An innocuous children’s sweatshirt printed with the words “boys will be boys” has been attacked for allegedly “perpetuating rape culture”.
The item was spotted by an angry mother, who accused British retailer Asda of implicitly condoning sexual assault with the blue garment, on sale for £4 ($5.20).
She also claimed the shirt helps marginalize non-binary children because there are times when “boys are not boys”.
The phrase traditionally conjures images of boisterous kids getting their shoes muddy, scraping their knees or knocking over a vase – rather than raping somebody, which is a crime.
Nonetheless, Debbie Dee took issue with the “problematic” phrase and wrote a viral Facebook post urging people to bombard customer service officials with complaints.
According to screengrabs published by The Daily Telegraph, the post (which has since been deleted), said:
Quite literally gobsmacked and raging to see this in Asda Huntly [ a town in Scotland]! This is so damaging and we cannot possibly still be spouting this nonsense to our children. Links in comments if you’d like to read further on why these 4 words are so problematic…
In my opinion, this particular phrase perpetuates rape culture. How many women have been harassed by men and had it explained away as “boys will be boys”… And I haven’t even touched on the whole issue of this presupposing that gender is binary. What about when boys are not boys?
A spokesman for Asda, part of the Walmart chain of supermarkets, said: “Our aim is to make clothes people love, never to offend.”
This controversy has flared up before. Last month Heat Street reported that an outlet in Spokane, Washington, stopped selling a similar item after rape culture complaints.
The campus store of Gonzaga University was selling a t-shirt for kids featuring school mascot Spike the Bulldog and the words “Boys Will Be Boys”.
Two students noticed and accused the school of perpetuating rape culture and “toxic masculinity” with the item. In response, Gonzaga removed it from the shelves.