Slogan T-shirts are seldom the most stylish additions to our wardrobes, but they're not usually out-and-out offensive. But Topman have changed all that by selling two printed men's T-shirts that not only insult women but also appear to promote - and excuse - domestic violence.
The T-shirts, which have now been removed from stores and the website as a result of customer complaints, were on sale for £14. One is emblazoned with the words, 'Nice New Girlfriend: What Breed Is She?', while the other reads, 'I'm so sorry but...' followed by a series of check boxes with the options, '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'. While the former is simply obnoxious and clearly aimed at the type of men who routinely refer to women as 'dogs' or 'bitches', the latter has much more sinister undertones. Being drunk, unable to control themselves, being provoked or simply having a bad day are all common excuses for violence against women. And if that's not bad enough, having too much to drink, being 'led on' or 'not meaning it' are routinely trotted out by defendants in rape cases to mitigate their behaviour. So far, so awful. But any attempt to argue that this particular design is perfect for the fashion-savvy man about town, who just so happens to have a very twisted sense of humour, is completely shot down by the inclusion of the words "I hate you". It's hard to imagine a situation in which anyone would say, "I'm sorry, but I hate you" - unless you let your mind go to some very dark places. Although it seems that Topman are doing their best to corner the market in misogynistic fashion, the high street retailer was quick to withdraw the T-shirts from sale and issued a statement insisting that the designs were intended to be "light-hearted". The statement, which was printed on their Facebook page, read: '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.' But the fact that the statement attracted almost 200 responses within just five hours indicates that even those who 'like' Topman aren't too impressed with the designs. And although there's the odd person who fails to see why they might be offensive and suggests that the wearer might just be saying sorry for cheating on his girlfriend or wife, that doesn't really make it any better does it? After all, what kind of man would tell his partner that he's sorry for cheating, but he only did it because she 'provoked him'? Funny, eh? No, it's clear that the vast majority of Topman 'fans' were suitably outraged, with some suggesting that Topshop should put things right by making a sizable donation to a domestic violence charity, which sounds like a good idea to me. So I think it's safe to say that there's nothing light-hearted or funny about these T-shirts or the men who buy them. And if you have the misfortune to discover that the man in your life has already snapped one up, can I suggest that you buy a slogan T-shirt of your own... The old classic, 'I'm with this stupid' should do the trick.
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