EDITORIAL: Editorial board is ‘Tee’d off’

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. announced Friday that it will discontinue selling two T-shirts a group of teenage girls found offensive. Its decision is lamentable.

The Allegheny County Girls as Grantmakers, the group that spearheaded the “girlcott” against the shirts, voiced concerns about several shirts on the stores’ shelves. The two shirts Abercrombie has since pulled had the slogans, “Gentlemen Prefer Tig Old Bitties” and “With These, Who Needs Brains?” across the chest.

Yes, the shirts are sexist. Yes, they are potentially offensive. Abercrombie admitted it in its statement: “We recognize that the shirts in question, while meant to be humorous, might be troubling to some.”

While Abercrombie’s desire to acquiesce to unhappy consumers is commendable, this editorial board asks where and when society will draw the line. People wear satanic shirts and screen-printed photographs of aborted fetuses – should members of society begin patrolling the streets and protesting these T-shirts as well? Should companies stop producing shirts that could be offensive?

The answer is no. This is America. People should have the right to walk into a store and buy a T-shirt they want to buy, even if that T-shirt could offend others. If someone does not like a particular shirt, he or she may avert his or her eyes and choose not to purchase it. It is that simple.

As can be expected, several feminist Web sites praise Abercrombie’s decision. It seems the groups believe that if we are to live in a free and fair society, Americans certainly cannot be permitted to purchase shirts with expressions such as “Do I Make You Look Fat” and “I Had A Nightmare I Was A Brunette.”

Thirteen-year-old Jettie Fields, co-chair of Allegheny County Girls as Grantmakers, agreed that the shirts could be funny to some. She added, however: “But with the one that said, ‘With These, Who Needs Brains?,’ I think that’s really pushing it and takes it too far. Girls need to know it’s not necessary to wear these shirts, and that if they stop buying them, then Abercrombie will stop selling them.”

This editorial board agrees. Let the women decide to stop buying them if they want to, and leave Abercrombie’s shelves alone. The true ideal of feminism should be to enable women to have equal opportunities. If a woman wants to purchase a T-shirt that makes fun of women or offends women, she should have the right to do so. It seems hypocritical of feminist groups to attempt to restrict the rights of the very women they aim to empower.

Abercrombie will meet with the women who protested its shirts later this month in order to determine the fate of its other slogans. Because it supports the rights of all individuals to wear what they want, this editorial board encourages Abercrombie not to give in to the demands of these groups and to allow consumers to decide for themselves what is and is not offensive.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.