Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Why I’m boycotting the Foschini Group

T-shirts that are offensive towards women, ignorant of the HIV/Aids pandemic in South Africa, or are simply offensive are a reflection of a culture that says we shouldn’t care about these things, because misogyny, HIV/Aids and women’s rights are not something to be taken seriously. When a major brand like Foschini chooses to produce shirts that entrench these messages it is important that they are called to account.

On Thursday last week, Rebecca Hodes posted a letter on FeministsSA, signed by a number of journalists and academics, calling the Foschini group to remove the following shirt from their stores, and illustrating to them why it was wrong to have shirts like this in their stores. I put out a call on FeministsSA for others to send me images of shirts that they found offensive. I received three more. One that said “I put the STD in STUD, now all I need is U”. One said “You looked better … from behind”. The final one said the way to a woman’s heart was through money, cars and lies.

What these T-shirts share in common is a deep-seated misogyny, a lack of respect for women, a lack of awareness about sexual health, and the fact that they are all produced by the Foschini group in their stores Markhams and Sportscene.

Foschini is sending us a message — they don’t care about women’s rights, and they are more than happy to print offensive messages about women. They don’t believe that people who shop in their stores are at risk of contracting HIV, despite claiming their own internal comprehensive HIV policy.

The following stores are also part of the Foschini group:

  • Foschini
  • Donna-Claire
  • Fashion Express
  • Luella
  • Markhams
  • Exact
  • Totalsports
  • Sportscene
  • Due South
  • American Swiss
  • Sterns
  • Matrix
  • @home
  • @homelivingspace

I imagine that many of the people who shop at these stores do not support misogyny, do not support the dangerous practice of multiple concurrent partners, and would like their children to grow up in a world where women are respected for their intellect, ambition and talents rather than for how they look from behind.

If you are part of that group, and shop at Foschini, I’d like to ask you to stop. I’d like you to pay up and close your accounts.

I’d like to ask you to go one step further and get in touch with them and tell them about your displeasure with their messaging on the following number: 021 938 1911. The real person you want to talk to is AD Murray, their executive director.

I’d like you to ask Mr Murray if he promotes these views within the directorate of this corporation, and if he is aware that he is offending and alienating the majority of his target market. I’d like you to tell me what he says.

For now, and until they issue an apology for their ignorant offensive messaging, I will be boycotting them. I hope you will be too.

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    • mike


      Yes, thick comes to mind.

      You are a writer for Hayibo? If correct you obviously agree with all the banter and satire wrt Hayibo?
      Then why are you blind to what Foshini? My comment to you about the T-shirt competition with Foshini and Hyaibo was also along those lines, thick comes to mind again.
      And on the lines of Feminist, there’s the real feminist, the woman who fight for woman rights where it matters and then there’s the angry, I just don’t like men type feminist and everything in the world is against us, and those are the ones fighting and screaming at anything that is not inline with their thinking. As what is happening with Foshini now. Everybody, gets made out as imbeciles because some few angry feminist decided that those t-shirts will have men rape woman and disrespect them even more.

      The reason why feminist have such a bad reputation and not taken seriously are because of these kind of rants. Its insulting to the real feminist working for equality. I work with woman groups in the Transkei and this is an insult to them. This is fancy housewifes moaning vs the woman who have serious issues to deal with in rural areas due to old narrow minded doctrines.
      If you can post any link that support such t-shirts lead to violence against woman, it would be great. Does it make men have less respect for woman?

      I would now never be able to enjoy Hayibo as I did in the past. I always thought the people writing for them were a clever open minded lot,…

    • chantelle

      I have a T-shirt that say ” Women who belive they should be equal to men, have no ambition.”

    • Claire

      I dont think that it was meant or intended malicously.

      My favourite T-shirt from David and Goliath says:
      “Boys are Stupid, Throw rocks at them”
      I love it, its how I feel some times… I dont think it is going to start a revolution though…

    • Garg Unzola

      Will we still have freedom of speech if we boycott everything that could possible cause offence?

    • hamish

      Go get a life:
      So I should not wear a t-shirt with I’m with Stupid as its offensive to stupid people.

      GET A LIFE

      go see if you want to save the world

      Want one that says

      F – Fxxk
      I – I’m
      G – great
      J – just
      A – ask
      M – me

    • Miss O

      So, are you trying to say that the only STD to worry about in South Africa is HIV (which is doubtless caused by “concurency”)? What about other STDs that are as a result of short-term serial monogamy and having a string of one night-stands?mmh…