Target Australia has taken a Batgirl t-shirt off shelves after people took to social media decrying its sexist message.
The $12 pink t-shirt comes in sizes two to seven and is printed with Batgirl’s to do list. The first item is to dryclean her cape, the second is to wash the Batmobile. Once the chores are done, Batgirl can fight crime and save the world.
The boys’ version of the shirt reads “Like father like son… yes my dad’s Batman.”
Ninac Ollins, a Facebook user from Northcote in Melbourne posted to Target Australia’s Facebook page late Tuesday asking, “Target, can you explain why you are selling something as offensive as this in your stores currently? What message are you intending on sending to young girls? I’m insulted that you present a future where our daughters need to complete their ‘home duties’ before they can go out and save the world.”
The post has been polarising, with 769 reactions and plenty of comments. One user named Kylie Woloschyn asked, “Are we overthinking this?”
Peter Erich said, “Come on Target, this does not deserve your capitulation,” calling those who objected to the shirt “complainers”.
User Lauren Lauchlan said, “… Such blatant devaluation of females has gone on for far too long in this industry. Subliminal sexism is such a prevalent issue and I’m so relieved to see that I’m not the only one who can see this. Batman can wash his own damn Batmobile!”
Summer Edwards also posted on Target Australia’s page, saying, “Target, your Batgirl t-shirt is out of step with 21st century family values. It is utterly offensive and must be removed.”
How did Target respond?
Target responded thanking commenters for their thoughts. The store wrote, “It wasn’t our intent to cause any offence with this shirt, so we really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback. We’ve noted your feedback and sincerely apologise for any disappointment that we’ve caused.”
Sometimes it seems culture is trying to empower young women with programs and toys encouraging girls in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Other times it seems like we’re hurtling backwards to when the dutiful wife had her husband’s pipe and slippers ready for him when he came home from work.
Is it really a big deal?
The issue with this shirt is not that Batgirl is doing her chores – all kids should learn to pitch in around the house – it’s that the shirt perpetuates gender stereotypes that are often so subtle. Many could dismiss the objection to a shirt like this as an overreaction.
Instead of promoting tired, damaging stereotypes, let’s encourage designers to create children’s clothes (and toys) that are gender neutral, that nurture our children’s passions and inspire them to be kind.
We’d love to hear from you. Do you think Target did the right thing removing the t-shirt from its stores? Do you think people are overreacting?