A shopper in Ontario spotted this pair of Superman pajamas for kids at Target.
Target Canada is the latest retailer to offer remarkably stupid, sexist superhero-themed clothes. This time, the outfits are footed onesie pajamas for kids (I guess it's never to early to instill the message that while men can be superheroes, women can only date them). While the boys outfit boasts "Future Man of Steel," the counterpart pink outfit for girls proclaims "I Only Date Heroes." Great.
The picture was first taken by University of Waterloo psychology professor Christine Logel who spotted the pajamas at the store while shopping with her two daughters, ages 3 and 8. "My heart really sank," said Logel in an interview with CTV. "I'm tired of seeing these messages everywhere."
It was tweeted by Aimée Morrison, who is a new media studiesprofessor at the same university and quickly went viral.
According to Canada.com, the store didn't seem to have any problem with the outfits, telling Logel it was "cute."
It was snapped at a Target in Waterloo, Ontario when Logel was shopping with her two daughters. The assistant manager of the store was approached about the pairing of pajamas and she said they were “cute.” Logel said in an email she explained the issue to the assistant manager — the clothes are “an example how, from birth, boys are taught that they can be strong and accomplish things, and girls are taught that their sexuality and relationships to men are what matter.”
"It's not like the boys' onesie said 'I'm going to date supergirl some day,' and the girls' said 'I'm going to date superboy someday'," Morrison told Canada.com. "When you put the two together, it actually says a lot about how we socialize boys and girls to think of what their future holds for them, where they get their power in the world."
Earlier this week, Walmart and DC Comics came under fire for t-shirts that proclaimed a similar message. If you thought the "Training to Be Batman's Wife" was an isolated sexist fiasco, it looks you were mistaken.
Morrison discussed the issue with me via email on Tuesday, addressing people who've criticized her for speaking out. As you may have guessed, she's already been targeted for harassment on Twitter, simply for voicing an opinion online.
To the detractors, I say something like this: Many of the Twitter users who are writing to disagree with me are inadvertently making the point of pervasive sexism and the gendered nature of pretty much all interactions.
The image I originally shared, of the onesies from Target, were pretty quickly paired up in an image with another shot, shared by @DannyDangerOz (a man) showing a similar sort of paired t-shirt problem ("Training to be Batman" and "Training to be Batman's wife." So both our names are on this one tweet that's been circulated nearly as much as my original one. Only I'm the only one bombarded with suggestions to get a life, get a sense of humour, pay attention to something important, lighten up, learn to have fun. What's he hearing? Well, he tells me, one person tweeted to tell him she liked the shirt. And that was it.
I'm a new media studies professor. The internet is kinda my thing. And what I'm seeing as my own tweet goes viral is Classic Feminist Viral Media; something sexist is noted, then shared, then widely reshared … then a bunch of youngish white dudes climb on to say it was a joke, or that the feminist has no sense of humour, or that this is obviously unimportant and the feminist is wasting everyone's time, that she loves to be outraged about anything and everything, and she should shut up. I mean, this stuff is at this point not even bothering me. It's the same pattern anytime any feminist on the internet gets a little bit of attention for calling bullshit on some big or small sexist nonsense. I'm kinda proud to be drawing fire for a change, instead of just offering comfort to all my other sisters in arms on the Internet. We won't let the turkeys get us down, as long as they keep it at garden variety turkey level. It's just so predictable it's not even personal.
I have a daughter. I've had a great conversation with her tonight about all this. She gets it. She's eight. If all this brouhaha does is make people talk about it, then mission accomplished. Maybe later we can go to Target and hide the sleepers in the small appliances section.
My new feminist motto is "We won't let the turkeys get us down."
As for their part, DC Comics has issued a statement in response to the outcry over the messages it conveys:
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. Accordingly, we are taking a look at our licensing and product design process to ensure that all our consumer products reflect our core values and philosophy.
Photo via Christine Logel; h/t Aimée Morrison.