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gok wan is all about your “assets”. are you offended?

Image via YouTube

Image via YouTube

Department store Target is copping it for its new advertising campaign featuring the fabulous British-Chinese TV fashion guru, Gok Wan. The particular advertisement causing such criticism is a bra ad in which Wan states that if you have a bra professionally fitted (at Target), ‘your bangers will never feel more loved.’ (Bri-ish accent for effect).

I’ve got to be honest: the first time I saw the ad, prior to these recent complaints, I was slightly taken aback. BANGERS!? Can they say that on TV? Is that something that people even call breasts/boobs/tits/jublies/chesticles/lady-lumps?

Well, that’s what Gok calls them (he even has his own range of bras called ‘Banger Boosters’), and it’s upset quite a few people. But if you look closely at the general themes of the complaints being made, there is an underlying homophobia that is arguably the true gripe these critics have with Wan.

The complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau say things along the lines of: ‘Who on earth calls their breasts ‘bangers’ and why do we have to watch an obvious gay man talking about women in this way? It is insulting.’ ‘A female body is a beautiful thing, not to be cheapened by a poofter calling breasts “BANGERS”!’(Emphasis mine).

It’s a whole world of crazy, most of which just comes down to backward, homophobic ideas that openly homosexual people should not be visible in the public eye. Sorry, I wasn’t aware this was 1953.

What are we to make of all this as feminists? Many of these complaints hinge on valuing and respecting women’s bodies, which is a key part of feminist consciousness and action. But in this case, these conservative, homophobic bottom feeders are using women’s bodies as a moralising excuse to target (sorry) an openly gay man.

There seems to be a few levels of homophobia and sexism going on. Not only are these arguments paternalistic (how DARE he insult/cheapen/degrade OUR women!?) but they are also homophobic and sexist towards Wan as a homosexual man (how DARE he show his beautiful cheekbone-d, gay face in public!?/how DARE he help women with their bodies, what does he know!?)

Flamboyant gay men have been abundantly troped as the postmodern/post-feminist girl’s best friend in pop culture, but does that mean that in reality they all essentially want to help us organise our wardrobes/tell us if our hair looks nasty/gossip over brunch? Is there some kind of spiritual link between gay men and straight women?

I’m not going to make an argument either way, as neither straight women nor gay men can or should be homogenised in any way, but I will argue against these criticisms that gay men have no right to talk about or help with women’s bodies/fashion. As a woman with an irrational aversion to trying on clothes in department stores and/or getting a bra fitted, subsequently having always worn bras that were comically ill-fitting, the message of Target/Gok’s ad is positive for me. Sure, I obviously disagree that breasts are a woman’s biggest “asset” – I like to think things like, I dunno, positive social characteristics are more beneficial and important – but on the whole, I’m happy that Target is promoting a positive body image.

I’m also very happy with Target’s response to the complaints about Gok, which I will leave you with, because it will make your day:

‘Gok Wan was chosen as a brand ambassador for Target because of his personality and reputation, not his sexuality. He feels good about who he is as he is. He is playfully irreverent, colourful and fun. He has a great capacity for making other people feel good about themselves too. Target strongly believes that a person’s sexuality is irrelevant to their worth as a person. Target makes no apology for using a gay man in its advertising and we do not believe that this should be grounds for upholding a complaint.’ <3

Do you find the word ‘Bangers’ offensive or derogatory in relation to women’s breasts? Let us know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “gok wan is all about your “assets”. are you offended?

  1. So Target is fine with Gok, but why are they fine with anyone calling a woman’s breasts bangers, and not realise it may be an insultive term to the women they are trying to get into their stores.

    I never even noticed because I don’t care for any man to tell me what bra I should be wearing. I sure as hell wouldn’t let any man, stylist or not, gay or not, grab my boobs and tell me I need another size.

  2. The ad is an extension of his well-known How to Look Good Naked TV-show, which actually all about empowering women into doing what they wanted to do in the first place but were too depressed, or too oppressed to do.
    Bangers is a popular term for boobs in the UK (I’m English) so it’s natural that this English TV star is going to use it. I expect this kind of backlash from a country like Britain, which has a history of complaining and outrage, but not Australia. We’ve disgraced ourselves. He’s not grabbing anyone’s breasts; it’s just an ad.

  3. Basically the moral of the story is dont take feminist advice from someone who uses the word poofter in the same sentence.

  4. It doesn’t bother me in the least if Gok Wan wants to call my breasts ‘bangers’. Get over it and don’t be so precious people. It’s a slang word for breasts ok?

  5. This is really the epitome of first world problems.
    This isn’t feminism, it’s just complaining for the sake of it.
    The word ‘bangers’ is not, especially in context, in any way degrading or sexist. It’s just a silly slang word.
    I refuse to believe people are genuinely offended by this, I see this as a case of hysteria in the name of obsessive, misplaced, political-correctness.
    Any uproar made about this should be directed at the blatant homosexuality expressed by these imbeciles, not the innocent use of harmless, meaningless slang.

    Some people are far too sensitive, when they make a commotion out of something like this – essentially nothing – they not only make the cause they’re trying to represent look stupid, but they also drown out and cheapen outrage from they’re community when it is necessary and warranted.

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