I’m exhausted by responding to endless images and narratives that normalize rape and the oppression of women. But I guess that’s the point, right? You just run out of energy. We can’t let that happen so I did some research. Turns out the shirt is made by a company called Iron Horse Helmets. Though it can be difficult in these instances to figure out who created the thing you’re trying to protest, a quote on the Iron Horse site makes it pretty clear:
Not afraid to express yourself? Good, our Tees got attitude and something to say. Make a statement or make ’em laugh with T-shirts from Iron Horse Helmets. Got a great idea for the next Iron Horse Helmet T-shirt, send it to us – we won’t give ya nothing for it, but we might use it and will be sure to take all the credit for it.
Please contact Iron Horse Helmets and tell them you’re #NotBuyingIt. Let them know promoting rape isn’t funny, it’s dangerous. I can’t believe that statement is the radical one.
Professor and blogger Rebacca Hains appeared on “Fox and Friends” today and made excellent points about the ramifications of gender segregated toys and what we’re teaching kids through sexist marketing. The show started with Sabrina Schaeffer of Independent Women’s Forum, justifying gender segregation in toy stores:
It doesn’t mean that girls can’t go on to do anything that little boys can go on to do. It’s just that they like to play differently, and that’s okay.
This is a common argument for gender segregation of little kids. Nothing wrong with marketing make-up and dress up and shopping toys to girls. It’s just play, silly. No big deal.
The show ends with this point from Hains:
some girls want the chemistry set. And they shouldn’t feel like it’s just for boys. If we don’t say, “Hey, these are jobs for men and these are jobs for women,” why would we say, “These are toys for boys and toys for girls,” when toys are really kids’ work?
Don’t we want more female chemists? How is that going to happen?
Check out what my friend’s 6 month old daughter just received from her grandmother. (Can you read “teaches” and “laugh and learn?” below) 6 month old child, from her grandmother.
Today, I walked by your store on California Street in San Francisco, and I was saddened by how differently you market shoes to girls and boys. What’s with your gender stereotyping? I don’t get it. Aren’t girls and boys feet pretty similar? Don’t all kids need shoes where they can be active? Please tell me why Stride Rite markets shoes to little kids as if girls and boys are completely different species. As author Rebecca Hains writes, according to Stride Rite, girls are pretty and boys are active. This kind of gender stereotyping limits all kids.
Here’s the huge poster selling shoes to girls in the window of the San Francisco store.
According to Stride Rite, girls like pink, purple, sparkles, and princesses.
Here’s your poster selling shoes to boys.
Boys are powerful. They like orange, blue, red, yellow, and black.
The shoes displayed below the girl poster are also– surprise, surprise– pink, purple and sparkly. The shoes displayed below the boy poster feature Spider-Man and Captain America shoes.
Where are the female superheroes at Stride Rite? Not on the socks you sell. Those are my daughter’s hands in the picture. She was looking for Wonder Woman.
Apparently, Wonder Woman isn’t one of the world’s greatest superheroes. Isn’t she a member of the Justice League? Where’d she go? What about Black Widow? Why has she gone missing from the Avengers Assemble? And while we’re looking for MIA powerful females, where’s Leia with her lightsaber? Why isn’t she part of the Stride Rite Star Wars shoes marketing plan?
Here are my three daughters ages 4, 7, and 10 wearing Stride Rite shoes.
Unfortunately, we will no longer be shopping at Stride Rite.The way you guide girls to one side of your store and boys to the other is manipulative and destructive. My youngest child chose her orange shoes from the “boy” side, but every year, my kids get more influenced by marketing such as yours. Their choices become more limited as they repeatedly see that girls are supposed to be so radically different than boys, only wear certain colors, and behave in a certain “feminine” way. For as long as I can, I hope to protect my kids from learning that boys are valued for what they do, while girls are valued for how they appear. That means not shopping at Stride Rite.
Update: On Reel Girl’s Facebook page, Lizards and Lullabies posted this email just received from Stride Rite. Guess they’re working hard to snag back to school shoppers. Makes sense, that’s why my family went shoe shopping.
wish like a princess? They’ve found a way to make a princess EVEN MORE passive!
Here’s the ad:
Update:This comment, posted on Pigtail Pals Facebook page, makes me so frustrated. Diana got way more than a confused look from the sales associate when her daughter dared to step beyond gender limits at Stride Rite:
“We just went into a Stride Rite store for my 4yo daughter and she was drawn to the “boys” side with the Spider Man shoes. The sales associate actually stopped her and said “Oh honey, those are for boys. Let’s get you something prettier over here.”
I told the sales associate that she was free to pick a shoe from whatever side she wanted and that pretty wasn’t defined by pink, purple and glitter, nor was it the only quality we wanted in a sneaker.
We walked out with Spider Man sneakers that light up and are awesome. I did mention to the woman that while we appreciated her friendliness, we did not appreciate her gender stereotyping and making my daughter feel like she shouldn’t be excited about black, red and blue shoes with eyes that light up.”
And one more thing, while I’m here. All that “pretty,” shiny stuff on girl’s shoes gets scuffed up and falls off pretty fast. When it does, parents are likely to buy kids new shoes, which is great for business and also, creating lifetime consumers. Check out this post: Are girl’s shoes designed to disintegrate?
I guess Disney was right to be so terrified of creating a strong, BRAVE, female protagonist (along with Pixar studios which hadn’t had ANY female protags before “Brave.”) It looks like Merida could be turning Disney’s franchise on it’s head. That’s pretty damn heroic.
Another mistake Disney made with “Brave?” They hired a female director. They fired her, but it was too late. Brenda Chapman wrote “Brave” based on her daughter. She was furious with the character’s transformation and wrote publicly about Disney’s terrible mistake.
That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.’” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)
Is the sexualized image of Merida gone for good? Has Disney learned a lesson? Or will that lesson be: No more strong female characters leading a film! No more female directors writing about their daughters! Keep the females weak and quiet!
Objectifying and sexualizing girls is dangerous. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale.
Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938
Africans circa 1931
Females circa 2013
It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it, not to mention expose my child to it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?
Be part of the solution. Demand narratives with strong female characters for your kids.
Update: New Merida may be off Disney’s site but she’s showing up all over the place including Target. Below is Target’s web page.