Blog Articles

By - Brian Iselin

Published : 04-12-2018

Slave-free; a condom analogy

A number of people have asked me to expand on a condom analogy I made for calling oneself slave-free. Okay, full disclosure, nobody has, but I thought I would anyway.

A word of warning, if you are squeamish about condom metaphors (or it is an analogy?), then go away.

Without further ado…..

So the backdrop is that I flippantly and foolishly said recently on LinkedIn that calling yourself slave-free is analogous to wearing a condom. Either you clearly are. Or you clearly are not. It is one of those binary things. A meat pie analogy might have worked too, but that’s not as fun.

Now this article could be written off as stupid or unwise — or both — but I hope herein to have tackled a serious issue in a way that tries to keep it a bit light.

Anyway, in calling oneself slave-free, that could be proved, definitively, by just showing everyone. If everyone can see the condom on then, assuming you don’t get locked up for exposure, you must be wearing one. You wear, therefore, you have. If you want to call yourself slave-free, and you know you are, then you obviously believe you have a condom on, so there must be a way to prove it.

“You wear, therefore, you have”

Now, if you cannot prove definitively that you are slave-free or, in my analogy, that you are wearing a condom, then you simply aren’t. Because, binary.

And don’t forget there is also a role here for misunderstanding. I was talking to a brand of ostensibly slave-free jeans a few weeks back. They put themselves out there, a small artisanal jeans place, because they stitch everything themselves. I love what they do. Fantastic jeans. Great little business. But slave-free? Cotton, zips, thread, colours? All of it? Nope, they had no idea. They knew they stitched the jeans, and they bought their cotton from someone who said it was slave-free. And felt they were not themselves in slavery, therefore, slave-free.

Hmmmm…. I love their business, and slavefreetrade is going to help them become slave-free. But they ain’t there yet no matter what the label says and no matter the “scout’s honour” of their supplier.

“because, binary”

It is not possible to be aware of all the slave-free brands out there, there are at least hundreds, so I am not counting them nor judging any. Just putting this out there; to call yourself slave-free without being able definitely to prove it is, at best, marketing and at worst, a fraud on the consumer. And either way, that’s not very nice of you. And the reason I am putting this out there is not to upset people or be called a bastard, but because the subject is too serious a subject to be greenwashed IMHO.

Now, like I say, slavefreetrade is not trying to declare war on those who call themselves slave-free now. We love that people are trying and it at the very least contributes to getting people to realise that slave-free is a potential thing. In this, the “age of marketing”, slave-free is a huge potential market, so bully for you if you can sell something without proving it.

But there is a new standard in town and many more to come; people want more, and deserve better. And those in slavery certainly deserve more and better from all of us. If you cannot definitely prove you are helping those in the lower reaches of the supply chain be free of slavery, then you aren’t.

The time has come that customers are increasingly going to ask to see the condom. So, if you want call yourself slave-free, put the rubber to the road and join us.

There endeth the analogy. Or metaphor.