Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Speaking Truth to…Target?!

My friend, Marcia, was recently in her local Target store and saw a t-shirt above in the toy aisle. Being the mom of three young girls, she was disturbed by this image and the slogan depicting females as frivolous beings who like to “toy” with males. Isn’t this the epitome of the messages that are sent about girls and women that most of us find offensive? The idea that females are just out to have a good time, that feelings aren’t involved, etc. can all be summed up by this slogan. Of course, many would say, “Oh come on, it’s just a play on words.” Yes, but when you combine this type of clear depiction of women as shallow and frivolous especially in their romantic relationships with all of the other sexualized media messages that emphasize this same point, what you have is a damaging and dangerous pattern.

So, what did Marcia do? Nothing huge, in her own opinion. She simply talked to the manager of the store and shared the fact that she found this t-shirt offensive. Later that day, she took the extra step of calling the store to see what had been done about her complaint. She was told that the t-shirt had been pulled from the shelves, not just at her local target, but nationally. Apparently, hers was one of many voices who spoke out about that product. Victory for the little people!

What I love about this story is that it’s a perfect example of what I wrote about in my last blog post, concerning systems of influence. When Marcia and the rest of us as individuals decide to take a stand and let our voices be heard, we have the power to change the larger systems around us that influence our child. The merchandise in the store is there because PEOPLE BUY IT and because nobody complains. When enough costumers start complaining, the stores will remove the merchandise, because they don’t want to offend their costumers. They want us to keep shopping there, to keep buying things at that store. And, the businesses know that if they continually offend the majority of their costumers, they won’t make money.

I urge each and every one of you to look for ways that you can be a world changer. When you see something that you don’t like, get involved, speak out, stand up. That is how we change this world, by speaking our truth one at a time until our voices join to raise a loud cry of, “No more!”

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