Has society stooped so low that it accepts messages making light of domestic abuse from its high-street retailers? Thankfully not, says Niki May Young, because of the charities that protect our standards.
I'm a shopper, I could shop all day every day, I love it. Nothing pleases me more than the thrill of a purchase, the smell and feel of new clothes, or getting to try out my new gadget for the first time. So I spend a lot of money. And until recently I was particularly fond of spending it at retail giant Topshop. What a shame then that they've messed that up.
When I read my colleague's story on Topman's recall of a t-shirt that appeared to compare women to dogs and one that hinted at excusing abuse I was struck by the abject stupidity involved with ushering these t-shirts onto their rails in the first place. How many lines of management would have been involved in the whole process? Why did no-one put their hand up and say, "Um, I think that maybe this could be detrimental to our image", or better yet, "Are you out of your freaking mind, could you get more offensive?!"
Topman and its sister company Topshop appeal to a youth market - you can tell this because their clothes are tiny, and more often than not their aisles are swarming with teenage girls in mini-skirts and crop tops, or teenage boys with jeans hanging so low off their bums they're practically tripping over them. So what kind of example does it set to this next generation to excuse domestic abuse, providing a tick-box list which could easily be interpreted as a list of reasons why one might be violent to their partner. "I'm so sorry but... you provoked me, I was drunk, I was having a bad day, I hate you, I didn't mean to, I couldn't help it," is what it says. What Topman said in response to the campaign that led to their recall was almost as bad. They would "like to stress that these t-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning". Well, that's ok then, making a joke out of something so 'trivial' as domestic abuse is acceptable these days is it?
Thankfully not, because there are charities willing to stand up against big corporations like Topman and say "hold on a minute!" Until yesterday neither I nor my colleagues had heard of Tender Education & Arts, the domestic abuse prevention charity that raised the flag on the issue, launching the social media campaign that led to Topman backing down and removing the t-shirts from its stores. Tender works with young people to promote healthy relationships and prevent violence and abuse through the arts.
Its recent victory serves as a welcome reminder of the tireless and invaluable work humbly carried out by the UK's 200,000+ charities every day, protecting the standards of our society where no-one else will.
I save my final note for Topman and Topshop alike: "I'm so sorry but... you're not going to see my money again."