Monday, 10 October 2011

stopman

this post is going to be slightly different to the usual things i post about here, but something was brought to my attention this week that i haven't been able to get out of my head since.
after seeing a link on facebook to this article, i was intrigued & shocked by what i read - two offensive (and i would say sexist) tshirts have been put on sale in topman (pictured below).
the tshirts have now been taken off the site, largely thanks to uproar on twitter & facebook and the sTopman facebook group (which i have joined).
i just wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the matter, apologies for the incoherent, incensed words that may follow. (also, this is posted a little late as the tshirts were first brought out last month)
the tshirts made by topman.
the grey one reads "nice new girlfriend, what breed is she?" - something so in tune with many "hilarious" slogan tshirts on sale today, that at first i didn't even register its offensive message, so used am i to this kind of demeaning comment being plastered all over the place. i think the problem is that we have become so desensitised to comments and slogans like this in modern day life - not just seen on tshirts, but in adverts and magazines - that collectively we let it pass us by, when we should be protesting it.
as a feminist, i am often accused of being "man-hating", or of only raising or recognising issues when they affect women. while this may be true of mainstream media, the underground "fifth wave" of feminism raises and discusses things like this which also affect men all the time.
for example, take the "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" line of tshirts & stationery which are mainly marketed at younger & teenage girls. personally, i think these are equally damaging to the feminist cause as the grey topman tshirt! i think people forget that feminism is about equality between sexes (as a blanket definition), not that "women are better". i see tshirts like this being very damaging as they are still promoting inequality and stereotypes, weakening the character of both sexes.
(oh, by the way, this tshirt was designed by a female student, which frankly speaks volumes)
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moving on to the red tshirt now, which reads;
"i'm so sorry, but
- you provoked me
- i was drunk
- i was having a bad day
- i hate you
- i didn't mean it
- i couldn't help it"
my immediate thought after reading this was "oh my god, it's talking about domestic violence", and after scrolling down to read the article & the comments i saw that i was not alone in this. this is incredibly disturbing, as this tshirt appears to be either A) supporting violence and/or domestic violence against women and/or men, B) poking fun at violence and domestic violence or C) making a comment about violence/domestic abuse by making an ironic "lighthearted" "joke" about it.
neither of these options leave me feeling amused in the slightest. even if topman were going for option C, as a huge retail chain, should have at least twigged that this could be seen as offensive, distasteful and even downright upsetting to some viewers, seeing as all of these statements are the most commonly given excuse by perpetrators of domestic violence. they should also have known that they have no control over who buys and wears this tshirt, as it could have been bought by someone who genuinely believes the message given or finds the tshirt hilarious.
making light of domestic violence - or any violence for that matter! - is not funny, and is not something that should be done by a high street chain as popular and omnipresent as topman/topshop.
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aside from the tshirts themselves, one of the things i was most shocked about was the amount of comments on this blog post & the sTopman group that seemed to find the slogans funny, or at least were unbothered by them. many men (and i'm sorry to put "men" instead of "people", but from all of the comments i saw defending the shirts, 100% were from men) thought the outrage was simply an overreaction by women being "oversensitive" and "if you don't like them, don't buy them" which is surely an oversimplification of the matter at hand. i experienced this firsthand when a male twitter user replied to me after i posted a link to the article;
"that's why they are funny".
i can't even begin to describe my disgust at the vitriol and ignorance that he has expressed in less than 140 characters.
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this post is not as detailed or as in depth as i would like, but i feel like i just needed to write something about how i felt. hopefully this isn't too rambling or emotional, and if you have read this far then thank you. thank you so  much.

2 comments:

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts, but I especially enjoyed this one. Your passion for gender equality is extraordinarily remarkable. I find your stance on the matter to be admirable and completely justified. As a human being, not just a woman, I couldn’t help but think what a magnificent post this one was because its thoughts like yours that are going to change the world for the better. Keep up the great writing.
    ~Suzie from America

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  2. wow, this is such a great post. I'd never even heard of this until now. To be honest (in my opinion), these shirts are dumb and I'd easily just mark any guy wearing them off as a douchebag. Maybe you don't have it in the UK but there's a pretty famous one circulating the US right now which is a knock-off of the Coca Cola ad. It reads "I Enjoy Vagina" and it's just so offensive. I work at the Mall of America & call security on them whenever I see a guy wearing it. It's offensive and rude!

    Since I believe in freedom of speech, these shirts should be marketable. It's really just a question of ethics and judgement. If I guy liked the shirt & bought it, then it's his own choice and he gets to deal with the consequences.

    p.s. That's totally fine to put that post on FB! I really love both the brooches. I was just looking at your shop yesterday...that elephant necklace is TOO cute! You're amazing, looking forward to buying from you again :)

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the wrote and the writ.