Whether you were already working, in college or high school or toddling around your house in 1995, most people will probably agree that the mid-’90s wasn’t ancient Rome. You would never know that, though, based on this little excavated news gem: A cute cartoon T-shirt that said “Someday a woman will be president!” was banned by Walmart just 21 years ago because it was deemed “offensive” by the corporation and certain shoppers who you can only hope are sweating profusely as they watch the Democratic National Convention.
The T-shirts, which featured a takes-no-shit character from the comic Dennis the Menace named Margaret, were being sold at a Walmart in Miramar, Florida, when customers reportedly complained to the company that it was undermining every societal norm middle-aged Caucasian men had worked so hard to establish (OK, fine, those weren’t their exact words). But it’s not as if the statement made by Walmart spokesperson Jane Bockholt at the time was any better: “It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people, and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor.”
Offensive. After two-thirds of the 204 shirts the store had stocked sold in just two weeks, and Walmart was about to place an order for 100 more shirts. Clearly there were plenty of people in Miramar who disagreed that the message “goes against Walmart’s family values,” which was apparently the excuse the shirt’s designer was given by a Walmart buyer.
At the time, a psychologist named Ann Moliver Ruben was in charge of marketing the T-shirts. When word spread that the store was shelving the feminist shirts, Ruben slammed Walmart: “Promoting females as leaders is still a very threatening concept in this country.” To its credit, Walmart reportedly admitted it hastily pulled the shirts after only a few complaints. After scores of protests (because you didn’t mess with ’90s women), the store ordered 30,000 more shirts that same year, and they sold like hotcakes. If Walmart feels like turning an insane profit ASAP and joining the rest of the country in 2016, it’ll do what Etsy did and find a way to offer these vintage T-shirts once again.
How sweetly ironic is it to think that the first possible female president is also the same woman who served on the board of directors for Walmart for six years and was the first woman to make partner at Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, where Walmart headquarters is based?
The first female president of the United States doesn’t need a T-shirt to prove she can get the job done — she just goes out and gets the job done, over and over again.
Now, where can the rest of us score this T-shirt? It’s already sold out on Etsy, and we need something to wear on Clinton’s Inauguration Day. Come on, Walmart, let’s make this happen.
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