Friday, 7 October 2011

Another 'Hilarious' T-shirt

Wow, has it really been a whole MONTH since the Topman t-shirt shitstorm? You remember - they compared women to dogs and blamed them for being victims of abuse then hastily pulled the t-shirts and issued a swift "Oh, we're sorry you don't have a misogynist sense of humour"?

Oh, what's that? It's not even been a month?

Well fuckdamn, look what's on Chargrilled T-shirts' website!

In case you can't see that, or just don't believe your eyes (I didn't) then yes, that IS a t-shirt saying 'No + Rohypnol = Yes'. Charming, right? I bet ALL the cool guys want that t-shirt. I bet he's beating the women off with a shitty stick. Or not. Doesn't matter, he'll just do all the raping he wants instead!

So, now I want you all to go complain. Very noisily.

Their contact details are here. I've sent them an email and eagerly anticipate their offices opening back up  again on Monday morning so I can shout at someone in person.

Here's the email I sent. Feel free to use/adapt:

I am writing to express my utter disgust at a t-shirt offered for sale in your store. Your 'No + Rohypnol = Yes' t-shirt is so wildly offensive I am almost at a loss for words. Except these:

Rape is a CRIME. I would have thought that grown-ups who own a business would be aware of that fact, but apparently I expect too much of people in a civilised society. Here's another thing - take a look at section 44-46 of the Serious Crimes Act as well. Those would be the parts where encouraging the commission of a crime is also a criminal offence. Nice one, master criminals. 

I wanted to be civil in this email but seriously, fuck you. I mean yeah, rape's all a big fucking joke isn't it. Yeah. Huge pissing laugh. Until you're one of the 47,000 people raped in the UK each year. By my reckoning, that's 129 a day. Or, five an hour. Or two since I started writing this email

But well done you. Well done to the buyers, the designers and the stockists. You've really pushed the boundaries of comedy with this little number. Hi-shitting-larious.

Here's a post about why rape jokes aren't as hilarious as you chucklefucks in the t-shirt industry like to think:

"To all those men who don't think the rape jokes are a problem:

I get it—you're a decent guy. I can even believe it. You've never raped anybody. You would NEVER rape anybody. You're upset that all these feminists are trying to accuse you of doing something, or connect you to doing something, that, as far as you're concerned, you've never done and would never condone. 

And they've told you about triggers, and PTSD, and how one in six women is a survivor, and you get it. You do. But you can't let every time someone gets all upset get in the way of you having a good time, right? Especially when it doesn't mean anything. Rape jokes have never made YOU go out and rape someone. They never would; they never could. You just don't see how it matters.

I'm going to tell you how it does matter. And I tell you this because I genuinely believe you mean it when you say you don't want to hurt anybody, and that it's important to you to do your best to be a decent and good person, and that you don't see the harm. And I genuinely believe you when you say you would never associate with a rapist and you think rape really is a very bad thing. 

Here is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down…

Because 6% of college-aged men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word "rape" isn't used in the description of the act—and that's the conservative estimate. Other sources double that number (pdf). 

A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That's not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

Rapists do. 

They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again. 

Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape. 

If one in twenty guys (or more) is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, in a pick-up game of basketball, at a bar, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can't tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It's not like they announce themselves. 

But, here's the thing. It's very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another, someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn't mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed. 

Or maybe you didn't laugh. Maybe it just wasn't a very funny joke. So maybe you just didn't say anything at all. 

And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed? When you were silent?

That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapistknew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades. 

You. The rapist's comrade. 

And if that doesn't make you feel sick to your stomach, if that doesn't make you want to throw up, if that doesn't disturb you or bother you or make you feel like maybe you should at least consider not participating in that kind of humor anymore, not abiding it in your presence, not greeting it with silence...

Well, maybe you aren't as opposed to rapists as you claim.

Oh, and I've attached a fact sheet about rape and rape convictions. Do be a love and read it next time you consider printing another 'funny' t-shirt.

The PDF I attached, from the Fawcett Society, can be found here. It has lots of stats about the prevalence of rape, rape conviction rates and attitudes towards rape, and lots of lovely citations.

Go forth and shout.


I received the copy and pasted email 'apology' from Chargrilled (see comments for full text) and note a few others have. Here's my response to them: 

Dear CharGrilled,

I'd like to thank you for taking all of four seconds to forward me your lying, half-arsed apology regarding your advocation of rape as a solution to being turned down for sex. Your apology would have been noted (not accepted, because I don't for one second believe your 'rogue designer' story), but there are two things that strike me as somewhat disingenuous about it. Firstly, I'm not sure how you can claim to 'not endorse rape or sexual violence in any form' whilst still stocking beauties like this (If you don't believe in oral sex, keep your mouth shut!) - Did you know that Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 includes forced oral sex in the definition of 'rape'? Here's a link. You'd do well to familiarise yourself with it:

Secondly, I note that on Twitter, your director has taken to calling people who ask him not to advocate rape and sexual violence 'ugly feminists' with no sense of humour. That's pretty shit PR right there. But what would I know? My vagina had rendered me good only for being fucked, not for having opinions and rights of my own, right?

Finally, not that I would judge a person's worth by their physical appearance (not being a complete and utter wanker with the emotional maturity of a banana), but someone ought to inform Mr Shiner about the saying about chucking stones if you live in a glass house.



If anyone wants to C&P that and forward it, please do. Hopefully they'll appreciate the irony.

****UPDATE 2****

In addition to emailing Chargrilled yesterday, I phoned their press office about Charlie Shiner's tweets. They didn't sound impressed at all - the woman I spoke to took my details and said she'd speak to the managing director. I haven't heard anything yet, but his Twitter account was deleted pretty much immediately. What a shame that we got screengrabs

Also, doing a bit more digging* reveals that these weren't the only rape advocating t-shirts:

@TheNatFantastic Got a screengrab on my phone. on Twitpic

Those links lead to "sorry, this product is no longer available" messages,  but the '9/10 people enjoy gang rape' t-shirt is still available on their Amazon store, where it's been since 2010 - rather blowing their  "rogue designer" story out of the water.

@TheNatFantastic Sure thing. on Twitpic

(*Googling 'Chargrilled tshirts rape'. I'm the second result!)


  1. Beautiful post. Thank you for calling this out. It is appalling and I am so tired of men thinking rape is fun.

  2. Bonus disturbance, I notice it's also available as a kids t shirt.
    Email sent, I await a reply with tredpidation.

  3. Wow... This has actually made me really fucking angry. Writing a complaint now.

  4. "People who bought this item also bought..." t-shirts with jokes about Alzheimers and falling out of wheelchairs.

  5. "Unfortunately the page you are looking for may have moved to a new location or been removed. Our apologies for this."

    Luckily we still have Google cache -

  6. Thanks for the pdf link—bookmarked. It's so hard to find UK statistics on a Google search; I'd about given up trying.

  7. They have responded and conceded:

    First of all, we would like to offer an unconditional apology for this t-shirt. CharGrilled does not
    endorse rape or sexual violence in any form.

    Unfortunately we have recently contracted a number of new designers who contribute t-shirts to our
    website. Needless to say, the designer responsible for this t-shirt will not be used by us again.
    Furthermore, we intend to have a full review of our t-shirts to make sure this kind of message has not
    been included in other designs. The offending t-shirt has of course been removed. We will be introducing
    more stringent controls on all our contracted designers and have contacted everyone who contributes t-
    shirts to our site to inform them that this kind of message is unacceptable.

    We would like to thank you very much for bringing this to our attention.

    I hope that you will accept our sincere apologies over this matter.


  8. I got the same response to my email. I find it very difficult to believe that they don't moderate the content of their website before putting things up for sale; as such, I doubt the sincerity of their email. I suppose at least they've taken it down, but only after the flood of emails and complaints they've received.

  9. Hi all - It is heartening to see these comments against such an awful t-shirt. Could i ask you to sign a petition against a Facebook page that contains awful rape jokes. We have been petitioning for around 5 weeks now, and have had some media coverage, but there is a long way to go. The full story is here:

  10. This is disgusting, thank you for highlighting the issue. Any joking about any kind of rape, whether it's blatant or subtle is extremely damaging because it changes things that contribute to rape culture into humor and makes them more 'acceptable'. What's next? T'shirts saying 'her skirt was short, she was asking for it?' Or are they already available?

    I'm sure any men complaining that their t-shirts aren't bad(if any, i'd hope not) would find 'You rape+Prison+Cell mate=sore arse for you mate' offensive, but things always appear different to people like that when it actually affects them.

    Topshop and TopMan can kiss any retail from me good bye.

  11. Excellently worded argument as always, dude. I'm appalled that it ever happened in the first place.

  12. Guys - I don't want to give you complaint fatigue, but too.

  13. I think they meant "ugly feminist" in the sense of "Ugly American", as in a "stereotypically loud, boorish and arrogant". Unfortunately, I am inclined to see things there way - they just received a shit storm of emails in which people reapeatedly shout fuck you at them, encouraging them to disregard what they see as a bunch of childish, loud-mouthed, reactionary fools.

    I don't make this point to suggest the t-shirt is okay, that people shouldn't be offended, or that we shouldn't complain to them. I just think our emails would be less effective if we fill them full of course language and insults. Keep it civil.

    So I am making a "tone argument", which apparently is a form of silencing. That doesn't wash with me for two reasons:
    1) Though the tone argument is a fallacy because it has nothing to do with the actually point being made, nether-the-less if the whole purpose of an argument is to convince onlookers with your views, the least you could do is not give them an easy reason to think "this commentator can't even be civil - so how can they be expected to raise a sensible point?".

    2) In the email Natelie sent, she specifically talks about how we should avoid the poor jokes and mysogynistic terms because rapists use them to validate their own views. By the same token, I feel that using swear words and harsh language in a formal complaint ends up only validating the views of disinterested jerks who regard all feminists as loudmouths.

    Language is something we should be very cautious with, so it saddens me to see a criticism of Chargrilled's poorly chosen words featuring more poorly chosen words.

    Again, I don't want to discourage anyone from expressing their disatisfaction with Chargrilled. I will be doing so myself. Anyone who agrees that the t-shirt is offensive should still do so.

  14. Thanks M - have forwarded my original email to them too.

    ManInAHat - He clearly meant 'ugly feminist' to accord with the stereotype of 'unattractive, humourless, sexless, hairy man-hater'. To respond to you other points: 1) They pride themselves on being uncivil. I thought they'd like it. 2) See 1).

  15. The most alarming thing about M's link seems to be that the default size for that T-shirt is "Child, age 3-4"...

  16. ...I am doubleplus unpleased with the T-Shirt?

  17. How about we search bomb their own website? Popular searches show up near the bottom of at least the main page. Search for phrases like "Chargrilled are rape apologists" (handily already pops up for you when you start typing it), "rape apologist", "no means no", "no + rohypnol still means no".

  18. Googling "chargrilled" and then repeatedly clicking on their sponsored ad might be worth a try too. They have to pay a small amount to Google each time someone clicks on it.

  19. I got the same copy and paste email. It's pathetic.