This 2014 licensed t-shirt from DC Comics features the words “Training to be Batman’s Wife” along with the Batman symbol in bold pink lettering on a grey fitted shirt. It was available for purchase in stores and online retailers such as in Walmart’s Junior’s department and through Amazon.com.
What messages about gender are being communicated by this shirt? What does “training” mean in this context? How does one “train” to be a wife?
Other than the words, how else does this shirt signal gendered stereotypes and associations? Why is the word “wife” in a different font than the rest of the words?
At what age do we start learning about gender roles and expectations, such as what it means to be a wife or husband? Where and from whom do we learn these messages? What happens when we behave or express ourselves in ways that do not conform to these social norms? How are the consequences different depending on your gender?
Why is it important for girls to be able to view themselves as heroes, as opposed to only striving to be married to, sleeping with, or otherwise partnered with a hero? How does this relate to the representation of girls and women frequently seen in movies, television, and other popular culture? Who are the heroes and rescuers of popular stories? Who is being rescued?
What do you think was the intention of the creators of these shirts? Whose responsibility is it to avoid perpetuating sexist messages through everyday products like t-shirts? What roles do companies like Walmart or Amazon have in choosing to sell or not sell merchandise such as this? What role does DC Comics have in creating and advertising their characters and stories?