by Megan S.
I once owned a tee that read "Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society." It was 1998 and I was a teenager. It was my favorite shirt because the feminist tee from the 60s was ironic. Obviously I wasn't in either type of organization, so it was funny, you know?
No one ever got it. Well, except for my mother, but she doesn't really count seeing as she's the one who introduced me to the concept of feminism, but getting back to my point.
No one EVER got it.
When anyone bothered to read what was actually emblazoned across my boobs, I was inevitably asked,"You're in a sewing circle?" This was posed by college students and faculty who supposedly had mastered basic reading comprehension. They never noticed the terrorist society bit.
Yesterday, JC Penney was selling a little girl tee that reads "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." It wasn't supposed to be an ironic, pro-feminist statement.
It was supposed to be sassy.
If college kids don't question something like the combination of a terrorist society and a sewing circle, does anyone really believe little girls and boys will think a statement such as "I'm too pretty to do homework" is amusing because it's completely ridiculous?
I'm not going to rail against the designer that created the shirt or JC Penney's purchaser or advertising department that supported the sale of the tee. Individuals make dumb mistakes. For crying out loud, the Kardashians just published a press release the other day that referred to their family as a "klan"... with a K. See? Dumb mistakes.
What is a problem is that our society continues to produce bullshit like this. This isn't an aberration. Despite having won the right to vote and equal protection under the law, we continue to accept products geared toward little girls that promote the notion we expect less of and for them. Remember the Barbie that complained "Math class is tough"? This isn't just a one time thing in the recent past. We have a history of sending a message that beauty and sexuality are prized while knowledge and education are best left to the boys.
We need to raise a commotion, not to condemn a retailer for their dumb mistake, but to ram home the idea that this subtle, unintended sexism cannot continue. We need to raise a commotion because most girls and boys of any age won't see the irony.
Spread the word. Speak out. Subtle sexism is unacceptable.