Good morning Brandeis!
When I checked my email, I was bombarded by 5 or 6 very angry e-mails to “FIGHT JC PENNY”, “GIRL’S INTELLIGENCE”, and “FIGHT SEXISM”! Forever 21 and JC Penny began stocking teenage girl shirts with witty comments like “Allergic to Algebra”. Are they only a harmless joke? Or do they represent inherent sexist attitudes still prevalent in the US today?
What do you think?
Check out the Credo Action e-mail below…
And sign the petition if you agree!
Just this week, retailer Forever 21 began offering for sale a shirt for girls emblazoned with the slogan “Allergic to Algebra.” And a few weeks ago, JC Penney offered similar girls’ shirts with the slogan “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.”
Sexist slogans like these play into and perpetuate the incorrect stereotype that women are innately bad at math or being pretty is more important than being smart. By selling these shirts, the stores give their implicit support of these stereotypes to convince girls that, to be stylish and fit in, they must be bad at math or less interested than boys in academic achievement. Slogans like these are also harmful to boys and reinforce with them the stereotype that they are innately better than girls when it comes to math or that a girl’s worth comes only from her looks.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people at JC Penney and Forever 21 encountered these shirts before they were made available to the public. Why didn’t employees of these retailers at some point say, “Hey, are we really going to sell shirts to young girls that say ‘I’m too pretty for homework’ or ‘Allergic to Algebra’?”
It’s obvious that these shirts perpetuate offensive and harmful stereotypes about the ability of women to achieve academically relative to men. Of course, many studies have confirmed that these stereotypes are baseless, and that women’s minds are just as well suited to performing academically as men’s.
But, because popular culture is so powerful, many women and girls will conform to negative stereotypes of what a woman is supposed to achieve if they are continually reinforced. Stores like JC Penney and Forever 21 help shape that culture through the clothing they sell.
It’s clear that these stores listen to public pressure, but we must pressure JC Penney and Forever 21 to take concrete steps to ensure that clothing this sexist never even comes close to making it onto shelves again.
Tell the CEOs of JC Penney and Forever 21 that you will hold them accountable for the clothing that is sold in their stores. Demand they make a public commitment to keep sexist clothing for girls from making it to their shelves in the future. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Thank you for standing up to sexism.
Ali Rozell, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets