SM ‘Rape’ shirt, Bench ‘insensitive’—sister

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MANILA, Sept. 29, 2014—A Catholic nun calls the message conveyed by a controversial statement shirt sold at an SM mall “very insensitive and” which many say trivializes the serious issue of sexual violence.

Sr. Mary Anthony Basa, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Culture (CBCP), pointed out over Radyo Veritas that dismissing rape as “A Snuggle With A Struggle” will adversely warp the the public’s, particularly the youth’s perception and beliefs about rape, to the extent that they will no longer see it as a condemnable act.

“It’s not only promoting rape but also romanticizing rape. It is, I think, very insensitive and in bad taste, especially to women,” she said.

Possible accomplice

According to Basa, the creator of the shirt must be held accountable for any bad thing that might occur because of its message, and will be considered as if he or she is an accomplice to the crime.

“Even though this is just a shirt, we should not minimize the effect of this [on] women. This is an absolute affront to the dignity of women,” shared Basa.

The shirt flashing the statement “It’s Not Rape: It’s A Struggle with A Snuggle” created a stir recently after a photo of it taken by writer Karen Kunawicz at the “boys’ section” of the SM Megamall department store went viral on social media site Facebook.

The SM management has since pulled out stocks of the “rape” shirts following an online backlash.

In a statement it issued Tuesday, September 23, SM has ensured the public that it will take appropriate measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

It explained, “We do not tolerate such action. SM does not tolerate such malicious acts that mock important and insensitive social issues. We have immediately pulled out all the t-shirts of the consignor that distributes them, and we are investigating why it was included in our delivery of assorted t-shirts.

Body as commodity

Meanwhile, Basa also slammed a fashion show organized by local clothing giant Bench, saying it objectifies the human body which is the “temple of the Holy Spirit”.

“Society is becoming permissive with its culture of consumerism which treats the body, which is supposed to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, as a commodity,” she explained.

“The cultures of consumerism, materialism, and gratification would have us believe that bodies are just like the items being sold at a department store. They want to convince us that the human person was not created in the image and likeness of God,” Basa added.

Bench’s “The Naked Truth Fashion Show”, which many found “degrading, offensive, dehumanizing, and pornographic” featured a female  model in skimpy clothing being walked on all fours like a dog by actor Coco Martin who was playing master to his “pet”.

The Bench management released an apology on its Facebook page which it later withdrew without explanation.

In both cases, SM and Bench may have violated the “Magna Carta of Women” (Republic Act  9710) which has a provision for the “non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film to raise the consciousness of the general public in recognizing the dignity of women and the role and contribution of women in family, community, and the society through the strategic use of mass media.”  (Raymond A. Sebastián)



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