New Disney Avengers Girl’s T-Shirt: “I Need a Hero”

The boy's version declares "Be a Hero."

Merch for Disney’s Avengers movie has hit the stores, and the shit has hit the fan. They’ve released two t-shirts, one for boys and one for girls. The boy’s version says: “Be a Hero,” and the girl’s says: “I Need a Hero.”

To add insult to injury, the girl’s version, is “girl cut,” which means body-hugging and scoop-necked, and oh, yeah, it’s $8 more.

While I often find myself defending Disney (fodder for another post), I can’t wrap my mind around this one. I mean, I know their princess stuff has become a mini-corporation of its own, and how could Brave offset all that!?, but, come on: There IS a female avenger! She has defeated men! WTF!

The sentiment behind this t-shirt’s text is far more off-putting to me than Forever 21’s “Allergic to Allgebra.” Even though that shirt was pink and sold at a girl’s shop, I know too many men who are also allergic to algebra to be offended by the shirt’s joke. I am allergic as well, and am so glad my allergy isn’t shellfish; I’d wear the shirt.

I don’t “get” this shirt though; I’ve even signed the petition, along with more than 8,400 people, as of this morning. Before you smirk, know this: When a UK company made misogynistic shirts, one which said, “Why do I abuse you? Let me count the ways … ” and one that said, “Nice new girlfriend. What breed is she?,” the backlash they received caused them to pull the shirts. Fingers crossed the same will happen with this ridiculous Avengers-for-girls shirt.

I grew up when things were exciting. I can remember when my grandmother thought a girl wearing a pantssuit to church was edgy, but we girls were already being trained that we could do anything boys could do. Women also acknowledged that they enjoy sex (which may have been a bit of a mistake, but that’s fodder for another post). Women did in fact become empowered. But then, somehow, all this business about sex and power seems to have been conflated, and many women step into that power via their sexuality. Girl Power a la Spice Girls.

When my daughters were little, I had to get their jeans in the boys’ department—sometimes, just sometimes, they did NOT WANT TO WEAR PINK!!! Prices were cheaper in the boys’ department, too, and nothing’s changed more than 15 years later: Girls clothing is more expensive and pink-ified. Pink for girls is everywhere, still; just a few months ago, Lego released its new line of “Lego Friends”—pink Legos, targeted at girls.

As a college teacher, I’m sometimes concerned over the female students’ attire and what they wear to class. When I was in college, we wore clothes that were much more androgynous (read “grunge”) to classes. We dressed like girls (read “sluts”) when going to bars and parties, sure. Now, girls dress hyper-femininely all the time, which sometimes means oversexualized.

A large percentage of them simply look like they have forgotten to put on their pants, every day. Let me set the record straight, here: Tights are to be worn UNDER DRESSES AND SKIRTS. Leggings are to be worn UNDER longer, tunic-type tops. (Jeggings fall into this category, but I have so much to say about them they are fodder for another post.)

Even college-age boys have told me they don’t want to see a girl’s underpants through her tights. I am all for repurposing. I am all for saving a buck. But when your tights are so thin that camel toe isn’t an issue: No. Girls look exactly as they would look if their bottom halves were naked, and colored in with a cheap marker.

That college-age girl who isn’t concerned about glass ceilings, who wears two padded bras to “enhance,” and off-the-shoulder tops to work, and see-through blouses with very pretty bras, and who puts on really high heels despite construction and stairs and uneven sidewalks?

She’s picked up on social cues that say her sexuality gives her superpowers.