4 Anti-Feminist Cliches: Highlights Of The Texas T-Shirt Saga

Yesterday we had the nerve to criticize a high school t-shirt depicting a woman having sex with horses. Thanks to some helpful commenters, many of them students at the high school, we learned what losers we were for doing so!


We've since learned that "the underground shirt" (one student helpfully clarifies: "for all of your old people that means no one except students knew and the way you got them was an 'under the table' transaction") is a tradition at Houston's Memorial High, in which a group of seniors designs a T-shirt denigrating rival Stratford High in some sexual way, and then sells it in secret. Students apparently wear the "underground shirt" to the big Memorial-Stratford football game under their regular shirts, presumably warmed by the feeling of keeping bestiality close to their hearts. According to the Memorial High students and alums who commented on our post (not all were approved), everybody at Memorial pretty much thinks the shirts are awesome and hilarious. Of course, while no student would admit to buying a shirt on KPRC-TV (clip above), two female students criticized this year's shirt, saying "no girl should be like that on a shirt," and "I think it's offensive."

But no matter — the real point, as many commenters have hastened to tell us, is that we are humorless feminazis for denigrating their cherished apparel. The comments on yesterday's post offer a veritable Hall of Fame of anti-feminist clichés. Their vitriol reveals that misogyny starts young, and its similarity to more established outlets of feminist-hate shows that it never really grows up! We've selected four of our favorites (plus one bonus).

1. Feminists Can't Take A Joke.

How about we all stop and think about this for a second? Do we really, honestly believe that the shirt was created with the intent to degrade women? No. I am a senior at Memorial High School, and I find it disturbing that there are actually people in this world that cannot comprehend a simple, meaningless joke.

In fact, we at Jezebel and, I'm pretty sure, the girls who criticized the shirt to KPRC, are aware that it was intended as a joke. We are also aware that some jokes are degrading to women, and that we are not obligated to find these jokes funny. A joke is not a magic form of speech that is above all criticism. Ann Bartow, author of the original Feminist Law Professors post that broke this story open, helpfully elaborates:

As far as the shirts being "a joke" I just have to ask what is funny about images of sexual assault. There are a lot of powerful and creative ways to mock an opponent without leveraging gender and rape. And given it's a football rivalry at issue, in which all the players are male, why the focus on raping cheerleaders? Maybe if the Memorial students learned about the ways that rape has been used as a tool of terror and genocide (see e.g. WWII, Bosnia, the Congo) they wouldn't find rape imagery so funny.


2. Some Girls Like [X], So It Must Be Okay (Also Known As The Tucker Max Theorem).

Just as many girls, if not more girls than guys, buy and wear the shirt. I was just interviewed by major Houston news station up at the school, and immediately afterwards a sophomore girl approached me and asked if I knew where she could get one.


Much as men sometimes differ in their opinions on important issues, women are also capable of disapproving of something that some women like. I, for instance, find Ann Coulter offensive. The fact that she, a woman, likes herself and believes her views are accurate does not make my viewpoint invalid. Nor does the fact that some women enjoy wearing a certain shirt bar other women from being upset by it. I should also note that what women tell men, especially in high school, about what does or does not offend them may be quite different from what they actually feel.

3. Criticizing Misogyny Is A Waste Of Time.

Chill people, find better things to do with your time and real issues to fight. The fact that you are all freaking out about this is simply pathetic. Get a fucking life!


This particular commenter didn't offer any examples of "better things to do with our time," nor did s/he indicate whether leaving anonymous comments would be one of them. Putting aside the irony of criticizing, on a blog, people who criticize things on blogs, we should note that anti-feminists usually consider criticism "pathetic" only if it is aimed at things they themselves support. Insulting women is called "free speech."

4. Feminists Have No Lives, But Many Cats.

I feel that the people getting over worked about something like this truly need to find something better to get there panties bunched up about. As for the feminist law professors have fun cooking dinner tonight telling each one of your 9 cats how your day was and then watching re-runs of Growing Pains, and inspiring romantic comedies as well as dreaming of the life that could have been had you chosen a different profession.


You know, this guy's right! The minute I became a Professional Feminist, the cats just started arriving. And every time I point out an instance of misogyny, another one appears! (No wonder no one likes me except for my television.) Seriously, this particular cliché seems to be rooted in the idea that society in general is so awesome to women that we need some kind of huge personal disappointment to make us angry. I kind of wish that "having a life" were enough to to eliminate all feminist anger — then I would be a sunnier person.

As a bonus, I'd now like to print the most bizarre defense of the shirt we received. This is too weird to qualify as an anti-feminist cliché, but it does illustrate the very short distance between misogyny and homophobia.

We have nothing against women at all, so if that was your first thought after seeing this then you are focusing way too much on the fact that the spartan is female. Fact of the matter is is that no one would have bought a shirt with two horses fucking a male football player. [...] Anyway, to end this: The shirt was not intended to be sexist, the fact that the spartan is female is only relevant in that no one would want to buy a shirt depicting gay sex.


See, two horses Eiffel-towering a female cheerleader is totally normal and funny. But the same horses having sex with a guy would be gay. And of course, nobody wants that.

Five Things We Learned From The Memorial High T-Shirt Fiasco [Houston Press]
Memorial High: Staying Classy As Ever With The Stratford Rivalry [Houston Press]
The Pornification Of A High School Sports Rivalry [Feminist Law Professors]
Houston-Area High Schools Take Their Rivalries Very Seriously [Back Porch]
Some Find Football Rivalry Shirt Offensive [Click2Houston]


Erin Gloria Ryan

I didn't realize that obsessive viewing of "Growing Pains" on DVD was a stereotypical feminist pursuit. Here, this whole time I've been watching "Who's The Boss?" and wondering why I just don't fit in.

Mystery solved.