Kmart’s “Domestic Violence” T-Shirt Irritates Shoppers

A shopper at an Augusta Kmart was shocked, shocked to see a children’s t-shirt featuring “two panels of stick figures, with a male figure pushing a female figure out of a box.” The shirt is captioned “Problem Solved.” Shoppers offended by the shirt have been complaining to the manager.

“I thought that shirt was very offensive, and I’m sure people who made that shirt thought it was cute,” District Attorney Evert Fowle said Friday. “But when you prosecute 728 domestic violence cases a year, it’s not cute.”

The shirt was removed briefly after a customer protested, but later returned to shelves. As it stands now, the final word from Kmart corporate is that the t-shirt will continue to be sold.

“We respect the opinions of our customers,” [Kmart] said in a statement issued from corporate headquarters. “However, we believe these attitude Ts are meant to be light-hearted in nature.”

We think the shirt is in poor taste, and we are the taste-makers when it comes to potentially offensive t-shirts sold in big box stores… in case you were wondering. —MEGHANN MARCO

Store takes heat for selling ‘Problem Solved’ T-shirt [Kennebec Journal]


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    It really pisses me off that these are CHILDREN’S shirts.

  2. Magister says:

    Sometimes, funny is funny. There is very little humor out there that doesn’t offend someone.

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    This shirt has inspired me to shove annoying women out of windows. Thanks K-Mart!

  4. any such name says:

    ew, yeah, most offensive being that this is a shirt for *children*.
    but in general, all of those “attitude” t-shirts are awful.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    As far as the concern of it being for children, I think the opposite here….I think it is more tollerable being a shirt designed for kids. Little boys and girls pick on each other, annoy each other, and while shoving a girl is not something to be promoted, it is far unusual in grade school play grounds. Nothing really volent. Kinda like brothers and sisters picking on each other.

    Now…if this was sold to adult men…then there would be a BIG problem!

  6. MattyMatt says:

    As hilarious t-shirts go, I don’t know if this particular knee-slapper is up to Kmart’s usual high standards.

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    *far from unusual

  8. Musician78 says:

    I agree that they are awful/ugly/stupid, but I am sorry, people get offended way too easily in this country.

    *Awaits the verbal flogging*

  9. MeOhMy says:

    When my wife’s constant jawing gets to me, I usually push her out of the current comic strip frame, too. It’s all good – she comes back good as new in the next frame.

    Sorry guys…sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon, not a justification for domestic violence or terrorism.

  10. Couldn’t they balance it out with a t-shirt where the girl kicks the guy in the crotch?

    It’s not a good t-shirt but it’s not a T-Shirt Hell t-shirt.

  11. acambras says:

    Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to this matter because I worked for a domestic violence program for several years and saw firsthand the effects of domestic violence, particularly on children. I saw so many kids who thought violence was the only way to solve problems, because that’s all they’d seen.

    K-Mart can sell whatever they want (they’ll still suck), but I do find the shirt offensive.

  12. ediebeale says:

    Magister-funny is funny, true, but that shirt ain’t funny. I don’t know how offensive it is, but it sure isn’t funny.

  13. Phyltre says:

    If a T-shirt offends you, you’re definitely too easily offended.

  14. Wasn’t that cartoon originally published in Die Sturmer?

  15. Kornkob says:

    I’ll side with the ‘too many offended peoples’ group on this one. Frankly, it’s gotta be a slow news day. There’s some sort of stupid phrase on a couple dozen shirts in any given retail outlet these days filled with ‘funny’ stuff that has great potential to offend. Why this particualr shirt is any worse than any other’s I’ll never understand.

    I wodner if this articile will become Ben’s new ‘nazi t-shirt’ article. He loves him some tshirts gone bad stories.

  16. schvitzatura says:

    If Wal-Mart’s handling and follow-up of their Schutzstaffel totenkopf tee is par for the course, expect to see this pathological tee on K-Mart’s shelves for the next 9-12 months, owing to their antiquated inventory control systems…

  17. srah says:

    Is this domestic violence just because it’s a male stick figure pushing a female stick figure out of the frame? What if it were the other way around? How do we know the relationship between these two stick figures. The t-shirt is stupid, but I wouldn’t automatically read domestic violence into it.

  18. I wodner if this articile will become Ben’s new ‘nazi t-shirt’ article.

    That storied was followed because of Wal-mart’s inability to get an item removed from store shelves (what if it had been something dangerous to the consumer). Kmart isn’t going to remove the t-shirt.

  19. acambras says:

    srah — you may have a point.

    Maybe the male stick figure is a KMart manager, and the female stick figure is a pesky customer (maybe me!) complaining about how much KMart sucks. ;-)

  20. Vinny says:

    A the shirt is busy…


    Is this domestic violence just because it’s a male stick figure pushing a female stick figure out of the frame? What if it were the other way around? How do we know the relationship between these two stick figures. The t-shirt is stupid, but I wouldn’t automatically read domestic violence into it.

    What she said. It’s no more domestic violence than the Matrix or Zorro.

  21. valkin says:

    How is this not a problem? It’s sexist. It’s perpetuating a negative stereotype of women. It’s suggesting that the way men deal with women who “annoy” them is either through violence (literally) or by (metaphorically) not treating them with respect.

    Some message to send to kids. But, it’s a free country.

  22. kerry says:

    srah –
    It’s promoting a negative image either way. I’ve seen the damage little girls can do to little boys, and since boys have it deeply ingrained not to hit girls they don’t fight back. Also, domestic violence is not a women’s-only problem. Anyway, I wouldn’t want my (theoretical) kid to wear the shirt regardless of who was pushing. It’s not funny, and it’s in direct opposition to the number one lesson a lot of parents want their kids to learn: physical violence is not the solution. This shirt says it absolutely is.

  23. acambras says:

    Amen, Kerry. Glorifying physical violence as problem-solving strategy is not good.

    If a t-shirt depicted a human stick figure kicking a dog stick figure, I imagine public response would have been overwhelmingly negative. I guess K-Mart figures human-on-human violence is ok?

  24. RokMartian says:

    You can also cut the sleeves off and make it a “wife beater”. heh.

    Now, that would probably sell well at the K.

  25. etinterrapax says:

    I dunno about offensive. I just thought it wasn’t terribly funny. I wouldn’t put it on my kid. But I’m not crazy about attitude messages on kids anyhow.

  26. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    We don’t actually KNOW she was pushed out of the box.

    We see her falling, we see his hand up, but we didn’t actually SEE the action.

    I say there is reasonable doubt.

  27. B says:

    The shirt is offensive, but K-Mart has the right to sell it, and people have the right to buy it.

  28. Musician78 says:

    If that shirt depicted a human stick figure kicking a dog I would still think it was a stupid shirt. But certainly not offensive. And I love animals. People are just too uptight.

  29. Gopher bond says:

    I’m pretty non-aggressive. When I was a kid, this little girl used to run around slapping boys in sack and laughing. None of the boys ever did anything. She surprised me one day where I doubled over for a good 15 seconds. She was laughing and I got up and popped her in jaw. She went down like a sack of potatoes. I’m the one who got in trouble but I never got slapped in the boys again. Sometimes violence is the best way to solve problems.

  30. junkmail says:

    Are you people serious? Maybe we should protest the Garfield movies and strips because they perpetuate “Cat on Dog” violence. And, oh yeah, how about Dilbert? Negative stereotypes ABOUND in that one! And don’t get me started on Hagar the Horrible (violence, violence, violence), Beetle Bailey (imperialistic American war machine), Boondocks, (racism), etc. etc. How about the countless comics that denegrate the father’s role in the family structure, should we protest those too? Get ’em all!

  31. Musician78 says:

    Nice. m/

  32. It’s the new wifebeater t-shirt!

  33. pantsonfire says:

    Won’t somebody pleeease think of the children?!

  34. exkon says:

    LOL….Apparently, this lady has yet to visit a hot topic….

    I hope this doesn’t turn into a Nazi shirt debacle agian.

    If t-shirts that offended people couldn’t be sold then T-shirt hell would be out of business.

  35. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    This reminds me a bit of the ESRB issue with video games.

    Most kids (maily boys) do not shop for their own clothes. So if a parent has a problem with this shirt, don’t buy it. If their kid buys it on their own, don’t let him wear it.

    Let your dollars speak!

  36. This reminds me a bit of the ESRB issue with video games.

    I find the video game thing even more confusing because a) the games are way more expensive and b) the console games aren’t exactly portable.

    How the heck are 12 year olds buying $40 – $60 dollar games (more for the new consoles), playing them at home, and getting away with it unless their parents are letting them?

  37. YoshidaSauce says:

    I have a shirt depicted a couple at their wedding slicing a cake and under the illustration in big, bold letters are “BIG MISTAKE.” I guess this shirt should be banned too since it’s causing people to second guess getting married. This ridiculous outrage is just another example of overtly conservative people finding something to wave their sticks at.

  38. clickable says:

    What the hell is funny about solving a problem with violence? Is that what we want to teach our kids – that if you have a problem with another kid, the way to solve it is by shoving them out of the way? This t-shirt wouldn’t be funny even if both stick figures were the same gender.

    uhm… yeah, like kerry and acambras said, too.

  39. Hey Ben, have you considered registering and using a cgi redirect to all these T-shirt articles?

    I kid…I kid…because I love!

  40. SpecialK says:

    Hey, why don’t we make Tom & Jerry illegal while we’re at it. Not to go off on a rant here, but it’s because of thin-skinned, insert-my-politics people like you that vintage cartoons have been ruined and discourse on college campuses has been degraded to special-ed level political correctness.

    And so what if it’s a kids shirt? Boys and girls fight. Children have also managed to watch cartoons for years and there isn’t an epidemic of anvil-related accidents that I’m aware of.

    Oddly, I’m sure if some of you saw a shirt with the genders reversed, you’d be feeling smug about grrrrlll power or some such.

    Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go find a dog that looks like Marmaduke and give him a good swift kick for being so damn unfunny.

  41. Seacub says:

    I’m pretty sure anyone can be offended by anything if they try hard enough.

  42. YoshidaSauce says:

    Violent? It’s not like the stick figure is blowing the other stick figure’s brains out: it’s pushing another stick figure out of an illustrated box. Personally, when I get into quarrels with my significant other, we don’t fight in drawn lines that I could push her out of. Call me evil and sadistic but I find the t-shirt creative, harmless, and humorous.

  43. any such name says:

    well, if you actually look at the picture for more than two seconds, the woman jumping in the air is also drawn to look “crazy”… aka stereotypical woman yelling at man, etc. etc.

  44. Metschick says:

    An example of people being overly sensitive:

    On my way to work this morning, I heard a news story about a bus driver who wore a Santa hat on the job. Apparently, a kid complained to his parents because he didn’t believe in Santa Claus, and the parents claimed the hat was offensive. After a review by the school board, it was found that the hat no longer had any religious connotation, and it didn’t interfere with the bus driver’s ability to do his job.

  45. bricklayer says:

    Is this any worse than the David and Goliath kid’s t-shirts instructing us that Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them? I seriously doubt that incidence of rock-related injuries increased due to that shirt, and I don’t think that this Kmart one will increase domestic violence. Let’s all relax a little bit.

  46. emax4 says:

    Oh my God, not only do we now have t shirts depicting women, but Lordy Lordy we’ve had GI figures for LITTLE KIDS from before I was born, not to mention Transformers, Rambo figures, toy guns, etc. I’m pretty sensitive myself, but some things you just have to blow off. Are those that are upset by this t shirt maddened more of the graphic itself or that the t shirt is sold in a department store? If this were sold in Hot Topic’s, would it give you the same impact? Probably not, which is ironic seeing that there seems to be more children than adults that shop there.

    If I see you using a drill to drill a hole in a wall, would it be right for me to get upset because maybe my mom was killed when my dad drilled a hole in her skull? You’d probably tell me to lighten up over that rather than simply stop using the drill yourself.

  47. ndavies says:

    Wiley Coyote is a terrorist.

  48. dibbers75 says:

    Great…lets promote more bullying K-Mart. As a mom of 3 small elementary school-age, (and I must add…extremely impressionable children), I’m appalled that this garment will be available to young bullies. You made my last minute shopping destination a little simpler… K-Mart on my list.

  49. Kishi says:

    I was about to post, but I figured I’d read through anyway just to make sure, and I’m glad I did- bricklayer completely made my point for me, and even got a link to back it up so I didn’t have to search for it.


  50. Solo says:

    Posting without reading comments, lazy ass that I am:

    If you’re offended by the shirt, by all means, please don’t buy it!

    Same with TV. Offended by some show? DO NOT WATCH IT!

    Let other people make their own choices. If they want to buy the shirt, good for them. Don’t impose your tastes to others.

  51. acambras says:

    Well, Solo, if you HAD read the comments, you’d see several posts (including mine) that point out that K-Mart has the right to carry whatever they want. Even though I personally find the shirt offensive, I’m not trying to “impose my tastes on others,” as you say.

    So K-Mart has the right to carry these shirts, and you have the right to buy one for your kid. But I have the right to think you’re an asshole for doing so.

  52. junkmail says:

    YoshidaSauce says:

    This ridiculous outrage is just another example of overtly conservative people finding something to wave their sticks at.

    whoa, whoa, whoa there big shooter… don’t go laying this little debacle on the doorstep of the conservatives. Most of my conservative friends are definitely NOT the type to b*tch about something like this. If you’ll look back, most, if not all, of the “PC” garbage originated with the left-leaning folks. Not trying to start a war, here, just making a point.

  53. YoshidaSauce says:

    To junkmail:

    Point taken and I apologize if my post came off as an attack on conservatives. In fact, I wasn’t referring to conservatives in general, hence my use of the word “overtly” which may just have been a case of poor word choice for me since it didn’t clearly reflect what context I was attempting to use it in. I think I should’ve removed the “t” and used the word “overly” instead to describe people who will react to anything that doesn’t follow the strictest rules of decorum in their sheltered worlds.

  54. OnoSideboard says:

    It seems like the primary difference between those who are offended and those who think those who are offended should lighten up, is that one is seeing the meta and the other is seeing the micro. Yeah, that tee shirt is unlikely to be the direct cause of a rise in shoving violence by men against women. Same with Tom and Jerry, GI Joe, etc. etc. Each thing, standing alone, doesn’t have any kind of effect. The meta point is that alllll these things, taken together, foster a society in which violence is an acceptable solution.

    Demanding this tee shirt be removed from stores is like pulling one thorn off a bramble bush–it’s inefficient because the effort required isn’t worth the negligible effect.

    I don’t see anything wrong, however, with simply pointing out that “hey, there’s yet another thing contributing to our culture of violence.”

    But maybe I’m just a hippie/commie/lefty.

  55. I am still trying to figure out how a CARICATURE of a FICTIONAL situation has pressed so many buttons. Do I need to post the definitions of caricature and fiction?

    I refuse to even sarcastically agree that a stick figure pushing another stick figure will have detrimental effects on our children and our adult society. Do images really have that much control over our free choice?

    C’mon people. I try not to rant about stupid issues such as this T-SHIRT (“the t-shirts of the early 2000’s are what brought on the gender wars of 2050) but I cant help it. Most everyone knows right from wrong and if somebody chooses domestic violence it is not because of a stupid picture that mysteriously influenced them to do evil. The devil did not make them do it. Minus the few sociopaths (who cannot distinguish right from wrong) in our society, anyone who does wrong does it because they CHOSE to. Jesus people. Get a fucking grip on reality. PLEASE I BEG YOU BEFORE WE ALL GOTO HELL IN A HANDBASKET!! OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIEE!!!1111!!111oneoneone

    Okay, I feel better now. I’m over it.

  56. Amy Alkon says:

    Oh, please. There was a shirt that says, “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.” Same kind of art. I went on Glenn Sack’s men’s movement radio show (in my columnist capacity) and said the same thing I’ll say here: What a silly waste of time. There are shirts out there that say stuff like “Women are only good for sucking the chrome off a trailer hitch.” If you’re wearing one, it’s unlikely I’ll date you, but I’m not going to stand outside the t-shirt store throwing a hissy fit. You don’t like the shirt, don’t buy it.

    Holden Caulfield, above, is one of the few with a grip on common sense.

  57. junkmail says:


    No offense taken. :) And I agree with your clarification.

  58. Musician78 says:

    I don’t believe that a specific item of clothing will make anybody do anything, regardless of age. I think it all may have to do with whatever particular environment that the child grows up in. If his parents are abusive towards each other, or him, then he will probably grow up to depict his violent tendencies upon other people.

    If this child is violent to begin with, then this shirt certainly will not exascerbate the situation.

    If this child is not a violent person, then this shirt certainly will not create violent behavior.

    Either which way, this shirt is nothing more than stupid as hell.

  59. Smoking Pope says:

    “How is this not a problem? It’s sexist. It’s perpetuating a negative stereotype of women. It’s suggesting that the way men deal with women who “annoy” them is either through violence (literally) or by (metaphorically) not treating them with respect.”

    Point by point:

    “How is this not a problem?” – Puts the onus on people who are not offended by this shirt to prove the nonexistence of something. It’s like me asking someone to prove Bigfoot doesn’t exist.

    “It’s sexist. It’s perpetuating a negative stereotype of women.” – One could argue that it is indeed sexist because it perpetuates a negative stereotype of men as always resorting to violence.

    “It’s suggesting that the way men deal with women who “annoy” them is either through violence (literally) or by (metaphorically) not treating them with respect” – See point above. You could construe this as an attack on men just as easily.

    I’m not saying the shirt is funny (I don’t believe it is), and I wouldn’t buy it for my son. But instead of flipping out and denouncing Wal-Mart, I continually exercise my parental responsibility and make sure my children understand that violence is never right (against men or women), and that everybody should be treated with respect.

    In general, I think people are way too willing to foist off the job of parenting on others because “I’m too busy”, or “I can’t always be with my kids”. In the end, if you rely on other people’s behavior or taste as a critical component in raising your kids, you’re bound to be disappointed.

    (And valkin, I’m not picking on you or making assumptions about you. I’m commenting on the thinking often, but not always behind statements like those.)

  60. valkin says:

    Smoking Pope –

    Like OnoSideBoard posted above, it’s little things like the message on this shirt that add up and contribute to the consciousness of our society and the perpetuation of stereotypes. It’s a crappy message, however small and insignifcant.

    I can agree that the shirt can also be viewed as sexist towards men, but not with your second point. The literal and metaphorical message of this shirt is violence and the “shutting up” of women.

    Since you’re stating that you’re commenting on the thinking behind statements like mine, Let me state that you’ve interpreted what’s behind my statements incorrectly.

    I didn’t flip out over the shirt. I’m not even offended by it. I didn’t say to take it off the shelf or that a parent shouldn’t exercise his/her responsibilities to guide and educate their child about violence and stereotypes and how to interact with others. I think it supports and perpetuates negative stereotypes that go unspoken, unnoticed and disregarded.

    It’s all about awareness. These are messages about how to deal with others, especially those of the opposite sex, of which we are constantly being bombarded with and are consequently dealing with when interacting with one another.

  61. Smoking Pope says:

    @Valkin – As I said, I wasn’t commenting on you, and wasn’t surprised to read that you weren’t offended by it (the shirt). But in my experience, many people who echo the same sentiments have very different opinions than yours (which are reasonable in my opinion).

    Anyway, I do get the bigger picture point. But my point is that it’s impossible to find and “correct” every potential negative influence that’s out there. A much better way of protecting our kids (again, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m talking about you here) is to take an active role in their lives, teach them right from wrong, prepare them for exposure to things we don’t agree with, etc. It’s much more effective, and has the added bonus of not imposing your point of view on people who don’t agree with it.

    And yeah, I’d agree with you in that the most common interpretation of the shirt is in line with the literal content. My point on that was you could take it the other way too. What’s offensive has a lot to do with the person who’s offended.

  62. valkin says:

    Smoking Pope, I totally agree with your point on protecting kids.

  63. vjteddybear says:

    Please take this off the shelves…..what are we telling people? It is correct to treat women/girls this way? It is not acceptable…

  64. juri squared says:

    If I saw this printed on paper, or published on the intertubes, I wouldn’t blink an eye. I’m generally not easilly offended. However, putting them on kids’ tees for sale is incredibly poor taste, in my opinion.

    How will I act on my opinion? By not buying the tee. (I’d say ‘by not shopping at K-Mart’ but that’s something I already do… I was never a fan and there aren’t any handy besides.)

    K-Mart has a right to sell that shirt, and I have a right to be offended by it.

  65. violencefreeinetown says:

    Kmart has the right to sell the shirt, but society as a whole does NOT have to except any form, joking or not, of domestic violence. We have been very lienient about it on T.V. shows, cartoons, tee shirts, bumper stickers etc. There are alot of people going through domestic violence. Why is it ok to try to have power over someone else? To trespass onto someone elses propery, their body, it is a crime! Why do we want to promote any sort of crime on a tee shirt? What if it was a man and a baby on that shirt? Would that get attention? But, because its a woman its ok? Something to think about huh? And in Wyoming, hopefully we can start a “Men against Domestic Violence” campaign. We, as a society need to put an end to domestic violence, and standing up to the people that promote it is a good start.

  66. WGUY00 says:

    This is a funny thread. All these moral people complaining about violence. Have you looked at this country lately? Homeless people, record numbers in prison etc etc….Like this T-Shirt is going to add anything more to it. If you or your kids do bad stuff because of cartoons, you need help! I wish all of these soccer moms with useless lives would worry about something important like selling their SUV (grocery carrier) and global warming!