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Big Business Is Not Our Friend

Lands End, the middle-American retailer, takes the pro-abortion feminist side in the culture war

A reader writes:

Hope you are enjoying Italy and the beer!

Meanwhile here in the good old USA, I just received a clothing catalog from Lands End. OK – good so far, nice clothes, modest, feminine – wait – what the ! A three page spread in their latest catalog on Gloria Steinem “Legend”.

Has this country come unhinged? I can’t even shop for clothes without being exposed to agitprop? Worse – the catalog is planning on donating proceeds from its sale to Gloria. “For every buyer who orders an ERA Coalition logo monogram on one of its items, Land’s End will donate $3 to the coalition’s Fund for Women’s Equality, Inc., according to the website. The campaign – “in honor of Gloria’s work” – is running now through Jan. 31, 2017, the website states.”

Now, I’m just a mom looking for a bathing suit that will cover my middle aged lumps but for frig’s sake. Now I can’t order them from Lands End. So – yes, a little pain and suffering having to switch to LL Bean or Eddie Bauer. Not a big deal – but as I have been thinking about it – damn it, I am withdrawing consent to be governed by corporate America. We already avoid eating processed foods, buy most stuff locally, but even more so – I am not buying clothing unless its from a place that doesn’t have some kind of activist agenda. We have to buy furniture soon – guess what? Will be buying used or locally made by someone that is not going to use my money to work against our values.

Good grief. I’m so frustrated by this – it just seems so crazy. Can you imagine ever getting a Sears catalog in the mail in the 70s with a spread lauding an partisan activist?

What makes me nervous about this is that a) either they are clueless, b) they don’t give a crap about losing middle aged women like myself or c) they’ve run the numbers and I am a dying breed, i.e. the millennial demographic they are trying to attract (per their new CEO, who refuses to live in Wisconsin, by the way – flyover country – Federica Marchionni) *loves* Gloria Steinem. That is a truly frightening thought – and given that business is so data driven – there might be some merit to it.

Also – how many Lands End employees had to stuff their pro life views to keep their jobs when this lady took the helm? I feel badly for them…

Stupid Lands End. As I type this, I am wearing a sweater from Lands End. My family spends a lot with them. I will take my custom elsewhere in the future. What is the point of praising Gloria Steinem, for heaven’s sake? Are Federica Marchionni and the people who surround her so out of touch that they think most Americans admire the aging pro-abortion activist? We see here another instance of Big Business taking sides in the culture war, in a big way.

Guess what, ye Reaganauts, and those who still believe that the 1980s model of conservatism is relative to today: Big Business Is Not Our Friend.

Again and again I say unto you, my brethren and sistren: this kind of thing is aiding and abetting the Trumpening. A lot of people are sick and tired of it, and have no way to express their frustration politically. Trump is the pushback.

UPDATE: The dedication to Gloria Steinem’s 2015 memoir reads as follows:

This book is dedicated to Dr. John Sharpe of London who, in 1957, a decade before physicians in England could legally perform an abortion for any reason other than the health of the woman, took the considerable risk of referring for an abortion a 22-year-old American on her way to India. Knowing only that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, you must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life. Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death. I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you.

Lands End has reportedly scrubbed all references to Steinem from its website. I am told there’s no small degree of panic there. They really did not see this coming. They have NO IDEA AT ALL of the country they live in, and what people who pay their salaries hold sacred.

UPDATE.2: I’m hearing from readers writing on behalf of Lands End employees who are afraid that they will be targeted as the source of the earlier update, which reported that there had been internal discussion at the company about whether or not to honor Steinem, and the company’s leadership decided that nobody would be offended by it. Let me say clearly that nobody at Lands End should fear for their job. It’s a big company, and a big world. People at the company have friends. I took down the original update, because I was afraid that in writing it broadly to protect an identity, I unintentionally put a target on the back of innocent people. The point I was trying to make is simply that this backlash should not have been a shock to the company’s leadership, because they had been warned. It’s possible that my source could be wrong, but I don’t think so. In any case, please, have mercy on the poor Lands End employees. They are guilty of nothing.

UPDATE.3: Lands End has apologized:

Lands’ End quickly backpedaled this week from an association with feminist Gloria Steinem after hearing complaints from customers and the publication of an article by a pro-life news agency.

With customers taking to the company’s Facebook page to voice objections centered on Steinem’s support for abortion rights, Lands’ End on Tuesday removed a feature on Steinem from its website.

Company CEO Federica Marchionni had interviewed Steinem to kick off the Lands’ End “Legend Series” on “individuals who have made a difference in both their respective industries and the world at large.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Dodgeville-based retailer of traditional clothing issued an apology.

“We understand that some of our customers were offended by the inclusion of an interview in a recent catalog with Gloria Steinem on her quest for women’s equality,” the firm said in a statement. “We thought it was a good idea and we heard from our customers that, for different reasons, it wasn’t. For that, we sincerely apologize.

“Our goal was to feature individuals with different interests and backgrounds that have made a difference for our new Legends Series, not to take any political or religious stance.”

Good for them. You’ll recall the ruckus caused by Lands End giving customers free subscriptions to GQ, which features images many customers consider to be softcore porn. Hmm. Maybe if Lands End practiced diversity hiring in its executive ranks — like, hiring people at the senior executive level whose cultural background is representative of the company’s own customers — this wouldn’t happen.