In case you’ve been too wrapped up in your own white privilege to think about these kinds of serious problems on your own, a feminist Internet journalist took the time to write a nearly 2,000-word piece about how “wearing camo can be anti-feminist.”
“Let’s have a conversation about the basic origin of camouflage, shall we?” self-described “queer/femme antagonist” Annah Anti-Palindrome writes in a piece for Everyday Feminism titled “These 3 Powerful Stories Show Why Wearing Camo Can Be Anti-Feminist.”
“Camouflage is a dye pattern that was initially made to disguise the bodies of soldiers during combat, so that they could stealthily hunt people on opposing armies,” she writes. “Let me repeat this: Camo patterns were made for the purpose of human hunting.”
“In the spirit of feminism, let us not forget our most basic goal: to create and sustain a world in which people inherently value, revere, and actively support each other’s survival,” she continues.
It’s not clear whether or not, “in the spirit of feminism,” she would also object to a person wearing camo for practical purposes . . . such as hunting non-humans like ducks or deer or in engaging the very nonviolent activity of bird-watching. What is clear, however, is that she believes that wearing camo for fashion (or, as she calls it, participating in the “the appropriation of military apparel”) “can cause harm and explicitly undermine our big-picture intentions as feminists — as people who recognize the intersectional relationships between patriarchy, race, class, gender, citizenship, and national identity.”
To prove her point, Anti-Palindrome gives three examples:
‐One time, she wore camo-print shorts to the home of a friend who was from a family of Mexican migrant workers, and that friend pulled her aside and told her that her shorts were scaring her little sister because they reminded her of border agents’ clothes.
‐Another one of her friends who had lived in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina said that seeing camo made her “literally . . . sick to her stomach” because she “remembers watching members of her family being treated like criminals, their very lives threatened by men in camouflage uniforms daily” during that time.
‐People having similar reactions to camouflage as her friend from New Orleans due to the events in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown.
No doubt, there are people who have had negative experiences with military officers, and I as a middle-class white person most certainly cannot on a personal level understand what it would feel like to see camo as someone in that situation. But when Anti-Palindrome insists that “we have a responsibility to be thoughtful, intentional, and accountable for the messages we’re non-verbally communicating,” that we have a “responsibility” to make sure that what we wear or do never makes another person uncomfortable, she doesn’t seem to realize that what she’s suggesting we accomplish is actually impossible.
#related#We all, as individuals, have our own individual sets of past traumas and related triggers. For example: My mom died suddenly at a hospital in Boston, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it any time I saw someone wearing a “U Mass” or “Boston Red Sox” T-shirt. But do you know what? I deal with it and go about my day, because dealing with problems and going about your day is a normal part of life. Plenty of people have had fun in Boston, plenty of people love Boston, and I don’t get to expect everyone to cater to my own particular sensibilities because that’s not how the world works or even how it should. Of course, I understand that what I’m talking about here is personal rather than institutional. But the point is, like it or not, there’s not one kind of attire that someone could wear and be certain that their wearing it wouldn’t evoke negative memories for someone else. What’s more, for many, seeing and wearing camo patterns evokes a sense of pride and patriotism. Even an anti-war libertarian such as myself, who firmly believes that we are involved in too many entanglements abroad and laments the militarization of local police forces, can understand that. I can also understand that I’m only able to even write this sentence because of the people who have fought and died for my freedom to do so.
One final point: It’s just freaking camo-print. It’s a clothing pattern, and one that all kinds of people wear for all kinds of reasons. Can we get a grip, please? Sure, life can be tough, but you know what? Learning to deal with it is a much better approach to living than expecting the whole world to revolve around protecting you from discomfort. That just isn’t going to happen, and the sooner people can realize that that’s the case, the better off they’ll be.