Ho’s Up, G’s Down???

My friend Gary recently sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal. (He knows just how to please me). The article is called “Girl Power as Boy Bashing: Evaluating the Latest Twist In the War of the Sexes,” and before reading the piece, I groaned. I hate when people attribute things like cuts to men’s college sports (or affirmative action) to girls “robbing” men of things they deserve. It’s so tired to claim that women’s progress is somehow meant to punish men.
Luckily, I was basically wrong. The article actually deals with the economics of the tween consumer market. (Shocking! An economic analysis from the Wall Street Journal!) The author shows that kids are now spending millions on products promoting the gender war. He points out the popularity of things like insult-laden clothing lines, confrontation-packed reality TV shows, and advertising that defines girl-power as boy-bashing.
Most of the girl power/boy-bashing argument focuses on the popularity of the David & Goliath “boys are stupid” clothing line, which is sold in 2,500 outlets and has an annual income of $100 million. As many of you know, the clothing line sells the infamous “Boys are stupid. Throw rocks at them!”, “Boys are smelly,” and “Boys have cooties” t-shirts.
I think this is an interesting point. I don’t think, as people quoted in the article suggest, that this trend is a product of Title IX, and shows girls trying to get a leg up by pushing boys down. That seems like a far-fetched and quite serious claim. I do think, however, that this trend is useless, obnoxious and, given that people can see it as a negative product of feminist advances, potentially damaging. I’m also tempted to wonder why this article essentially ignores the AMAZING amount of anti-woman products selling millions out there. But alas…
What do you think?

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  • jenrising

    While I think the WSJ (no surprise here) may be thinking of this a little more seriously than necessary, there is a problem here.
    I’m sure if the shirts said “girls are stupid, throw rocks at them” there would be a lot of outrage, and rightly so. The same standard should apply. If we’re going to be fair, that shirt is advocatign violence against men, which is deplorable.
    Now, of course, it’s a damn t-shirt, and I’m sure most teens would find it funny. That’s the problem with wearing sarcasm on your chest, thought, not everyone’s going to get the joke.

  • Abigail

    I don’t think this is an issue of double standards. It seems like the t-shirts are meant to be a joke. If there were t-shirts that said “girls are stupid” people would be outraged because there’s no joke there – some really believe girls are stupid. I think there’s a huge difference between ribbing and bashing. Like Hannah wrote, there are tons of anti-women products, but that’s no big deal.

  • jenrising

    Abigail: “If there were t-shirts that said “girls are stupid” people would be outraged because there’s no joke there – some really believe girls are stupid.”
    Uh, so you’re saying no one really believes boys are stupid? I’m not sure how you can say this isn’t a double standard. That’s exactly what it is.
    Boys or girls, these slogans are ribbing and bashing, depending on how you take it.
    The solution to getting rid of anti-women products is not making anti-man products as well.

  • http://www.thurgood.blogspot.com Fred Vincy

    What’s so annoying about these shirts is that they pretend to be “feminist” when they are actually the antithesis of feminism. That would be obvious if they said “girls are stupid”, but it is equally true of these shirts. These shirts are not being marketed to feminists — I can’t imagine a serious feminist wearing them except ironically — but rather they are being marketed to the same kind of people who think hockey is for boys and gymnastics is for girls. At the same time, they confirm misconceptions that feminism is somehow about hating men. A double whammy.

  • Terpiskore

    What I think is you’ve covered the core issues well in a very succinct manner, Hannah. A model post.
    This reminds me of the stupid chocolate bar in England advertised as “not for girls” because boy-power is seemingly all about girl-bashing and running away from anything remotely feminine, like chocolate.

  • Brinny

    I checked out David & Goliath’s clothing website, and wow. Along side the “Boys are stupid” shirts are one reading “Too pretty for math”. Huh, hypocrisy anyone?
    I also found this gem, amoung others: Link. Nice to know they also support date-rape aswell!

  • Miranda

    I noticed that everyone is commenting on the David & Goliath clothing line. And saying that it is ” A negative product of feminist advances” But how is it feminist when the company and all the designs are sold and created by a MAN? Who like most middle and high schoolers. “doodled” those designs and slogans in class. Then grew up and is now like you said making a $100 million a year. If you look into most of the “feminist clothing” like that you will find that a high majority of them are created and run by MEN.