If you were to peruse J.Crew's Instagram feed, you'd see that most photos garner a dozen or so comments, max. One image posted this week of a boy wearing a graphic tee alongside a caption that reads "start 'em young," however, has 1,000 comments and counting – and most all of them are vitriolic.
The reason for such outrage en masse is that the young child is wearing a T-shirt that says, "I am a feminist too." The boys' shirt was one of several limited-edition items created in collaboration with crewcuts and PrinkShop, in which 10 percent of the retail price from items in this collection went to Girl Up, an organisation that "helps girls achieve their dreams."
In just four days, the post has gotten more than 16,400 likes and has started an angry debate on whether such messages should be on children's apparel.
"Feminism is a cancer in today's society used to divide . . . I will never buy your brand again."
"Sickening. Kids don't know any better," wrote one. "The people that put this shirt on a kid without him knowing what he is wearing are the same people who claim that we need to ask kids if we can change their diaper."
While several people declared their love for the shirt – "my boys are proud feminists!" wrote one, while another said, "I need this for all the men in my life!" – just as many promised to boycott J.Crew: "What a bunch of liberal sellouts. I will never buy your brand again."
Among those against the shirt, many were women, which concerned others. As one wrote: "My mind is blown at the fact that people, most of them being women, are in these comments upset about supporting feminists. Why are you upset about equal rights, pay, and treatment? How could something so positive be so bothersome to you?"
Many still maintained that inequality no longer exists between men and women ("Feminism is a cancer in today's society used to divide," wrote one, "and they've convinced liberal women in America that they don't have equality"), and shirts such as this are just stoking the flames of a fire that should be put out already.
"I'm glad you've never felt victimized or discriminated against but your personal experience does not mean others haven't," one person responded. "Just because I've never gone hungry doesn't mean there isn't poverty in the world."
Others in support of the shirt mentioned all the other phrases on kids' clothes that might actually do harm: "Our boys will be real men; real men are respectful to women. Messages like 'chick magnet,' 'boys will be boys,' 'fathers, lock up your daughters,' and 'ladies' man' cultivate and perpetuate an attitude of disrespect toward and objectification of women. It's not OK."
Still, others just want to remove all hints of messageing entirely: "Whatever happened to normal kids T-shirts? Let's stop this BS political and sexy stuff for young kids."
Perhaps, the simplest solution to the fury in the comments section? As one person wrote: "Don't like it? Don't buy it. Easy peasy!"
Easy indeed. The shirt is sold out.