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Penney’s Pulls ‘Offensive’ T-Shirts

July 6, 1999

PLANO, Texas (AP) _ J.C. Penney has decided to scrap a line of sports-themed T-shirts aimed at young men with lines that include ``Your game is as ugly as your girl,″ and ``You like that move? So does your girl.″

The ``trash talk″ line of apparel, manufactured by AND1 Basketball, is offensive to women, according to a feminist group that complained to the department store chain.

``It’s a put-down of girls in the process of putting down a sports opponent,″ said Martha Burk, president of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy in Washington, D.C.

``The strong implication is that girls are the property of boys to be traded like baseball cards,″ she said. ``It’s an insulting, dehumanizing thing, and we have enough incivility in society without this gender-based stuff.″

Ms. Burk said several people contacted her group to complain about the shirts, and that she later denounced the apparel in the center’s newsletter, ``The Washington Feminist Faxnet.″

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. spokeswoman Stephanie Brown said the Plano-based retailer got enough complaints that it will no longer carry shirts that specifically target women. Other AND1 apparel will still be available.

``We put the T-shirts out thinking we wouldn’t have a problem,″ Brown said. ``But we are having some concerns coming our way, and they are valid concerns.″

Ms. Burk said she welcomed Penney’s decision and will target other retailers, including Footlocker and Just for Feet, that still carry the shirts.

Officials with AND1, based in Pennsylvania, were not available for comment Monday. A recorded phone message said their offices were closed.

The company produces dozens of shirts with phrases such as ``Turn on the disposal, your game’s garbage.″ Most of them have nothing to do with gender.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, company president Seth Berger said, ``Trash talk is a crucial element of basketball, part of what makes it great and gives it flavor.″

It is not the first time that J.C. Penney has pulled T-shirts from the racks. In April, customer concerns led to the removal of shirts featuring South Park, the Comedy Central show about foul-mouthed grade-school children.

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