Yesterday domestic violence advocates across the state were incensed when it came to our attention that amazon.com was selling a tee shirt by Old Glory that read “Battered Women Taste Better”. For those of us who daily see the effects of abuse on families-- the terror, pain and disillusionment as a partner controls, humiliates and inflicts physical and emotional pain in the name of love, the trite play on words is perplexing and sad. What motivates someone to spend $14.95 plus shipping and handling on a shirt that communicates this particular message to the world?
Initially Old Glory was unmoved by calls of concern. Their representative commented by e-mail,
“It is someone’s right to sell any product they wish as it is up to someone else, to
view it or buy it … this is not something my company will remove. …it is our right
to sell the product. Have a wonderful day.”
After Fox 23 became interested in the story the tee was removed from the website.
In our office there were many different reactions to the tee shirt… but speechless characterized the most frequent response. It’s sad that after we’ve committed 30 years to helping victims and raising awareness that a manufacturer would market a shirt with this puny and insensitive pun … clearly we’ve still got a lot of work to do in changing how our society views intimate partner violence. When we ignore acts and images of violence we’re tacitly condoning them. Here’s a challenge, this week as you’re watching prime time TV, count how many times intimate partner violence or sexual assault are part of the show. .. you might be surprised. It’s reassuring that so many people find this shirt offensive, but at DVRC we worry that this public hoopla, instead of advancing awareness, might actually distract us from the really important work. Do water cooler discussions about this shirt increase awareness or do they minimize the issue? Once this story has been covered will it prompt a bigger discussion about how we work collectively to end abuse…or will we shake our heads at the passionate wrangling over a sophomoric tee shirt? If the shirt is pulled off the shelf because of our opposition do we as a society then feel we’ve done our part to end domestic violence?
What do you think? Is taking a stand about this shirt an important step in social advocacy…. or does it trivialize this issue in the public’s mind?