May 30, 2013
An anonymous campaign has popped up to counter the sexist depiction of women on T-shirts that are being marketed to young men.
Stickers with the phrase “This is degrading to women” are being covertly stuck onto the shirts as they hang on the rack in Perth stores.
The shirts, showing voluptuous women in various states of undress, have been sold in a range of shops including multinational clothes retailer JaysJays.
Former JayJays manager Aleesha Wunhym was the first at her store to notice one of the stickers on a shirt that displayed a sculpted, pouty, big-breasted woman.
“I never thought too highly of those kinds of shirts, but when you’re selling clothes it’s all about what’s in, and you don’t really think about the effect it may have on others,” Ms Wunhym said.
She said that, at first, she was taken aback by the sticker.
However, Ms Wunhym said the sticker was “an eye opener” for she and her colleagues.
“I went from just thinking [the shirts] were a bit tacky to feeling really negatively towards them and realising that there are people out there who find them genuinely offensive,” she said.
Rebecca Doyle from the University of Western Australia-based Feminist Action Network said the stickers were eye-catching and thought-provoking.
“Any type of clothing suggesting that a woman’s value is only sexual or physical adds to the overwhelming raunch culture which continues to belittle women,” Ms Doyle said.
The Perth stickers are not the first campaign to combat products that degrade women. In 2010, the Queensland Government became involved in a campaign to ban a shirt that depicted a woman bound and gagged with the phrase: “Relax, it’s just sex”.
More recently, an American feminist group called Miss Representation launched a worldwide campaign called #NotBuyingIt to promote the idea that sexism does not sell.
The campaign urges people to tweet the hashtag to companies, shops and media that pedal sexist products and advertisements.
Brett Chambers, 19, who wears the shirts, says he not intend to offend.
“There are much worse things you could wear on a shirt, and heaps of my mates wear them,” he said.
“I don’t see the problem.”
However, Ms Doyle said there were real problems with sexist images being absorbed by young men.
“Several psychological studies have shown that the more young men are exposed to messages and images that treat women as items, the more likely this type of behaviour is exhibited and normalised,” she said.
Photos: Chelsea Brown
You can also check out Chelsea’s work in the Western Independent newspaper, available from this week at news stands around Curtin University.