14/08/2014 12:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Sexism Row Over Disney's 'I Need A Hero' T-Shirts For Girls

Sexism row over Disney's 'I Need a Hero' T-shirts for girls

Anti-sexism campaigners have gone to war with Disney – over T-shirts they claim portray women as weak, and men as strong.

Disney-owned Marvel Comics, has produced two T-shirts based on the popular Avengers comic franchise using the same 'hero' slogan. But the blue shirt for boys declares, 'Be A Hero,' while a red shirt for girls says, 'I Need A Hero.'

Campaigners say the slogans are deeply sexist and have set up petitions calling for their withdrawal.

Petition site has hosted two recent petitions from women's advocacy groups, calling for Disney to stop selling the 'sexist' shirts.

"This sends a harmful message about who can and cannot be a leader in this world," the petition, with nearly 7,000 signatures and created by Miss Representation, states.

"These shirts promote the idea that men and boys are meant to do the saving, and that women and girls are the ones who need to be saved."

Another petition from Powered by Girl, explained: "These shirts reflect the antiquated, sexist gender roles that Disney has worked so hard to move away from in the past few years.

"I love Disney movies...What I don't love is seeing the same old assumptions and gender roles being taught to a new generation. The 'Be a Hero' t-shirt is made exclusively for boys, with no girls or even unisex version available."

A description of the $24,50 girls' T-shirt (which also comes in adults sizes) at the Disney Store says: "If you 'Need a Hero', then we've got four of the toughest on this Avengers tee for women. The Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man team up on this 100% cotton v-neck tee with silver glitter highlights."

Meanwhile the $16.50 boys' T-shirt (available only in junior sizes) states: "They'll suit-up for super-powered fun in the invincible Iron Man's athletic jersey style tee for boys."

One protestor Lindsey Weedston wrote: "These shirts are representative of and perpetuate a widespread problem that separates girls and boys at an early age, encouraging gender roles that tell boys to be violent and girls not to complain about violence committed upon them."