David & Goliath Inc.
THE founder of David & Goliath Presents The Stupid Factory, a store that opened at Ala Moana Center in November, is basking in the hot water that even negative publicity can bring.
Todd Goldman is racking up increased sales of his intended-to-be-funny shirts and accessories.
The best-selling items in the store and at www.davidandgoliathtees.com feature cartoonish graphics with sayings such as, "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them," "Boys are smelly" and "Boys have cooties."
Mainland talk show host Glenn Sacks went on a tear about the boy-bashing shirts early last month and turned it into a campaign. Sacks is making a name for himself and his "His Side" men's and fathers' issues show with several appearances on television and coverage by The Associated Press.
Sacks' Web site at www.hisside.com describes the show as nationally syndicated in Los Angeles and Seattle, and has links to two radio stations.
The Goldman-Sacks controversy may also make the pages of Time magazine, which interviewed Goldman Wednesday.
"It is ridiculous, but I couldn't pay for this press," Goldman told TheBuzz.
Not all the ink is positive. The AP reported yesterday that Seattle-based Bon-Macy's, California-based Tilly's and the international chain Claire's stores would no longer carry the items in question.
David & Goliath Inc. is not losing customers, Goldman said. The stores pulling the merchandise are publicly traded companies that can't deal with bad publicity, but they are replacing the "Boys" merchandise with other graphics, he said.
"If you don't like it, if it offends you, don't buy it. It's just like, if you don't like porn, don't watch it."
Goldman is a bit incredulous about the fuss over the shirts in the face of violence in music and videos "and they're picking on a cartoon shirt? These guys are disgruntled husbands that got screwed in a divorce. They should go after their ex-wives," Goldman joked.
"The reason we have boys (on the shirts) is that our customers are teenage girls," he said. "It's just a cartoon shirt. We're not selling rocks with the shirts," he protested.
If Sacks' fans explored David & Goliath's Web site, they would see that shirts equally demeaning to women are available.
"Exactly," Goldman smirked.
The store does not sell mud flaps featuring silhouettes of nude women.
People no more repeat the behavior of an on-screen car chase than they throw rocks because a T-shirt bears that saying. "If people do, they have issues themselves far beyond the T-shirt," Goldman said.
Sacks told the AP that those who avoid offending minorities and women, "have developed a moral blind spot toward disparaging males."
University of Hawaii Women's Studies professor Meda Chesney-Lind sees the controversy as a teachable moment.
"No person who's concerned about violence reduction likes to see anybody wearing a T-shirt like this," she said. Nevertheless, she finds the discourse spawned by the shirts "intriguing," since "girl-hating is almost a national pastime."
Chesney-Lind is a noted, published criminologist who focuses on girls' delinquency and women's crime.
Still, "I spend a lot of time worrying about boy's issues. I see boys that get rocks thrown at them ... it turns them into violent young men. I know very well that boys are frequently victims of violence and are frequently the perpetrators of violence. We certainly don't need to encourage more."
It is not surprising that Goldman is male and is being attacked by a male organization, she said.
"I think there's a way in which dominance is protected in society ... anybody who attacks the dominant group does so at their own peril, even when they're a member of the dominant group."
Goldman is a CPA with a master's degree in tax accounting he doesn't use. He prefers his fashion industry business and seems to feel the debate is all-too cerebral.
"It's The Stupid Factory. We make stupid products. I mean, come on," he said, laughing.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com