To Whom It May Concern,
I recently enjoyed a stay in
Orlando, during which time I had the pleasure
of visiting Universal’s Islands of Adventure. My friends and I had a wonderful
vacation, and thought your park employees were helpful and polite, the park was
clean and accessible, and the rides were all great fun. To give you an idea of
your particular customer type in this case, we’re all around thirty years old,
and are engineers, social workers, doctors, and website developers.
Again, overall, we had a great time in your park. The only part of the experience that didn’t live up to our high expectations of your park was the merchandising in the
This was the section of the park I was most looking forward to, as I love
comics, attend conventions, and thoroughly enjoy Marvel’s contributions in
particular within the genre. I was all set to purchase a t-shirt as my
souvenir, but ended up leaving the park disappointed due to the terrible
content on your ladies’ shirts. Marvel
Shirt #1: I [heart] MEN IN UNIFORM
A picture of Captain
America, and a sentiment professing
my love for uniformed men. What if I’m
in the military? What if I identify
with the Cap more than I swoon over his patriotic duds?
Shirt #2: I ONLY KISS SUPERHEROES
Again, making me into the swooning type. This assumes the only reason I enjoy comics is because I have romantic designs on the main characters. Humor, art, action, themes of good triumphing over evil? Nah, I just want to make out with Wolverine.
Shirt #3: I [heart] SURFER DUDES
The Silver Surfer, and, much like Shirt #1, a sentiment that makes me seem like I’m a girl standing on a beach, admiring the prowess of a boy. I surf; I do not just stand on the beach like a googly-eyed dame. A men’s shirt would more likely include a statement comparing their talents: “I Catch Bigger Waves Than The Silver Surfer,” etc.
Shirt #4: MY BOYFRIEND’S ABS ARE MADE OF STEEL
Ironman. Is this shirt implying he’s my boyfriend? That I wish he was my boyfriend? Or comparing my actual boyfriend’s abs to Ironman’s? Because honestly, my husband has a bit of a beer belly, and I’m in quite good shape. I would have bought this shirt if it said something about my abs. But instead it makes the wearer appear as if the thing she prides herself most on is the fact that she’s dating a guy who’s hot.
Shirt #5: LADIES NIGHT
This one is on the list because of a technicality. Ladies’ Night refers to an event designed for women (which your gift shop certainly wasn’t), and often one where we get in free, or for a discount. It’s for us. It is our night. Which requires an apostrophe denoting possession. The t-shirt you sell advertises a night of multiple ladies, not a night for ladies. Sounds like an event that would be more at home on a men’s shirt. (I’m not all that upset about this one—it’s a common mistake, and I only noticed it because the other shirts had made me question every piece of merchandise in your stores aimed at women.)
I ended up buying the only female-cut shirt that didn’t frankly offend me: a red one with the Avengers logo on it.
In a world increasingly driven by female purchase power, and a recent turn from worshipping the jocks of the world to worshipping the geeks (see The Big Bang Theory, the comparative popularity of Loki the nerd over Thor the jock, and the nerd-cred of the alter-egos of both Spiderman and Superman), you shouldn't pigeon-hole us as a group of giggling girls who only saw Captain America because Chris Evans took his shirt off--aim your merchandise at celebrating intelligent female Marvel Comics fans.
Dr. Libby Putnam