Petition Asks Marvel to Drop Gender-Defined Merchandise Descriptions

Marvel Store Screencap - H 2913
<p>Marvel Store Screencap - H 2913</p>   |   Marvel Entertainment
A longtime Marvel fan created the petition asking the company to remove the gender definitions for T-shirts, watches and kids' clothes in its online merchandise store.

Marvel Entertainment has prided itself on an increased gender parity in recent years, with more launches for female-led series -- She-Hulk, Elektra and Ms. Marvel will debut next year, along with a relaunch of the fan-favorite Captain Marvel title -- and a number of "Women of Marvel" panels at comic book conventions. For one fan, however, that push isn't being reflected in Marvel's online marketing of its own merchandise.

Katy Harrison, who describes herself as having been "a Marvel fan since I was small," has created a Change.org petition asking Marvel to remove the gender classifications from its online MarvelStore. "The items in the MarvelStore are individually labelled as for boys or girls/women or men and that is just plain ridiculous," she wrote.

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"Women and girls want to be able to wear those SHIELD T-shirts, Thor hoodies and Hulk costumes without feeling alienated by the descriptions on the website," the petition explains. "There are currently 18 items listed as clothes for adults [in the online store]. 16 are labelled as being for men, and include classic Marvel imagery and wording. 2 are labelled for women and both contain the words 'girl power.' There are 43 items in the 'Clothes for Kids' section [and] only ONE of them is not labelled 'for boys.' "

Harrison told THR, "I can get the argument some people have made that women's and men's tees can be different shapes, but I don't see how this extends to the kids' section. If my seven-year-old niece wants to dress up as Spidey, then why shouldn't she? The outfit is the same. And kids' T-shirts are definitely not shaped differently for girls."

Harrison said she created the petition because of the lack of response when she tried to contact Marvel about the subject privately. "I've emailed Marvel several times and always get the polite, 'Thank you, your message has been passed to the relevant department' replies," she said. "I go to conventions and Marvel clearly want to be seen to be embracing equality and diversity. I guess I really want them to put their money where their mouth is."