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
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
A year ago, 1,000 garment workers died in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Here's a look at what has changed since then.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Focus is on the fish as U.S. President starts tour with visit to legendary Tokyo restaurant.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Fireworks are fantastic and human endeavor has its place, but sometimes Mother Nature outshines any performance we can produce.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0306 GMT (1106 HKT)
In 1987, China sent its very first email. Here's what it said,
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
The world's new fastest elevator will fling you from earth to the 95th floor before you're done reading this article.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
In one U.S. state, a new bill will allow ordinary citizens to carry guns in all sorts of places. Does it make you feel safer?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 0701 GMT (1501 HKT)
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT