Last updated: June 15, 2012 12:48 pm
Urban (Mis)Behavior's misogynistic summer wear markets on violence against women
WINDSOR (CUP) — I don’t frequent Windsor’s Devonshire Mall, so when I do make my way into the shopping mecca I’m expecting to see things I haven’t; new shops, terrible fashion and the latest trends straight from the sewing machines of impoverished children.
Urban Behavior, the Toronto-based unisex clothing chain, has decided that exploiting child labour wasn’t enough and has ventured into marketing blatant misogyny.
The piece in question, a men’s sleeveless shirt, features a woman nagging a man in a box labeled ‘problem’ followed by another box in which the man has kicked the woman out of the frame, labeled ‘solved.’
I contacted Urban Behavior’s head office, which declined to comment. When I spoke to a teenage female employee at the Windsor location, she said that she didn’t like it, but didn’t see a problem with the store selling the shirt stating, “it’s supposed to be funny.”
Funny or not, when a mainstream outlet has a funny take on a serious subject it suggests that the subject no longer needs to be taken seriously. Urban Behaviour is saying, ‘misogyny is passé, violence against women is no longer a problem, so we can mass market a shirt with this message.’ Sadly, Mr. Urban Behaviour, that’s not true.
In an article about similar shirts popping up in Britain last year, Guardian columnist Ellie Mae O’Hagan said, “The normalisation of misogyny is so commonplace, it’s almost mundane … The objectification and dehumanisation of women is such an inescapable part of popular culture that it necessarily plays a part in the daily interactions of men and women.”
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the sexist sleeveless shirt is the target demographic. According to their corporate documents, “Urban Behavior’s target market are teenage to young adult consumers.”
I was shocked to find that despite my best Googling and digging online, no one else I found has published disgust or praise for the tank top.
“Perhaps, there is a lesson to be learned about how we treat the companies that trade in our society,” O’Hagan asked in her column. “If we don’t hold them accountable, they will behave irresponsibly; if we don’t hold them to the standards we hold to others, they will believe themselves to exist in a vacuum.”
I’m not sure if Urban Behaviour believe themselves to exist in a vacuum, but I do know that selling a shirt like this really sucks.