[OPINION] I won’t wear KNPP clothing’s lewd shirts
Clothes are more than just a cover for our bodies. They are revelations, for they speak even before the wearer speaks, or without the wearer having to speak. They are extensions of man. The clothes and the wearer are not separate. They project the aspired identity or our real identity.
“They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us,” writes Virginia Woolf.
A change of clothes is a change of identity. The repetition of clothes is also the repetition of identity. Never would it not say anything about anyone.
Just recently, social media exploded with call-outs against KNPP Clothing, a brand that sells what many find offensive or lewd shirt designs.
To begin with, KNPP means kain pepe. In the vernacular, kain means eat and pepe means vagina. Many of their shirt designs feature graphic variations of the vulva – a puzzle vulva, a vulva on a heart, a vulva on pizza, a vulva on ice cream. There are also designs showing various personalities sticking out their tongues and making the V sign, a gesture signifying cunnilingus. Urban dictionary calls this the “vagface.”
The vulgarity of these shirts disgusted many Filipinos across genders and ages. Of course, as Filipinos, we know what the shirts mean and don't need to have dirty minds to comprehend them. Kain pepe has no other meaning but cunnilingus. The owners of the clothing brand must be aware of how they would be understood. They have no excuse.
These shirts exhibited the shameless sexualization and commodification of a woman’s private parts. This is indecent exposure. These shirts refer to the public display of one’s body, which may be offensive within the moral and behavioral standards of a particular place or society. Although the term "indecent exposure" refers to the literal exposure of body parts, these shirts may be still categorized under it because they bear images of a body part that should not be exposed to the public. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment in PH)
"Decency" is the behavioral standards of a local community based on religion, morality, culture, and tradition. What may be unacceptable for us may be acceptable for others. But historically, it was never acceptable in the Philippines to expose private parts. We are a Catholic country – we remain conservative, though we have become progressive when it comes to other things. (READ: [Dash of SAS] Mr. President, keep your foul mouth away from our vaginas)
Can we ever find these shirts acceptable in the near future? No. In previous years, we’ve actually become stern in implementing public nudity or anti-topless ordinances across different parts of the country.
"There are people oblivious to the senses, feelings, and emotions of others who are displaying, walking or roaming around in public places topless, bottomless, or completely naked. Naked persons in public places erode decency, exacerbates disorder, and sets a bad example for children," the QC Council City Ordinance 2623-2017 said.
The clothing brand may be sanctioned. As stated in Paragraph 3 of Art. 201 of the Revised Penal Code on Immoral Doctrines, Obscene Publications, and Exhibitions and Indecent Shows, persons "who shall sell, give away, or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculptures, or literature, which are offensive to morals" will be punished.
The owners of KNPP Clothing tried to get out of the entire mess by stating that pepe does not refer to the vagina, but refers to the name Pepe, which is Jose Rizal’s nickname. Pepe is supposedly the representation of the Filipino youth. KNPP, the owners said, is a campaign for proper eating habits and nutrition among the youth.
The explanation made the brand even more disgusting. They already commodified private parts, then objectified women in their marketing campaign, and now they want to exploit children.
Let me end with another Virginia Woolf quote: “There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mold our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.”
If clothes reflect who we are, then what does it mean when we wear a shirt with a vulva? – Rappler.com
Jose P. Mojica teaches communication and media at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters under the Department of Communication and Media Studies. He is a resident fellow of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies.