Offensive Clothing

I don’t know if you all heard about the JC Penny offensive shirts scandal. It was pretty bad though, and people were understandably upset about the fact that the store was marketing horrifically sexist clothes.

But now we have something perhaps worse. Boys’ shirts that promote rape. No really. Look at the shirt. It’s real.

To be honest I don’t even entirely know what to say about things like this. It makes me worried that our society is making no progress in terms of gender equality and rape culture. It makes me sad that people would actually buy these items and not understand that there is something wrong with them. Some people might suggest that these are just shirts, they’re not a big deal, they don’t do any real harm. The website peddling this bit of trash actually seems quite proud of the fact that they’re offensive, as evidenced by other shirts like “feminists are fat, hairy dykes”. Apparently they think that hating everyone who isn’t white, male and lazy is really cool and funny.

However clothes are the most basic way we express ourselves on a daily basis. As someone who went to a school with a uniform for 13 years, the ability to express myself through clothes is important and empowering. What is our society telling us if it wants us to express through messages like these? If it wants us to brand our very bodies with offensive and potentially dangerous ideas? Clothes have always been a part of the gender equality struggle. So when the messages that clothes send are now explicitly painted on them so that every person can see what they mean, there is a problem. We are acknowledging sexism and allowing it to continue.

That being said, both of these incidents have caused uproar from the general public, and at the very least the JC Penny shirt was recalled and is no longer being sold. There is progress.

So happy Friday and remember that even when something seems to be a sign of the worst side of our society, it can really exemplify how much people are willing to fight for change and how much our society has changed.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com


  1. October 15, 2011 at 4:12 am —

    At least it clearly lables people as not worth interacting with.

  2. October 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm —

    The Bad Idea T-Shirts advertisement on here sort of undermines your point, which is a shame. I would encourage whoever runs this blog to contact their advertising network and see what they can do to get rid of that one.

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