Entrepreneur yesterday posted a story about a T-shirt from Forever 21 that created such a backlash on social media that the garment was pulled from shelves and taken offline.
The shirt reads "DON’T SAY MAYBE IF YOU WANT TO SAY NO." Some were upset by the message, seeing it as a tone-deaf slogan that perpetuates rape culture. Given the prevalence of sexual assault, especially college campuses, those calling for the shirt’s removal say that its message contradicts the idea of enthusiastic consent, that “yes means yes” in sexual situations. Forever 21’s target customers are teens and young adults.While none of Entrepreneur's readers expressed outrage over the shirt, some did say it was in poor taste.
Amos Schorr They clearly weren't talking about sex, so they don't deserve all that backlash... but it was clearly poor judgment to release it. The consequences should've been obvious.
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Meanwhile, many of Entrepreneur’s readers saw the message as an empowering reminder to state your opinion unequivocally. Many who responded said that they viewed the shirt’s slogan through the lense of a business owner. People first thought about the importance of clearly stating your opinions and not committing to doing something that you’d rather not do.
Neriah Dorothy Muraya It's about meaning what you say; being decisive and firm and this can apply to any myriad of situations. People are definitely overreacting. It could even be about not being a push-over in life or at work…
Michele Wells As an entrepreneur, I think saying no is important. And I love when people just say no -- it saves me time and energy. I don't think this was targeted at supporting rape culture. I think if there was a silhouette of people on the shirt maybe. But I took it as saying, be honest, be straightforward, and say what you mean. Which totally reflects my attitude [100%] of the time.
Jessica Reaser McCartney Before I read the article title I thought it was about being decisive and honest in your small business! I have a hard time telling clients no, which just caused a heated argument with my partner (husband). As for rape culture, I must not [be] as aware of it as a lot of people [because] it didn't offend me.
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Much like the comments above, both male and female readers see the shirt’s message as empowering, implying that people should say what they mean and stand their ground. Given that perspective, many said they’d wear it if they could.
LaRee Antoinette OK so they said [this] is a bad shirt in regards to rape. However, I read this shirt as a response I get from some folks when I'm selling something. I'd rather you say No so I can move on but telling me maybe keeps me coming back because you didn't make a decision... BTW since they pulled the shirts, where can I buy one now?
@Entrepreneur I actually really love this shirt.— Dark Angel (@deezeegirl) March 15, 2016
Brooke Anson Davis Never did [r]ape cross my mind while reading the shirt. In fact, I would have bought it.
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Since the slogan can be interpreted in two very different ways, context clues make all of the difference. The person modeling the shirt for the company was a man, and the shirt was intended for men. Public reaction might have been different if the model had been a woman.
Sherry Whitaker Budziak I see it as telling girls to SAY NO! They probably should have put the T-Shirt on a woman.
Jon Eisenstein Coming from a man, it's an attack that women have had used against them. From a woman, it'd be a solidarity thing.