Topman Lose Their Sense of Humour
A little while ago I wrote a post about t shirts which had been cropping up for sale online which seemed to suggest rape was something to be laughed about. These t shirts, unsurprisingly, were met with a storm of protest and were withdrawn from sale.
Yesterday I read something that disturbed me just as much. Topman has recently come under fire for two tshirts it decided to sell. One, objectifying women, states “Nice new girlfriend. What breed is she?” and the other, well the other I can hardly believe ever existed. The other begins “I’m so sorry, but …” and then goes on to list six classic excuses made by perpetrators of domestic violence. That’s right, Topman thought it would be great to sell a tshirt to young men listing the excuses given by people who beat their partner.
These t shirts have also been withdrawn for sale now, but the fact that they even went on sale in the first place speaks volumes for regard in which women are held in certain areas of society. Topman is not some little back street outfit, they are a large, mainstream store found on almost every high street. They aim their products at the teenagers and men in their twenties. They hold influence in this age range. And they sold them a t shirt which effectively suggested that should they happen to find themselves cheating on their partner, or hitting their partner or anything else they shouldn’t have been doing, there’s a list of perfectly acceptable excuses to use, and hey! some of them will even make it their fault. Is this really the message we want to give to our young men?
I’m flabbergasted that these t shirts made it through all the processes needed to bring a new product line to market. This isn’t the work of one buyer, going it alone – plenty of people at Topman would have had the chance to say “hang on a minute, this isn’t right” before these t shirts were ever ordered. But no. Topman released this statement, and have refused to enter into further dialogue about the situation:
We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts. While we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be lighthearted and carried no serious meaning, we have made the decision to remove these (sic) from store and on-line as soon as possible. We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.
Even their apology statement seeks to make it someone else’s fault: “we would like to apologise to those who may have been offended” with a subtext of “even though you really shouldn’t have been and should stop being oversensitive”. So, these designs were meant to be lighthearted? In what world is blatant sexism and objectification lighthearted? In what world is domestic violence lighthearted? When is it ever OK to say “sorry I hit you but I was drunk/you provoked me/I was having a bad day/I hate you/I didn’t mean it/I couldn’t help it”. In what world is it OK to remove blame from yourself for these actions?
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