Feminist Apparel CEO Fires Staff After Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
There's already been a few hurdles in the world of feminist apparel. Now, a Philadelphia-based company is at the center of a scandal that proves that just because a company says it supports the #MeToo movement, doesn't mean it's true.
According to Refinery29, a clothing company called Feminist Apparel has been selling T-shirts with catchy slogans in support of women's rights. The shirts feature slogans like "Cats Against Catcalls" and "Don't Tell Me To Smile". The brand received a lot of positive press, and even accrued more than 360,000 social media followers. In addition, the company partnered with local artists for designs, and a partnering organization would receive a portion of the proceeds.
Everything seemed to be going well, until the company pretty much went up in a metaphorical blaze of controversy and hypocrisy. Last month, the Feminist Apparel staff found out that the brand's founder and CEO Alan Martofel confessed to a history of sexual harassment and abuse. Martofel claims it's the reason he started Feminist Apparel.
The employees responded by asking for his resignation, but instead, all nine employees were fired without notice. Martofel and an outside consultant were the only employees who remained.
Rebecca Green, the company's former art director, gave the following statement to Refinery29:
This is the patriarchy and toxic masculinity at its ... finest. I feel righteous and angry. I feel supported by my coworkers and friends. I also feel tired. I feel incredibly sorry knowing that there are survivors in this office who were led to believe that their contributions to this company were directly going to creating a safe space and platform for survivors, feminists, and marginalized identities. As an artist myself creating work based on my own experiences with the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and harassment for this company—and by extension this man—I feel used and willfully mislead.”
The scandal began when Feminist Apparel was tagged in a Facebook post that accused the CEO of rape. It was then that the employees did some digging, and discovered that Martofel posted his own Facebook post admitting to the horrible offenses, and explaining that he wanted to launch Feminist Apparel to solve society's rape culture problem.
“We’ve all either faced this firsthand, seen it, heard a firsthand account of it, or are guilty of it ourselves,” Martofel wrote in the the post. “I’m someone who’s guilty of it. I’ve grinded up on women on buses and at concerts without their consent. I’ve made out with ‘the drunk chick’ at a party because it was easier."
This confession differed from the origin story Martofel told employees about the company. He had said it was an idea he came up with in college after filming a documentary on sexual assault.
When the employees came to Martofel with the accusations, he admitted to them, and said he would step down from the company. However, within a few days, the employees discovered that they had all been terminated without severance.
Obviously, now that the story has made waves in the media, Martofel's future at the company is in question, according to a blog post on the company's page. But it's left many to wonder how many other companies are throwing their support behind women's rights for the profits and nothing else.