Forever 21 has issued an apology for selling a T-shirt bearing the slogan: ‘Don’t Say Maybe If You Want To Say No.’
Er, yeah. That REALLY happened.
The retailer (understandably) found itself at the centre of a huge backlash when consumers pointed out that this phrase could be construed as a joke about rape culture.
Twitter users also hit out at the way it could work to reinforce the concept of victim blaming.
Even Project Consent – the international campaign that aims to combat sexual assault through education and raising awareness – ended up getting involved.
They Tweeted: ‘Hey, @Forever21, we think you should #StopVictimBlaming and pull this shirt from your stores.’
It’s important to note that this quote appeared on a man’s shirt. If it had appeared on a woman’s, it could potentially have been taken in a different way.
As The Cut explains, as a ladies’ tee it’d be seen as a comment on how women are conditioned to find it difficult to say no.
But it wasn’t. And that’s the problem.
While Forever 21 may have been trying to nail lad humour (other tops in their range read ‘Players’ Club’ and ‘Bad Habits’), the slogan instead suggests that ‘maybe’ could sometimes mean ‘yes’.
The brand has said in a statement: ‘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 apologise to anyone who was offended by the product.’