RAPE. t-shirt creator says he feels violated and attacked
Jiří and Vojtěch are two 20-year-old pseudo-entrepreneurs who created their own clothing line. They called it Rape.Industries.
They live in the Czech Republic, and their customers are almost exclusively people within their social circle.
But their clothing designs reach much farther than that. Their social media accounts, all under the name Rape.Industries, became targets of attack in the United States. After photos of their controversial t-shirts spread across the Internet, opponents began flooding the brand’s pages with vicious messages.
“Every message we get is just hateful and blaming,” Jiří tells Rooster. “The main thing is that we trust in freedom of speech. Putting the word 'rape' on clothing doesn’t mean that we are supporting violent behavior and people who actually do it.”
Jiří and Vojtěch genuinely did not expect the wave of hatred that poured in from overseas. They insist that in the Czech Republic, nobody cared.
They pasted the word RAPE, in big bold letters, across their chests. They had the famous painting, “The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus,” printed on tees in a variety of colors. Both boys and girls sported these clothes, in the pubs and in the skate parks. And everyone around them shrugged.
“Here, everyone is totally ok with the stuff that we do. This is a country of alcoholics, thieves and raping,” Jiří says jokingly. Maybe rape has a different meaning for Americans, he considers.
But more likely, he says, “Young people in America can simply overreact.”
What upsets Jiří the most is that people accused him of supporting rape. “People think that if you're creating something like we do, you have to be an actual rapist,” he says. “But it’s just the brand name. It’s not meant to be anything bad.”
For a while, the flood of negative attention actually seemed to be good for business. The number of followers on Rape.Industries’ social media accounts was steadily increasing.
“If people get upset enough, would you stop making the clothes?” Rooster asked.
Jiří answers, “I don’t see why.”
However, the brand’s growing fame quickly backfired. Dozens of users reported Rape.Industries’ social media accounts. Just this morning, Jiří and Vojtěch realized their Instagram account was deleted.
“The page was important for us,” Jiří says. “It was our only active social media. We don't feel to start it again, because we probably will have the same problems.”
This time, Jiří and Vojtěch won’t be tempting another onslaught of angry Americans.
“We have decided to stop to create under the name Rape. Industries. We will start something new, something less edgy,” says Jiří. “When we chose the name we knew it would be controversial but we didn't expect this kind of reaction from this number of people. I’m kinda sorry for that.”