Jessica at Feministing found a t-shirt sporting the above image at a site she aptly describes as “the jackpot of offensive t-shirts” after seeing the company’s advertisement at The Onion. She has more images from the shop here, and notes:
What kills me is that a lot of the shirts are anti-Bush, liberal-ish types. And then there are shirts like the one above. Sigh.Lest one assume the images are ironic, the company is called Prickwear, and Broadsheet’s Rebecca Traister delved further into the site to locate these additional gems:
Some of their other sportswear showcases slogans like "Pull My Hair," "Stop Rape. Say Yes," "Let's Fuck! Not You, Fat Girl," "Those Fake Tits Really Bring Out Your Eyes," "Fuck me if I'm wrong, but I think you want to blow me," "No means eat me out first," and "Sorority Row sperm donor."Part of what’s so disappointing about this is that the left really does have an amazing sense of humor. Another one of the t-shirts in the “Offensive” section reads Gay Marriage is okay! (As long as they are the same race), which is a sardonically clever way of illustrating bans on gay marriage are as absurd as miscegenation laws while at the same time acknowledging the truth that most homobigots, in a spirit of equal opportunity, are racists as well. Another shirt reading I Support the Environmentally Friendly Hummer utilizes a similar irony. Sarah Silverman’s entire act is based around such absurdities: Everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ, and then the Jews try to pass it off on the Romans—I'm one of the few people that believe it was the blacks; I want to get an abortion, but my boyfriend and I are having trouble conceiving; I was raped by a doctor, which is a bittersweet experience for a Jewish girl.
I checked out the Prickwear "Fuck You Monthly" section of the website and found some blogging about the crimes committed by Christian conservative extremists. Then there is a response to an angry letter writer who finds the Prickwear t-shirts hateful. "I would really like to know what is so 'hateful' about our shirts," responds the Prickwear blogger. "I think educational is a much better term for it. Do you really want your sons to learn that they should not drink from the red river the hard way? That sounds a little more 'hateful' to me....Oh I get it; you must be a fat chick. I don’t know why you are so defensive about it. I mean there has to be plenty of Mr. Rogers looking douche-bags out there who are willing to plow your fat ass."
The left has such an amazing sense of humor, doesn't it?
But Stop Rape. Say Yes. and No means eat me out first don’t work the same way. They’re funny for the wrong audience. The only real irony is that saying no doesn’t stop rapes, which isn’t implicit in the “joke,” but an inevitable (and sad) extrapolation of the shirt itself. If you’re going to make a joke about rape, it’s got to be funny to rape victims. Otherwise, it’s just sexist swill.
I don’t think there’s anything that’s off-limits when it comes to humor, but context is everything. I used to work for a Holocaust survivor who believed the same thing—and the shit that came out of his mouth could be some dark fucking humor, but it was still funny as shit, and he loved that I laughed when others squirmed in discomfort. A laugh signified a recognition of what he’d been through, and that part of the way he dealt with it was that dark fucking humor. His life provided context.
But there’s no context on a t-shirt that says Stop Rape. Say Yes. There’s just the statement, and that's it. And therein lies the difference between the Gay Marriage is okay! (As long as they are the same race) and the Stop Rape. Say Yes. shirts. A homobigot or racist could never wear the former, but a rapist could wear the latter without a trace of irony.
(Many thanks to Paul the Spud for helping me work through some thoughts on this one.)