Oh No They Didn't

Rape Slogan T-Shirts Spark Outrage

Australian brand Solid Gold Bomb was caught hawking rape-themed T-shirts on Amazon's UK site, instigating public horror.

03.04.13 10:59 PM ET

In a world where offensively-sloganed merchandise is pulled off store shelves all of the time, it’s hard to understand why brands keep rolling out highly-insensitive merchandise. Enter Solid Gold Bomb, a brand that was caught selling shirts on Amazon’s UK website, each one emblazoned with violent, misogynist riffs on the classic English slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The shirts, which read “Keep Calm and Hit Her,” Keep Calm and Rape A Lot,” and “Keep Calm and Rape Me,” have sparked public outrage, their messages striking an especially sensitive chord following multiple gang rape incidents in India.

The situation has prompted UK shadow Culture Secretary, Harriet Harman, to speak out against Amazon’s decision to carry the shirts. “Domestic violence and sex offences are not something people should make money out of," she told English paper The Independent. "[Amazon’s] supposed to be a public company.” The shirts have since been pulled from Amazon’s site and Solid Gold Bomb has since deleted their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Harman has also urged Amazon to give a “substantial donation” to women’s safe haven charities. “My suggestion is they give all profits they made from it to a women’s refuge,” she exclaimed.

Solid Gold Bomb, founded in Melbourne Australia in 2008, has also removed the “Keep Calm” series of shirts from their company website and has added an additional page to their site titled, “Our Apology.” The statement, written by the brand’s founder Michael Fowler, blames “computer error” for the shirts’ creation, reading: “As the party responsible within our company for scripting and creating this automated process that created the matched slogans for this ‘Keep Calm’ series, I apologize for the offensive response this has created across the world…This was a computer error of my creation and I accept my responsibility in the matter.”

Fowler elaborated that none of the offensively-sloganed shirts had ever sold. “These items sat online and on non-indexed servers for the last year and myself and our company had no idea of the issue…Had these items ever sold, we would have immediately pulled the series and are doing so on our own and Amazon channels worldwide.”