It’s just a shirt, they tell you.
Lighten up. Have a sense of humor.
Oh geez, they say, it’s just one ad. Or just one pair of pajamas.
It’s no big deal. Everything is so PC nowadays.
Just a shirt, just an ad, just a pair of pajamas, just a different playing field, just a way to keep girls interested in science, just a pay disparity, just a ceaseless, subtle societal messaging system that says A. women are lesser and B. lighten the fuck up about it.
No big deal really.
This is a roundup of all the sexist bullshit I found on Facebook this week alone. It’s meant to simply connect a few dots because my feed was filling up with example after example of messages that subtly, or not so subtly, degrade girls and women — with all the obligatory comments about chilling out about it all.
Viewed in a vacuum, I get it. One shirt isn’t so bad. Ha ha, very funny. I also enjoy easy, tired jokes from time to time myself.
But view them all together — again, just one week’s worth of bullshit — and tell me there’s not an incessant, pervasive messaging system that is so powerful we often overlook it or laugh it off as completely normal.
Target (which, for the record, had been doing well at offering T-shirts for girls with the same sporty slogans as boy shirts) decides to sell pajamas in which the boy babies can grow up to be heroes and the girl babies can grow up to … date them. Because girls obviously will never want to be powerful super heroes themselves.
But, you know, it’s just one set of pajamas. Chill out already.
Walmart. Here we’ve moved up in age from pajamas for babies who can’t read anyway so just let parents have a little fun in sexualizing infancy to shirts for teens who can, hopefully, read. And yet the message stays the same. Boys can be heroes. Girls can marry them.
Again, I hear you: Lighten up, asshole, it’s just one shirt.
This is my favorite. If T-shirts and pajamas don’t tell you something’s wrong with how society treats girls and women, how about this: a sign. A sign that fucking spells it out for you.
It’s from the Carnegie Science Center working with the scouts.
But oh yes, I hear you already: It’s just a way to get girls interested in science by using something they’re interested in! After all, we’ve spent a lifetime telling them their only merit comes from appearance and spousal ability so now we’re stuck with girls who couldn’t give fewer fucks about STEM and this will set them right again!
You probably hear this phrase a lot: Even the playing field. As a metaphor, it means treating women and men equally. In this real-life example, it literally means even the playing field. Professional women soccer players had to file a lawsuit just yesterday to be able to play the World Cup on grass next year instead of artificial turf. Hold just about any men’s friendly match to drum up support for the game and FIFA will go to great lengths to cover the field in sod. The next two men’s World Cups will have grass, including the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Grass for men. In a drought-ridden desert.
But hold the premier event for the women’s side, and it’s turf for the first time ever. Of course.
And don’t even get me started on news of women’s soccer. Upload the ESPN FC soccer app and you can get coverage from bumblefuck B leagues in Ecuador and Sweden. You can get news about the Johnston’s Paint Trophy. But no scores or news about the women’s national team. You probably know the team. It’s the one that actually wins. It’s the one that should have loaned Megan Rapinoe to the men’s side this summer in favor of hammer footed Michael Bradley and maybe we would have had a chance.
But I digress. And I’m sure I could keep digressing on example after example.
This is, after all, just one week’s worth of bullshit. And you get the point.
It’s ironic that these examples popped up in my feed just a few days after social media went atwitter at Emma Watson’s amazing speech last week on feminism and equality.
It’s also amazing that these discussions about just one shirt, or just one bad message, continue day after day and year after year. For instance, I wrote about the shitty messages of sexist T-shirts years ago. I offer this only to say it’s nothing new. It’s continuous and plague like.
But it’s just a shirt, they still tell you.
Lighten up, they say.
It’s just a constant, subtle messaging system that is so pervasive, degrading, and normalized that we can’t even tell it’s bullshit anymore.