t you care?

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17 responses to “Back to school – but in which decade?

  1. Humorous my arse!
    These are totally disgusting, degrading and actually downright offensive.
    I’m not sure where these are supposed to be worn/used (outside a brothel) but I know they would be banned and confiscated by every school in my area.
    This is repulsive.

  2. Repulsive is exactly the right word. What is happening here????…

  3. O_O That’s … I don’t think my command of the English language is sufficient to express the depth of my disgust. I’d like to think I always would have found that horribly offensive, but now, as the father of a young girl (not teen yet), I’m absolutely aghast.

  4. Am I to understand that these badges are intended for wearing in public?.Not so long ago (In Scotland at least,) wearing such offensive material in public would have merited a breach of the peace charge!.Are we going backwards?.

  5. According to Scribbler “they’re humorous”…

  6. Just to pick something small out, but is it possible that Stephen Fry has a different interpretation of ‘bitch-slap’, what with being a gay man and all? Doesn’t bitch have a completely different coding in the gay community?

  7. Hi GG Having checked with my gay lodger, whilst bitch is commonly used in the gay community, it means the same as in the straight community – Stephen Fry is being hip by describing giving his phone a slap like a girl – or bitch – as girls are now commonly called. When gays think someone is being nasty they say they are bitchy – or girly – the inference being that women and girls are inheritantly nasty. Obviously, male dominated nastiness like rape, domestic violence or paedophilia must be completely off their radar. We need to start challenging this culture of casual lads mag abuse of our daughters and ourselves – it is damaging.

  8. Screwtape had it right.
    ‘A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s
    damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be
    done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows,
    if only it can get itself treated as a Joke.’
    —CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

  9. Hi Vicki,
    I was under the impression it had taken on new meanings, but obviously this is subjective through usage. Though about challenging cuture – you’re preaching to the choir babe.

  10. Hi GG
    I wasn’t preaching, just angry that females are called bitches nowadays and no one seems to care – I don’t think men or women would tolerate a society that routinely called little boys pricks, joke or not.

  11. I meant that I agree with you, not that you were preaching. It is a turn of phrase.

  12. Oh god….how the hell can Scribbler get away with that. It’s bad enough in teenage ‘socialising’. Seriously, the guys in my class can’t talk to girls without calling them bitches or sluts. And the other girls feel a need to wear 10cm long skirts. Even worse, (cos I wear ripped jeans and stuff) I get told to be like them so I can be ‘popular’.

  13. In their defence, I don’t believe that Scribbler is a place for kids. In my circle of friends (all well over 21 these days, sadly) we really enjoy their particular brand of humour. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but if you don’t like it don’t buy it and if you don’t want your kids to see it then take some responsibility and don’t take them in there or if they’re older and they’re buying stuff like this talk to them about it.
    I fully support the main aims of the pink stinks campaign, but please don’t muddy the waters by stopping adults from enjoying ‘adult’ humour or by focussing on such a small company when the focus needs to stay on the supermarkets and those companies with a presence on every high street.

  14. These badges might be for adults but is that really how we should be addressing each other, even if it is a joke.
    I don’t think they are funny. They are degrading and the sooner people open their eyes and see what harm this does to all people of both sexes and all ages, the better.

  15. To assume that a card is given with a poor taste slogan is meant as “degrading” is patronising in the extreme. I’m relieved that a company such as Scribbler provides an alternative to the tedious and banal greetings cards that are available on the shelves today.

    I probably would say things like this to a friend. I know that person well, and I can share that humour with them. I don’t think that is any way a reflection on myself or my other friends. I wouldn’t give a card with an overtly suggestive or offensive message to a member of my family or my work colleagues.

    It is particularly offensive in fact, that it seems that the author of this post, and authors of many of these comments do not feel that other sectors of the community can be trusted with such material. These cards are a refreshing alternative, and are usually pretty laugh out loud funny.

    This does come down to one very clear idea. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s no good hiding behind the arguement that a child might read it. What do you do if your child does use offensive language and mocks someone over race/sex/sexuality/disability? I would hope you’d educate that child in some way about the reality of the world to show that belittling someone for these reasons is wrong.

    Would I buy a card for a friend with “cum queen” on it? If I thought they’d find it funny, yes. Do I see them as an objectionable tart? No. I can be trusted to purchase such products as an adult who knows his own mind, and be able to share a joke with likeminded friends.

  16. Interesting post – but I can’t help but notice that one of the pictured badges says ‘Office slut’. I sure wouldn’t want my 13 year old daughter turning up to her annual office party and cracking rude jokes with her coworkers. 😄

    If you want to talk about a company selling ranges aimed at adults in the same store as ranges aimed at kids, that’s a slightly different conversation (one that would make a whole lot more sense).

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