THOSE Topman shirts: offensive or not?

Topman shirt with Nice New Girlfriend What Breed Is She logo

Straw poll, jurors: Topman have withdrawn this shirt following complaints. Is it offensive? Should they have withdrawn it?

What about this one, which has also been withdrawn?

Topman shirt with I'm so sorry but logo...

The objections being voiced about this shirt centre around the idea that the thing being apologised for is domestic violence. We have to admit, that was the impression we got from it too, although we saw this for the first time already knowing that it had been withdrawn following a Twitter storm, and that may well have coloured our views.

Topman’s 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.”

What do you think: do either of these offend you? Should they have been withdrawn?

 

23 Comments

  • September 15, 2011

    Emily

    I read this story in the paper earlier and have been struggling to understand how everyone’s made the leap from a t-shirt apologising for something non-specific to deciding that it’s about domestic violence. The shirt mentions nothing about violence at all, why is it assumed that a man apologising for something means that that something has to be some form of hatred towards women? That said, I do think it’s dumb, but then I think that of most shirts that say things on them.

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  • September 15, 2011

    Beth

    Didn’t get the domestic violence connection either to be honest. But they shouldn’t sell T shirts like this on the principle that they’re a bit rubbish and not very funny.

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  • September 15, 2011

    Julie

    I hadn’t even thought about domestic violence. There are so many things to apologize for. Why thinking of the worst ? It’s just a funny T-shirt.
    For the first one I can’t really say anything because I don’t know what “breed” means. I don’t speak enough English to understand it…

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    • September 15, 2011

      Emily

      In that context it refers to animals, suggesting (I assume) that she is a dog.

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      • September 16, 2011

        Terry

        ah that was lost on me 🙂

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  • September 15, 2011

    Emily

    Personally, domestic violence is the first thing that sprung to my mind when I read that shirt, and this sentiment was echoed by a few other people I mentioned it to. It sounds like some sort of excuse checklist in an abuser’s how-to manual. Whether or not this is how it was intended, I am also stunned that someone, somewhere down the line, didn’t ever say ‘Maybe the writing on this shirt isn’t really appropriate…’

    The other one isn’t quite as brain-meltingly disgusting, but also isn’t very funny and lacks a huge amount of class.

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  • September 15, 2011

    b.

    Domestic violence, casual misogyny (one of the worst kinds, imo), playing into rape culture – these shirts have got it all. Disgusting and disturbing all round.

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  • September 15, 2011

    Viper

    Usually I’m not one to agree with the withdrawals of shirts like this, because for most of them the connotation is secondary. While I doubt the misogynistic messages were INTENDED, that interpretation is very apparent rather than secondary like most of the shirts pulled from the shelves. I think pulling these was appropriate in this situation.

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  • September 15, 2011

    Aleutie

    Why oh why everybody decided that this red tee was intended for men only? I don’t see anything specifically male in that statements. I would buy one and wear the hell out it, I think it’s funny. I would also use a little check sticker that in my case would alternate between “you provoked me” and “I was having a bad day” – my husband will surely appreciate it he can take a joke :)))

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    • September 15, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      Probably because it was sold by TopMAN, which makes clothes for men? Obviously women are free to shop there too, if they want to, just as men are free to buy clothes from women’s stores, but I think it’s fair to say that clothes sold by a men’s clothing store are primarily intended for men, regardless of who ends up buying or wearing them.

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      • September 15, 2011

        Aleutie

        Still: nothing specifically misogynistic in the statements, it’s ironic and the irony pointed to men, not to women.

        And really: is it a fair comparison: men can buy clothes in women’s store as much as women buy clothes in mens’? Unisex clothes is mostly (maybe all) comes from the men department; there is not much stuff from women store that fit a man 🙂 This tee is unisex: I didn’t know the store it came from, so I would never suspect it’s gender attachment.

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  • September 15, 2011

    Marianne via Facebook

    What happens to the shirts now….?

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    • September 20, 2011

      Emily

      They burn in the fiery depths of hell, hopefully.

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  • September 16, 2011

    Caz Toone

    I hate the first one :/ I really dont get the referring to women as dogs thing..its kinda gross….But I’ve seen the other one a few times and never once did my mind jump to violence..

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  • September 16, 2011

    Niamh

    I think that the reaction is maybe a little extreme – while they ARE quite poor taste jokes, there are plenty of people who would find them funny. As a teen, I know plenty of guys who’d find it amusing, but only in the same spirit as liking all those things on Facebook about a woman’s place being in the kitchen. It was bad form on Topman’s part to make them, fine, but these t-shirts existing doesn’t have to ruin anyone else’s day, does it?

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  • September 16, 2011

    Noe

    I think that the first T-shirt is ok but when I saw the second one before I read what you wrote I immediately thought about violence against women. I suppose it wasn’t intended, but that’s what I read there and, honestly, I don’t find it funny and I wouldn’t buy it or like to see my boyfriend wearing it.

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  • September 16, 2011

    Jaynie

    At first I found the first one disgusting but was merely a bit put-off by the second because my mind didn’t link it to domestic violence, but in hindsight, yeah, that does read like an abuser’s ready-made-excuse checklist. Which is tasteless, if perhaps harmless, if you’re NOT a survivor of abuse, but which could be very triggering to someone who has actually been abused.

    OTOH, both would make a very convenient “don’t date this guy” type of warning signal…

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    • September 16, 2011

      The Fashion Police

      OTOH, both would make a very convenient “don’t date this guy” type of warning signal…

      Ha! I was just saying to my husband that the good thing about shirts like these is that they help weed out the type of guys you probably wouldn’t want to date!

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  • September 16, 2011

    Nell

    Having been abused by a partner in the past (for 10 LONG years) I have to say the red shirt did read like the typical excuses he would make. I am pleased they have pulled the shirt, but slightly disturbed that it ever made it into production.

    The red one – I didn’t really get until I read the comments.

    As has been said before: if I saw a guy wearing either of these shirts I would keep a wide berth…

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  • September 16, 2011

    Nell

    I meant I didn’t get the grey one – not the red one.

    *time to stop drinking wine at lunchime…(kidding)

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  • September 16, 2011

    Cristina

    Yeah I get it’s adoscelent humor. But in that case keep it for the teenagers, not the production line.

    As for the red one, I wasn’t thinking domestic violence, UNTIL I saw the lst two options, then, for me at least, it definitely became an abuser’s excuse list

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  • September 16, 2011

    paputsza

    They both make me want to cease reproduction of the wearer. Not funny. The first one more than the second.

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  • September 20, 2011

    Bee

    Why would anyone want to try so hard, and appear like a total loser, is beyond my understanding! Someone hasn’t been getting any, and is angry, like a spoiled brat!

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