Sexism Sells T-shirts at Roger David and City Beach

Local Collective Shout group takes action [UPDATED]

Members of the Collective Shout Group in Toowoomba have been actively opposing sexualised clothing items currently stocked in their local Roger David and City Beach stores.

City Beach

Roger David

Letters were sent to various members within the City Beach Head Office, outlining disappointment that this retail chain was contributing to the prevalence of sexual messages in society. The purpose of these letters was not merely to communicate disapproval, but also to highlight the consequences of contributing to the early sexualisation of children and the objectification of women. A request was also made to discontinue the sale of this particular line of clothing.

The Collective Shout Toowoomba Group received a reply from Chris Somerville, City Beach Marketing Department. An excerpt from the letter:

We thank-you for bringing the concerns of Collective Shout to our attention and have engaged the City Beach buying teams in discussion regarding the points raised in your letter to ensure they are aware of your opinions on this matter.

We’d like to thank you for your feedback. As a retailer the feedback of our customers is extremely important to us as it provides valuable insight into what our customers do and do not like.

Unfortunately the shirts are still available for purchase.

While City Beach had the courtesy to reply to their correspondence, Roger David did not. Similar communication was sent to their head office, regarding their “Annie Hollywood” and “Blood is the New Black”, yet no reply was received.

Concerned that both stores were continuing to stock disturbing clothing lines, the Toowoomba group developed a new strategy – a boycott of both stores.

Posters were sent to each store, featuring the signatures and photographs of 50 young people who were unwilling to shop at either store until the offensive items were removed. Included on the posters (this one to Roger David):

Dear Roger David,
As young people of Toowoomba, we are deeply concerned by the highly sexualised clothing that is currently being sold in your store at the Grand Central Shopping Centre. We believe many of the men’s T-shirts sold in your store are demeaning to women and we don’t understand why you would choose to stock such a clothing style. Objectifying women is not art and it should not be labelled ‘trendy’. It is disgusting.

We’re in our teens. We are in our twenties and thirties – We’re not old prudes. We simply want something better for ourselves, our friends and our city.

We ask you to removed items such as the “Anne Hollywood” T-shirts and similar styles made by brands such as “Blood is the New Black” from your stores. We do not want to buy them, nor do we want to see them for sale in your shop. We’ve created this poster as a ‘protest’ against these items. We won’t be shopping in your store until these products are removed.

We ask that you carefully consider this matter and would greatly appreciate your response within 10 days.


The Undersigned.

The 10 days have well and truly come and gone and the group has not received a response from Roger David. The poster sent to City Beach did not receive response, either.

Collective Shout would like to know why Roger David and City Beach feel comfortable in ignoring the concern  of consumers. Perhaps they can afford to disregard the loss of 50 customers… but what if the boycott of their stores became more widespread? Would the loss of thousands of customers cause them to question the wisdom of stocking sexualised products?

Are you willing to shop elsewhere until these stores remove inappropriate items from their stores? Write to your local store and include a picture of yourself, advising them why you will no longer purchase from their store. Better yet, you could create a similar poster with a group of concerned friends. The greater the response, the greater the chance to move forward in cleaning up culture.

If you want to leave a comment at the City Beach or Roger David websites, please visit the links below:

City Beach Online Feedback Form

Roger David Online – visit contact us section

As always, if you do send either City Beach or Roger David a message, please also post in the comments below.

UPDATE 15/10/10

Collective Shout's Toowoomba group have been working hard to get the message through to City Beach and Roger David, who don't seem to have a problem with selling porn on a t-shirt to teenage boys.  Today, this story appeared in The Chronicle.

T-SHIRTS featuring naked women, some bound and gagged with rope, have prompted a group of young people to boycott popular retail stores in Toowoomba.

Members of the Toowoomba branch of Collective Shout say they will not shop at Roger David or City Beach stores while they sold “highly sexualised clothing items”.

Collective Shout member Mark McErvale said the T-shirts objectified and sexualised women as well as promoted the pornography industry.

“Sexualisation in culture is a significant issue,” the 23-year-old said.

“It degrades women and girls and creates a false expectations in men and boys.

“The Collective Shout group is seeking to raise awareness and momentum among the community. We hope the community will join the push to see corporations cease stocking pornographic images on clothing.”

The range of clothing deemed offensive by the group includes a T-shirt with a women dressed in lingerie and high heels, behind an ironing board, as well as topless women in a bathtub full of breakfast cereal.

Fellow Collective Shout member Natasha Ballinger said T-shirts that showed gagged women had the potential to further traumatise rape or sexual assault victims. Read more at The Chronicle.

Later, the story goes national with Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Liszewski quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

An internet group opposed to the sexualisation of children has vowed to boycott stores in the Queensland rural city of Toowoomba over some of the T-shirts they are selling.

The shirts depict naked women, some bound and gagged with rope, and have prompted local members of Collective Shout to declare they will not shop at Roger David or City Beach stores while they sold highly sexualised clothing items.

Collective Shout spokeswoman Melinda Liszewski said the artwork on some of the clothes aimed at teenagers borrowed themes from pornography.
"City Beach's main customer base would be teenagers or maybe early 20s, and they're marketing these shirts which are just borrowing images from pornography and objectifying women," Ms Liszewski told AAP on Friday. Read more at SMH.

As always there will be those who say 'it's just a t-shirt.' We disagree, these t-shirts are a statement about women and girls. But it's not just a t-shirt, not just a billboard, not just a music video or a magazine. It is the cumulative effect of the imagery and message that women's bodies are there for men's use that is detrimental to women and girls.

Naturally, this message is also harmful to boys and men as Collective Shout member Mark McErvale articulated so well:  

"It degrades women and girls and creates a false expectations in men and boys." 

To deny the impact of this imagery in our culture, is to deny the effect of advertising itself. Advertisers don't spend billions of dollars a year on something that has no effect.

We invite City Beach and Roger David to pull sexist and degrading items from their stores and to make better decisions with their clothing range.

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