DC Comics, Target, and Wal-Mart Under Fire for Sexist Shirts

In a world where evil threatens good and law abiding citizens and brave, honorable heroes rise up for the cause of justice and the American way, the best a little girl can hope for is to date someone important, and if you are really special, to marry one of these great heroes; at least, that is the message that Target and Wal-Mart are sending with their new line of sexist shirts licensed by DC Comics.

DC Comics as well as retail giants Wal-Mart and Target have come under fire for their new line of extremely sexist shirts and apparel aimed mostly at young children, especially girls. The sexist shirts feature slogans for boys like “Future Man of Steal” whereas the sexist shirts aimed at young girls read “I Only Date Superheroes,” or the even more offensive “Training to Be Batman’s Wife.”

These sexist shirts were licensed apparel, approved by DC Comics who responded to CBR News with a somewhat diplomatic, political-like “apology.”

“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.”

The blogosphere lashed out in full force at the implications of these sexist shirts.

“I have never wanted to set a piece of clothing on fire so much in my entire life,” said Eldritch on Jezebel.com, who echoed the feminist outrage of women all over the web at the message that these sexist shirts are sending to young girls, and to young boys.

The controversy first began when the blog PJ Says featured a post where the writer wrote of her genuine disgust at the Batman’s wife shirt that she spotted at her local Wal-Mart. Jezebel.com picked it up and the controversy over the sexist shirts went viral.

So what is the problem with the shirts? Eldritch summed it up well in her post.

“So ladies, the take away from this is that we can’t be superheroes but we can marry them… if we train ourselves to be good enough. Thanks DC!”

The problem here for most of the critics is not that there is anything wrong with someone aspiring to be a wife (or a husband for that matter), but when you send the message that boys can be super heroes and girls can only date them, then you have a major PR problem, and that is exactly what these shirts have created for DC Comics who developed and approved the official apparel. And what exactly is the connotation of the idea behind “training” a wife in the first place? The video game and comic book industries have already seen an increasing amount of feminist criticism for the insensitive and demeaning portrayals of women and their exclusion of female gamers and fans, led by vocal activist Anita Sarkeesian, and it’s not likely that shirts of this kind are going to quell concerns.

While DC Comics may agree that these sexist shirts are offensive, as of this posting, they are still available at various outlets online and have yet to be removed.