Most businesses caught up in a social-media firestorm over a product might’ve issued an apology or hunkered down and quietly waited for the controversy to pass, but not Tankhead Custom Tees.
The Murrieta, California-based company was thrust into the spotlight this week after a photo taken at WonderCon Anaheim of one of its T-shirt designs — “I Like Fangirls How I Like My Coffee […] I Hate Coffee” — was posted on Twitter, drawing intense criticism from fans and creators alike. Allison Baker, MonkeyBrain Comics co-founder and a CBR columnist, pointed to the image as an example of “what chauvinism looks like,” while writer Greg Rucka unleashed his fury on both the person selling the shirt and those who support its sentiment: “What in the name of everlovingfuck is the matter with you?”
In a Facebook post responding to “some bad word on our fan girl shirt,” Tankhead insists “a certain few bloggers” who have accused the company of sexism “completely ignored our other variant shirt on display or didn’t even bother to ask our take on it.” The statement is accompanied by a photo of a similar T-shirt that replaces “Fangirls” with “Fanboys.”
The design has been available since May 2013, according to this Facebook post, which states “text can be changed, it does not necessarily have to say fan girls. It can be changed to anything you want.” However, only the “Fangirls” version appears on the company’s website, alongside several other shirts featuring guns, soldiers and gorillas with guns.
“Apparently it’s only sexism if it is insulting to one gender,” Tankhead states. “Woo double standards.”
If the criticism can’t be chalked up to “double standards,” then perhaps it can be blamed on a misunderstanding of the term “fangirls” (and, OK, “fanboys”). Maybe?
“Fans are people who like and genuinely respect a fandom, and it’s creators,” the post explains. “Fangirls/boys are like those creepy fedora wearing neckbearded bronies, or hetalia fanfiction shippers, who make us all collectively cringe in pain at what they do to the things we love. No one should ever defend these kinds of people. Seriously, they make the rest of us look bad.”
And if that’s not enough to quell the uproar (spoiler alert: it’s not), the company takes another run at rationalization: “oh and fyi: the ones who bought the shirt design, the fangirl one in particular, half were girls who bought it.”
The comments are also worth checking out, as Tankhead has responded to further criticism with its own charge of sexism, and an acknowledgement that the company would be willing to substitute “Fangirls” on the T-shirt with any group: “Well ladies and gentlemen, here at Tankhead, we don’t give a shit about political correctness and not offending people. The sky’s the limit on what you want on a t shirt.”
(via The Mary Sue)