by Imran Siddiquee
Kayla alerted us on Twitter to this sexist and unfunny t-shirt being sold at a Walmart in Vandalia, IL:
The sentiment in the words here – that women belong in the kitchen – is an extremely retro one, but one which the t-shirt is attempting to make modern through the use of “irony.” The idea being that of course they don’t actually think all women should make men sandwiches whenever they ask them to, or that all men actually have the inherent power to order women around, or even that all women talk too much and need to be put in their place – they just find it funny that people once thought this way.
Or something like that.
I would simply refer anyone trying to make that argument to this recent New York Magazine post on “Hipster sexism”:
“have we really reached this stage of enlightened irony? We think we’re over sexism yet our ironic expressions of it can only reinforce the basic problem, which is that women are paid less and (degradingly) sexualized against their will far more than men.” – Alissa Quart
It’s especially problematic to justify misogyny on a t-shirt like this by calling it “ironic,” because any person who is wearing it in public is openly endorsing the underlying demeaning sentiment, whether or not they mean to. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t actually a misogynist in your everyday life, because when you put on a t-shirt like this you are promoting misogynistic ideas to the people around you. Same thing applies to a retailer which decides to carry and display this kind of shirt.
I decided to call the Walmart store and ask about the shirt myself. After confirming that this picture was indeed taken at their location, I asked the very nice woman on the phone in Vandalia if decisions on t-shirts being sold in their store were made at that local level or by the national corporation. Her response:
“We don’t have any say so on that, they send it in.”
Which means Walmart itself, the American multinational retailer corporation, is responsible for this t-shirt making its way to Vandalia. This particular shirt is not available on Walmart.com, but my guess is Illinois isn’t the only state where you can find it. If you’ve seen it at your local store, let us know in the comments!
And in the meantime, let’s inform the world’s largest retailer that as long as they continue to sell sexism like this, we won’t be giving them our money:
Imran is the Social Media and Communications Manager at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee