ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

They're Only Boys
August 27, 2002
by Tresa McBee

Think male bashing is confined to the baby boomer, feminist set?

Oh, please. Now our teenage girls are encouraged to wear their anti-boy sentiment. Literally.

Bra burning may be out, but the anti-male movement is most definitely still in.

But instead of doing away with an undergarment in a symbolic break from male oppression, girls can now display their freedom from testosterone-generated evils -- pretty much the root of all that is wicked and unjust -- on the outside via antiboy T-shirts.

It's girl power updated for the 21st century.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the boy bashing was supposedly started by a male owner of a shirt company in New York who introduced a junior line of "Boys Lie" shirts. Skittish retailers afraid of offending mothers of sons -- imagine that -- initially steered clear.

Then teen retailer Hot Topic Inc. on the left coast placed a small test order, and the moderately negative blossomed into full-fledged antiboy slogans, with other retailers jumping on the bandwagon.

Well, thank goodness. Just as I was wracking my brain as to what in the world I would get my 15-year-old niece for Christmas, these nifty Yuletide options presented themselves. And what a wonderfully positive message they send.

Adorned on T-shirts popular among the younger crowd are catchy phrases like "Boys Are Great. Every Girl Should Own One," "So Many Boys, So Little Minds," "Boys Make Good Pets" and "Boys Will Be Boys," which is stenciled above the hindquarters of a donkey.

Then there's my personal favorite, "Boys Lie Dictionary," which has three entries: "boy (boi) n. see pet; girl (gurl) n. see perfect; and dog (dawg) n. see boy."

Hot Topic says the only real feedback from boys has been a lament that similar antigal apparel doesn't exist.

Great. Leave it to men to want to demean women, right?

But fortunately that won't happen. As Cindy Levitt, Hot Topic vice president, told the Journal, the company doesn't want to venture in that dangerous direction: "Antiboy shirts elicit a fun response, but antigirl shirts could be cruel. There's too much of a stigma."

Well, we certainly wouldn't want that, would we? I mean, imagine the dive in self-esteem among our teen girls were boys to begin wearing T-shirts with slogans like "So Many Girls, So Little Time" or "Girls Will Be Girls" above the image of a female dog.

Talk about a buzz kill just as young females are beginning to experience their true you-go-girl power.

And how about this one for sending estrogen into overdrive: "Girls Make Good Possessions. Every Guy Should Own One."

Of course, last I heard, talk of owning fellow human beings was pretty much verboten. But, then again, what wouldn't be considered even remotely acceptable for any other group of people -- especially ever put-upon women -- remains more than fair game for men, and now boys.

But turnabout is fair play, and the T-shirts are popular, Hot Topic's Levitt says, "Because boys lie. Everyone can relate to them. People laugh when they see them. Girls get a sense of camaraderie from them."

Should I bother mentioning that some dishonest, inconsiderate boys do not a gender make? Nah. Wouldn't matter -- unless boys were sporting mottos about, say, girls' hormonal crankiness or their anatomical attributes.

Then it would clearly be a case of typical male chauvinism and a general proclivity toward the depraved.

For girls, it's just a harmless joke and a way to bond at slumber parties.

Other than yet another demonstration of our ongoing dive into uncivil crassness, these antiboy T-shirts are an example of how we continually devalue our men. Insist all you want that the antiboy slogans are merely words strung together, but the reality is words, like actions, do mean something.

And for our boys, neither of those are remotely positive.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

Join the newsletter! Get free ifeminist insiderUpdates once a week by e-mail.
Enter your address here:   [how to unsubscribe]

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is part of The Freedom Network,
made possible by support from members like you.