While shopping for her sons at a local Target store earlier today, Dr. Rebecca Hains, a leading children’s media culture expert and professor of advertising and media studies, came across the boys’ t-shirt featured here. It says, “Is my sister done talking yet?” She snapped a pic of the merchandise and took to her Facebook page to explain her thoughts on why this “joke” is a problem for “boys and girls alike” and what she wants the big-box retailer to do about it.
Of the question emblazoned on the tee, Rebecca wrote…
“It’s supposed to be funny. It’s supposed to be a joke. But it’s not.
The ‘joke’ here relies on an old, sexist stereotype that girls and women talk too much. It draws shamelessly upon the misogynist idea that what girls and women have to say isn’t even worthy of male attention. Better to drown out female voices than hear them out.
Target, I’m female, so judging by this t-shirt, you may not want to hear me talking about this — but we need to talk. And you need to listen, so stop acting like a chimp and take the headphones off.
This kind of stereotype is harmful to boys and girls alike. Little boys shouldn’t be taught that girls’ voices are unimportant and that it’s both acceptable and funny to ignore them. And little girls shouldn’t be faced with the microaggression of their brothers and peers wearing shirts like this that just put them down.
This may seem like a small thing. Some people will read this and say, ‘It’s just a t-shirt. Learn to take a joke.’ But in a culture in which women’s and girls’ voices are devalued, their ideas and interests trivialized as less important than boys’ and men’s, why would any responsible retailer sell this?
I am asking Target to remove this shirt from its stores now. And, more importantly, I’m asking for Target to adopt a policy of screening t-shirts for sexist comment, and to decline to stock anything that perpetuates misogyny. The retailer has committed to desegregating its toy aisles and children’s home goods, so how about committing to stop peddling anti-girl boys’ apparel, too?”
Putting thoughts into action, Rebecca just launched a Change.org petition directed to eight decision makers at Target, from the Chairman and CEO to the Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Apparel and Accessories. If you want to lend your voice to her effort, you can sign the petition here.