Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hardy Girls to Kmart...we're still waiting

While we've been getting lots of response to our petition to Alwyn Lewis, CEO of Sears Holdings to pull the Problem Solved t-shirts from Kmart shelves and become a leader in violence prevention, we still haven't heard from Mr. Lewis himself. In addition to programs and inviduals around the country, we've gotten a call from Senator Olympia Snowe's office asking how the office might be helpful in our endeavor. So, before we announced a protest similar to the fabulous one held in Toledo,

Demonstrators protest 'Problem Solved' t-shirts
Protesters want t-shirts pulled from Kmart shelves
Mother of murder victim outraged by t-shirt she says promotes violence

we decided we would give Mr. Lewis a reminder that we were looking for some answers from him. We faxed the letter below and will keep you posted on whether he responds. In the meantime, feel free to visit the Hardy Girls' site to download your own petition for 10 people to sign and send. Together we can make a difference in creating a safer world for women and children.

January 23, 2007

Aylwin Lewis, CEO and President
Sears Holdings Corporation
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179

Dear Mr. Lewis:

On December 20, 2006 we faxed and mailed a letter to your office regarding the Route 66 Problem Solved “Attitude” t-shirts that Kmart is selling in stores throughout the country.

Since our letter was sent to your office, we have heard from our friends throughout the country – in states such as Minnesota, Ohio, and Massachusetts that Kmart has chosen to continue to sell the shirts despite letters, protests, and emails asking Kmart to take a stance against violence. We haven’t however, heard from Kmart or Sears Holdings as to whether Kmart is planning to act on these requests from their consumers.

Specifically, we have asked Kmart and Sears Holdings to recall the shirts from its stores permanently, take a public stand against violence, and partner with local sexual assault and domestic violence prevention projects in towns where stores are located in order to provide all staff with violence prevention and intervention trainings. In addition, we would like to see Kmart take a proactive approach to changing design and purchasing decisions to ones that reflect the values of your consumers and of your mission and values statement. Interestingly, the Meijer chain when confronted with the issue immediately understood the importance to their customers and is now looking deeper into their purchasing policies in order to avoid mistakes such as this in the future.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund, Dads and Daughters and the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood are national organizations urging their supporters to download our petition to you from our website. This issue is generating interest across the country on blogs and list-servs. We have heard from supporters in different areas that the t-shirts have been pulled from their local stores. We’ve also heard from Senator Snowe’s office inquiring as to your response to our request. Since, however, we have not heard from you or any other representative of Kmart or Sears Holdings, we will continue to generate media attention, mobilize supporters, and plan our own protest here in Maine. Violence prevention is a major concern of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and of the majority of your consumers and employees.

We sincerely encourage Kmart not only to pull the remaining shirts from all Kmart shelves, but also to take a proactive stance against violence. We look forward to hearing from you.


Megan Williams, Executive Director
Hardy Girls Healthy Women

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Good News....and the Horrible

Just when I think things are looking up I pick up the paper and anger and depression resurface all too quickly. I just finished reading an email with two pieces of good news -- from Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, member of NOW's Young Feminist Task Force

1) Meijer's (retail supercenter) corporate headquarters is issuing a NATIONAL RECALL of the offending Problem Solved t-shirts. They are pulling the remaining shirts. They could not have been more apologetic. When informed that it's probably a good thing because local women were organizing a demonstration against sellers of the shirts, the Meijer corporate spokesperson replied, "Oh, no, we don't need that." (However, the change has not yet affected their website and the shirt is still being advertised, and we're keeping an eye on this as we certainly hope they don't plan to leave it up until the next ad comes out.)

2)People Called Women Bookstore is organizing a Kmart Protest in Toledo, Ohio
Date: Sunday, January 21, 2007
Time: 1:00pm
Place: Outside KMart at Alexis and Jackman
What: Protest of sexist and violence-promoting t-shirts being marketed to young boys (and men at other locations)
Who: Parents of slain women, survivors of violence, concerned citizens, kids against violence
Details: The morning of the event, formal letters of complaint and pending girlcott will be hand-delivered to all local area stores known to stock this shirt. Signatures for the letter are being collected by women planning to attend as well as at People Called Women (3153 W. Central). Tshirts from the Clothesline Project will be on display, and Silent Witnesses will be in attendance. KMart was chosen as the first stop on the girlcott tour as 1) they were the first to market it, 2) they chose to market it to children and 3) corporate has already publicly responded they will NOT pull the shirts; however, depending upon the response from other stores which stock it, more pickets may follow.

In case you've forgotten the introductory sentence before the two pieces of good news, there's horrible news. For the second time in less than a month, the front page of my local paper has the story of a domestic murder. Last month it was of 13 year old Anthony Tucker trying to get his sister and mother out of the house when he was shot and killed by his mother's partner. Yesterday Rhonda Reynolds was shot in front of her small children by her husband Richard Reynolds from whom she had a protection order.

What part of violence against women and children does Kmart still find "lighthearted" enough to market to children? You cannot divorce the insidious messages this culture gives to young boys that violence is an okay way to show you are a man. That message isn't going to change until the 95% of men who don't abuse women and children step up their action and raise their voices to make it known that real men don't slap, kick, punch and kill those who are less powerful then they are.

From: "Jess Morgan"
Reply-To: NOW Young Feminist Task Force
To: "NOW Young Feminist Task Force"
Subject: [NOW YFTF] Just wondering...
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 11:05:23 -0500

Hello young feminists! My organization is trying to get Kmart to pull a t-shirt for children that promotes domestic violence, and is stereotypical for girls and boys. If you'd like to see this ridiculous t-shirt, the url is http://www.hardygirlshealthywomen.org/i/tshirt.pdf.
I'd like to know what you all think, you know, if its convenient. Thanks, and g'day!
Jess Morgan
ps- More info about what we are doing is at www.hghw.org.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa and he gets it.

I found this while reading a list serve on violence prevention PreventConnect.org It's good to know that while Kmart's parent corporation doesn't get it, at least some of their employees do.

"On Christmas Eve I was finishing up my Christmas stocking shopping. In years past done at K-Mart. After several hours and far more $ then usual I got through most of my Chirstmas list. Unfortunartly K-Mart was the only store in town where I could get the last 3 items. I went to the manager of the store explaned about the T-Shirt and showed him how little I had spent in his store this year compared to years past. I ask if he would please forward the info onto the corporate headquarters. He shared my disgust of T-Shirts that show our children that violence is an answer to problem solving and he said he would get an email out right away.

On my way out of the store one of the employees asked if I could show them where the shirt was. The manager of the store followed us and upon seeing the shirt pulled it from the shelve. He said it didn't matter to him if corporate office said it was staying. "I don't care" was his reply.

Don't give up on getting it off the shelves. If enough of the individual stores will stand up to corporate there may be hope yet.
Robin Clover
SAFV Task Force"

In case you missed it, here's the Kmart Corporation's web comment page.