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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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32 Responses

  1. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus December 19, 2006 at 5:26 pm |

    I keep trying to think of something suitably witty yet indignant to say, but I can’t think of anything. In the spirit of the season, I hope everyone involved with producing, distributing and defending these shirts somehow gets sodomized by reindeer. Or something.

  2. Regina
    Regina December 19, 2006 at 5:27 pm |

    I checked out the comment thread on that link, and it looks so commonplace… a bunch of people going on about how everyone is so oversensitive and easily offended these days and so they should just get over it, and it must have been a slow news day.

    I get really tired of that whole mindset– that it’s wrong to be offended about something, and that if one person doesn’t see why it’s offensive then nobody else should be offended. What they’re really saying is, “Oh, shut up”.

  3. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 19, 2006 at 5:41 pm |

    Here’s my only “defense” of it — they’ve been promoting shirts to girls for years with stuff like “Boys are smelly” and worse. I think these shirts are actually a reaction to those, not a free-floating expression of anti-girl feeling.

  4. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus December 19, 2006 at 5:51 pm |

    But this shirt doesn’t say “Girls have cooties.” It says the way to deal with a “nagging” women is to punch her out a window so she plummets to her death. It has nothing to do with pre-pubescent awkwardness and everything to do with promoting violence against women and presenting it as “funny.”

  5. jt
    jt December 19, 2006 at 5:54 pm |

    I actually think that the “boys are smelly” t-shirts are pretty ridiculous too.

    Actually, the shirts in question say “Boys are stupid – throw rocks at them”, which is a little more severe than that. (There’s even a Flash game.) Perhaps one could see this as a response to that. Although yes, it’s all pretty ridiculous.

  6. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost December 19, 2006 at 6:17 pm |

    My impression was that Boys Are Stupid clothes were made for and marketed toward young women, rather than girls.

  7. Isabel
    Isabel December 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm |

    My impression was that Boys Are Stupid clothes were made for and marketed toward young women, rather than girls.
    Kind of neither–I always had the feeling they were marketed at tweens.

    Also… I agree that these shirts are problematic and gross (and they get grosser the more I think about them). But I have to say I wish someone could come up with a less offensive way to make a similar kind of gag, because when I first saw this I kind of giggled because of the little stick people’s facial expressions. Then the thinking kicked in.

  8. Raincitygirl
    Raincitygirl December 19, 2006 at 9:21 pm |

    I have to admit having cringed upon seeing the “Boys are stupid. Throw rocks at them” t-shirts.

  9. MARes
    MARes December 19, 2006 at 10:20 pm |

    Yeah, but the “boys are stupid throw rocks at them” shirts generated a huge amount of media outrage, and stores wouldn’t sell them, it was almost impossible to find any to buy. Nobody had a thing to say about over sensitivity or being easily offended, and the shirt had very few defenders. I just googled it and every hit is “hate crimes,” “our successful boycott of these tees,” “evil man haters,” etc.

  10. elektrodot
    elektrodot December 19, 2006 at 11:11 pm |

    oh boo hoo. quit crying for the guys, theres obviously not an epidemic of girls throwing rocks but domestic violence? geez.

    but what really bothers me about this shirt is it says problem solved, with the solution being violence. thats far more offensive to me than the rocks shirt, expecially since its marketed to KIDS. whatever happened to violence never solves anything?

  11. kate
    kate December 19, 2006 at 11:44 pm |

    Absolutely, if emergency rooms regularly saw boys coming in with injuries incurred from rock throwing girls, if boys were afraid to walk the streets for fear of wanton rocks flinging at them or if they had to live in hiding in order to be free of the threat of being pelted by rocks, then the “Throw Rocks at Boys” shirt would have a whole different meaning. The joke of the shirt, was the irony that of course, girls wouldn’t take such a risk for fear of real danger against them. It pointed up the power structure that does exist to make such an occurrance impossible.

    Conversely, the clueless moron designer hired by Route 66 clothing company apparently has either no clue of the existing power imbalance, or reads too damn much Tucker Max in his spare to time to give a damn about it. Of course, since it affirms an existing structure most everyone has either completely assimilated to or enjoys the fruits of, criticism on a large level is lacking. Of course, K-Mart isn’t off the hook either as they don’t have to be so absolutely greedy to agree to stock the damn shirts either.

    I’m sure they figure the feminist attention to the shirt a free marketing boost — of course, beneficial only if they continue to sell them.

  12. kate
    kate December 19, 2006 at 11:45 pm |

    wow, I used the word damn three times. I guess the issue kinda hepped me up a bit. Sorry.

  13. zuzu
    zuzu December 20, 2006 at 12:16 am | *

    Route 66 is one of Kmart’s house brands.

    Just sayin’.

  14. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne December 20, 2006 at 12:44 am |

    Having worked in advertising/marketing (briefly), I can guess that the conversation was something like, “Hey, these ‘Boys are Smelly’ t-shirts are selling really well to ‘tween girls — let’s come up with a version for boys!”

    If you asked a consumer products guy/gal to think about the implications of a boy kicking a girl out of a window, the reply would be something along the lines of “Guh?”

    Not that cluelessness is a defense, of course. But I think this is more blind idiocy/chasing something that’s already popular than anything else.

  15. Christopher
    Christopher December 20, 2006 at 6:10 am |

    “Conversely, the clueless moron designer hired by Route 66 clothing company apparently has either no clue of the existing power imbalance…”

    One thing I’ve noticed is that conservative cultural critics tend to have a VERY hard time understanding the idea of “context”; the idea that the reading of a work can be effected by by the broader culture which produced and consumes it.

    For example, all other things being equal, a liberal will tend to see a scene where a girl hits a guy as being different from a scene where a guy hits a girl, for reasons that people here have already gone over.

    There’s a subset of readers, the vast majority of whom are conservative, that can’t grasp the difference; they keep coming back around to the same idea “Each scene is about one person hitting another. It’s the same action, so how can they have different readings?”

    I’m constantly amazed at how very difficult some people find it to grasp this sort of thing; it almost seems to be a kind of localised mental illness, like how people with autism can have trouble understand abstract thoughts.

  16. micheyd
    micheyd December 20, 2006 at 7:20 am |

    There’s a subset of readers, the vast majority of whom are conservative, that can’t grasp the difference; they keep coming back around to the same idea “Each scene is about one person hitting another. It’s the same action, so how can they have different readings?”

    I’m trying to figure out whether it’s an inherent problem or just willful ignorance. I’ve had a conservative tell me that his guiding philosophy was ‘fairness’ – i.e. he was against affirmative action, gender-based programs, welfare etc. because they were fundamentally unfair (to upperclass males, duh). That combined with sticking his figners in his ears and shouting “lalalala” every time real-world problems came up seems to suggest they don’t wanna know about context.

  17. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 20, 2006 at 10:42 am |

    Might behoove us to write to KMart and point out that if it was OK for stores to yank the Boys Are Stupid T-shirts, they should do the same thing WRT these shirts.

  18. Chris
    Chris December 20, 2006 at 11:59 am |

    Christopher, what is the difference between a male hitting a female and a female hitting a male? You make the point that some of us don’t understand the difference however you don’t explain it. From my pov there is no difference, both are violent acts, why should there be a difference from a legal or moral perspective?

    Chris

  19. Bolo
    Bolo December 20, 2006 at 12:26 pm |

    “I’ve had a conservative tell me that his guiding philosophy was ‘fairness’ – i.e. he was against affirmative action, gender-based programs, welfare etc. because they were fundamentally unfair.”

    My co-worker, who is sitting in a cubicle right across the hall from me at this moment, has argued such things. She thinks that poor students shouldn’t be given tuition assistance for college because its fundamentally unfair to rich kids, who have to pay for everything themselves. She also thinks that poor people should receive no welfare and should starve and die because they’re obviously failures, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

    I’d heard similar arguments from another person a few years ago, using “fairness” to justify a flat tax. “I think the government should just treat everyone equally.” I helpfully pointed out that a 10% tax on $10,000 is very different than a 10% tax on $1 million, and leaves one person with vastly more money and power in the end. I don’t think she got it though.

    Thanks for pointing out that its really a lack of context. I suppose I’ve understood this for some time, but having a verbal description of the condition helps a lot.

  20. Kickball  » Blog Archives   » kickball
    Kickball » Blog Archives » kickball December 20, 2006 at 1:30 pm |

    [...] er warning). Thanks to Shirley for the link. – More – what a busy week. Monday was not a fun day at w [...]

  21. Blitzgal
    Blitzgal December 20, 2006 at 2:33 pm |

    This is slightly off-topic, but the t-shirt reminds me of the Judge Judy case I just watched yesterday. It was regarding medical bills that arose out of an assault of a 10 year old girl by an 11 year old boy on a playground. The girl was “teasing” the boy so he pushed her to the ground and punched her. Judge Judy chastized the girl not only for pestering the boy and “purposely pushing his buttons” but also for being at the playground! She did make the boy’s mother pay for the medical bills but I was so flabbergasted that she would actually blame a 10 year old girl for causing her own assault. It was despicable.

  22. Fat Doug Lover
    Fat Doug Lover December 20, 2006 at 2:37 pm |

    The difference appears to be the “context” thing that non-conservatives have. Many of us were not born in a bubble yesterday, like so many of you people who see a joke about female on male violence as exactly the same thing as the reverse.

  23. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 20, 2006 at 8:37 pm |

    If there’s anything American kids need, it’s incitement to antagonize each other.

    I used to feel sorry for K mart as it was driven into bankruptcy by Wal-Mart. My sympathy is evaporating.

  24. MARes
    MARes December 21, 2006 at 12:17 am |

    Chris, quiz, you run after Donald Trump’s limo screaming obsenities, or you go up to a homeless person and scream obsenities. Exact same action, really different effect. That’s called “context.” Or, if you prefer, “power differential.”

  25. Chris
    Chris December 21, 2006 at 3:18 pm |

    Power differential? The majority of people do not have power, we all start on the same low rung of the ladder, some people don’t but the majority of us do.

    I can’t honestly see the difference, a woman hitting me is the same as a man hitting me, both can and may cause damage to me and both are an active threat to my person. Now looking at say your boss hitting you is a different situation as there is a power differential, however in a normal situation there is no power differential other than physical strength / size, which is not the larger / stronger persons problem if you attack them.

    Where would this “power differential” occur normally (I am honestly asking because I haven’t observed it), in schools we were told not to hit girls (even if they were hitting us), in life women often hit men (men also hit men but generally it starts a fight – at least in my town – rather than one party brushing it off as “play” or “affection”). The whole “boys are stupid – throw rocks at them” is just as bad, we shouldn’t be promoting violence of any form in my opinion. However (and apologise for splitting an however from its previous sentence), we should teach people that if you attack someone, even in play, that they will respond and thus attacking someone is at your own risk (bullies at high school stopped attempting to physically bully me once they realised I would fight back and I would win). Violence is bad, however we shouldn’t encourage it with stereotypes or through stuff like this.

  26. Christopher
    Christopher December 21, 2006 at 4:44 pm |

    Sorry I was unclear; I meant “scene” in the sense of “a portion of a work of fiction”

    In real life, an unprovoked assualt is an unprovoked assault, but I was thinking more in terms of fiction.

    Imagine a scene, for example, where one character has been constantly harrassing another in some way, verbally and perhaps in some minor physical way, so evntually the harrassed party hauls of and slugs the harrasser.

    The [i]entire tenor[/i] of the scene would change depending on the gender of the two parites involved.

    Broadly speaking, a man slugging an annoying woman is different from a woman slugging an annoying man; the latter has some humour potential, because we realise that this rarely happens in real life, and also recognize that the woman comes from a position of less power.

    The man slugging a woman, on the other hand, is simply a powerful person re-asserting an essentially unchallenged dominance, and thus is uncomfortahble.

    And, of course, the earlier thing about yelling obscenities at Donald Trump, or the universal flat tax, etc.

  27. Jason Gooljar
    Jason Gooljar December 23, 2006 at 12:20 pm |

    This is my version of the Kmart T-shirt. (http://www.jasongooljar.com/?p=546)

  28. katthemad
    katthemad December 24, 2006 at 10:59 am |

    Did you know there’s an “adorable” picture book that goes with the “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” t-shirt and has that very image on the cover? Also on the cover, the author/designers name; Todd Harris Goldman. Make of THAT what you will.

  29. Feministe » And We Thought the Problem Solved T-Shirt Was Bad

    [...] m

    Check this out. Amy from Radioactive Quills shows us that the misogynist “Problem Solved” T-shirt has competition for the title of the worst [...]

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