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Friday, January 30, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Stores pull 'Boys Are Stupid' merchandise

By David Crary
The Associated Press

ED BAILEY / AP
Victoria Evangelou holds one of the T-shirts that have been pulled from the shelves of two major retailers.
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NEW YORK — The T-shirts and pajamas are meant to be funny, with cartoon captions such as "Boys Are Stupid — Throw Rocks At Them." But some protesters, encouraged by a fathers'-rights talk-show host, are not amused and have pressured Bon-Macy's and two other retail chains into dropping the merchandise.

The products in question — an array of girls' clothes and accessories — are manufactured or licensed by David & Goliath, a T-shirt company based in Clearwater, Fla.

Its chief designer, Todd Goldman, has created a series of cartoonish graphics used on the merchandise with what he intended to be humorously anti-boy themes. "Boys Are Smelly — Throw Garbage Cans At Them," one says. "The Stupid Factory — Where Boys Are Made," another says.

"I have a very quirky, sarcastic sense of humor," Goldman said. "Most people just love the cartoons. If a few people don't like them, they don't have to buy them."

The graphics have been in use more than two years but only recently came to the attention of Glenn Sacks, a commentator who hosts "His Side," a weekly radio show sympathetic to the fathers'-rights movement and often at odds with feminists. The show airs in Los Angeles and Seattle (11 p.m. Sundays, KKOL, 1300 AM).

At Sacks' urging, listeners and supporters have contacted targeted retailers, urging them to stop selling the David & Goliath products. Seattle-based Bon-Macy's, California-based Tilly's and Claire's Stores, an international chain, say they no longer will carry the contested items.

Bon-Macy's spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said about a dozen products ranging from boxer shorts to baseball caps were pulled from stores in five Western states because they displayed one of three captions: "Boys Are Stupid," "Boys Are Smelly," and "Boys Have Cooties."

Sacks said reaction to the protest campaign had been largely positive, although some people have suggested he was overreacting.

"I'm sorry if I sound like a humorless zealot, but I just don't see the humor in it," Sacks said. "My 11-year-old son, whatever the joke is, he just doesn't understand it, either."

He contended that many marketers, while wary of offending women and minorities, "have developed a moral blind spot toward disparaging males."

Like many targets of consumer protests, however, Goldman said the controversy about his products has boosted sales, especially over the Internet.


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