Earlier this week, Victoria’s Secret bowed to backlash and yanked their Sexy Little Geisha lingerie from its Web site.
The lady-blogs went nuts on the $98 get-up: “Considering the complicated history of geishas, repurposing the ‘look’ for a major corporation to sell as role-playing lingerie seems a bit tasteless,” said Jessica Wakeman of The Frisky. Some groups charged that the sheer teddy and all of its silly accoutrements perpetuated the stereotype of Asian women as nothing more than a Western sexual fantasy.
I’m normally pretty sensitive to this type of thing but I can’t help but wonder: Did VS really cross the line?
Lingerie companies are in the business of sexifying everything. Just look at the classic French maid outfit and just about every women’s Halloween costume (last year I saw a sexy Mrs. Potatohead).
And believe me, I get it. French women haven’t suffered the same objectification as Japanese women have historically. (And Mrs. Potatohead sure isn’t complaining.)
Everyone has a different boiling point when it comes to racial sensitivity and maybe mine is just higher than it should be. Or maybe it’s that being part of a group that’s being portrayed as sexy hasn’t ticked me off enough to start writing hate mail.
What it all boils down to, my friends, is: Was anyone really going to buy this outfit anyway? The obi, hair chopsticks, the little flowery codpiece, the fan?!
So, come on, everyone, let’s just let Victoria’s Secret have their geisha. After all, pop culture has given us way more reasons over the years to get our panties in a bunch.
8 Things Pop Culture Gave Us That Are More Offensive Than Victoria’s Secret’s Sexy Little Geisha
1. Nute Gunray in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceGeorge Lucas and company caught a lot of flack for racial stereotypes in this much-maligned blockbuster. One of the worst? Bad guy Nute, complete with really bad Asian accent.
2. This Guy on 2 Broke GirlsThe New Yorker called the show “so racist it’s it is less offensive than baffling.”
3. Ashton Kutcher in Brownface for PopchipsThe company ultimately pulled this ad starring the Two and a Half Men actor, portraying fictional Bollywood actor “Raj.”
4. William Hung’s Meteoric RiseDon’t even get me started.
5 & 6: “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” and “I’m Turning Japanese” The ’80s were a weird time. Sure, Wang Chung was his name but god, I hated that song. And if you haven’t heard by now, “I’m Turning Japanese” was a song about masturbation — get it? He’s saying his eyes got all “Japanese” because he was masturbating. Ugh. 7. Multipass’ See Asia Like Asians Do Ad
Ukrainian travel agency Multipass thought it would be a cool idea to promote Asian travel with this outdoor poster campaign, which encourages people to view the poster by pulling their eyes back. Yes, this really happened. In 2012.
8. This Halloween costume
[Photo credits: Victoria's Secret, 20th Century Fox, CBS, Popchips, Wenn, Asia Travel, iParty]
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