Thank the goddesses, public outcry forced J.C. Penney to apologize and remove the $9.99 shirts from its site a couple weeks ago. But they only did so after parental outrage sparked via viral Internet communication blew up in their sexist corporate visage.
When I first heard about this Tee, I thought it was a joke. I mean, really? What parent, in their right mind, would ever purchase something so demeaning for their daughter? And I can’t even consider the implications of a young girl buying one for herself.
Well, yes I can, and the implications frighten me. So, I asked my 13-year-old daughter for a reaction to the “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me” shirt.
“That’s stupid,” she said. “I’d never let my brother do my math homework. He wouldn’t know how. And it’s cheating.”
Until she said that, I was so incensed by the stereotypical gender typing that I missed the fact that the T-shirt also promotes a lack of moral integrity. Holy heck, J.C. Penney, what were you thinking?
Then my girl asked, “What does pretty have to do with doing your homework?”
I answered, “Absolutely nothing.”
The resultant conversation I had with both my daughter and her younger brother was kind of great. It supported my goal of empowering her to fight against the prejudicial belief that having ovaries makes her less intelligent than those with testes. And helped my son understand this truism as well.
Despite the teaching moment and their apology, I’m still incensed with J.C. Penney. A second “sassy” Tee on their website reads: “Who has time for homework with the new Justin Bieber album out?”
Justin Bieber may be more important than homework to many teenage girls, but is that an attitude that responsible adults would want to encourage? Hell no, although clearly large corporations can be less than responsible. Surprise!
Of course, J.C. Penney isn’t the first, and they won’t be the last, clothing manufacturer to try to sell inappropriate messages to the next generation of women (not to mention a compound sentence that’s missing a comma). In fact, there’s been more parental outrage over another T-shirt recently marketed to girls from Forever 21 that makes the claim: “Allergic to Algebra.”
Way to empower girls, Forever 21. These shirts are so wrong on so many levels that I’m having trouble even writing about them without pounding out a string a curse words on this page.
What heartens me is that there are lots of other parents out there who feel the same way and are striking back at the marketers who want to belittle our daughters.
While, on the one hand, I will support your First Amendment right to say, display or wear whatever you want (within constitutionally set boundaries), I have a problem with marketers pushing demeaning stereotypes onto girls and women.
Telling girls that math and science aren’t cool or worth their time will only hurt all of us in the long run. After all, there are currently more young females than males in this country. The next generation — regardless of gender — need to be respected and empowered to step up to the plate. After all, they’ll be running the world pretty damn soon.
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