Quantcast

«

»

Apr 06 2012

Fashion Friday: Atheist T-Shirts in Women’s Styles

Today in Fashion Friday, we have a double treat — a post about fashion, AND a post about inclusivity in the atheist movement! All in one!

So I got this email the other day, from the organizers of Skepticon, asking for help promoting their advance T-shirt sales (help I duly provided). I took a look at the site, hoping that I wouldn’t see what I knew I probably was going to see, hoping that this time it would be different. And there it was.

No women’s T-shirts.

This drives me up a tree. I have a drawer full of atheist conference T-shirts that I pretty much never wear, because they’re men’s t-shirts and they look like crap on me. And now it looks like I’m going to have another one.

Sigh.

Before I start my rant, I’m going to be very clear right up front: I think Skepticon is an amazing event, one of the most inspiring and fun gatherings we have. And the Skepticon organizers are awesome. They’re doing something really difficult — putting on a major, national-level conference, one of the largest atheist/ skeptical events in the calendar — and they’re doing it for free. They’re also doing something I (a) think is hugely important and (b) personally hate doing and totally suck at — on-the-ground, in-the-flesh event and community organizing — and my hat is off to them. Ditto the other conference organizers, the other organizations, the other local groups, the other student groups, who have this same T-shirt problem.

And I’m also going to be clear right up front: This isn’t just about Skepticon, or even mostly about Skepticon. Skepticon happened to be the event I was looking at when the straw broke my camel’s back. But LOTS of other conferences, organizations, local groups, student groups, do this exact same thing. Just last month, at the American Atheists convention, while they did have women’s shirts for sale, the free goodie-bag T-shirts were all men’s shirts. And I’ve seen it again and again and again. This isn’t about Skepticon. This is about every atheist conference, organization, local group, student group — and there are a LOT of them — that sells or gives away T-shirts… and only does it in men’s styles.

Folks — this is not okay.

When you only have t-shirts in men’s styles, it is a nearly perfect symbol of the attitude that the atheist movement is for men.

When you only have t-shirts in men’s styles, it is a nearly perfect symbol of the attitude that this should be a “one size fits all” movement, and that this size should be the size it already is: a size that comfortably fits men, and that women have to awkwardly fit ourselves into as best we can.

If you think this is only my issue — think again. I sometimes give talks on diversity in the atheist movement, and when I do I often mention the T-shirt issue — and it almost always gets a HUGE round of applause from the women in the audience. And don’t tell me that the T-shirts are “unisex.” “Unisex” T-shirts means “men’s T-shirts that we’re trying to pawn off on women.” “Unisex” T-shirts is just giving a different name to the problem, and pretending it’s a solution.

I understand that there are economic issues here: when printing T-shirts in bulk, it’s more expensive to print them in more than one style. There are ways around that — the assorted “print on demand” sources, like Cafe Press and Zazzle — but there are reasons why that doesn’t always work. So here’s a thought: If you can only afford to print T-shirts in one style… why not make it a women’s style? Men can wear women’s T-shirts, too, and some men even prefer them (just as some women are fine with men’s T-shirts, and even prefer them). And sure, a lot of men don’t much like women’s T-shirts and don’t think they look good in them — just like lots of women don’t much like men’s T-shirts and don’t think we look good in them. Why should it always be women who get the suck end of that stick?

And even as I type those words, I can feel the discomfort and resistance radiating out from the Internet. “Men, wearing women’s T-shirts? EWWWW! That’s weird! It makes sense for women to wear men’s clothes sometimes — but it’d be totally bizarre for men to wear women’s clothes!”

And I want to ask: Why is that?

Why does it make sense for “male” to be the default that women fit themselves into — but it’s weird for “female” to be the default that men fit themselves into?

Why is it that if women complain about only being offered men’s T-shirts, we’ll almost certainly be seen as vain and shallow and trivial for caring so much about our looks… but if men complained about only being offered women’s T-shirts, it’d almost certainly be seen as an entirely reasonably objection to an unacceptable imposition?

And why do we find androgyny more acceptable in women than in men? Why do we think it’s reasonable and even attractive for women to look like men, and to aspire to look like men… but we think it’s weird and demeaning and laughable for men to look like women, or to aspire to look like women? Why do we think it makes perfect sense for women to be more masculine, but we think it’s absurd for men to be more feminine? Why do we think it makes perfect sense for masculinity to be not only the default, but the ideal, to which both women and men should aspire?

Never mind. I think I answered my own question.

I realize this is a small thing, a first-world problem if I ever heard one. But sexism isn’t just about the big things, wage discrimination and domestic violence and so on. It’s the summation of lots of little things, the barrage of slights and insults and degradations and casual dismissals we deal with every day. (Watch “Mad Men” sometime to get an idea of what I’m talking about.) This is one of them. It gets up my nose — and based on my experiences mentioning it in my talks, it gets up a lot of other women’s noses as well.

So if you want to tell women, “Sure, you can come to this event, but this is basically a boy’s club and you’ll just have to fit yourselves in as best you can,” then keep on only having men’s T-shirts. But if you want to tell women, “You’re welcome here! You’re every bit as much a part of this movement as any man!”, having women’s t-shirts is a great way to do it.

Please, please, please — Skepticon, American Atheists, every other conference and organization and local group and student group — find a way.

89 comments

2 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    andrea

    agreed. I like t-shirts but I like to look good and neat to and I have no chance with men’s t’s. all of that extra fabric flipping around or the neckline choking me. I’d love to be able to buy confernce t’s on cafe press or some such thing if it could allow me the choice.

    now how long ’til someone whines that women shouldn’t care how they look. ;)

  2. 2
    Nicole

    Hear hear! This is something that I was faced with growing up in the punk scene in the 90s. All the band shirts were men’s shirt. Or on the rare occasion a woman’s shirt was available, it was only in XXXXXS.

    Luckily things have slowly gotten better (though, I must admit I don’t purchase as many t-shirts anymore anyway).

    But…. wait… I became a runner and yep… men’s shirts are the default in the running community too!

    Then I decided to become an active atheist, and SMACK! Men shirts are the default. You know I would kill for one of the Skeptics Guide To the Universe swirl pattern shirts in a Women’s large!

    Yes, it seems like such a small thing. But it’s definitely a representation of the larger picture.

  3. 3
    Sarah

    I just want to let you know that the Secular Student Alliance conference is offering both men’s and women’s cut t-shirts. :) http://www.secularstudents.org/2012con

  4. 4
    The Nerd

    Madonna hit the nail on the head when she said “girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shorts and boots, because it’s okay to be a boy; but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think being a girl is degrading.”
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nKFIXvLsPF8/TjC2NqIZUBI/AAAAAAAAA4o/wDV1YnaCj9U/s1600/Degrading.jpg

  5. 5
    Vanessa

    Don’t forget that there need to be larger sizes too (and those sizes are out there, which I know as a T-shirt silkscreener; organizers generally just have to ask for them). The wholesale price for those shirts is usually only $2 or $3 more than for smaller sizes — well within the profit margin on a $20 or $25 shirt, when shirt printing with the shirt costs between $6-8.

  6. 6
    Jen

    And to the makers of women’s t-shirts: Can you please make a size XL that doesn’t look like a medium, and a size small that doesn’t look like half a baby onesie?? Seriously.

  7. 7
    Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I endorse this SO HARD.

  8. 8
    rodriguez

    No, I won’t wear that shirt that’s unflattering. Yep, there will be that much less exposure for atheist causes at my gym. Yep, a big part of the atheist community doesn’t really want me and my concerns.

  9. 9
    Millicent

    What Jen said: manufacturers, when we ask for women’s sizes, that is really, truly what we mean. We are not speaking in code, and we do not actually want vanity sizes that are so small, the only people who can wear them are children. It really sucks to get excited when you see shirts in women’s styles, only to discover that the t-shirt manufacturer’s idea of what “large” means is not related to any true human large-sized woman.

  10. 10
    Simon

    CFI doesn’t do t-shirts much, however our Reason Rally giveaways with the ‘Secular Spring’ design came in both men’s and women’s size.

  11. 11
    Martin Wagner

    Every time I’ve designed an atheist T-shirt I’ve always offered women’s styles. They are only about a buck or two more than unisex at cost.

  12. 12
    Melissa

    Yes, please listen to Vanessa. While you’re being inclusive, you need larger shirts. MUCH larger shirts. I know you’ve seen us.

  13. 13
    E.E.

    “When you only have t-shirts in men’s styles, it is a nearly perfect symbol of the attitude that this should be a “one size fits all” movement, and that this size should be the size it already is: a size that comfortably fits men, and that women have to awkwardly fit ourselves into as best we can.”

    Let’s not get carried away. This isn’t an atheist community issue. This occurs in almost every kind of event everywhere. Running a 10k? You’re getting a guy’s shirt. Any other athletic event? You’re getting guys’ shirts there, too. Volunteering for something? Volunteers get free t-shirts! They’re guys’ t-shirts (which, you can hardly complain about if you’re volunteering for a charitable event).

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point. You obviously do. It’s just that it’s not a “discrimination against female atheists” issue.

    As for me, I prefer men’s tees. There are so many cuts and styles now, that it’s only a problem if it ends up being the narrow-cut, long-bodied men’s tee. My complaint is when they have men’s and women’s, the women’s are usually in some hideous color like lavender, pastel aqua or pink. Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean I don’t like a normal color palette or that I want to look like an easter egg.

  14. 14
    rodriguez

    Let’s not get carried away. This isn’t an atheist community issue. This occurs in almost every kind of event everywhere. True, except that your examples show that the problem of sexism is very big, not that we should minimize it or dismiss it.

  15. 15
    Kylie Sturgess

    I’ve ended up with four different stores in order to cater to a variety of styles for the Token Skeptic t-shirts (both atheist and skeptic designs).

    Mind, I’m thinking of just having one shop and leaving it as that.

  16. 16
    Kylie Sturgess

    …and I agree that the horrible pastel colours that limit t-shirt design choices are very annoying. I’ve always been fond of primary colours myself and have tried to cater for that.

  17. 17
    Shaz

    Good luck. I run into this problem nearly every time I go to a comic convention or other nerdy gathering. And it’s not only the people running the cons, it’s the vendors too. Want a Green Lantern shirt? Unisex only. Want an awesome Justice League commemorative con shirt? Unisex only. Want a bright pink shirt that says “the only boys I want are super heroes?” Well then you’re in luck. I complain every time and either get told “women don’t buy these shirts” or “it’s too expensive to make special women’s sizes.” So I buy extra shirts from the few companies that do make them.

  18. 18
    Adriana

    Yes!!! Thank you thank you thank you for writing this! It’d be very easy to have women-cut T-shirts, solid colors can be purchased from anywhere and then printed with Skepticon, science logos, atheist logos, etc. And please make some black. One can never have too many black T-shirts! As a lab scientist I get lots of free T shirts from meetings or companies that sell lab stuff, reagents, etc., they are ALL invariably for guys. I don’t wear them because I look terrible in them. I always give them away to my male colleagues. Grrr..

  19. 19
    Quinapalus

    The Nerd @ 4: Just what I was thinking, but with Iggy Pop, and from the other end. This was all over the tumblrs a few months ago but damned if I can figure out where it originated: http://atheistangel.tumblr.com/post/16885604497/because-iggy-pop-doesnt-play

    And while I was trapped in the aforementioned tumblrs, I came across what feels like the perfect banner for Fashion Friday: http://artistiquee.tumblr.com/post/11210177246/polish-by-genevieve-dionne

  20. 20
    Daniel Fincke

    Sounds like some entrepreneurial person should start marketing EqualiTee’s

  21. 21
    Quinapalus

    Oh yeah, and I’m with rodriguez @ 14: I think your examples wind up proving that we should get carried away, not that we shouldn’t.

  22. 22
    Jeffrey markus

    The decision had nothing to do with sexism.

  23. 23
    bricewgilbert

    I feel weird admitting it, but I had no idea shirts like that didn’t fit women. I always thought they were cheap shirts that do indeed fit all. Thanks for raising my awareness. I wonder if the people who do this assume the same things. Not an excuse, but possibly a reason. Though you would think event organizers would know more than me about such issues.

  24. 24
    carlie

    Hm. I’ll have to think about this, because I’ve always hated “women’s style” t-shirts. I see those and think “oh, you can’t wear the regular t-shirts, you have to wear ones that cling to your boobs so we can see them better, so here have a ‘women’s style’!”
    Now I’m not sure if it’s sexist to have women’s styles, or sexist not to.

  25. 25
    John Horstman

    I re-wrote a response three times, and it still read as far more combative and knee-jerk-privilege-reactionary than I intended it. In part, it might be because I’ve read a number of other pieces using bad reasoning and demands for personal accommodation masquerading as feminist critique today, so I’m feeling primed for sensitivity to positionality-bias.

    It would be great to be as inclusive as possible with the t-shirts. You don’t appear to have considered that offering only the “men’s” cut may in fact be as inclusive as possible, if only one cut is possible. On the other hand, if you do have any data that show a parity of demand or even greater demand for “women’s” cut t-shirts, then I have no objections to your claims/post, and fully agree that they should be offering only a women’s cut if they must offer only one. Also, if you’d like to make the case that even if it serves fewer, even many fewer, people to only have a women’s cut, they should do it anyway to combat the cultural norm of male-as-default, I’ll back you on that one. I don’t think it’s important to cater to men or maintain privilege, and I do think that a few of your arguments are unfounded or actually incorrect, specifically:

    And why do we find androgyny more acceptable in women than in men?

    Beauty norms for men have become increasingly androgynous. Men are expected to be ‘pretty’ too (and drop tons of cash on hair products, skin products, fragrances). Hell, the current trend in hipster style started with men wearing “women’s” clothing (by which I mean clothing of designs specifically intended for women) – skinny jeans, femme-cut shirts, and sparkly belts and accessories. In terms of contemporary norms for the under-thirty crowd, you’re just plain wrong here. Again, I agree that male-as-default continues to be the default-default assumption, and I frankly think it would be awesome if something like Skepticon decided to offer only a “women’s” cut t-shirt in the case that only one cut is offered, specifically in order to buck the trend and fuck with gender norms and assumptions, but I’m really not sure this would actually be more inclusive.

  26. 26
    Meagen

    Interesting. I consider myself a gamer, coder and general geek, and I’ve always seen wearing men’s T-shirts as one of the ways I express that. Of course, geek culture has its own particular brand of sexism where any woman who takes too much care to look good is probably just pretending to be a geek for the attention.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about.

  27. 27
    rodriguez

    Beauty norms for men have become increasingly androgynous. Maybe so, but this does not get at the idea posted here: society requires women to conform to the “default” of personhood. You quote Greta: And why do we find androgyny more acceptable in women than in men? Greta answers her own question with a question. Why do we think it makes perfect sense for masculinity to be not only the default, but the ideal, to which both women and men should aspire?

    Imagine this: your child loves the TV show Dora the Explorer. The child is a girl and insists you buy her Diego underwear. And this: The child is a boy and insists you buy him Dora underwear.

    In general, in our society, which one scenario gets the parent’s underwear in a bunch?

  28. 28
    K

    This is something I’ve been ranting about recently, but not in the atheist context. I go to a lot of rock concerts, and I’ve noticed that very rarely are womens sizes offered for tshirts; and, more importantly, the women aren’t offered the same styles when there ARE options, we have to have the ones on pink backgrounds or other such “girly” options. I genuinely don’t understand – how hard is it to, when you’re paying $50 for a tshirt, offer each style in womens AND mens sizes, so I get one that fits my figure okay and don’t look like I’m wearing a tent? Mens shirts just DO NOT work with my figure.

    Sigh. Last time I just gave in and got the smallest male size I could, as I’d rather have the pattern I like than the fit. But I don’t understand why I always have to make that choice – are they saying women don’t like rock music?

  29. 29
    fronkey

    The same problem exists with the Richard Dawkins Foundation. They have some awesome atheist t’s. I bought some for my brother a few years back, and wanted some for myself, but I hate wearing men’s t’s, and that was all they had. I sent them an email to enquire, and was told that it wasn’t economical.

    Now they have some women’s shirts, but the women’s shirts are only women’s, and pink or purple, while the ones that I wanted, such as the red A on a black background, are still only in men’s sizing.

  30. 30
    ladydreamgirl

    Has anyone else noticed that when women’s cut shirts are offered (in addition to the often appallingly limited and stereotypical pastel color choices) the fabric tends to be a bit thinner? I really dislike this as it makes the shirts tend to wear out faster and often isn’t as nice for if you want to recycle the shirt into something else. Because of this I tend to go for oversized men’s/’unisex’ shirts and then modify them myself, but that’s something I can do because I have the skill set to alter clothing. I know what I’m doing so I can make myself a better shirt out of a crummy over-sized men’s shirt than I can generally buy ready made to fit me. Not everyone can and more importantly women shouldn’t have to know how to alter clothes just to get something that is of equal quality that at least attempts to fit some average version of the female form.

  31. 31
    Hera

    And please please please in plus sizes. Not just a token size 16/XL. I wear a women’s size 22-24. A men’s size 2XL is not a good option as the neck is always too small and so are the hips.

    Actually having a “straight” cut and a “curvy/fitted” cut might be better than “men’s” or “women’s” cut. There are men who prefer the latter and women who prefer the former. This would also be inclusive to trans* people.

    Having a good size and fit range on your tshirts might seem a little more expensive at first, but you will be paid back with not only $, you will be generating good will as an organization which is making an effort to be inclusive.

  32. 32
    Rebecca

    This is a massive problem in the geekosphere as well – to the point where one of the founders of the Geek Feminist blog issued a challenge

    http://geekfeminism.org/2010/10/07/the-t-shirt-challenge/

    If you’re going to provide women’s T-shirts, make sure you make them in as big a size range as you do for the men, because women aren’t just size 12.

  33. 33
    HFM

    +1 on wanting women’s shirts that don’t suck. I understand that there’s extra logistics, but if there’s a pre-order form anyhow, what’s an additional check box to specify the style? Especially if it means someone might actually wear the shirt in question?

    Extra bonus points if the shirt is neither pastel-colored nor translucent, but that may be too much to hope for. Ditto for having sizes that the larger half of the population can wear. (A women’s XL is a men’s S…) But I’d settle for the extra check box.

  34. 34
    WordSpinner

    To everyone talking about wanting larger sizes in women’s tees: I totally understand where you are coming from, but this also runs the other direction. Mens/”Unisex” (Greta totally nailed the fact that “unisex” means “mens”) tee shirts often don’t come in small enough sizes for me, and anyway don’t fit well (I may be short and fairly thin, but I’m also top heavy). I’ll get the small or x-small if they have it and it will still be too big for me to wear anywhere but bed.

    But the answer to this is (a) multiple styles of t-shirts and (b) lots more sizes.

    To the people who think that offering women’s cuts is sexist: yeah, there is definitely some sexist pressure to show what you got, but men’s shirts just don’t fit–if I buy something that isn’t swimming on my stomach or falling off my shoulders it will pull across my boobs. Men’s shirts may work well for you, but not for everyone, though I do endorse the straight vs/ curvy/fitted distinction instead of the gender-based one (though for me “curvy” is about having a shirt cut to have extra room at the boobs and hips so it will actually fit everywhere, so I think those might actually be two different options–there can be shirts that are straight down and fitted and those still will not work for many people, especially women, who are curvy).

  35. 35
    Danette

    I think it is more important for atheist organizations to be gender inclusive- in t-shirts, in every way possible. Religion is built upon a patriarchy- god is man, the disciples are men (or marginalized women) and the institutions that rise up out of those religions are run by men- women are only included when they fight to be. If atheists can’t leave the patriarchal movement then religion still defines the cultural definition of gender roles. And that is why I left (or at least part of why) the religious community.

  36. 36
    Laura

    @Simon.. Hmmm… I asked for a women’s medium shirt at the Reason Rally and was given a shirt that looks and fits like a men’s medium. Did you order fewer women’s sizes or did she just mess up?

  37. 37
    Jason

    If you look for issues of exclusivity, you will find them. This is typical cognitive bias. A t-shirt is just that, a t-shirt. Just like the word prostitute does not denote woman, a t-shirt IS unisex. A women’s fitted t-shirt is just that, a “fitted” t-shirt. It is a different product all together.

    When I go to a convention and they have hats, it doesn’t “drive me up a tree” because I don’t like the way I look in hats, so you know what? I don’t buy one…If they give one to me for free for speaking I thank them and put it on the shelf or I give it to my dad or whatever…

    If you do not like the way you look in “standard” t-shirts, then don’t get one. No one is forcing you to buy one. Standard t-shirts do not fit lots of people perfectly; I am 6’4” and because I have broad shoulders I have to get a XL, but then there’s way too much fabric around the waist. But you know what, if I want one and don’t mind the ill fit, I get one. If I don’t, I don’t…

    Most of the time, as you mentioned, they just sit in a drawer anyway because people don’t wear them a lot, it’s usually more of an inexpensive reminder of a specific event, nothing more. Every 5 years when you move, you take it out and say “hey remember when we did that?”

    Of course, if you wanted a custom fitted shirt, I’m sure you could get one. Just go on line to one of the many shops that can make it and order it. It is not the convention’s job to please everybody nor should they have to.

    Conventions and other events that sport “standard” t-shirts do so because 1. They get the biggest bang for their buck. 2. T-shirts are unisex whereas women’s fitted shirts would not fit most guys and some women. 3. Unisex t-shirts are usually less expensive and you do not have to carry double stock. 4. Having women’s “fitted” shirts would alienate women who do not like the way “fitted” shirts fit and the men who could not wear them.

    I will concede one point and one point only, since this is a preorder option it would not be a big deal at all to offer several different options for shirts and Skepticon (or any other company) should make them available for preorder. That said, they should offer “standard t-shirts” and “fitted t-shirts”. As I’m sure there are some men that prefer the fit of “fitted t-shirts” and I’m sure there are some women who prefer “standard t-shirts”. BUT, you cannot please all the people all the time.

    And let me get this straight, you are complaining about something that was free?

    Most people would just prefer a thank you and you go put it on a shelf or give it to a friend, who cares, IT WAS FREE.

    It is OK to receive a free “standard” t-shirt as a gift.

    A “standard” t-shirt is not a “perfect symbol of the attitude that the atheist movement is for men”. It is what it is A T-SHIRT, nothing more nothing less.

    The t-shirt is not in “men’s” sizes it is in a standard, traditional size that has been that way since before the 50’s. YOU are expecting something special for you and then get upset when they do not have it. There are plenty of women that like the way standard t-shirts fit. You are relating a personal issue to of how a standard t-shirt fits YOU to an entire movement. If Skepticon HAD offered a standard t-shirt and a fitted t-shirt you would complain because they didn’t have t-shirts for the plus size women (or men), or t-shirts for the kids, or they only had t-shirts with print and the blind atheists couldn’t see them, or there are no t-shirts without sleeves for the Atheist Americans without arms, ad infinitum. Every single person is unique and you could literally have “n” types of shirts, but how would that help our movement in ANY way?

    Conventions do the best they can with the resources they have. If this is unacceptable to you, you have PLENTY of clout, just form your own convention and make it how you want it. Don’t complain about the ills of the world, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I’m sure PLENTY of people would back you and I’m sure LOTS of people would attend and then you could ensure that everyone that gets a free t-shirt gets a medium, “fitted” t-shirt. And all will be good in the world…

    But I digress, if you can prove that if Skepticon bought nothing but women’s t-shirts and they sold more than the standard t-shirt then I will retract my statement (not including a huge push for people to buy the fitted shirts just to prove your point). Although as far as I can remember, the last two Skepticon’s have had more men than women in attendance.

    Not everyone finds women dressing up as men as “attractive” and not everyone finds men dressing up as women “demeaning and laughable”. Maybe these are just the statements of how YOU feel and not the rest of the secular community. Maybe there are lots of people that just don’t give a shit about race, class, sex, sexual orientation, etc. Maybe you need to start looking a little less outward, and a little more inward. Do you want women to be the ones making 30% more and in control or do you want men and women to be treated equally? Maybe it would be awesome if people fought for EQUALITY FOR ALL instead of just fighting for their brand of minority…

    As for the secular movement being a “boys club” this is the comment that troubles me the most. People admire you, both male and female alike, but if you turn everything into a sexism (or minority) issue it is doing more harm than good for the movement. If it were a boys club, you would not be one of the most sought after speakers for these events, BUT people do not go after you BECAUSE you are a woman, they go after you because you are a terrific public speaker and a beacon of the secular community. It seems to me the only one having issues with sexism here is you. Would you rather people sought after you because you are a woman or because you are an awesome member of the secular community?

    You can’t have it both ways, either you keep the sexes separate or you stop thinking about what sex people are and just focus on their attributes. Kind of like the republicans vs. the democrats, we need to stop worrying about what party a person is with and just focus on their attributes (or lack thereof).

    Also, next time you get “driven up a tree” about a particular issue, maybe you could provide some solutions to some of the problems instead of just constantly telling everyone what is wrong with the world.

    Because currently, all this does is put the secular community at odds with each other in a time when we need unity the most…

  38. 38
    Laura

    Also, YES to the people arguing for the same sizes in women’s shirts as in men’s. Seriously, choose the same colors and patterns/logos, just have them in women’s sizes.

    I’d also like to point out that if atheist/skeptic orgs are offering women’s t-shirts in only pastel or girly colors, they’re way behind the MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL. I remember in the late ’90s/early ’00s, I couldn’t find a non-pink Cubs shirt in a women’s size to save my life. Now, I can find several different women’s styles in team colors for any team. Even Old Navy sells women’s tees in the correct team colors.

    Seriously, when atheists are behind sports on an issue, it’s a problem.

  39. 39
    Michael

    Ah yes, already men ranting that it’s not really a “men’s” size, it’s mearly a shirt that happens to fit tallish men, and if you aren’t a tallish man or a woman shaped more-or-less like a tallish man, well, it’s close enough, right? With our primitive shirt-making technology here in 2012 it’s not like we can realistically offer a range of sizes, and it’s just some sort of weird accident that it seems like tallish men always seem to get the best fit. As a rather short man, I find that typically the smallest size available is pretty baggy. People selling shirts usually at least have a few sizes (possibly one that isn’t too huge) but people giving shirts away to promote something usually just have the one universal size: great big man size. I have a number of those in like-new condition in my closet. It’s not much of an advertising success, really.

  40. 40
    julian

    And let me get this straight, you are complaining about something that was free?

    Let me get this straight. Are you honestly complaining on the internet, Jason.

    Seriously, dude, take your own advice. Quit looking for offense where there is none.

  41. 41
    julian

    @Michael

    You must remember, 5’10 men are the standard for everything.

  42. 42
    Sathya

    I’ve gotten a ton of hand-me-down t-shirts from my mother.

    Never had any kind of fitting problem. I honestly don’t know if they’re men’s or women’s shirts.

    I’ve always found the idea of “women can get away wearing men’s clothes and no one notices” but holy shit if a man wears women’s clothes people go apeshit very bizarre.

    I suspect it’s because men and men’s things are seen as the “gender neutral” version of nearly everything – why if someone tells a story about a person, omitting any gender references, people will often assume a male is being referred to.

    As for people who claim this has nothing to do with sexism, this is a “how would a fish describe water” sort of situation – we, as a culture, are so steeped in sexist thought, that something like this doesn’t seem remotely sexist because it’s seen as a perfectly acceptable choice when one is being economic. If it has truly nothing to do with sexism, you’d be able to look at all the events or organizations which only offer men’s or women’s tees, and roughly half of them would only have women’s, and roughly half would have only men’s.

    But you don’t.

  43. 43
    cactusren

    Jason says:

    Also, next time you get “driven up a tree” about a particular issue, maybe you could provide some solutions to some of the problems instead of just constantly telling everyone what is wrong with the world.

    Umm, Greta did provide an acceptable solution: offer women’s t-shirts. If you can only provide one style, why not change things up and offer only women’s t-shirts, instead of only men’s? Pointing out these solutions was a pretty major point of the post–in fact, it’s in the fucking title! Seriously, did you read it, or did you just get so offended at the idea of women wanting the option to buy shirts designed to fit them that you couldn’t comprehend what was written?

  44. 44
    crystalsinger

    +1000 on this Greta! It’s a problem at most events but *especially* at events (or on merch sites) with an historically male-heavy demographic (e.g. ComicCon, ThinkGeek.com, etc.).

    I ~hate~ wearing men’s t-shirts, especially the ones with tiny round necks. I *always* pine for a v-neck or scoop neck, as even the ‘babydoll’/fitted women’s t-shirts often have a round neck that is is only marginally lower than a ‘unisex’ ( *cough* men’s *cough*) tee. And the women’s sidings are usually too small (I’m *tall* and broad-shouldered, and most of them make me feel like The Hulk about to rip out of them.)

    And as someone else said, we don’t want special ‘girly’ designs. We want the same hardcore stuff the guys want—just on shirts that fit us! It’s to the point now where I simply won’t purchase tees that don’t fit. Which means the retailers/event organisers miss out on my cash, and I miss out on getting to fly my geek cred with pride—a lose-lose.

    I personally ~love~ the idea of running the “it’s only economical to pick one style of tee, so we went with babydolls this year…” argument. Let’s see how long that shit flies when the… err… ‘shoe’ is on the other ‘foot’. :-D

  45. 45
    SallyStrange

    Also, next time you get “driven up a tree” about a particular issue, maybe you could provide some solutions to some of the problems instead of just constantly telling everyone what is wrong with the world.

    Here’s my idea: odd numbered years, it’s tee designed to fit women. Even years, men get it. There. Another solution, besides the ones Greta already proposed.

    Seriously. It’s not that hard. The hard part, at least for you, and there are many like you in the atheist community, just like there are in the world in general, is admitting that sexism really is a problem.

    If you look for issues of exclusivity, you will find them. This is typical cognitive bias.

    [snip]

    As for the secular movement being a “boys club” this is the comment that troubles me the most. People admire you, both male and female alike, but if you turn everything into a sexism (or minority) issue it is doing more harm than good for the movement. If it were a boys club, you would not be one of the most sought after speakers for these events, BUT people do not go after you BECAUSE you are a woman, they go after you because you are a terrific public speaker and a beacon of the secular community. It seems to me the only one having issues with sexism here is you. Would you rather people sought after you because you are a woman or because you are an awesome member of the secular community?

    You can’t have it both ways, either you keep the sexes separate or you stop thinking about what sex people are and just focus on their attributes. Kind of like the republicans vs. the democrats, we need to stop worrying about what party a person is with and just focus on their attributes (or lack thereof).

    So, it’s all in our heads, and if we want things that fit then it means we’re asking to be objectified. Got it.

  46. 46
    the chaplain

    Good post. It’s difficult for those who are privileged to recognize that privilege. It took me several years of teaching multicultural theory to actually figure out white privilege. Some males “get” male privilege – that “male” is the assumed default position unless otherwise stated – and others don’t. You’re not just nitpicking or looking for something to call sexist, you’re citing real examples of where this privilege still operates.

    In the grand scheme of things, t-shirts are a small, first-world issue. But for those of us who live in the first-world, it’s real. The fact that it’s relatively small and unimportant is not a good reason for ignoring it.

  47. 47
    Jen

    I realise this is totally irrelevant to the feminist point being made here, but it’s possible to take in `unisex’ t-shirts so they fit better.

    You just turn it inside out, put it on and pin it down the sides so that it fits. Then you take it off and sew it. I’m not particularly skilled at sewing but this works for me. I’ve even succeeded in re-doing the sleeves so they’re more like small cap sleeves than short unflattering tubes. There are tutorials for this online (instructables I think) — and as I said it wasn’t hard. Neckline should be doable too.

    So yeah, irrelevant to the point about inclusion. But good if you want a t-shirt that fits.

  48. 48
    jtradke

    Greta – Great post, I hope more organizers take it to heart.

    I would also like to congratulate you for “inspiring” what I now regard as the most prototypical example of mansplaining I have ever read on the Internet – that, of course, being Jason’s screed above! Now whenever someone asks, “what’s mansplaining?”, we have that pristine, unadulterated example to share.

  49. 49
    crystalsinger

    Jason opined:

    Although as far as I can remember, the last two Skepticon’s have had more men than women in attendance.

    You presume that the organisers offer men’s t-shirts because there are fewer women than men attending. I guess it hasn’t occurred to you that there might be fewer women attending because it’s an environment that is somewhat less-welcoming to women than men, and that the options for appropriate merch might be a small part of that…?

  50. 50
    omphaloskeptic

    I too would love to see more styles fitted to ladies’ figures, but until then I thought I’d mention this AWESOME book I got when I saw the author give a demonstration at a bookstore a few years back- she just cut up a plain ugly men’s t-shirt, cut a few strips and holes and tucked a few bits and without even using a sewing machine, a few minutes later she had a really cute punk-looking halter top with the t-shirt logo front and central still… it’s called Generation T:108 Ways To Transform A T-shirt by Megan Nicolay, and 1/3 of the projects in the book don’t even require any sewing machine, and it’s a great way to use up old worn-out t-shirts, or get thrift store ones and have a blast seeing what you can come up with- and my nieces adore coming over and making cute things out of t-shirts with me, I save up a stacks of t-shirts just for them.

    I just think it’s fun, and I like not wasting all the awesome t-shirts i get. This book has easily been worth the investment.
    http://www.amazon.com/Generation-108-Ways-Transform-T-Shirt/dp/0761137858/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333810331&sr=1-1

  51. 51
    ambassadorfromverdammt

    Why should a woman have to spend just as much on a tee as a man, but have to spend time making alterations as well? I’m all for alternating men’s and women’s when only one style is financially feasible. It wouldn’t harm men very much to learn to sew, hardly at all in fact. Nothing a manly man couldn’t handle.

    Most of the time, a variety of styles can be accommodated, it means adjusting the price a bit to allow for the higher costs.

    In the FWIW department, no free tee I’ve received ever fit properly (male, 5’10″, 180 lb). Neck too small, shoulders too tight or both. I think it may go to illustrate that while human characteristics have averages, most people are not average.

  52. 52
    PZ Myers

    Let it be known: Pharyngula tshirts are available in women’s sizes. It helps to market stuff through woman-owned businesses.

  53. 53
    Bryan

    I admit, I didn’t even know there was a DIFFERENCE between men’s t-shirts and women’s t-shirts before my wife informed me (heck, it’s a tube of cloth with two sleeves and a collar…what’s there to customize?). Just a tiny example of my bust-less privilege. Who knew those things affected the clothes you put over them!?

  54. 54
    Heather H

    What sucks is that they not only should provide women’s shirts, but tasteful woman’s shirts.
    I’m in a predominantly male field, and I went to a conference and was pleased to see they had woman’s cut shirts! However, they were all V-Cut shirts, and they were cut really low. And they were just tacky because the logo was awkwardly placed between the cut and the shoulder – and a more dressy v-cut shirt does not go good with a logo tacked on it. None of them appealed to me, so I ended up getting a men’s shirt anyway.
    Now PZ’s woman’s cut shirts – those are tasteful.

  55. 55
    Jason

    The issue here is not that shirts are not offered for “some” women, the issue is that t-shirts do not fit everyone properly. How then is the solution to “offer fitted shirts”?

    Would offering fitted shirts fix the problem of standard t-shirts not fitting everyone properly? Of course not, therefore offering fitted shirts would NOT solve this problem.

    Nowhere in my first comment did say that sexism does not exist, of course it does, but this is not a sexism issue. T-shirts fit everyone equally bad.

    If that is the case, all of you should be fighting for the replacement of the t-shirt with another item that is equally acceptable, like maybe a hat, or a bumper sticker or whatever. A hat is adjustable. Does that fix the issue? No, we are right back to where we started, it is up to the people in charge of the event to decide what item they want to offer for sale and to give away.

    If anything you should be fighting for no clothing items to be given away in gift bags because they do not fit EVERYONE properly, not just because they do not fit women properly.

    Like I said people need to fight for equality across the board, not just for the version that fits them. I am a white male and I don’t fight just for women’s rights or children’s rights or African American rights, I fight for HUMAN rights because that is the right thing to do.

  56. 56
    Gretchen

    Jason said:

    The issue here is not that shirts are not offered for “some” women, the issue is that t-shirts do not fit everyone properly. How then is the solution to “offer fitted shirts”?

    Because the people overwhelmingly affected by the lack of fitted shirts being available are women, whereas (assuming there is a good variety of sizes, and there usually is) the same is not true for men. As Greta explained in exhaustive detail. The solution is not to advocate the end of t-shirt availability, because people like t-shirts. They want t-shirts, and they want t-shirts that fit them.

    It’s really that simple. Why you’re throwing such a tirade about such a simple request, I have no idea…but it doesn’t make you look good at all.

  57. 57
    Gretchen

    Oh, and:

    Nowhere in my first comment did say that sexism does not exist, of course it does, but this is not a sexism issue. T-shirts fit everyone equally bad.

    This is manifestly false. Men’s t-shirts are designed the way they are to fit men. They are not called elephant t-shirts or giraffe t-shirts for a reason.

  58. 58
    Beryl

    What currently passes as a “woman’s” t-shirt is, from just about every manufacturer, a babydoll cut. Not so much designed to fit a woman the way a man’s t-shirt fits a man as designed to be really, really tight. I’m not a large person, rather the contrary, but to get something that is more an advertisement of the cause than of my breast size, I have to get an extra-large, should that happen to be available. This is stupid. However, until the manufacturers get a clue, it’s hard to tell if not buying “women’s” t-shirts for an event is a sign of male privilege or a sign that one isn’t pushing women to “dress sexy.”

  59. 59
    Quinapalus

    Jason @ 55: I went through a phase where I considered myself a humanist rather than a feminist, because hey, being focused on women’s rights is all well and good, but it’s only 50% as good as being focused on everyone’s rights, right? When I discovered that this stance is looked on with suspicion in some quarters, I didn’t understand.

    I get it now, though.

  60. 60
    Cheyla

    Can you imagine a national event that had t-shirts or anything for that matter in women’s only sizes?? hhhmmm

  61. 61
    joanna

    I have been complaining about this for a couple years now! “unisex” my foot. The only reason I didn’t complain about it before that is I had never encountered a free shirt available in women’s cuts. I just thought something was wrong with me that all the free t-shirts looked blocky and weird.
    What bothers me the most is the sheer wastefulness- to print up all the shirts and then have them sit for years in someone’s drawer never worn. This is even more frustrating when the design is really great and I’d love to be able to wear it regularly if the cut was more flattering. Unfortunately this is not the case with the SK5 shirt… When I saw Greta’s original post about the shirt I immediately wondered if they actually wanted people to wear the shirts or simply had a bunch printed up for the sake of more swag. I know people’s tastes differ and someone worked hard to design it, but it looks more like a poster or bumper sticker to me.

  62. 62
    Moloch

    Honestly, to be trying to fundraise with tees and only offering the man’s cut? In 2012? Inexcusable.

    Fact is, these skeptics are still less inclusive than mostly all-male underground extreme metal bands in this regard. Most of those – and we’re not talking huge bands here either – offer a range of sizes of standard ‘girlie’ tees these days even though women make up a much lower percentage of the crowd than men. Hell, I’ve even seen many bands in tiny subgenres such as martial industrial and neofolk get the memo. Ok, the sizing range isn’t exactly huge (usually S-L or XL), but neither is the men’s and they’re making the effort they could definitely refuse to make on the grounds of demographics. But they don’t, and as such, they make their fans feel included and appreciated.

    Anyway, I bought a women’s tee just the other day at a small extreme metal festival in Germany. Nice fitted tee, actually long enough, same choice of designs and colours (black or white) as the bloke’s stuff. OK, it was 20 euros – 5 Euro more expensive than the male-cut tees, but whatever. I know manufacturers charge a little more to make them so I can’t blame the band for that at all. At least I had a choice.

    If those bands, who make fuck-all money, mostly have day jobs, have an even more extreme male/female skew than skeptics in their audiences (honestly, I’d estimate the ratio of male to female attendees at that festival as 80/20 at best) can manage to figure this shit out, offer a choice of tees and make money, why can’t people who apparently pride themselves on their thinking and actually have a much more diverse audience to begin with?

    If you want to make money from me, you have to offer me something I want to buy. For me to want to buy something, I have to be able to use it. I can’t use a man’s cut tee as they look and feel horrendous on me, baggy and binding in all the wrong places. I will never buy a garment I have to pull apart and resew because a)I can’t sew and b)why the fuck should I? I can’t tell you how many cool tee-shirt designs I’ve intitally seen, got excited about, clicked through to the site selling them only to go away empty-handed. There’s rarely any way to let them know how they lost a sale either, which bugs when they trot out the old excuse of ‘no demand’. How do you record data on people who actively wanted to buy something but didn’t because you wouldn’t offer it in the first place and just slunk away feeling disappointed. It’s pathetic in this day and age.

  63. 63
    Christina

    Mick Jagger wore women’s clothes onstage almost 50 years ago. Kinda seems like we’ve taken a backwards step or two in the meantime, no?

  64. 64
    lorad

    I worked for years with an organization that sells tshirts for fundraising purposes. Several years ago, we added “fitted” shirts to our lineup, and they are very popular. (From my un-scientific observation, most of our shirt-buyers are women.) However, we have huge hassles with the selection of shirts we can buy. Generally, tshirts meant for women are more expensive, although they have less fabric, are not as well-made, and often are of cheaper fabric. For “classic” (men’s) or “fitted” shirts, sizing and shrinkage will be different for each line of every manufacturer. We have largely given up trying to match colors between the classic and fitted shirts, so we have to use different graphics. We have to be careful that the “fitted” shirt is not a “baby-doll”, which most women don’t want, and it’s a challenge to find a shirt that comes more than an inch below the waist after shrinkage (and they all shrink in length, no matter what the supplier says, except sometimes the “garment-dyed” ones).

    So, the tshirt thing can get very complicated. It’s easy for me to understand that a small volunteer organization may not have a volunteer with the time to work through all that, and still get the shirts done in time for the event. Our group sells huge numbers of shirts, and we still went into the fitted shirts thing cautiously.

    This organization sells thousands of shirts at its event, and people wear them. About 2/3 of the women you see are wearing the fitted shirt; some only because they prefer the “girlier” color. Of the shirts we order for the volunteers (about 2/3 women, usually), which are necessarily the same color, about half the women prefer the “classic” style.

    I am tall, curvy, and broad-shouldered for a woman. For me, the fitted shirts are way too skimpy in length, and don’t fit anyway. I hate crew necks, so I make it into a scoop, which takes about an hour. A friend of mine buys a classic a size too big, and runs a thread up each shoulder to gather it slightly, which takes her about two minutes. The fit is elegant, and you can’t even tell what she did to it.

    I disagree with Jason mostly, but he’s right that tshirts don’t fit anybody. Our guy volunteers complain about it all the time. I have no ideas about what guys could do to make them fit better.

  65. 65
    leni

    Nicole @ #2

    Hear hear! This is something that I was faced with growing up in the punk scene in the 90s. All the band shirts were men’s shirt.

    Me too! I solved this problem by cutting off the necks and arms and wearing tanks underneath. And it wasn’t like I wanted to show off my boobs. Hardly had any to show off. I just didn’t want sleeves that could contain 3 of my arms, baggy lumpy effed up chest and waist, and then all tight in the hips.

    Kylie Sturgess @16:

    …and I agree that the horrible pastel colours that limit t-shirt design choices are very annoying.

    But didn’t you know? Pink is the most sarcastic of all the colors!

    I love pastels for that reason. At least on the right shirt. But I would hardly expect everyone to share that opinion. So someday when I have my own website and I’m picking up all the slack from these lazy cheapskates, I’ll make them all colors, even for weirdos who like primaries ;)

  66. 66
    silverbuttons

    Now I’m not sure if it’s sexist to have women’s styles, or sexist not to.

    Why can’t they have both, and let the women decide?

    The issue here is not that shirts are not offered for “some” women, the issue is that t-shirts do not fit everyone properly. How then is the solution to “offer fitted shirts”?

    The solution is to offer DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHIRTS FOR DIFFERENT GENDERS. In case you haven’t noticed, women’s bodies generally are shaped a bit differently than men’s. When we try to wear men’s shirts, they look baggy and blocky, and the collar doesn’t fit right. Yeah, I know, this isn’t important to you because you are a man and you don’t get why we women can’t just stop worrying our little heads about it; but some of us see this issue for what it really is: a subconscious attempt to get women to accommodate themselves to the default-male society. I don’t think there is a deliberate attempt at sexism, it is simply the thing that is done because “we’ve always done it this way.”

    This seems to be your problem, too, Jason. Without even realizing it, you are catering to the default-male attitude by insisting that this is not an important issue, that we should all just shut up about it and pretend it isn’t part of a greater problem. “Don’t just complain, DO something!” you insist, as if we are just whiny bitches with too much time on our hands. Complaining IS doing something! How will these organizations know they are doing anything wrong if people don’t bitch and complain and insist that they change their attitude? If we say nothing, then nothing will be done.

    To those saying we should settle for buying big, baggy men’s styles and altering them: not everyone has the talent for that, or knows someone who does. WHY should we have to do that, anyway? Why don’t these organizations offer only women’s styles, and then let the men figure out how to alter them to fit their own physique? Would that be acceptable to you? Why or why not?

  67. 67
    pensnest

    Why do these events even offer free T-shirts? Why don’t they offer free iron-on transfers so that the people who receive them can use them on their own T-shirts or hoodies or aprons or bibs or whatever?

    And, Jason? Free is nice. Free is nice if you can use it. If you can’t use it, it’s a waste of someone else’s money. If you were given a free hat instead of a free T-shirt, and you didn’t want to wear it, it’s not a free gift to you, it’s free rubbish for you to pass on to someone else or throw away.

    And by the way: Stating that we mustn’t argue because it’s important that we all be united is deeply irritating and demonstrates that you don’t know what you’re talking about and aren’t interested in learning. We must all shut up so that things can continue exactly as they are? Screw that.

  68. 68
    Rationalgirl

    “Good” is in the details. I was thrilled that last year “The Amazing Meeting” had T-shirts for women the first time. I have actually worn that shirt many times and not just to the gym! I too have a drawer full of unworn men’s conference T’s.

    Hey ladies with all of those men’s conference t’s there are a ton of youtube DIY tutorials on making them fit our bodies. try this! (Layer a light tank under it if you don’t want to show skin)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbhC7hPFaLA

    Men – here is the rub. Mens t-shirts are the shape of a square. they get tight around the hips, they bag in the waist and the shoulders make women look like football players. Men have long waists – so on most women, mens t-shirts are too long and make the lower part of the body look stubby. There is virtually nothing less flattering on a woman than a man’s t-shirt.

  69. 69
    Anat

    Bryan (@# 53 ), neither did I, and I’m a woman who wears t-shirts every day. When a shirt is old enough it doesn’t have its original shape anyway. But I learned something from this thread – for durable shirts I’ll head for the men’s department.

  70. 70
    Bronze Dog

    (Haven’t read comments, just the main post)

    Thanks for the awareness-raising. Whatever anyone thinks about how men’s T-shirts look on women, I definitely agree it’d be a good idea to drill on the issue just for the diversity message alone.

    I’m also starting to wonder what a truly unisex T-shirt would look like, and somehow I don’t think averaging the differences would really work.

  71. 71
    littlejohn

    I was utterly unaware that this was a problem. My petite wife simply wears men’s T-shirts in size small.
    I’m the one with a fit problem. Unless I can find a shirt in a tall, I can’t tuck it in.
    What would be different about a woman’s T-shirt? I mean, if you want it tailored to your figure with darts and all that, it’s really not a T-shirt anymore, and it’s going to be expensive.

  72. 72
    Greta Christina

    If you do not like the way you look in “standard” t-shirts, then don’t get one.

    Jason @ #37: And here we have a perfect summation of exactly the attitude I’m talking about: The idea of the “standard” T-shirt.

    Jason, do you understand that the “standard” T-shirt is a T-shirt designed to fit men’s bodies? Do you understand that the T-shirt was originally a male undergarment, which then began to be worn as outerwear? Do you understand that men and women tend to have different body shapes — and that the “standard” T-shirt style was designed to fit men?

    You seem to have this idea that the “standard” T-shirt is unisex, and fits most people of all genders — despite the fact that dozens of women in this thread are telling you that this is not the case, and that this “standard” T-shirt fits men better than women. This is exactly the attitude that I am talking about. This movement — and indeed the world — should be a “one size fits all movement.” There is, and should be, a “standard” size, a default. And that “standard,” that default, should be the size that it already is — a size that comfortably fits men, and that women need to fit ourselves into as best we can, no matter how awkward or ill-fitting it is for us… or else we need to opt out. We should fit ourselves into the “standard” — i.e., male — size, or else not participate at all in this very common form of bonding and visibility.

    There’s an all-too-common idea that inclusivity means finding one solution that works for everybody, and that it’s somehow discriminatory to acknowledge real differences and work to accommodate them. Let me spell this out very clearly: THIS DOES NOT WORK. Poor people have different needs from middle-class people — if a movement wants to be more inclusive of poor people, it needs to recognize those differences, and accommodate them. People with families have different needs from people who don’t — if a movement wants to be more inclusive of people with families, it needs to recognize those differences, and accommodate them. And women and men have different body shapes — if a movement is selling clothing that we wear on our bodies, and it wants to be more inclusive of women, it needs to recognize those differences, and accommodate them.

  73. 73
    Gretchen

    What would be different about a woman’s T-shirt?

    “Would be”? Women’s t-shirts exist…you could, you know, go to a store and examine one.

    They tend to be a) stretchier, to accommodate for things like boobs and hips, and b) shorter, to accommodate for the fact that women typically have shorter torsos than men do.

    I mean, if you want it tailored to your figure with darts and all that, it’s really not a T-shirt anymore, and it’s going to be expensive.

    Darts?? Umm, no. It really is still a t-shirt. A t-shirt for women. Really.

  74. 74
    Beige

    There’s more to the fit of clothing than just height, and women tend to have a significantly different shape than men tend to. But height is easy to observe, it’s just a matter of how far you are tilting your head when talking to someone. So, for the big tall men out there, here’s how this works: I don’t have a growth hormone related disorder, I’m not the shortest man around, I’m not even the shortest man I know, but I am fairly small. The men’s clothing size range just barely reaches down to men my size. When I go shopping for clothes, I grab the smallest size there is and try it on. It certainly won’t be too small. Depending on style and manufacturer, it might be loose, it might be very baggy. When I can’t find a shirt that fits, I look up at all the tall men around me and think, well, being diminutive has many advantages but ease of finding clothes that fit isn’t one of them. But when I look at the women around me-and half the people around me are women-half of them are shorter than me. As I said, other factors play into the fit of clothing, but just from this simple observation we see that a great many women are just going to be completely out of luck if you offer them clothing in the usual range of men’s sizes. And most of them will look around and notice that, unlike me, *they* *are* pretty much average size. Why can’t average size people buy a shirt? Because they are average size *women* and the clothing size range is centered on average size men! (Do 5’10″ men ever go to events and find that no one thought to order any shirts that might fit that sort of body, but they can buy a shirt intended to fit a 5’4″ pregnant woman for $25 and take it home and cut it up and put it back together such that it fits them? If that ever happened talk radio hosts would still be talking about what an insult that was.)

    Sure, hardly anyone finds the fit perfect. Do you suppose roughly a third of men think the men’s shirts are too loose in the shoulders, and a third too tight, and a third about right? Do you think if 90% said too tight they’d change the pattern? Do you imagine women trying on men’s shirts find the size around the hips just right in a third of cases, and loose in a third and tight in a third? It may not fit anyone perfectly but it’s hardly a big mystery who, on average, it’s going to fit better. I don’t have any trouble believing that this doesn’t really look like a subtle message to the people on the receiving end of it.

  75. 75
    Cynthia

    Well, Greta, you really hit on a touchy subject this time! And all over tshirts. It’s kinda mind blowing (or maybe that’s the post-easter wine).

    As a volunteer, concert goer and skeptic, I have to ask you to KEEP TALKING! It’s so aggravating that people would assume the one size fits all approach is even appropriate for a skeptical community. It’s not. The biggest thing most of your readers have in common is a belief that gods don’t exist. That’s the unifying factor, the point of agreement.

    That doesn’t mean we’re all the same size! Really, do people think all of us are the same range of average sizes? REALLY? Average? How…foolish is the polite word I’m coming up with. We’re different, unique, out of the average…and our sizes reflect it. So, start coming up with more diversity in your offer of tees. I know it seems like a small thing to a lot of men, but it’s huge for many women. If you go to the trouble of offering me a tee in a size and shape I can actually fit into? You go a long way towards making me feel included.

    And for those men on the comments board who don’t see what the problem is, please keep trying. You may finally realize why women find this so frustrating if you just keep trying.

  76. 76
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The only argument I could think of against this is that it’s easier to get a body into a t-shirt that’s simply too big and sort of drapes awkwardly from parts of it, than one that’s too tight in places. Then I realized I was thinking of “Babydoll”-style shirts (wonderful name.. >.>) and have vague recollections of seeing something actually labeled a “women’s t-shirt” somewhere that wasn’t quite so snug.

  77. 77
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Err, that was on the “women’s as default for a change” idea.

  78. 78
    julietdefarge

    Current irritation: Those bumper stickers that say “Science. It works, bitches.”
    This a slap in the face to women atheists who see gendered insults as part and parcel of religious patriarchy. It’s a reminder to all women that we’re considered not quite human.
    I suggest it’s not convincing, either. What person who prefers faith to science is going to be interested in learning more about a group that starts the conversation with an insult? If the reader is a man, he’s going to feel like these pro-science types are calling him a submissive homosexual.

    How about : “Try science, it works!”

  79. 79
    AylaSophia

    Adding my voice to the “Hear, hear”s and “Jason, you really don’t get it”s.

    I am a white male and I don’t fight just for women’s rights or children’s rights or African American rights, I fight for HUMAN rights because that is the right thing to do.

    That is, like, the definition of straight white cis male privilege. I once had to patiently explain to a very kind and well-meaning friend, who was all those things and also Christian, why having a “human pride parade” was not a good idea.

    Anyway, I fully agree with the t-shirt issue, and that it’s a prevalent one in geek circles as well. In fact, I was shocked and delighted when my local gaming group, when organizing a convention, offered shirts for volunteers in women’s sizes without any questions asked. In fact, when as a new member I asked if there would be, I got kind of puzzled “Well, duh!” looks in response! Of course, my local gaming group is really great in that it’s very female-friendly and very gay-friendly as well. At first I was pleasantly surprised by this. And then I felt annoyed that treating women and queer people like equals was a surprising occurrence in the gaming community. Seriously, this shit should be normal by now.

  80. 80
    Nathanael

    I think these should be called “flat-chested” and “big-chested” shirts rather than “men’s” and “women’s”

    That’s what the actual difference in cut is, isn’t it? Yes, some men would fit far better in “big-chested”, and some women most certainly would prefer flat-chested….

  81. 81
    Nathanael

    As a man who is a not-that-uncommon size such that the majority of clothes don’t actually fit period, I have low opinions of clothing manufacturers’ selections anyway.

  82. 82
    Nathanael

    “In case you haven’t noticed, women’s bodies generally are shaped a bit differently than men’s.”

    I’m going to be blunt here: the differences within genders are nearly as large as the differences between genders. It’s good to have multiple cuts available, but “women’s” and “men’s” shirts is well below the minimum standard of choices to actually fit even 50% of the population.

    I guess it could be even worse, and probably is some places. I’ve actually been to conventions where they didn’t offer any shirt sizes smaller than XL, which was unbelievable to me. Seriously?

  83. 83
    Brianne

    Until recently (i.e., when you uppity womenfolk started raising awareness!) I had no idea that there was a difference between women/men’s tees. I thought all t-shirts were unisex, and I happily wear a closet full of what what would be classified as “men’s” shirts.

    When I did start noticing women’s t-shirts as an option I was appalled. “Women’s cut” seemed to mean cleavage-exposing, thin-fabric, tight at the waist, and barely long enough to cover my belly button. As a woman who wears plus-sizes, I usually avoid women’s cuts at all costs. But recently I have acquired a few scoop and v-necks that fit me perfectly, and they’re my among my favorite casual shirts. For my figure, when women’s shirt are good, they’re very, very good. But when they are bad they are horrid.

  84. 84
    absent sway

    Thank you! We are half the population, but never the default. It gets old.

  85. 85
    Severo

    Great post Greta… thank you so much for writing about this as it’s been a huge problem for some time.

    However SallySTrange #45 “Here’s my idea: odd numbered years, it’s tee designed to fit women.”

    Why should women (non-males) have to have the ‘odd’ numbered years? This is patriarchy thinking, a sub-conscious “odd” smear and slur against non-male persons, yet again!
    Check your privilege.

  86. 86
    Woodsie

    G.C., would you consider doing a rewrite of this for a more generic audience (who doesn’t know/care much about Skepticon)? Excellent points that I’d like to share — without the speedbump of particulars about the conference.

    Or not. You are fighting the good fight for gender consideration and inclusiveness. And atheism acceptance.

    And you are your own best judge of your balance.

    Thanks!

  87. 87
    Jordan Wilson

    All in one!!! i.e. This post is about fashion, AND a post about inclusivity in the atheist movement. Nice informaton provided in the blog.
    I mostly liked the tag line of SWEEt JESUS. i.e. “That’ll make one hell of a dishrag someday”. Nice blog, Great post.

  88. 88
    Tenebras

    *hugs Brianne* Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like “women’s cut” t-shirts. They’re too short, too tight, and too revealing for me.

  89. 89
    Tai

    Great post. I agree that there is a boys club. As a graphic artist with a background in the fashion industry, I’ve made sure to pay particular service to have my “atheist” artwork represent no only female freethinkers but also convey a visually appealing aesthetic to women.

    See: http://flic.kr/p/bjuukq

    Stay Free
    -Tai

  1. 90
    Red Pill Moments Are Everywhere «

    [...] But no one thought to print on women’s style shirts because men’s shirts are considered …  And years ago, it would almost never have occurred to Thrack that this was even a problem.  Not because he’s a bad person or a bad feminist, but because privilege makes it easy not to see this sort of thing.  But he took the red pill a long time ago, and now sees bullshit for what it is. [...]

  2. 91
    What’s Supposed to Happen AFTER Men Shut Up and Listen to Women |

    [...] A while back, Greta Christina wrote about something that drives her crazy. (Me too!) When organizers for events order merchandise, somehow it seldom seems to occur to them to order t-shirts in women’s styles for their female attendees. [...]

Leave a Reply