News & Politics

Under Pressure from Activists, Etsy Pulls "Pro-Rape" T-Shirts from Site

The online retailer came under fire for its sale of t-shirts that explicitly promote sexual violence.

Lovers of Etsy, the online retailer that allows its user base to sell vintage pieces or their own hand-made creations to potetnially jumpstart their own entrepreneurial endeavors, learned that the sky is not the limit when it comes to the kinds of messages that are acceptable on Etsy-sold T-shirts. 

Activists rallied this week in an effort to have several highly offensive, pro-rape t-shirts—that read “Autumn is perfect for date rape” and “I’m a sensitive guy, I only rape pregnant  women," and "Old people are useless. You can't even rape them," among others—removed from the website. Since the outrage was sparked, Etsy has complied in taking down the seven shirts that explicitly condone or encourages rape, citing its terms and conditions, which prohibit the sale of items that “promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others.” 

Anti-rape and sexual assault activists were alerted to the shirts this past Wednesday when, before the day’s end, a petition prompted by, demanding that Etsy discontinue the shirts and ban their seller fyourshirts  had amassed more than 2,000 signatures.

“What we’re really trying to do is…change the way Americans think about violence,” Katherine Hull, spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), told RH Reality Check. “We’ve been using social media to encourage our supporters to take a stand against these t-shirts and against sexual violence.”

While the t-shirts in question were promptly taken down, some other controversial items remain, as the seller has still yet to be banned from the site. 


Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.

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