Boys are Stupid

Menstuff® has compiled the following responses to the Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them" product line by David and Goliath.

3/1/04 - Time Magazine comments on campaign
2/22/04 - San Francisco Chronicle writer defends Boys Are Stupid products. Menstuff responds and Others Respond 2/29/04, 3/7/04
Related Topics:  Related Actions: Rotten Cotton and Future Wife Beater T-shirts plus David & Goliath and It's Happy Bunny items and Flatline stickers and the Bullying issue.

Single-Minded by Jane Ganahl


Will you please shut up and get a life, already? Critics targeting anti-boy T-shirts must have something better to do than take political correctness to new depths of inanity

Those uppity young girls are at it again.

"Boy-bashing all the rage," one headline says. "Some say girl power movement may have gone too far," another reads. And: " 'Boys are smelly' T- shirts cause stink."

Yes, it's true. The latest trend in fashion apparel for teenage girls is a direct jab at their male counterparts: T-shirts that carry slogans like "Boys are stupid -- throw rocks at them," "Boys are goobers -- drop anvils on their heads" and "Boys lie -- make them cry."

The shirts are either, depending on the degree your knee is jerking when you read this, another brick in the wall of civilization crumbling down -- or just Monty Python-esque, ironic dark humor. But judging by all the recent angry chest-beating and predictions of widespread crushed self-esteem among adolescent boys, you'd think a male version of Hooters had just opened up.

Oh, sorry -- bad analogy. Hooters is just good, clean, inoffensive fun. Unless you're a woman. But I digress.

Pundits ranging from child psychologists to radio disc jockeys have had a field day, bemoaning how these T-shirts can give boys a diminished sense of self-worth and girls an unfair psychological advantage. Los Angeles radio disc jockey (and self-proclaimed "men's advocate") Glenn Sacks was so incensed that he mounted a campaign to get the clothing line -- the aptly-named David & Goliath, based in Florida -- yanked from department store shelves.

Caving in so far have been Bon-Macy's, Tilly's, Claire's and Universal Studios stores -- the latter presumably in an attempt to safeguard that company's immaculate record when it comes to depiction of males as bright, contributing citizens (see: "American Pie," "Animal House," etc.)

Sacks, who has an 11-year-old son, is quoted as saying: "When boys go to school, it's very rough for them. They already don't fit in. Then they see a shirt that says, 'Boys are stupid,' and it rubs salt in the wound."

Sacks has also made the point repeatedly that many marketers, while wary of offending women and minorities, "have developed a moral blind spot toward disparaging males."

My, my, how I could have used a man like Sacks when I was growing up -- being called all kinds of names (especially, "stupid girl") for daring to want to play sports with the boys, being told to go play with my dolls, literally being shoved around. But that was how it was for all females then, and now that women are in control of government and corporations and get paid the same as men (what do you mean, we're not?), we've moved on into the age of the Oppressed Male.

But gee whiz, Wally - a T-shirt equaling oppression? This seemed so completely over the top that I had to call my 14-year-old nephew, an honors student and comedy fan, for a reality check.

"Really? I haven't seen one of those," he said of the T-shirts. "But I think that's hilarious."

If he did see one, would he feel demeaned or threatened? He laughed. "I think teenage boys have more important things to worry about. I sincerely doubt a girl wearing a shirt that said 'Throw rocks at boys' will actually throw a rock at me."

I also asked my friend Jim to ask his 12-year-old daughter if she would wear one of these T-shirts, and she told him that although she thought they were funny, they were too mean-spirited for her to wear.

She was far from alone in that thinking. Parents' groups, male-rights advocates and radio talk shows dog-piled on the issue, with Fox News columnist Wendy McElroy calling the T-shirts, "hate mongering." A school principal in San Carlos was quoted as saying she would ban the T-shirts if she saw them on campus.

They are absolutely right about a couple of points: that girl power doesn't need to come at the expense of boys. There's plenty of power to go around. And since there are still some critical issues facing young women, like money for sports and real sex education, to claim that darkly comic T- shirts are empowering is a bit of a stretch.

But beyond that, puh-leeze! If these hand-wringers were as worried about the self-esteem of our girls, they might take a walk out into the school parking lots at lunchtime and listen to the music by certain gangsta rappers - - the kind that refers to all women as "bitches and ho's," some of whom clearly need to be slapped around. They might want to consider banning those CDs, in addition to those esteem-damaging T-shirts. And while they're at it, they might consider demanding a dress code, so that these same young girls don't feel compelled to dress like 25-year-old hookers when they're only 12.

I would have been 10 times more happy to have my daughter wear a T-shirt that ironically suggested she "fling poo at boys," than dress like Christina Aguilera. One says they have a sense, if not of strength than at least of humor; the other says they are all about being a sheep and getting approval for the most superficial reasons.

Todd Goldman, chief designer for David & Goliath (www.davidandgoliathtees.com), thinks the idea that he's promoting violence is ridiculous. "If you look at the violence in rap songs, in video games," he was quoted as saying, "That's what they should be concentrating on, not a cartoon T-shirt."

It also might help if these protectors of boys recognized that, like all minorities who have waited a long time to get their share, today's high school girls have come into their "power" by going down a tough road. It was not so long ago that the shoe was on the other foot -- boys scored higher in tests, boys were more likely to be called on in class, boys got the sports money while girls had to pay for their own cheerleading outfits.

It might not be great manners, but this is the kind of crowing that comes with knowing you've gained ground. Cut these young women a little slack, and have a sense of humor. And I swear, no one will hit you with a rock.

Source: Staff Writer Jane Ganahl, jganahl@sfchronicle.com of the San Francisco Chronicle, 2/22/04, letters@sfchronicle.com Article can be found at www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/02/22/LVGPM53D151.DTL
Jane Ganahl Archive

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Mockery is often the result of a poverty of wit. - Jean de la Bruyere

Menstuff responds


Letter to the Editor:

Joe Kelly, founder of www.daughters.com and magazine and cofounder of www.newmoon.org and magazine, was one of the first men to bring these T-shirts to our attention. To see that Ms. Ganahl has so much energy protecting humor through T-shirts, I wonder if she would write with the same level of sarcasm supporting T-shirts that read "Girls are Stupid...through rocks at them." How about "Dead Girls Never Say No." Or, "My Kid Raped Your Honor Student." Well, www.rottencotton.com from Antioch, California has been promoting the later T-shirts and bumper stickers for years. And I don't think they're funny. When will we stop supporting ridicule as innocent humor? Jerry Springer, Reality TV, T-shirts, rape jokes, it's all the same. It just isn't funny anymore, no matter who the scapegoat is. The one thing good about all of these T-shirts is that it gives us a good indicator of the kind of people who would wear them, or write articles about them. -- Gordon Clay

Letters to the Living Section of the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 2/29/04


T-shirts stir debate about boys' rights

Editor -- So Jane Ganahl thinks anyone who objects to boy-bashing T- shirts should "Shut up and get a life, already" ("Will you please shut up and get a life, already? ", Feb. 22)? Her line of reasoning seems to be that past injustices against women, and CDs that call women nasty names, justify a little dark humor directed against boys.

Would she still feel that way if she had a son? Maybe boys just need to lighten up, eh?

Or could it be that the mean-spirited nature of these T-shirts really might have an emotional impact, something the 12-year-old daughter of Ganahl's friend seemed to understand far better than she? not about your well-nurtured bitterness at past offenses; it's about harm currently being done to children. Get it?

MARK ISSACS - Oakland

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Editor -- Sometimes we disagree, as is the case in your story rationalizing the acceptance of "Boys are stupid -- throw rocks at them" T- shirts.

I'm one of those people who believes that the power of suggestion leads people to behave in certain ways, whether they are psychologically unstable or stable.

The T-shirts, in my opinion, send a blatantly irresponsible public message to all children (but mostly girls) that "males are disposable." These T-shirts are public messages -- unlike violent video games, TV programming, etc., which I likewise despise -- and thus are not confined to the walls of someone's home, but are boldly worn in public, telling all the world that battering males is acceptable (but wink, wink, it's only a joke, right)? How would you feel if someone told you your life was a joke?

MARK T. BITARA - Huntsville, Texas

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Editor -- I plan to have the headline, "Will you please shut up and get a life, already?" printed on a T-shirt, which I will wear any time some sanctimonious self-appointed arbiter of political correctness demands that someone abase themselves apologizing for some imagined slight. The simple fact is that Ganahl can't take her own medicine, which should tell you something about its quality.

JON DOSKOW - San Francisco

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Editor -- Ganahl should realize that maintaining a civil society is not a zero-sum game: Complaining about anti-boy T-shirts doesn't diminish the resources available to condemn anti-woman lyrics in popular songs, but instead helps to define a community where degradation of any group is not tolerated.

FREDERICK RUST - Sudbury, Mass.

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Editor -- It's interesting that Ganahl recalls and obviously still resents every nuance of anti-woman sentiment she encountered as a young girl, while finding this current expression of hate and violence against boys quite acceptable.

Her attitude and insensitivity to the concerns of men resonates with the same disdain and disregard as those men we called male chauvinist pigs, back in the early years of the feminist movement. Does that make her a female chauvinist pig?

DAVID R. BURROUGHS - North East, Md.

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Editor -- I found the article on "anti-boy" T-shirts spot-on. As one of the boys who these shirts can be said to target (I am 14), I think those who find the shirts "give boys a diminished sense of self-worth and girls an unfair psychological advantage" have themselves been given an unfair intellectual disadvantage, either by random chance or by their schooling, and have a diminished sense of humor and an off-kilter sense of hate. If they call the shirts hate-mongering, one wonders what they thought of the Sept. 11 attacks.

I personally think that these people are a little short on reality, and it seems to me they may be afraid of change. I do agree with them on the point that these shirts aren't exactly in great taste, but I also agree with Ganahl that there are much more discriminatory products on the market. Then again, if these people want to be somewhat hypocritically biased toward males, it's certainly within their rights.

EVAN JOHNSTON - Benicia

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Editor -- For your information, "Animal House" and "American Pie" are not films which represent me as a liberated male. You seem to have forgotten about equal rights. You've gone down a hard road? Maybe, but so have I.

When did you ever have to fight or die in a war of which you didn't want a part? When were you forcibly held down at birth and genitally mutilated where it was euphemistically referred to as "circumcision"? When did you ever want to participate in ballet instead of football, or wear earrings, and were called "fag"?

Because boys have been taught that it's not "manly" to express a feeling, only now are we waking up. I've always expressed myself and was, as a child, aware of gender injustice, be it male or female. Boys, including your nephew, need to recognize that their feelings matter. These T-shirts are socially irresponsible and should be pulled from shelves regardless of the target of the negative subjugation, because they can hurt feelings. They send a message of negativity.

Let me remind you of how that self-hating, then-president Bill Clinton intentionally left boys out of the genital mutilation law signed a few years back. Boys are entitled to the same constitutional protection, but apparently not in this hypocritical country where a politically correct double standard exists in the minds of society's leaders. Search for the truth, Ganahl, you may find it in time for your next article.

GERALD DAVID COLESON - Norman, Okla.

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Editor -- Ganahl's attack on the critics of the "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" T-shirts misses the point. We never said girls will throw rocks at boys. Rather, we are fighting the misanthropy and double standards that condition boys into becoming the disposable sex.

MARC ANDELUCCI - President, National Coalition of Free Men, Los Angeles

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Editor -- It seems that Ganahl's only problem in the T-shirt matter is that the individuals who are the targets of this suggested rock-throwing are boys.

It seems that having accomplished some small successes and gained some measure of power, those who claim to support women's issues have also become that which they claim to despise.

Well, perhaps that is not exactly accurate: I think they have become something much worse.

TOM CHANDEL - Bridgton, Maine

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Editor -- Jane Ganahl just doesn't get it, does she? The boys who today she helps to mock and to hate, in a few short years will be the men who will be asked to protect us from a dangerous world. The men who are now dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the hundreds of men killed on Sept. 11, 2001, while saving others, the more than a million killed in all American wars, and the tens of millions of other men who served throughout our history, all were once boys.

Don't these men and boys deserve better than Ganahl's defense of the indefensible?

STANLEY B. GAVER - McLean, Va.

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Editor -- No, men like Glenn J. Sacks will not shut up. Many of us feel that the sick joke called feminism has gone much, much too far. Now that it has started picking on little boys -- claiming that they are stupid or that they stink -- it is time to say enough. Sacks is to be congratulated on his campaign. And this, be assured, is only the beginning.

M. VAN CREVELD - Jerusalem

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Editor -- Ganahl's article concerning the gall men have in attempting to whine their way to a level playing field by taking the moral high ground is making me feel very nostalgic. It distinctly reminds me of the male chauvinist pigs' responses to the beginning of the modern feminist movement: condescending and intellectually bankrupt.

Many problems that men must deal with today are very modern and new. Either consciously or by convenience of habit both women and men do not let history become history but try to stretch it into a time where it no longer belongs. That's how the oppressed becomes the oppressor.

At one time I very much supported the feminist movement, but at this time I very much support the men's movement. I believe I was correct in supporting both movements in both their right times.

STEVE KASLOFF - Huntington, N.Y.

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Editor -- Whether it is equal rights for blacks, whites, women, gays, etc., the obstacle that we are trying to overcome is a pattern of behavior. I ask you -- how do you change anything if, when you finally achieve a position of power (notice, I say achieve), you repeat or condone the same pattern in reverse? Two wrongs do not equal right.

Now that I have two boys of my own (and a daughter), I have realized that I wield an incredible amount of influence on how they view the world, so I'm teaching them respect for all people -- no matter their sex, race, nationality etc.

If people focused on their true ability to change things (i.e changing their behavior by treating all with respect and not petty vindictiveness), we might be able to achieve truly great things.

SANDRA MC ALISTER WINTER - Atlanta

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Editor -- This is very funny and certainly shouldn't be taken seriously. However, you must understand that as long as groups like NOW are out happily bashing men for every conceived evil in the world, anyone that chooses to defend men is going to react to this kind of thing. Tit for tat. The bottom line is, you can't have it both ways. Either the genders can laugh at each other and take responsibility for themselves (regardless of whatever unfair treatment they have received) or they can continue to throw rocks at each other.

SCORR BURSON - Atlanta

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Editor -- Thank God someone spoke up about this ridiculously petty issue: T-shirts.

They've had "wife-beater" tees for years, "slut" and the "ball and chain" T-shirts and just about every other negative image you can think of about women, blondes, overweight women, etc., and I didn't notice anyone getting upset about that.

These "fathers' rights" men are using every method at their disposal to paint themselves as victims of discrimination. This whole phony issue of the T- shirts is another one of their back-door attempts to show everyone how men are really victims too. Please!

The problem is, we can't ignore them because otherwise they keep spouting off this garbage, and it eventually leads to gullible people making public policy based on the idea that men face discrimination in a lot of areas, where in fact they are the perpetrators of violence and discrimination.

I'm glad to have someone on our side who has the sense to see right through it and the voice to respond to them. ... Give 'em hell, honey, give 'em hell.

MARGARET TEMPLE - New York City

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Editor -- I have two young nephews in public school and I certainly wouldn't want "throw rocks at boys" T-shirts to be worn by the female students. This is hate speech and doesn't belong in our schools. I think your activist writer, Jane Ganahl, misses the point entirely and even goes as far as to condone this kind of divisiveness.

JEFF MORALES - Mountain View

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Editor -- Good article. I think the idea of the T-shirts is cool. I have said many times that in the spirit of "political correctness" we are losing our sense of humor. If these girls want to wear these shirts, then let them.

GARY W. BOWLING - Harrisonburg, Va.

Letters to the Living Section of the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 3/7/04


Why some men hate women

Editor -- Regarding Jane Ganahl's puerile and vitriolic Feb. 22 column, "Will you please shut up and get a life, already?" supporting a line of clothing that incites violence against boys, I am not surprised by her venom- spewing. After all, of those who perpetrate domestic violence on children, 60 percent are women; the figure is probably higher because children and men are not as likely to report abusive women as women are to report those who abuse them. It is because of women like Ganahl that some boys grow up hating women. She and others of her ilk are not any different from any other hate group.

Ganahl squawked that she was called "stupid" by boys when she wanted to participate in sports. After seeing the hatred for males in her article, my guess is that she was called stupid because of her personality, not because she was a girl.

D. PURCELL - Rosamond (Kern County)

Editor -- The hue and cry about the anti-boy T-shirts ("Boys are stupid, " etc.) misses the real point. Some marketing person came up with the idea, thinking it would sell product, just as some genius named a running shoe Incubus without first consulting a dictionary.

These shirts are a lame idea at best. They are too mean-spirited and crude to be humorous even to 10-year-olds. Additionally, any girl who needs to wear one to improve her self-image or to combat harassment needs more than a T- shirt.

JUDITH WIESE - Berkeley

Editor -- When standing up for my right not to be threatened with violence, I certainly do not beat my chest, any more than Ganahl beats her breast. To compare a Hooters restaurant, where women willingly accept employment, to advocating physical injury toward a person shows her contempt for true decency.

Glenn Sacks, whether she likes it or not, has an opinion that some have listened to and the results were the same as for the Barbie doll that said, "Math is tough!" (How that is supposed to mean that girls are unable to learn math is beyond me, but I digress.) Yes, she could have used a man like Sacks when she was growing up, as well as I could have. Being knocked around by larger students was commonplace for me also. No male or female ever stepped in and helped me out.

So a T-shirt with a violent slogan doesn't have any effect? OK, I'll print one that says, "Women are scum -- shoot them." How long would I have to live?

I think what bothers Ganahl the most is the fact that men have been "sensitive" to women for far too long, and now it's time to begin to stand up for ourselves now that they have been sufficiently empowered to advocate hate crime with impunity. Yes, she is right: Rap music that calls women whores should be banned (by public outcry, not the government), as it is for my own son. And as far as the dress code she speaks of, go yell at Christina Aguilera about that. I will not cut anyone any slack and I see no humor in this issue. And if a rock actually does get thrown at me, I'll throw one back.

ERIC J. SCHLEGEL - Gowanda, N.Y.

Source: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/03/07/LVGGP5DR701.DTL

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