Skip to main content

Company removes 'rape' shirt listed on Amazon

This shirt, with the slogan
This shirt, with the slogan "Keep Calm and Hit Her," was among those listed for sale on Amazon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The company that prints the shirts took them off the site
  • The company's founder says it was a mistake and he's "extremely sorry"
  • Amazon, blogger say T-shirts didn't exist, were never available for sale
  • Founder: Company computers created word combinations playing off a slogan

(CNN) -- Twitter users erupted in anger Saturday after discovering shirts listed on Amazon with a slogan that appeared to promote rape and violence against women.

The shirt read "Keep Calm and Rape On" and was available on Amazon's UK website. The company that prints the shirts, U.S.-based Solid Gold Bomb, removed the listing after it was notified of the slogan.

The company also removed a shirt with the slogan "Keep Calm and Hit Her."

Solid Gold Bomb apologized, saying the slogans were computer-generated and the company did not deliberately create them.

House passes Violence Against Women Act after GOP version defeated

Founder Michael Fowler posted a message on the company's website saying he was "extremely sorry" for the issue.

"We simply do not produce poor humor or offensive products," Fowler wrote. "As a father, husband, brother and son, I would never promote such product in our company and it was clear to see this when looking across the millions of T-shirts that we offer or can produce on demand. Had these items ever sold, we would have immediately pulled the series and are doing so on our own and Amazon channels worldwide."

His explanation came too late for many on Twitter who called the shirts "disgusting."

"@solidgoldbomb 1/4 women will be the victims of sexual violence. Yay you for trivialising it so heinously," wrote @Seja75.

"When will industries take responsibility for messages they put into the world?" wrote Twitter user Kate Merrick.

Users also focused their anger on Amazon for listing the shirts. "Amazon fail," tweeted user Richard Machtel.

Amazon's spokesman in Britain, Ben Howes, gave a statement to CNN saying, "I can confirm that those items are not available for sale."

The shirts were never actually printed, explained Pete Ashton, a blogger in Birmingham, England, who writes about the Internet.

Companies such as Solid Gold Bomb offer slogans and designs for their apparel, and they are printed on demand when a customer orders one, he said on his site, iam.peteashton.com.

Beyond vomiting, how to prevent rape

There are more than 540,000 Solid Gold Bomb items for sale on Amazon, which indicates they can't all be waiting in a warehouse for shipment.

"The shirts don't exist," Ashton writes. "All that exists is a graphics file on a computer ready to be printed onto a shirt if an order comes through. Still, you might say, someone had to make that file, to type those words and click save. Not necessarily."

Company founder Fowler says the slogans were started a year ago as a parody of the British wartime slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On," which was intended to encourage Britons to keep up their spirits.

Company computers created a combination of words that played off the slogan, taking into account character length and graphic resemblance to the original phrase, he said.

Said Ashton, "Yes, Amazon shouldn't be advertising these shirts. Yes, Solid Gold Bomb should have checked through their verb list before starting the algorithm. But as mistakes go it's a fairly excusable one, assuming they now act on it."

Check out the latest news from CNN.com

CNN's Per Nyberg in London contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1207 GMT (2007 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT