July 9, 2018
By Sage Lazzaro
The employees of the popular clothing company Feminist Apparel thought they were creating tools for the resistance. The online store’s viral shirts and accessories — which feature sayings like “Cats against catcalls” and “Trans rights are human rights” — became staples at events like the Women’s March and Pride. The brand amassed over 360k followers on Instagram and Facebook and was behind viral moments like the “No Catcall Zone” signs that took over NYC. Plus every item sold helped support an independent artist, and in many cases, a partnering organization that would receive part of the proceeds.
It all came to a grinding halt in June of 2018 when Feminist Apparel staff discovered that the brand’s founder and CEO Alan Martofel had an admitted history of sexually abusing women. In fact, he claims it’s the reason why he started the company in the first place. After asking for his resignation, all nine employees were fired without notice or severance. (Only Martfel and an outside consultant remained.)
“This is the patriarchy and toxic masculinity at its fucking finest,” says Rebecca Green, the company’s now-former art director. “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.”
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