Gender + Sexuality

Boob Related Gift Ideas

Depending on how you define the term, two perfect presents.

By Shannon Rupp 11 Dec 2009 |

Shannon Rupp was a Tyee contributing editor. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at) 

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The Strapdoctor: How did we get by?

"There's a sucker born every minute," is the line usually attributed to circus master and legendary huckster P.T. Barnum, although historians say that's a misrepresentation.

"There's a customer born every minute," was what he actually said. And it's just that optimism that seems to inspire all the consumer products being promoted in the news releases that find their way into The Tyee.

I remember when news releases contained something sort of resembling news, but saying so just dates me. I've been arguing of late that we are no longer citizens, but consumers. We vote with our wallets. The things we buy fund corporations that in turn fund politicians. Those with the biggest war chests get elected. Then they make laws to favour their corporate funders. As voting levels decline among even the middle class -- which is distracted by trinkets and trivia -- more power is concentrated in the hands of an economic elite. I vaguely recall this is called oligarchy and considered a bad thing.

But I digress. Let the pointless shopping begin!

Libel insurance for online loudmouths

Well, it's about time. Most journos merely shrug off the barrage of defamatory remarks lobbed in our direction. But knowing that there may be an insurance fund awaiting plunder suddenly makes a civil suit seem attractive. Oh, many of us would have sued writers of libelous letters-to-the-ed and those not-as-anonymous-as-they-think online posters sooner, but the problem with civil suits is that damages are always measured in money. (Why can't the damages awarded include "a sound thumping for being such a jerk," I often wonder.) Generally speaking, the sort of people who substitute character assassination for rational discourse aren't good for the cash, which renders a lawsuit pointless.

But TD Insurance might have changed all that. Of course, I'm not quite sure. After biting on the fanfare release of their new home-and-defamation insurance policy, I spent more than two weeks begging for a copy of the contract. Who is covered? Under what circumstances? What are the exclusions?

Promises, promises

Oh the prompt email response from the flak was promising enough.

"I'm working on getting the written details to you.... Can I send them to you tomorrow?" wrote Jacqueline Burns, the contact on the release.

Assured she was on the case, I let a week go by. Then I tried again.

"My apologies, I requested the document and didn't hear back and then forgot to follow up on the request. I'm out of the office next week, so my colleague Lisa Hodgins will follow up on this and get back to you," came Burns' email reply.

I thanked her and waited. For three days. Then I hunted down the alleged colleague -- the wily Burns had omitted contact info.

More nagging ensued. Finally, they sent more bumf. I replied that I needed to see the details in the policy itself.

"Please let me know if you have any questions on this I will get the info you need [sic]," Hodgins replied.

A likely story! But then I realized I was dealing with an insurance company: Empty promises are sort of the name of the game. Come to think of it, those flaks sound like bots -- I bet they don't even have real people deflecting reporters with platitudes.

The brief description of the insurance is telling, though. It says it excludes anyone who "intends personal injury," which suggests the insurance might be as good as useless for the average online ranter. Have you seen the injurious things said by bloggers and obsessive post-story posters?

Of course you have: you're Tyee readers.

Civil suits for uncivil posters

But let's keep this theoretical. Dropping by Wired's excellent piece on how vaccination-deniers are endangering public health, for example, it's clear posters want to hurt writer Amy Wallace.

I especially like the ones who suggest she is taking bribes from the posters' social, political, and/or professional opponents -- that's defamation folks, unless you have that cancelled cheque in hand. (Although, given the declining state of journalism, let me say right now that I'm open to bribes. Frankly, I'm with the bloggers who seem to recognize it's the only semi-reliable revenue stream left.)

And just consider what posters say about each other. Yikes: can any insurance company afford to cover the costs on what will be a writ-dropper's answer to the lotto win?

Still, I'm all a-tingle at the thought that, if that insurance policy proves to be more than puff, I can now slap a few lucrative suits on these miscreants. And I'm not alone in anticipating a legal windfall. I've discussed this with colleagues; we think it might be a replacement for pension funds.

From boobs to boobs

If you don’' buy into insurance for managing boobs, well then, there's another new product for managing boobs: The StrapDoctor. It's a cure for the slipping bra strap, which according to the bumf, is the scourge of many a C-cup.

It's not a problem I've encountered, although I have seen the artfully dropped bra strap as a literary device. It's often an indicator of character.

In the film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Elizabeth Taylor's slipping strap is a measure of her wanton (and wantin') nature. In the late and much-lamented Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the blonde vamp killer's exposed bra straps were the inspiration for frat-boy drinking games. Stray straps signaled her hotness and every sighting led to a swig that ensured inebriation within the hour.

It would be a shame to interfere with art, was my first thought. But I got the gizmo -- a piece of clear plastic with a Velcro-like rough side that clings to the bra strap, and a smooth, silicon-side that sticks to the skin -- and tried it with a slippery camisole strap.

The inventor is Paula Fraser, a farmer in rural Prince Edward Island who, they say, has brought comfort to the 50 per cent of women in her social circle who were annoyed by errant straps.

It's a poignant story, recounted on the package. Paula and her husband David had to give up most their land due to declining produce prices. Neglected acres began growing wild blueberries, and now they have a small hobby farm on which their three children and a variety of livestock and pets frolic. (They don't say frolic, but I have the feeling that's the image the publicist was going for.)

I also have the feeling that you and I are expected to pony up the $9.95 a package to support this plucky farmer and the dwindling rural economy in picturesque P.E.I.

I have to admit the StrapDoctor works. But it wasn't subtle enough on a spaghetti strap.

"What's that thing on your shoulder," a friend asked. After I explained, he got that slightly quizzical expression I've noticed he has more and more often.

Finally, he asked: "When are you going to get a real job?"

That's just the sort of question that made me suspect he might benefit from TD's home-and-libel insurance package.

© Shannon Rupp. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at)  [Tyee]

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