When T-shirts cause trou­ble

CityPress - - Voices -

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 voices@city­press.co.za

PHOTO: SI­MONE KLEY

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

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