Wearing a graphic T-shirt is one way to make your outfit scream your personality. Sport a shirt featuring, say, an avocado practicing yoga, and I immediately know we’re going be best friends. Cheeky illustrations aside, though, how we choose to clothe ourselves can also make a statement. Twitter account @manwhohasitall believes reversed gender roles are a message worth stamping on your chest—and frankly, I’ve never had such a strong urge to add a shirt to my collection.
The series of garments twists classic gender roles into pithy text that’s at once clever and thought-provoking. There’s oh-so-many T-shirts to choose from, but notable standouts include ones that read: “Crazy Cat Gentleman” or “Boys Will Be Boys: Kind Caring Thoughtful,” and (my personal favorite) “No.” Many of them also take phrases you might normally roll your eyes at, like, “Female Engineer,” and subvert it by making the women’s shirt read, “Author,” and the men’s read, “Man Author.” The editorial choices behind these phrases are a matter of a few letters, but wow, do they make a difference.
— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) April 15, 2019
Taken at face value, the manwhohasitall’s project might be interpreted as a simple play on words. To that, I say, “No!”
Each shirt is a reminder that the words we use (and don’t use) when we talk about people’s hobbies, professions, and identity hold weight. So much, in fact, that when the word, “male,” is added, or the word, “female,” is subtracted, our immediate reaction is that’s something’s off. Then we realize: It’s the original phrase that’s actually problematic. These T-shirts call back to all the times we’ve let words like, “mankind,” slip off our tongues without thinking, “Wait a minute? Why not womenkind?”
— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) April 13, 2019
The clothing line is also reminiscent of the well-circulated gender bias riddle about a father and son getting into a car crash. These shirts aren’t trying to trick the reader, though. They’re pointing out that certain linguistic barriers around sex and gender are best challenged out in the open, on something as casual as a T-shirt.
Just like the thunderbolt “M” logo splashed across your chest clues us in automatically that we’re looking at a Metallica T-shirt, that immediate recognition might one day be a possibility with phrases like these. Because, a woman who’s an engineer is an engineer. Full stop.
— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) April 12, 2019
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