• Wed, Dec 5 2012

If Your Son Is Wearing These Misogynistic Shirts, It’s Safe To Say You Failed As A Parent

spencersI now understand why my parents wouldn’t let me go to the mall with my friends for years as a teenager. They were worried that I would be exposed to despicable trash like the t-shirts available for young men at Spencer’s gift stores. They just didn’t want their daughter to see clothing stating, “When I Want Your Opinion, I’ll take my dick out of your mouth.”

Mom and Dad, I understand now. You weren’t ruining my life. I’m sorry.

Alright, my over-protected childhood aside, Buzzfeed has discovered a veritable treasure trove of misogyny available for the young men who visit Spencer’s gift shop. This mall staple is best known for gag gifts and a naughty section that teens visit when they want to feel risque. Now, it’s the store that every mother should teach their children to avoid.

After seeing the nauseating collection of women-hating apparel, Spencer’s isn’t just the place for joke keychains and lava lamps. It’s less, “fun place to shop,” and more, “the place decency goes to die.” It’s depressing to think about impressionable teen boys walking in and seeing a t-shirt that reads, “Twinkle Twinkle little slut, name one boy you haven’t fucked,” and thinking it’s funny or witty.

When we see disgusting sexism like this, it highlights the importance of active parenting and teaching our children to respect themselves and respect those around them. These t-shirts prove that we can’t trust pop culture to help raise our children. We need to be educating them about the dangers of “humor” such as this. If you see your son come home with a t-shirt like this, here’s your teachable moment. Here’s when your son needs his mother most.

If your daughter wants to date a boy who wears shirts like this, you have every right to step in and discuss the importance of respect in relationships. You need to be sitting that boy down and explaining that his humor isn’t appropriate or amusing.

Somehow, in the decade since I’ve been there, Spencer’s turned in to the worst example of woman-bashing. It’s all the things we’re trying to teach our sons not to be. It’s all the sentiments we’re trying to protect our daughters from.

Some women are joking that at least if we see a guy wearing these t-shirts, we’ll all know he’s a horrible person. It’s like a douchebag dog collar. But I’m not worried about the grown men who choose to promote these disgusting “jokes.” I’m worried about the teen boys strolling through Spencer’s who begin to see degrading women as an enjoyable past time. I’m worried about the young girls those boys date, who begin to feel that they deserve to be treated poorly and insulted.

These jokes focus on treating women like pieces of trash to be used for sex and nothing else. They are the most blunt form of sexism and misogyny you can find. And this store is selling that hatred to teen boys across the country. I guess we all need to be a little more vigilant in protecting our teenagers from trash like this.

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  • MomAbroad

    While I appreciate your article and couldn’t agree with you more about the inappropriateness of a teenage boy (or any boy for that matter) not only wearing the slogans on these shirts but thinking they are funny and using them in their daily speech, what about teaching my son to stay away from girls who wear t-shirts that say “I have the Pussy so I make the Rules” (also available from Spencers: http://www.spencersonline.com/product/Pussy-Rules-Jr-Tee/). It’s frustrating as a new parent to see such back lash about protecting our girls from boys who believe in disconcerting messages but I think it’s only fair to warn our boys as well to stay away from girls who not only don’t care about their opinions but will use such excellent rationale as the t-shirt example to get “whatever they want”.

    • Lo

      Urgh. I’m not surprised that there’s also a market for misandrist T-shirts. Fuck you, Spencer’s.

    • swankybich

      I totally agree with MomAbroad! I have 3 boys, one is a teenager. Obviously I encourage him to be respectful to girls, but some of these shirts I would laugh if I saw a young adult wearing them at a bar. And why aren’t we against our teen girls wearing ‘juicy’ on their ass or pushup bras and low cut blouses? Let’s start raising self respecting women!

    • CMJ

      These shirts are not funny at any age.

    • ilovefredmertz

      the fact that you would laugh them is pretty depressing. They are neither clever nor intelligent, merely cringe-worthy and gross. Instead of focusing on that, you want to police teen girls who dont “respect” themselves because they wear pushup bras and have cleavage. Just because a woman isn’t wearing a burqa or a teenager isn’t wearing a bra with no underwire doesn’t mean that she doesn’t respect herself.

      The fact that you think that shows that you think a woman’s value and respect lies in her body and sexuality, which is likely why you think these horrible shirts are funny. You’ve bought into the messages of a misogynist society and now you think girls/women who dress in sexy clothes aren’t to be respected, a line of thinking which is so dangerous, because it not only dehumanizes them and devalues them, it makes way for arguments like “she was asking for it” in cases of sexual assault and horrible comments like “some girls are just easy to rape.”

      We need society to respect girls and women more, NOT the other way around.

    • TrueMan

      Swany is right. It’s a two-way crime wave and keeping score just aggravates the situation.

    • ilovefredmertz

      oh TrueMan I won’t let your obvious attempt at being provocative go unnoticed.Thanks for enlightening me onto the fact that Rape is A Two Way Street. and that to say some otherwise just leads to more rape from ‘TRUE MEN’ like you.

      In fact I think that is a wonderful T-shirt slogan “Rape is a two way street.” Very catchy, could even be the title of the screenplay you are working in your parents’ basement underneath your poster of Ted Bundy.

      Get bent you useless bag of cells.

    • Blueathena623

      How did an article about disgusting,degrading t-shirts for men turn into something against women not respecting themselves if they wear push up bras?

    • Meg

      Amen.

    • Nabneb

      I really am interested in which shirts you’d find amusing on a young adult because I genuinely do not find ANY of them remotely humorous. How do you encourage your sons to be respectful of women when you laugh at jokes like this?

    • TrueMan

      How do you encourage your daughters to be respectful of men when you laugh at one-liner put-downs in soap commercials and sitcoms?

    • CMJ

      You know, I went to the Spencer’s website (gag) and while the women’s shirts are also oppressively stupid – they are still misogynistic in a twisted way – for every “I have Pussy so I make the Rules” shirts, there are 5 douchenozzle men’s t-shirts. Not that it makes the women’s shirts okay, but mostly, it shows how even the women’s t-shirts are dominated by male ideals and douchey-ness.

  • Blueathena623

    I wasn’t allowed into Spencer’s when I was a kid, no wonder! These shirts are disgusting, but what am I missing for the one that says “heating your dinner”? I can’t see the figure on it very closely, but it looks like a guy holding flowers? For some reason, all i can think of is a guy trying to make a girl dinner, but I’m assuming that isn’t the meaning behind the shirt. Pls clue me in!

    • LindsayCross

      Um…. I feel dirty just typing this. But he’s aiming a blow dryer down his pants.

    • Blueathena623

      Oh god. I knew it had to be something disgusting.

    • once upon a time

      Ooooooh! I didn’t get it either, I thought the joke was that men can’t cook so they reheat, and I didn’t understand why that was so offensive!

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Ewwww. That’s exactly the kind of crap The Jackass would do. I still cringe at the phrase “while you’re down there”…

  • Justme

    I saw one the other day that said “Cool story babe, now make me a sandwich.” Ugh.

    • Meg

      BLEH.

    • Dassa

      Meh, not near as bad as the ones cited, imho.

    • Justme

      Not as sexually explicit but still misogynistic and definitely surprising to see it hanging next to the “World’s Best Grandma” shirts in the middle of the mall kiosk.

    • http://twitter.com/briannaFML I am Brianna

      I actually own that shirt. I only bought it as a joke to see how many men would tell me I shouldn’t be wearing it because I am a girl. Many did.

  • trixya

    i don’t know how it works in the US, but i’m sure a class action suit could be brought forth on the grounds of promoting hate, hate-speech and harassment…

    • Meg

      Well, no, actually. In the US, the first amendment protects virtually all speech; unless it’s something that can be interpreted as a threat or impetus to act by a reasonable person, pretty much no court would ever find it objectionable. (As well they shouldn’t.) Also, class action lawsuits are *civil* actions, not criminal actions. Unless a large group of people can prove they were fundamentally harmed – and not just “His opinion gives me a sad!” harmed, but actually, like, the shirts were made out of asbestos and gave my son cancer – it’s not a reasonable class action lawsuit in any American jurisdiction.

      We should educate our boys AND our girls about this kind of behavior. We should pressure Spencer’s to change their inventory, and use the power of the consumer dollar to make our displeasure known if we don’t. But absent that? You can’t sue someone, or throw them in jail, for being an ass.

  • bumbler

    Whoa…my son would get a SERIOUS talking to if I even caught one of his FRIENDS wearing this kind of shirt! I don’t consider myself a feminist, far from being PC, and pretty thick skinned, but even I am offended by these shirts. I’d make a point of taking my kids into Spencers to show them these shirts and have a civilized conversation about it, before a school mate shows up to class and turns it into an acceptable joke. I’d rather my kid already have a dignified repulsion of this subject matter in the back of their mind before anyone else gets a say in the matter. How trashy can you get??

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y43G2GBLYWFPOIKU76DGRXPOSQ Parvati Lynn

      I hate to leave the standard message here, but I have to – a feminist at a basic level is a person who thinks that women should be treated exactly how men are,and should have the same rights that they have. There are some who take the meaning further than that, but that is the main definition. If you don’t agree that women and men should be treated the same, then you’re right that you’re not a feminist. I am guessing that is not what you meant though.

  • corastacy

    it’s not usually teenaged boys I see wearing t-shirts like this, it is 40/50 something men trying to look young.

    • Meg

      Or “Men’s Rights Advocates” trying to connect with the youth population …

    • xve298

      The problem is that our society has not grown up to the 21st century.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y43G2GBLYWFPOIKU76DGRXPOSQ Parvati Lynn

      Oh god, don’t say their name or they might come back!

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      …there’s a difference between “40-50 something men trying to look young/be cool” and MRAs?

    • Meg

      Point.

    • meteor_echo

      Nope.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Aaaugh, those ARE awful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gvalenz Gracie Vee

    Okay, the irony here is killing me. I don’t even know where to start. Let’s see…
    1) It’s the notion that women are weak and have to be offended by everything they see that makes these T-shirts popular in the first place. Why would one play up to that? Would you teach your daughters to be offended by stuff on a shirt that had nothing to do with her personally? What manner of histrionic I-don’t-know-what is this?
    2) Only two of the shirts above are obviously toward “a woman”, and any of them could be worn by either gender (I happen to think it would be hilarious if a woman were to wear the “of course I love you” shirt, but I have a sense of humor). Three of them could clearly also be directed at either gender. If you think that only women can be whores, have sex with men, or cause an erection, that says more about whoever chooses to be offended than it does about the seller of the T-shirt.
    3) I assume the ones toward ‘a woman’ are for a hypothetical nagging woman or some cartoonish June Cleaver type as depicted in many of the drawings with similar memes, not toward me personally simply because I have a vagina and breasts, so clearly not toward all women. I wonder which women see themselves in the women imagined, and why. Perhaps introspection and/or psychotherapy could help with self-esteem.
    4) And ‘misogyny’, Seriously? It’s not hatred, it’s just flippance. Obnoxious at best.
    If you raise your daughter to think this stuff has to make her feel hated or persecuted or victimized in any way, or teach your son that women are not strong enough to withstand messages on other peoples’ T-shirts that have nothing to do with them, you’ve not only failed as a parent but done your damnedest to set us back 50 years.

    • lea

      Riiiiiiight. So lets not remind people that it is unacceptable to be offensive, crass and demeaning to other people (regardless of their sex), instead lets teach everyone else to ignore it. And now to address your points:

      1. I stand up for what is right regardless of if it is directed at me personally or not. Being a good person, but only when it affects you personally, doesn’t count.

      2. Does it really matter if they are all directed at women or not (although they clearly are, and your attempt to be PC is disingenuous). Yes, men can indeed be called whores, but it is uncommon- and usually preceded with a “man-”. Add to that, men rarely call each other whores, and these are mens shirts.

      3. I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that it was ok to be offensive towards a woman if she is a nag or shows similarities to a caricature of “a woman”.

      4. Misogyny can be expressed in many forms, and sexual objectification and sexual exploitation of women are well accepted forms that misogyny can manifest itself.

      Honestly, I think if you are raising your kids to ignore this kind of message, it is YOU who is failing as a parent.

      Thank you and have a nice life.

    • TrueMan

      lea, you are showing yourself to be the stereotyped woman those shirts are aimed at: snide, lacking in discernment, accusing… in general, mean-spirited and dictatorial. It is you representing the movement badly. Get help.

    • Blueathena623

      Please spare me the “if you’re offended you must not have a sense of humor!” spiel. I would not want to be called a whore or a slut, therefore I don’t support any shirt that pretends that its “funny” to use these terms directed at women. And to pretend that these shirts can be directed at either sex is just flat out dumb and you should feel bad for even suggesting something so dumb.

    • CMJ

      That’s a lot of big words and quotation marks (apostrophes?) for something that hardly makes any sense.

      The shirts are offensive because they’re fucking offensive. Check out the link on Buzzfeed. Since you have a great “sense of humor” you should also go to Spencer’s site because you can obviously stomach all the awesome products they have to offer.

      That fact that some man and/or woman would wear any of them sets us back 50 years . Being offended by them does not.

  • mel

    I hate these shirts, but I kinda agree with the part about them being a douche alert. If I see a man wearing a shirt like this, at least I know to stay the hell away. There are always going to be men who are jerks and if crude t-shirts sell, Spencer’s won’t get rid of them. The best we can do is to teach our sons to be better than that.

  • Maggie

    Gross. I bought some gag Christmas gifts at Spencer’s a few weeks ago, and now I want to return them. Disgusting.

    • canaduck

      Do it if you still can! It would be a good way to protest.

  • canaduck

    I love that Mommyish has so many feminist-themed articles. They’re necessary for parents with both girls AND boys.

  • TrueMan

    It’s a logical manifestation of revenge after a couple decades of man-bashing. Feminists went too far and now the pendulum is swinging back.

  • TrueMan

    Interesting how the reactionaries always claim that anything they disagree with sets us back 50 years… and most of them aren’t even old enought to have seen that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.lewis.165 Ray Lewis

    of course you have to respect people who wears these shirts freedom of speech… on the other hand I tend to enjoy excerciseing my freedom of punch in face when I meet someone with one. Their not even fucking funny for gods sake! (not that being funny would make sexism ok but I mean come on who actualy bloody buys them, their is nothing funny or remotely witty) Its just crap. Its almost as though the people who designed this have some kind of sexist agenda to push……..

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  • Pat Riarchy

    Why should any female who demands equality be offended at these T-shirts? How on Earth can they be misogynistic when it’s what females DEMAND men do. Females have been vilifying and denigrating men for the last 50 YEARS. All men are rapists. Men are incapable of emotion. Testosterone causes violence. Men are the result of a defective Y chromosome. Females treat men with complete contempt. Females demand an end to violence against WOMEN. They could not care if men are the victims of violence and they could not care less about the suffering of men. Even though females are clearly not equal to men in that men suffer more violence females utterly refuse to treat people equally. Yet females claim the safety and well being of females is more important. Gender should be ignored Yet females constantly claim the moral high-ground in front of the most damning evidence to the contrary.

    However, poor widdle females should huff and puff about something like this while they praise the valiant Valerie Solanas and her Society for Cutting Up Men. The SCUM Manifesto has been lauded by leading females all around the world. Quite appropriate and justified.

    Just like a female genitally mutilating a man. Females not only find this hilarious but justifiable. He DESERVED it.

    The Huffington Post reported on some female who was selling slogans with hateful messages about men. She had support not derision.

    But females are so upset about some T-shirts that they might find offensive. Since females seem to find no offense in calling men rapists and paedophiles and thugs one might think that equality minded people would accept the same contempt. Apparently, it is a measure of equality as to what vile things females can say about men. It seems men have finally caught on as to what females mean when they use the word equality.

    However, if females are equal to men why wouldn’t they expect to suck it up. To woman up. Why are their delicate sensibilities to be taken into account by men when they could not care less about men. Clearly.

    Then females wonder why there are so few females at the top. They are also beginning to wonder why men don’t want them. The only thing a female can offer a man these days is a 75% chance she will ruin his life.

    So why shouldn’t men say whatever they like about females? In every media? I have pages of quotes from famous females and their intelligent views on men.

    Clearly this article is only set to deamonise men. When females have done far worse it does not rate a mention. Why? Because that’s equality. Except some are more EQUAL than others.

    • zyrne

      …
      Persecution complex, much?