When T-shirts cause trouble
Foschini ditches STDs (2011) Feminist South African groups, HIV activists and a Christian group demanded the boycott of Foschini stores countrywide until they removed all offensive T-shirts stocked in Foschini, Markham and Sportscene outlets because, they said, the messages supported the abuse of women and unsafe sex. The T-shirts – all for men – had slogans such as “how to get laid” and “I put the STD in STUD, all I need is U”.
When the brand finally pulled the shirts from their stores, a UCT academic wrote a letter to the group saying: “[T-shirt designer Harry] Fokker’s use of images and slogans that are explicitly misogynistic on Markham T-shirts is neither humorous nor satirical. In the South African context in which rates of violence against women are among the world’s highest, his T-shirts display, at best, foolish naivety, at worst, casual bigotry.” Fakers dozen (2013) An exhibition at a high school in Durban showed T-shirts designed by students that the ANC deemed “derogatory” to the political leadership at the time and consequently demanded that they be taken down.
One of the satirical T-shirts on display had a picture of Jacob Zuma posing as the Bakers man – the emblem of Bakers biscuits – with the word, “Fakers” over his head. “We view this as an attack on the ANC and on the country,” said Senzo Mkhize, the then ANC spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal. The school principal responded by saying: “Pupils are free to make their own commentary on society, as is their right.” Oranje blanje blou (2014) Port Elizabeth resident Peter Davey decided it would be appropriate to wear his old nationalist T-shirt to the national elections in Despatch in the Eastern Cape, saying it was his right and “my heritage”. When the image was shared on Facebook, it was seen countrywide and started a national debate about the nature of heritage and national dress. If you could put one slogan on a T-shirt, what would it say? SMS your name and answer to 35697. Start the SMS with the keyword SHIRT. SMSes cost R1.50. Alternatively, email email@example.com
RED TO A BULL Muhammed Desai with the T-shirt that sparked a furore when a Virgin Active gym asked him to leave because it was causing offence