Let me say before I begin that I do recognize that there are larger issues than this in the world, including in the world of gender equality. However, I do think this particular and somewhat trivial incident speaks to some larger truths about gender roles in our modern society.
So, I’ve always been a geek, but I never got into comics. This was partly happenstance; I think most of the boys I grew up with didn’t read them either, or if they did, I didn’t know about it; and also partially the effects of our gender-segregated culture. I did have one comic book- when I was in grade school, there was some new Batman launch of some sort, and Batman was at our local grocery store autographing comic books. To this day I still have my copy- I loved it, and I loved meeting Batman, and he signed it to me, and it was so exciting, and… I still never got into comics. How could I? They just weren’t around.
Fast forward two decades, and one of my dear friends has taken it upon himself to rectify this egregious error. I am plowing through a ridiculous amount of Marvel universe material on my electronic device, and I keep coming back to “WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME??”
The answer, of course, is that I’m a girl. Why should I care about Batman when I’ve got Rainbow Brite? What’s the appeal of the Avengers when I’ve got My Little Pony? Now, I’m not saying that anyone intentionally withheld from me- I’m pretty sure they didn’t. But it was the culturally dictated assumption; I was a girl, therefore I just wouldn’t be interested. In order to get into comics, I would have had to actively pursue them. I didn’t, because I didn’t know what I was missing- culture told me comics were about boys beating up on other boys, and I should go read some more Arthurian romances. So I did.
And you know what? I missed out.
So, tonight, having finished my reading for the evening and being in the midst of my normal internet surfing, I realized- I do not have enough geeky t-shirts. “Well!” says I, “this is easily enough solved!“- then I did what any reasonably internet-proficient adult would do, and typed “? marvel superhero tshirt womens” into my navigation bar.
No problem. Easy peasy. Cake.
The initial results were promising- there are approximately a gajillion sites out there selling Marvel Comics merchandise, several of them even selling licensed material. “Aha!” I thought, “this is gonna be great! I’ll get a Captain America shirt, and maybe an Iron Man shirt, and I might need another Thor shirt, and I better check and see if they have any Hawkeye ones…” I clicked happily away.
Select: t-shirt. Thousands of results.
Select: t-shirt + Avengers. Hundreds of results.
Select: t-shirt + Avengers + womens…
Nope, still only nine.
Nine. Frikking. Avengers T-shirts. For women. NINE. Two of which, I might add, are the same damn design in slightly different shades of blue.
I can, however, if I want, buy a t-shirt of a cartoon Thor riding a cute little unicorn. Because obviously, if I am female, I need my super-heroes chibi-ized and with a rainbow. SERIOUSLY?
Now, we all know that the geek world often does a VERY poor job of taking women seriously as fans; there are articles and articles about this. This is the very definition of old news. And to a certain extent I understand how it came about (which is in NO WAY defending it)- you have a small group of people all talking amongst themselves and creating things for each other, and it takes them a while to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that other people are paying attention too. Fine. But… the Avengers movie opened a few weeks ago with box-office records across the country, and I can only find NINE avengers t-shirts in a women’s cut? That is some seriously short-sighted business strategy right there, my friends. Myopic like whoa.
So, I go peruse redbubble.com for a while, looking at the fan-made shirts and amusing myself with how much more clever and high quality the art is there than on the main sites. And then I stumble across it- superhero underwear.
OMG HOW DID I FORGET I MUST HAVE SUPERHERO UNDIES OMG GOOGLE SAVE ME.
“? superhero adult underwear womens”
…I can buy Wonder Woman undies. *click* *click* *click* … I can buy a She-Hulk camisole. *click* *click* *click* …or I can buy some Super-Girl panties.
Can someone PLEASE explain to me why it is that someone thinks I would only care about the female superheroes? Don’t get me wrong; I dig Wonder Woman as much as the next gal, but I don’t really care about SuperGirl, and I really am not interested in a She-Hulk camisole. At all. I want Iron Man! Or Batman! Or Thor! Or Wolverine! WHY do these only exist for men?? Whose bright idea was it to restrict the tiny portion of women’s superhero undies to only the female superheroes?
Furthermore, IF that even made any sense, WHY the hell wouldn’t you make more than three options?? Where’s the Ms. Marvel sleep set? The Spiderwoman, the Storm or Rogue camisoles, the Madame Hydra or Black Widow panties? There really aren’t enough good female superheroes to BEGIN with, why on earth would you short them when printing up your merchandise?
All I could think, as I sat there and clicked sadly through all the not-for-me merchandise, were two things-
1) no wonder women still have to fight to feel accepted in the geek world so much of the time- in a culture so driven by marketing, there’s little to no acknowledgment that female geeks even exist.
2) this is someone’s HUGE missed business opportunity. I am a young professional woman with discretionary income. I am willing, ready, and excited to pay to plaster a comic book character across my generously proportioned derriere, and NO ONE wants to take my money.
Dear internet- I have cash, and I want superhero undies. We live in the future- FIX THIS.
All the best,