Sexist 'Ghostbusters' Shirts at Old Navy Really Are a Problem -- Here's Why

This again? How can this keep happening? This time it's Old Navy. There's a big difference between the boys' and girls' Ghostbusters shirts that's so obvious, there's a chance we're all being trolled. The boys' shirt says "Ghostbusters" and the girls' shirt says "Ghostbuster in training."


Because they don't just hand out those Ghostbusters titles. There's a demanding physical fitness aspect to busting ghosts that's just hard for toddler girls to handle.


Here are the two Old Navy shirts.

One for boys:

And this one for girls:

Now inevitably there will be folks who don't understand what the big deal about the difference between two lame shirts advertising a goofy movie franchise is anyway. But the shirts represent for millions of American girls just one in a series of everyday subtle messages they're fed that they're less than the boys. Like girls are really just always the "in training" version of how boys are born.

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But we just went through a similar situation with sister brand Gap, which in its own back-to-school campaign labeled girls "social butterflies" and boys "The Little Scholar." You'd think there would be someone with an eye on this sort of sexist branding at this point. But apparently not.

There could be something else happening. Maybe they're leaving feminist Easter Eggs, little sexist messages hidden within each season's new clothes intended to drive attention to the store. Could that be a thing? There's got to be some explanation for it.

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Sadly, the most likely explanation is that many people looked at these two shirts and thought they were fine. There were probably meetings and conference calls about the shirts and it never occurred to anyone involved that this might be a problematic way to talk to, and about, their customers.

There's also the aspect that almost everything about Ghostbusters has been bogged down by sexist criticisms of the reboot starring women. Is it possible the whole franchise is just doomed?

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Regardless, it's a terrible look for Old Navy, a mainstay of cheap, functional clothes for America's moms. And nothing will change about the way we raise our girls unless we constantly call out outrageous messages like this that tell them they're inferior to the boys. Even in small ways. Even if it's just with messages on a T-shirt that won't last past two trips through the wash.

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Because there's nothing flip, funny, or cute about preparing our girls for whatever future they choose for themselves. Even if they want to be Ghostbusters.

Get it together, Old Navy.


Images via Old Navy

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