Avengers fans petition Disney to dump sexist t-shirts.
#NotBuyingIt. That’s the message many superhero fans are sending to Disney to protest a crop of new Avengers T-shirts that tell boys to “Be a Hero” and girls to “Need a Hero.”
As the highest-grossing movie of 2012, The Avengers was a major success story for Disney and Marvel’s flagship superhero franchise. Its merch has taken some super-backlash, even prompting a Change.org petition titled “Stop Selling Sexist T-Shirts @DisneyStore.”
Feminist campaigners Miss Representation explained the situation:
“The Disney Store is selling Avengers T-shirts for women with the slogan ‘I Need a Hero’ and ‘I Only Kiss Heroes,’ and an Iron Man T-shirt for boys that reads ‘Be a Hero.’” These shirts promote the idea that men and boys are meant to do the saving, and that women and girls are the ones who need to be saved.”
In addition to the message sent by the “I Only Kiss Heroes” slogan, the Disney webstore stocks T-shirts and costumes for all five of the male Avengers—but none featuring Black Widow, the only female superhero in the 2012 movie. [READ MORE]
Even more frustrating was that at the Disney store I was in several of the Disney Marvel t-shirts featured comics-verse interpretations of characters and lineups (I distinctly remember seeing Wolverine on one Avengers shirt, and possibly Spiderman), but no female characters AT ALL. No Wasp, no Black Widow, no Scarlet Witch or Captain Marvel. It was infuriating. I expected to see a “No Girls Allowed” sign.
This is feminism gone too far. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. But the fact is that you can be a girl and be a feminist and like it because it’s CUTE. Not everything is sexist. Seriously. I think that’s one of the most difficult concepts to grasp with feminism is that a lot of things ARE sexist but not everything IS. This doesn’t tell anyone that “women can’t be heroes” or that women need saving. It’s literally shirt with Iron Man that says I only kiss heroes.
And you know what else? That shirt that says “Be a hero” for boys isn’t sexist either. Because it’s target marketing. Most young boys dream of being a hero because that’s what boys do. We like superheroes and explosions and action. Can girls like superheroes also? YES. And can girls buy the shirt that says Be a Hero? YES. In fact a ton of girls DO wear “boy” shirts and theres ZERO problem with that. So you can say lets make this equal and have Black Widow on a shirt that says “I Only Kiss Heroes” but guess what? IT WONT SELL. Not because little boys are raised to be woman haters, but because boys grow up idolizing heroes who are most like them.
NOBODY is telling boys what they should be or telling girls what they should be, they’re T SHIRTS and it’s NOT right to attack Disney for making these, instead ATTACK THE PARENTS of children who think women and men aren’t equal, because PARENTS teach their children everything they know. A 5 years old doesn’t see a t-shirt and say “GIRLS ARE WEAK MEN ARE ALL POWERFUL WOMEN SUCK, THAT MARVEL T-SHIRT SAYS THAT GIRLS KISS HEROES AND BOYS ARE THE HEROES” No. They don’t even have the brain processes to do that. If you’re even halfway a decent parent you can instill the knowledge in your kids that everyone should be treated equally.
The fact is, and Tumblr is a GREAT place to make this example, A LOT OF WOMEN FETISHIZE SUPERHEROES, ESPECIALLY THE AVENGERS. So if you’re making all these posts about how much you want to sleep with Tony Stark, dont you DARE criticize Disney for trying to market a t-shirt with your desires plastered on the front. That’s called good marketing. And even if YOU’RE not the one that does that, other people DO and other people DO like these shirts.
So yeah, maybe there’s a lack of Black Widow on boys t-shirts, but most boys dont want to walk around with Black Widow on their shirt for one reason or another. And that’s normal. Because boys in childhood look up to their fathers the most, and girls look up to their mothers the most. These are developmental FACTS. So sorry, if it’s harder to market Black Widow to boys. It’s just the way it is.
I would have no problem putting my daughter in this shirt because it’s cute, but my daughter would also know that she’s no damsel in distress. On some level, this is almost anti-feminist because you’re telling girls they cant just LIKE superheroes without wanting to BE ONE. Some girls really DO like princesses and really DO just want to kiss superheroes without wanting to be one. Some girls have no problems with being Mary Jane, not every girl wants to be Spider-man, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with liking these t-shirts. You don’t have to like them, but they’re not as detrimental to society as this is being made out to be.
You can still be a strong independent woman and still want a man to sweep you off your feet, and THAT’S what a lot of people don’t understand. It’s not one or the other.
There are bunch more things in this post that are hilariously wrong, but someone else can answer them if they want. The TL;DR version is that this situation is sexist because it puts girls and boys on a completely unequal footing.
You say “most boys grow up wanting to be heroes” while most girls are more into princesses or whatever. Why is that? Maybe because the majority of stories told to children have girls as the love-interest and boys as the hero? And then the merchandise/toys SURROUNDING those stories always goes along with that narrative, with girls copying the love-interests while boys play the heroes.
But in the context of Avengers merchandise, that narrative doesn’t even make sense. There is no “love-interest” character in the main cast, except perhaps Pepper Potts (who never receives any merchandise for anything — kind of understandable, since “well-organised CEO” doesn’t generally appeal to pre-teens). The two main female characters are Black Widow and Maria Hill, two “heroes” who have a huge fanbase among girls and women (and guys as well), but are totally overlooked because of some weird preconceived notion that the only thing girls could possibly be interested is romance, pink stuff, and princesses.