Marvel’s “Sexist” T-Shirts
When I saw two new t-shirts from Marvel I walked past them without much thought. Little did I know they would blow up as this week's controversial topic on the internet.
In a Huffington Post
article it was pointed out that the latest line of Marvel clothing (sold by Disney) couldn't be more "sexist." Released at the same time were two t-shirts, one for boys and one for girls. The boys shirt says "Be a Hero" while the girls shirt says "I need a hero." The archetypical "boys are strong, girls are weak" sentimentality seen by these two shirts (which, again, came out at the same time) has gotten many a rise out of passerby. And you don't need to witness this happen in stores. Just look at the comment section on any article about this issue floating around the internet and you will see a war between commenter's about whether or not these shirts are truly "sexist." Adding to what a lot of people felt was an insult to injury is the fact that the boy shirts cost eight dollars less than the girls shirts.
What makes the situation even more uncomfortable for Marvel is the fact that this isn't the first time they have been barraged by bad press about their "sexist" ways. "The Avengers" movie poster made headlines when Kevin Bolk redrew the picture and made a sensation recreation with all the male heroes in what is considered a "female" pose for comic book characters – with their butts facing forward.
Women's advocacy group have responded to the t-shirt by starting petitions asking that they be banned. Do I think these shirts could be harmful? Of course. But that being said, the air we breath can be harmful to some people. Nothing is ever going to please everybody. Marvel clearly wasn't thinking, or they just didn't care when they put these two shirts out at the same time. But people forget some things.
1) Just because it's a boy's shirt doesn't mean a boy has to wear it.
I don't know about my fellow female comic fans but I have several jackets and t-shirts that are men's. So while men can't as easily wear the female shirt that says "I need a hero," women could wear the "Be a hero" shirt. However, I don't think either gender really gains anything by "needing a hero." I believe people should learn to rely on themselves.
2) I can make a collage of shirts from Marvel and DC that have positive messages about girls like "Girls Rule" and "I'm more than just a pretty face."
Usually these shirts feature the many prominent women Marvel has in it's long-winded roster of characters and they don't always come in the stereotypical pink. Sexism is a persistent problem but it makes my head ache even more when issues like this pop-up which seem so blown out of proportion, especially when there are worse things going on in comics right now. Check out Princeless #3
to see Whitley's critique of women's clothing in comics which can be a real eye-opener.
Thankfully, the boycott of the "I Need a Hero Shirt" has prevailed. The shirt is no longer available. However, another t-shirt is still available.
Now, would I get an "I Need a Hero" shirt if it were still available? No, but not because I think it's explicitly sexist (though that doesn't excuse Marvel's terrible timing). It's because I don't need a hero.
I want to say my opinion on this matter is crystal clear, but I'm hesitant to just say this entire t-shirt thing has just been "blown out of proportion." I'm just going to be as honest as possible. Please be respectful towards my opinion and I'll show you the same courtesy if you want to share your opinion below.