Rape is a serious offense under Philippine law and one that is punishable by life imprisonment. Taking lightly such a grave act obviously cannot be taken lightly.
So when a t-shirt making light of rape was spotted at SM, Facebook user Karen Kunawicz immediately took offense at it. She posted an image of the offending shirt to FB on September 22 and the post has since gone viral, garnering more than 1,000 likes, almost 5,000 shares and more than 200 comments.
Twitter was also taken aback by the tee on which was printed: “It’s not rape. It’s a snuggle with a struggle”. Here are samples of what Twitter users had to say:
— Bibliotropic (@bibliotropic) September 27, 2014
If I saw someone wearing this shirt, I would punch them in the face. Just sayin’. http://t.co/OGtBTnSZ61
— RoseAnn Smith (@roseann_24) September 27, 2014
The incident reportedly received international backlash and even foreign online media, like Time, reported about the SM rape joke shirt.
SM Pulls Out Controversial Rape Shirt
On September 23, a day after Kunawicz shared her offending SM find, the Philippine mall chain, via its Twitter account, issued a statement regarding the incident. SM said that it, too, found the message of the rape shirt unacceptable. The company also informed the public that an investigation has begun and the shirts will be pulled out ASAP. Indeed, Rappler reported on the same day that SM has pulled out the controversial rape T-shirt.
The public apology, however, did not name the supplier of the offending shirt, as some netizens pointed out. And despite the full pullout of the SM rape shirt, a few questioned how such inappropriate merchandise got into the store in the first place. Other netizens wanted SM to do more than investigate and apologize.
It Happened To Amazon, Too!
Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), this isn’t the first time a rape t-shirt caused a stir in social media. Last year, Amazon also received flak and faced the same woes as SM now faces for listing t-shirts with offensive messages such as “Keep calm and rape a lot”.
The t-shirt was listed by American company Solid Gold Bomb, who later issued an apology for the “ill-feeling” the incident caused. The company attributed the “mistake” to “automatic error” but took responsibility for it. The shirts quickly became unavailable for sale after the backlash.
A couple of bloggers, like this one here, tried to explain how the automated process of Solid Gold Bomb went out of hand. But still many are adamant that merchandise should be thoroughly checked for appropriateness before hitting store shelves—even a digital one.
And what’s more, “any t-shirt that promotes rape culture is (sic) an obvious or subtle way should not be allowed to be produced or sold. Period,” Heather Cichowski of The Gloss correctly points out.
“It is terrible that this shirt was available for sale (on purpose or accidentally). However, the fact that someone actually thought to design this t-shirt, let alone get it manufactured is unfathomable.”
What say you?