Thursday, 3 October 2013

Where are all the nerdy t-shirts for women?

                                                         [Traducción española en cursiva, al final, después del salto]

This past Tuesday I was shopping for Winter jumpers with a friend and I entered a C&A shop to take a look. I usually stick to the women's sections, not because I particularly prefer women's fashion over men's (I actually favour a lot of "traditionally-made-for-men" styles and clothing) but because it is very likely that nothing in the men's aisle will fit me. But to the point: That day I felt curious (or maybe disheartened) and decided to take a look at the men's aisle for a change. Well, I did, and this is the very first thing that I saw:

    A Star Trek: Into Darkness T-shirt featuring John Harrison aka Khan. As a nerd girl, a Trekkie in the making, a very hardcore fan of the newest movie, and a Benedict Cumberbatch admirer - well, the first thing that I did was leap around a bit in geeky exultation. Then I realized that I was in the men's aisle, and that the smallest of these shirts was probably wider than me and way longer than I would have liked. There were no geeky T-shirts in the women's aisle at all (and no, Disney doesn't count).
   This isn't the first time this happens to me. The Superman and Big Bang Theory T-shirts at FNAC didn't come in female sizes. The T-shirts that came to the stores as part of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey merchandising didn't come in female sizes. And I came across some great R2-D2 T-shirts last year, and guess what - they didn't come in female sizes.
The Hobbit T-shirts, all with the male symbol. The only ones available at the store. When I asked one of the shop assistants why that was...He shrugged as if it was no big deal and looked at me as if I was mad :/

Or to be more specific: 99.9 of the nerdy/geeky T-shirts on the stores are made for men.
   Not cool.
Apparently, geek girls don't compute to the majority of the clothing making/nerdy merchandising industry. 

 This other pic I took at the store pretty much summarizes what these kind of shops usually look like: The girls' section features cute, 'feminine' clothing,  the boys' section is all about casual wear and (you can't find these in all the stores) geeky, fun T-shirts. I actually have a liking for short dresses and that sort of thing, even if I do hate a lot of the designs and motives the feminine section has, and the fact that there's often hardly any variety. But I also have a liking for nerdy T-shirts.

 It's the blatant sexism and gender bias which gets to me.

 Why can't both sexes have similar styles in their respective sizes, so that both of us can choose around a bit more? When is the merchandising industry and the society in general going to realize that there are actually a fair share of women who like fandoms and comics and miniatures and all the stuff that can be considered 'nerdy' or 'geeky'? And that the fact that 'geek girls' are still a minority is not because all those hobbies and fandoms are "meant for boys/men", but, to a great extent, because all the 'geekdom' is still blatanly androcentric and offers their products mainly to men?

   People often buy mainly what they are offered. Women who already identify as 'geeks' or 'nerds' will delve in online stores to find products and T-shirts that they can wear (this particular Star Trek T-shirt is actually available in women's sizes, but only online. Which is still discrimination, and includes shipping). But many others won't, because they aren't offered those products, and will stay oblivious to them or will think that because they are only to be found in the boys' aisle, they're not meant for them. Either way, they will loose the ability and the possibility to choose them.

  And now I'm not just speaking about the fact that it's sexism and discrimination and gender bias, and thus wrong and unfair. I also think that the managers who decide these things seem to be so brainwashed with sexism that they don't realize that they are actually loosing money. Let us focus on the Star Trek T-shirt. How are they so sure that only boys would like to buy it? What about enthusiastic geek girls (like me)? What about girls who do not call themselves 'geek' but who like to dress in this style? And what about girls who are not hardcore Star Trek fans but happen to admire Benedict Cumberbatch (and there are a few of those, not all girls like the shallow, unhealthy models that are Justin Bieber and sparkling abusive vampires, society!)? How are they so sure that women would not buy these kind of T-shirts?

    My friend had the idea of writing a customer complaint/suggestion form so that the manager would at least know that someone thinks that they're showing gender bias and discrimination, and maybe something will come of that, but unfortunately, I think that more than one person would have to write suggestion forms and in many shops, and even so, day-to-day sexism has a nasty habit of clinging on for a long time. This is of course not the worst example of day-to-day sexism, but in my experience it is irrational and mightily frustrating. I think that it is high time women were offered geeky T-shirts too, but I'm afraid this still seems to be a long-lasting 'Geek Girl Problem'.