Scientist reminds everyone NASA T-shirts aren’t just for boys—and it blew up in her face
Katie Hinde made a powerful statement when she moved a few NASA-themed shirts from the boys’ to the girls’ section at a big box store. But she also prompted mixed responses from people who say the move made the day more difficult for the store’s employees — which isn’t ideal.
Hinde, a scientist who’s on Twitter as @Mammals_Suck, noticed while shopping on Monday that all the children’s NASA shirts she saw at the store were in the boys’ section. Obviously, those optics weren’t good — girls should feel just as empowered as boys to be interested in the space program. So Hinde moved the shirts to the girls’ section. And later that day, she tweeted a photo of her handiwork.
Much of the response on Twitter was positive. Hinde was retweeted nearly 25,000 times and got well over 100,000 favorites. But some users accused Hinde of creating more work for retail employees — many of whom make minimum wage — by shuffling the shirts around, thereby failing to keep her feminism intersectional.
Others — who decided based on the images that she was in a Target — pointed out that Target does, in fact, carry girls’ NASA T-shirts. (Hinde later stated that while this is true, those shirts are more far more difficult to find in-store than the boys’ versions.)
The Target I was in today has NASA shirts in both sections. We bought one of those tank tops for our son. 🙂
— (((drmagoo))) (@drmagoo) June 12, 2017
In the wake of the internet’s polarized response, Hinde has retweeted several of her critics, and, in general, seems to be receptive to them. (In a blog post published Tuesday, she also said she was bombarded with slurs and “f*ck you SJW” vitriol, which is unacceptable and an entirely different story.)
“Yes, Target has NASA shirts for girls,” she wrote. “But I never indicated which Big Box Store I was in, bc I was making a broader social critique of gendered children’s clothing.” She went on to note that per her observations, girls’ clothing at the store featured more slogans “telling them to smile, be kind every day, how to share, and that they can be anything they want,” while boys’ offerings focused on strength and bravery. In other words, she noticed a difference in messaging — and that’s a fair point.
But Hinde’s actions — and the reflection that followed — also serve as a reminder to be mindful of who we impact by acts of social resistance. While Hinde re-shelved a few out-of-place shirts to “neutralize” the ones she had moved, her statement still had an effect on someone’s workday.
And the other takeaway? For god’s sake, just let everyone have a NASA T-shirt. They look pretty cool.