Three weeks, three major name brand stores hawking sexist T-shirts. The first two times around, it was tees for girls that read “I’m too pretty to do homework,” and “Allergic to Algebra.” Critics said the message to girls was loud and clear — focus on your looks, not your smarts.
Now, U.K. men’s clothing store Topman has shown it’s got a few message for the ladies, too. Only this time, the men are wearing the tees.
One printed T-shirt read “Nice new girlfriend,” and then “What breed is she?” right beneath it. Another started with the text, “I’m so sorry, but,” and then gave a number of excuses including, “You provoked me,” “I was drunk,” and “I couldn’t help it.” Topman has already withdrawn the T-shirts after getting a torrent of criticism that said one shirt was misogynistic and the other was promoting domestic violence.
The store said in a statement:
We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts. Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning, we have made the decision to remove these from store and online as soon as possible. We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.
The shirts are now listed as “out of stock” on the Topman Web site.
But the backlash has continued, with one blogger and student pointing out on Twitter that in the same week the T-shirts were being sold, a study came out showing domestic violence is twice as likely for young people from poorer backgrounds.
The study carried out by Bristol University found physical, emotional and sexual abuse to be much more commonplace in the United Kingdom than originally thought. More than half of the female respondents said that they had been in a sexually violent relationship before they were 18, and half said they had experienced physical violence.
Another U.K.-based blogger wrote on Twitter: “Am beginning to see possible downside to Topman T-shirt ban. At least, if you saw a misogynistic [expletive] wearing one, you knew who to avoid.”
Domestic abuse prevention charity Tender Education & Arts, which had started a campaign around the shirts called “STopmam,” said “they were really pleased” to see the shirts taken off of shelves.
Tender campaign manager Doireann Larkin told CivilSociety.co.uk:
Each year 100 women and 20 men are murdered as a result of domestic abuse in the UK and many more are affected. This can only happen within a society which is tolerant of domestic violence. These kinds of slogans provide a context where we accept the image of the domestic violence perpetrator as the ‘cheeky chap’ who can be excused... We’ve seen the results of these attitudes and we simply can’t take it as a joke.
Topshop, the business counterpart of Topman, got into hot water in July when it posted a photo on its Web site of a model that critics said was painfully thin. Topshop later took the photo down.