High street fashion giant Forever 21 has come under fire for a particularly shocking men’s t-shirt. The piece of clothing causing all the kerfuffle comes with the words ‘Don’t say maybe when you mean no’ emblazoned across the chest. Before you read any further, ask yourself, what’s your initial reaction here?
According to numerous sources, the designers behind the t-shirt apparently meant it as an encouraging slogan directed at men who have trouble making decisions, but I’m not sure who could read these words, worn by a man, and not be bowled over with connotations of rape culture. ‘Oh, there’s a man who needs to be more assertive with his decision making’ – um, no. How else would you interpret this kind of slogan? When read in this particular context, it not only appears to rationalise rape but because it’s intended for men, it could be argued that it adds an air of victim-blaming that really makes you wince.
While many people are rightly appalled, we’re not saying that it was the intention of designer to make light of something so serious, but they sure as hell overlooked what to many will be glaringly obvious.
Speaking to Refinery 29 as they attempt to put out this fire, a spokesperson for the brand said: “Forever 21 strives to exemplify the highest ethical standards and takes feedback and product concerns very seriously. With regards to the T-shirt in question, upon receiving feedback from our customers, we took immediate action to have it removed from our website. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the product.”
Not the kind of PR you hope for as an affordable fashion brand, right? Here’s hoping they live and learn.