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2004-06-22 - 3:09 p.m.

Today’s paper introduced me to a new and exciting term. The boy-beater; a cloth, normally textured tee with a low-neck line and no sleeves. To the untrained eye, one might make the mistake of calling it a wife beater, despite the off type coloration. No self-respecting he-man would slap his spouse around in chartreuse. Only white, possibly speckled with cigarette, beer and cheetoes stains, bespeaks the utter laziness of the male’s fashion sense. Still, until today I had simply thought of these as colored wife beaters. Possibly to be nick named the Ike Turner. Never did it occur to me to call them boy-beaters.

This may stem from years of having my female friends in college consistently refer to them as wife-beaters. No other prefix had ever been attached. One might try and blame this on my university’s location in the mid-west, but consider the source: Women attempting the LSAT’s while discussing German cinema, and living two years since outing themselves to their friends and parents. These are liberal women.

Call the term cosmopolitan or East Coast, it remains in my mind, to be a New York term. Someone somewhere decided to off the domestic disturbance from the term, and re-render it in a most positive pedophilic violence frame of mind. Beating a wife; bad. Beating a boy; progressive.

Both are bad, and I am in no way backing the regrettably time honored practice of wife beating. I’ve always viewed the wife-beater name as an ironic title; a flag gleaming out all the attributes of the much vaulted white trash life style. It always seemed to me, a symbol of the World Wrestling Federation, Country Kitchen, and Busch Beer. I thought that was where the appeal stemmed from. In the last few years I’ve seen eighties t-shirts, John Deer hats, and a strange revival of acid wash, float through the island of Manhattan. The sarcastic embrace of what some have deemed “low-class” rendered all these thing kitsch and trendy.

But apparently something got lost in the translation. Wife-beater was too negative. Still it strikes me as odd that instead of whipping the term upside down into a sun-shiny state, the violence was just redirected at a different target, it was feels like an attempted a female empowerment.

I’m all for female empowerment. As it was pointed out to me, you don’t have to be female to be a feminist, and I’d like to dub myself among that stripe. But, as the great visionary Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple once said of Microsoft: “For us to win, they don’t have to lose.”

Let’s just lose the beatings on all sides of the gender gap. How about “Stain catchers?”

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