This week, Thor, one of Marvel’s principal characters, became a woman. But while one aspect of the superhero universe is becoming more diverse, another is causing controversy. Recently, multiple T-shirts displaying blatantly sexist messages have surfaced and are sparking indignation across social media platforms.
Blogger PJ Curtis discovered a t-shirt in the junior’s section of Walmart that reads, “Training to be Batman’s wife,” in purple lettering with a pink Batman logo. “The idea that you should settle for being married to or sleeping with someone awesome instead of being the awesome person is insulting,” she wrote on her blog PJ Says. “This just happens to be aimed at a young girl. I resent the idea that she should “train” to be so Batman’s wife.” Another tee from DC Entertainment, which was spotted by Tumblr user DC Women Kicking Ass, shows Superman holding Wonder Woman in his arms with the caption, “Score! Superman does it again!”
Similarly, at a Target store in Canada, a shopper spotted a pair of onesies that have received backlash on social media. The outfit reads: “Future Man of Steel,” while the girl’s option states: “I Only Date Heroes.” University of Waterloo psychology professor Christine Logel first noticed the set and took a picture. When the image made its way to Twitter, it quickly went viral. Logel, who has two daughters, ages 3 and 8, said in an interview with CTV, ”My heart really sank. I’m tired of seeing these messages everywhere.”
DC isn’t alone when it comes to producing chauvinistic apparel. Last year, an “Avengers” shirt for boys declared, ”Be A Hero,” while the shirt for girls said, ”I Need A Hero.” And superhero consumer products for women aren’t the only ones to belittle women. In 2011, JCPenny pulled a shirt from shelves that read, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Additionally, last year, The Children’s Place released a checklist tee (it was marked “My Best Subjects” with checked boxes for shopping, music, and dancing; but the final box, next to math, was blank) that drew criticism.
In response to the controversies, DC Comics released a statement agreeing with the fact that the tees are offensive. “DC Comics is home to many of the greatest male and female Super Heroes in the world. All our fans are incredibly important to us, and we understand that the messages on certain t-shirts are offensive. We agree. Our company is committed to empowering boys and girls, men and women, through our characters and stories.”