A Sweatshop of Our Own - An Exploration of Post-Slave-Labor American Fashion
Monday’s shower-curtain dress. Photos by Jill Thompson and Courtney Turnball.
I’m Canadian, but if there’s one thing I know about Americans, it’s that they love buying products manufactured by impoverished foreign people. Hardly any of the clothing sold in the United States is made there; everybody knows it and no one really has a problem with it except for a few uptight weirdos who dress either really well or, more likely, like an incontinent grandmother’s shitstains. But what if, one day, the crap-manufacturing industry collapses, and all of the indentured servants the US employs there are no longer able to produce an endless supply of cheaply manufactured flashy garments? What sorts of atrocities would Americans be forced to wear?
To illustrate this hypothetical predicament, I committed to hand-making my own wardrobe from scratch and wearing a different outfit each day of the week. Like most Americans, I know very little about fashion design or sewing, so this process was overwhelmingly tedious and took approximately 5,000 times longer to complete than it would have taken anyone who works in an actual sweatshop (that’s why the system exists, duh). I did attempt to make decent-looking garments so that I had a chance of passing as a sane person. If one of the Olsen twins can walk around in a furry trash bag, what did I have to lose? So I pressed on and am happy to present to you a rough approximation of how shittily Americans and other spoiled Westerners will be dressing in a future where sweatshops don’t exist and we are forced to improvise our own clothing.
MONDAY: SHOWER-CURTAIN DRESS
I thought it was important to use as many recycled fabrics as possible in this experiment, so the shower curtain I selected to make my first outfit with had been hanging in the bathroom of my parents’ house for several years. This explains why the inside of the dress was coated with furry black mold, but I just pretended it was lined with rabbit fur so it wasn’t a big deal.
It took a lot of cutting and sewing (which, again, I had no idea how to do), but I’d say the end product was quite a success, especially if you happen to be into the whole Sears-maternitysadness type of look.
Speaking of maternity sadness, my mother invited me out to dinner the night I finished the dress, and when I walked in the door she insisted that I change. I told her that it wasn’t a possibility because it was “my job, Mom.” A family friend dined with us and told me that my shower-curtain couture reminded her of when she was pregnant. My mother, of course, chirped in and said that I looked like I was on welfare and that she was embarrassed to be sitting across from me.
TUESDAY: TURTLENECK/OWL VAGINA
I know people are divided about wearing realistic pictures of animals and animal prints on their bodies, but fuck those toilet bugs. To me, wearing animal-themed clothing is the same thing as wearing a band shirt, because I’m a big fan of animals—I want to be around them, I want them on me, and I want them inside me, all the time, forever. This owl-print pillowcase was also unearthed at my parents’ house, where it had been banished to the back of a closet. My grandmother bragged about how she had bought it before there was a Walmart in the city, which seemed appropriate considering Walmart goes with sweatshops like owls go with my vagina.
The combination of the turtleneck and the owl skirt worked really well and made me feel more confident than anyone probably ever should, although I did catch myself in a mirror and for a second thought I had a pillow resting on my lap. I wore the outfit to a nursing home, where I felt extremely sexually attractive (if you’ve never felt like you’re hot stuff around a bunch of old people, you’re really missing out).
I would like to donate my ova to NASA so that they can raise babies in a highly controlled environment, see how human physiology changes over time/in weird circumstances, and help us get on track to colonize Mars. And, NASA, don’t worry about the ethics committees—I won’t tell them if you don’t.
As Carl Sagan once said, we need to be a two-planet species. Anyone with half a brain should be able to take a look around and go, “Oh yeah, it’s kind of overpopulated and uncomfortable here, we should go to space.” It astounds me that most people ignore this topic in their daily lives, even going so far as to ridicule it when it comes up in conversation. We’re practically already in outer space! Don’t you think we’re kind of putting all our eggs in one basket? NASA, let’s start taking some bigger risks here. Conduct an experimental euthanasia mission already, why don’t you?
All I want to do is help manage the future equivalents of scurvy, smallpox, the bubonic plague, et al. We’re all familiar with how kooky and turbulent the colonization of America was, and the same goes for Canada’s east coast—do you think that wasn’t sketchy and insane for some pansy-ass French aristocrats? If we want to hitch a ride to the red planet before Earth becomes one giant, uninhabitable superstorm, maybe we should start getting our act together.
If karma truly exists, then I must have murdered a baby to deserve hemorrhoids this bad. It feels like my ass is being torn apart with a razor blade every time I go to take a shit. For the past month I’ve just been trying to ignore it. But I guess when you don’t take care of certain problems, they only get worse. It started off feeling kind of like a paper cut—but now it’s bleeding, it’s irritated, and it’s burning, sort of like living with a mini-holocaust in my pants.
But what can my asshole teach us about personal success? Lots!
Most people have had to deal with metaphorical hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. They start off as part of you—veins, pumping blood around your body, filled with the elixir of life. Maybe this is a significant other, or a feeling of fulfillment at your job, or maybe its how oxycodone felt to you the first time. But then slowly after a while, the veins start becoming crazy and compromise your happiness. What will you do? Will you confront them right away and let them slide back into your anus where you’ll live happily in perfect harmony? Or will you let them swell, and swell, to the point where they become so big and externally aggravating that you actually require surgery to get them removed? Naturally, you’d chose to seek immediate medical attention and avoid any larger issues, like a normal, sane human being. But as we all know, it’s not always easy to make good choices and be sane, especially when we’re not even aware that choices are available to us sometimes.
In the third and final part of the Sue Johanson interview, she talks with Kara Crabb about important things like dick sizes, vagina sizes, and the female orgasm. She also teaches Kara a valuable lesson about safe sex: how to put on a condom with your mouth.
In part one of our three-parter with Sue Johanson of Sunday Night Sex Show fame, Kara Crabb chats with Sue about her origins as a nurse, being a pioneer of sexual education in a time when abortion was illegal, and the priests who told her to poke holes in condoms.
Pissing into a funnel is not as easy as they make it sound. Not to brag, but I’ve urinated in public places many times in my life and it is far easier than trying to scoop my disgusting snatch into this little purple cone. For the first time in my life I had what is referred to as a “shy bladder,” which momentarily ruined my sense of pride.
Regardless, I found a way to ease my mind into letting me pee. I also refused to take my pants off. You see, peeing out your fly is one of the key attributes of male urination—and of the male gender in general—and something that I have always envied. I’ve pissed on my own clothes so many times in the past that I now have a pretty solid technique when it comes to squatting down and letting my urethra go. My system has been established through much trial and error, and when something as revolutionary as a female urination device is introduced to this system, I need to be able to take the liberty of wearing pants. Otherwise, these technological advances are just playing catch up to the tricks I’ve already taught my vagina.
Great. So here I am pissing beneath the crucifix at the heart of Montreal’s Mount Royal. Why, you ask? Because, as you may have noticed, if you ask any girl who’s worth her weight in tits “What would you do if you were a boy for a day?” she will ALWAYS says, “Pee on _____.” That is what I looked forward to doing most. I have to admit, I see this as a great accomplishment: wearing pants and peeing at the center of a giant crucifix. However, this is still only a small fraction of greatness compared to my dream of being entirely naked and taking a shit at the center of the Vatican.
Anyway, I journeyed on to find a second pissing destination that would really bring out my feverishly repressed internal male ego.
Back in the day when Halloween was way cooler, Celts would dress up in scary costumes to frighten away demons. I like my costumes to follow the same notion because it’s badass and because we’ve accumulated a lot of frightening shit over the past five centuries. One of the scarier stories that I’ve heard is of more recent history: The Tale of the Troubled Man-Boy Who Wanted to Become Famous by Dismembering Kittens and People.) That’s why this year I decided to dress up as the infamous torso in a suitcase. Maybe I’ll be able to rid the impulse-to-produce-snuff kinds of demons.
STEP 1: FIND A VICTIM
You’re going to have to cut up a suitcase, so find one that you don’t really care about. I found mine at a second-hand store for eight dollars. At the same time, you can’t just pick any old suitcase, so this might be a bit of a scavenger hunt. You have to make sure that whatever you choose will be big enough for the core of your body to fit inside of, and sturdy enough to hold up its structure. You’re essentially just making a dress out of a suitcase, so choose something you’re going to feel excited about.
STEP 2: CHOSE YOUR WEAPON
What I didn’t realize before starting the project is that it would require the use of power tools, which in this context made me feel sort of nauseous. If you don’t trust yourself to use power tools without accidentally cutting off your own arms, get a friend to help! We used a Dremel mini-grinder. If you don’t have one of these at home already, I would suggest buying one because they’re awesome. That would bring the total cost of this costume up to 40 dollars, which is still considerably less than a shitty packaged costume you would find at a Halloween story. Plus you’ll be the proud owner of a tiny, electric-powered death-bringer.
Good news! As you may have heard, the Chinese have invented a hands-free automatic sperm extractor for donors, which is basically just a flashlight vagina attached to a giant refrigerator/computer. The machine is pink, gray, and white (like a pussy), and has a pipe at the front of it for your penis (again). The pipe can be adjusted based on your height, and speed, frequency, amplitude, and temperature are also controllable (which means it’s better than a vagina). So I guess you just shove your wiener into this magical glory hole and then it squeezes onto your private parts until you blow a majestic load of baby-making solution. Then it gets packaged into straws and then a woman buys it on the internet and then you’re a dad. Holy shit, where has this been for the last 200,000 years?
Knowing that this exists makes me wonder about the state of the world/humanity/time. Firstly, this seems like such a simple idea—why did it take so long to get invented? Did sperm donors have a big meeting and decide that jerking off into a cup was too primitive and disgusting? Or were nurses just tired of holding hot cups of jizz in their hands? (Who could ever get tired of that?) And why the FUCK does China, of all places, need any more sperm sloshing around into people’s vaginas? Where are they going to put all these kids? In sausages, I hope? Youth-in-Asia? ;)
What really excites me about this though is the fact that children will be able to grow up with a slightly more sophisticated concept of paternity. As a donor child, when I think about my biological father mysteriously jerking off into a machine instead of into his own hands with a dirty Playboy magazine from the clinic’s office, a little glimmer of happiness dances around in my heart. Every time I look at this machine I pretend it’s my father and he’s speaking to me in a squeaky high-pitched robot voice going, “Kara! You are a part of me, you are my blood. I love you!”
I’m about to give you the biggest colon cleanse of your life, because yesterday’s article by Ms. Banal was a bunch of SHIT. Ass sex rules because destruction, degradation, and pain are FUN. I’m going to try to expound on that very simple and true statement in the coming paragraphs, but if there’s one thing you take away from these words that should be it. If I’ve done my job, by the time you get to the end of this article you’ll be fingering your own butthole and scheming on ways to get it filled with something fun.
THINKING WITH YOUR ANUS Obviously anal sex is the wrong idea. That’s why it rules. For girls, anal sex just inherently means “no.” That’s like the first life lesson we’ve ever learned: “My asshole excretes things, I’m not supposed to put things in it.” Good girl. Part of the thrill, though, is disobeying your fundamental biology. Butt sex is fun for the same reason it’s fun to piss off a teacher or take a piss on a cop car, or burn down a church—except, get this, the only authority that you’re rebelling against is yourself. That’s some next-level shit. It’s like condensing six months of “getting in touch with your true feelings” BS therapy into 20 minutes. And, unlike burning down a church, you get to keep your job and be a fully functioning adult in society afterwards.
YOU HAVE TO WANT IT It can’t just be a fun little experiment you do to spice up your relationship. I mean, I guess that’s fine, but that’s when you’re going to be distracted by thoughts like “Oh, this feels kinda unpleasant,” or “Wow, I hope I don’t get a UTI.” That’s not really getting into the spirit of anal. The desire has to come from a deep need to feel degraded, and this is something that should be expressed/initiated through body language, NOT through diplomatic compromise, like “OK, honey, you get to do that to me as long as you promise you’ll come to my cousin’s wedding.” (Ew, are there people who negotiate with sex like that?) I think there is a time and a place for anal, and you will know exactly when that time comes—he’ll tell you. (Just kidding.) (Not really.)
ANAL FISSURES BUILD CHARACTER Yes, I’ve bled from my anus for weeks at a time (not constantly, that would be insane) and let me tell you something: I wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, I’m convinced experiencing an anal fissure may bring you closer to understanding the world, because guess what? Life is about dealing with things you would rather not deal with, like blood coming out of your asshole. You go through days of not wanting to eat because of not wanting to shit because of not wanting to reopen the scar tissue that has hopefully been developing on your butthole, but eventually the fissure does go away and you’ll either be a) wanting to go through it all over again, or b) taking precautions for next time.
ROBAXIN I happened upon the miracle of muscle relaxers by accident. One day a boy effortlessly slid his penis up my butt and I was like “What, I thought this was supposed to hurt?” And then I walked around afterwards without a care in the world thinking that I just had an unusually loose sphincter. It took me a while to realize that the fluidity of the whole transaction could be attributed to the fact that I had been swallowing muscle relaxers daily (never mind why). Anal lube is bullshit. With Robaxin, you can put p’s in your b all day—there you go, Robaxin executives, I just came up with your advertising slogan for you. You’re welcome
Anthony Jeselnik is my ultimate dream crush. In fact, I’m going to have to type this entire article with just one hand. Most famous for the roasts of Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, and, as of yesterday, Rosanne Barr, Anthony is making a name for himself as the new bad boy of comedy. (Has anyone actually called him that? I don’t know.) Conducting an interview with him was one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever had to endure, because not only was he incredibly handsome, sharp, and unexpectedly kind, but he was also peering into my soul and conceptually dangling his balls in front of my face. See for yourself!
I’ll start by giving you a compliment: I like your jokes because they are so well written. Do they just come to you or do you— Or do I have to just like grind on them to get them good? It’s a little bit of both. You know, I’ll say, “I have to sit down and write ten jokes today.” Or 50 jokes this week. So it’s a little bit of a numbers game. But when you do that work, things will just come to you.
What’s one of your favorite jokes that you’ve written? My new favorite right now is—you heard it—the one that goes: My mother actually should have been on one of the planes on September 11th—
So simple, and so hilarious. Yes, even with the interruption.
What? You stopped me in the middle of the joke.
I didn’t want you to spoil it for the readers! Would you like to say it again? Nope.
I’m so sorry Anthony Jeselnik. It’s OK. It still works.