Fuck you Dov Charney.

I’ll admit that despite what everyone knows about Dov Charney’s creepiness and American Apparel’s child-porn-y ads, I still shop there from time to time. It’s hard to find sweatshop-free affordable clothes, and they’re good for basics like sweatpants and t-shirts.

But, yeah, not anymore. The text of the above ad reads:

“Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence, maybe one is involving a man. And this has made a victim of culture out of women.”

Renee pretty much covers it, so head over and read her. I’ll just add a few more numbers to the game:

1 in 4: The number of women raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime. (for men: 7.6 out of 100)

1.3 Million: The number of women physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. (for men: 835,000)

20: The percentage of nonfatal violence against women committed by an intimate partner. (for men: 3)

33: The percentage of female murder victims who were killed by an intimate. (for male murder victims: 4%)

1,247: The number of women killed by an intimate partner in 2000. (for men: 440)

2/3rds: The percentage of women killed by firearms who were killed by an intimate partner.

1,006,970: The number of women stalked annually in the United States.

84: The percent of spouse abuse victims who are female.

I’m not trying to downplay the plight of male victims of domestic violence, or suggest that becase men are victimized less often that their victimization isn’t just as wrong. There is a cultural silence and erasure of male victimization, and that’s a huge problem. But addressing that doesn’t require ignoring — or spitting at — the fact that women experience the vast majority of intimate partner violence, and that we often pay for it with our lives. It doesn’t require implying that women bring domestic violence upon themselves by saying that women “initiate” most of it (What does that even mean? She talked back?).

I wish I could come up with something more adult and biting than “Fuck you, Dov Charney,” but it’s about all I can muster.

Thanks to Amanda for sending this on.

UPDATE: The ad may be fake, but the quote isn’t. A while back, Dov Charney apparently told a McGill Daily Reporter that:

“Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence maybe one is involving a man.” And this, Charney decries, “has made a victim culture out of women.”

So the “fuck you” to Dov still stands, and the ad itself may be genius.

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45 comments for “Fuck you Dov Charney.

  1. belle absente
    January 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    that’s… almost too appalling for me to even process. I don’t know where to start. That’s an AD?? What in the world is that supposed to sell?? Who even says that?? Who can I talk to to get this crap taken out of circulation???

  2. January 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve seen this in a few places, and it still looks to me like a mock ad that someone made as a way to expose Dov Charney, rather than an actual ad.

    Which, if true, doesn’t make the statement itself any less repulsive, of course. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just in disbelief that anyone would use to to try to sell something or want us to “meet Dov Charney” this way unless they were already (rightfully!) against him. I’m just throwing it out there.

  3. grapeshot
    January 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Is anyone else really frustrated trying to parse his statement? A “victim culture out of women”? I see what he’s saying, but is that not the most awkward possible way to say it? And “yet out of a thousand cases maybe one is involving a man”? I’m still not sure exactly how to interpret that.

  4. Caro
    January 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Yeah, as tempting as American Apparel’s deals might sometimes be, there is no good reason to support this sexually-harassing misogynist asshole. Besides, they may be “sweatshop free,” but they are also anti-union, so it’s not really not that much better.

  5. norbizness
    January 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Did you know that ‘Dov Charney’ is an anagram for ‘Complete Fucking Asswipe’?

  6. Rebecca_J
    January 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Grapeshot, he meant that “out of a thousand cases maybe one is involving a man [starting the violence].” In other words, in his imaginary world, 999 cases out of 1000 are of women initiating DV.

  7. January 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Thank god I’ve always been too fat to even dream of fitting into American Apparel stuff *awesome face*

    In all honesty though, I imagine this is just a really well made fake ad trying to appall anyone who would normally buy AA stuff, making them realize what a misogynistic asshole the owner is. If this is the case, I think it’s really getting the point across. Just see how pissed off we all are by it! Putting the owner’s beliefs on something looking like it promotes his products can make for some serious outrage, since we’re now viewing the quote directly in relation to the stuff he peddles to the very women he thinks are poor little crybabies who get what’s coming to them.

  8. Molly
    January 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    @ Rebecca_J
    I might be incorrect here, but I’ve heard him talk about this subject before and I think what he was attempting to say, in an obviously tactless way, is that one out of a thousand men are the victims of domestic violence. I think the way it’s being interpreted is that one out of a thousand domestic violence claims made by women actually involves a man-again I could be wrong, but I really don’t think that’s what he meant. Just a thought.

    Oh and yeah, Gawker posted this fake ad yesterday. They took it down at the request of an AA PR representative.

  9. January 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    this is a fake ad, as reported by gawker. however, that douchebag did say that, in the interview in Jane.

    it doesn’t look much different from their other ads though.

    i’ve been boycotting for a while. feel free to join me and lots of others…

  10. Emily
    January 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Perhaps off topic because not about this guy’s creepiness, but I take issue with Jill’s framing of domestic violence as a situation in which one person is the victim and one person is the aggressor (whether it be the woman or the man). There are certainly cases of domestic violence that involve one partner consistently terrorizing the other. But there are also a LOT of cases of domestic violence in which both partners are violent with each other.

    It seems to me feminism too often doesn’t have a way of approaching situations in which there is a dynamic of violence in a relationship, and it is not a terroristic campaign on the part of one partner against the other. Not having a framework for discussing mutually violent relationships makes feminism force every relationship into a terroristic framework. And that denies the reality of so many people.

  11. Attila the plumber
    January 28, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    It’s very easy to take personal potshots at people, and certainly easy to take them at Charney. But he HAS created a business that provides good employment for alot of people, employment that privides funds to employees for rents, mortgages, healthcare, autos, college, savings and whatever else they might use it for.

    If any of you think that counts for nothing, then you’ve never had to make a payroll- not for 5 people much less thousands of them worldwide.

    You don’t have to like him but you certainly don’t have to hate him either.
    He’s done more for people than most of us have. Give him his due because he created something that supports alot of people. That’s the truth and it’s an important truth.

  12. AnonymousCoward
    January 28, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    My only possible response to the original post is “D: D: D:”. Oh, and a thankfulness that I’ve never really wanted to shop at American Apparel.

    My (admittedly limited) experience doing legal aid work suggests that the “frame” of domestic violence as one person as abuser and one as abusee is, by far, the most frequent, and your suggestion of “cases of domestic violence in which both partners are violent with each other” is a tiny minority. In fact, I’d even feel comfortable speculating that there are more cases of female-on-male abuse, as infrequent as it is, than mutual abuse.

  13. Angela
    January 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Emily, I agree you and a question comes to mind: Why are so many intimate partners violent with each other? I know misogyny is part of the problem, but the root causes go so much deeper. I liked to see a topic of discussion on that instead of giving blog time to an asshat like this guy.

  14. Ismone
    January 28, 2009 at 3:30 pm


    I will not deny that there can be cases of mutual physical aggression–but on the other hand, I think it is wrong wrong wrong to assume that if both parties hit, it is mutual aggression as opposed to initial aggression and self-defense.

    In fact, when I worked with the P.D.’s office, my boss told me about a case where her client (a woman) was arrested after putting in a call to the police because the man she was cohabiting with was more scratched up than she was. The police didn’t run a check on either of them, because if they had, they would have realized that the man had previously been convicted of domestic violence against the woman. The reason he was injured was because she had sucessfully fought off an attempted rape. Yes, the charges against her were ultimately dropped, but the fact she was even arrested was insane.

    BTW, would you use your “terroristic framework” language if I told you a lot of the stranger, male-on-male violence involved an aggressor and a defender? Or are men’s interactions with other men who are strangers rightly compared to terrorism, where the interactions of intimate partners are not?

    Everyone else,

    In one “liberal” county I worked in during law school (I was with the public defender’s office) my boss told me that 40% of the mandatory DV arrests (our county had a mandatory arrest policy) were of women, and that from her conversations with DV counselors, the vast majority of these women were actually victims.

  15. Ismone
    January 28, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    And when I say these women were victims, I mean that they had previously sought counseling in an effort to leave an abusive relationship.

  16. Kristen (The J one)
    January 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm


    Um…in 15 years of doing DV work as an attorney or working as a shelter volunteer, I have seen about 10 to 15 cases of reciprocal violence out of probably thousands of victims. Granted, I didn’t take many cases last year, but in 2008 I didn’t actually see one, but I did see a female on male case and two female on female cases (all three referrals, so there is some sample bias there). Certainly, it’s anecdotal, but it provides some indication that non-reciprocal DV happens a great deal more than reciprocal DV.

  17. sufimarie
    January 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    John Lajoie has some excellently funny commentary that is quite applicable to Charney.

  18. carla n
    January 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Yeah, Dov Charney’s an asshole, but I feel like I should clarify a technicality here. “Women initiate most domestic violence” means exactly what it says: women are more likely to act out violently against an intimate partner (by like 2% though, so it’s pretty small). But that’s including things like slaps to the face. People say that 84% of spouse *abuse* victims are female because DV committed by women against men is much less likely to cause lasting trauma or injury. *That’s* the important distinction.

  19. Kyle
    January 28, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    If Charny said this in Jane Magazine four and a half years ago and this ad is indeed fake, boycotting his entire company may not make much sense now. Everyone remembers the public outcry following his commentary several years ago; it would be my guess that he subsequently learned a few things or at least learned to shut up. Is this the case?

    If Charny has shut up, misogyny should be “institutionalized” and displayed within American Apparel marketing for this to be an issue. I’m sure we all buy products from companies that are made or owned by some racist, sexist, homophobic, human rights-ignoring, bad motherfuckers. You might not hear it from them because a) they have a half a brain when it comes to marketing to NYC yuppies or b) nobody cares enough to write about. Are you really going to discriminate where you buy your clothing based on this comment? I would see no harm in your boycott otherwise except that American Apparel does produce sweatshop-free clothing and such an idea could use a little support.

  20. January 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Attila, he’s not a good employer. He’s up to his fourth sexual harassment lawsuit now and AA is utter crap when it comes to allowing unions in for the blue collar staff. Most folks realize that if you pull this crap you’re gonna get called on it, not offered a damn cookie for good PR.

  21. mythago
    January 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    But he HAS created a business that provides good employment for alot of people

    Is this the Randroid version of “But he was good to his mother”?

    Seriously, who gives a fuck if he created a business. He didn’t do it as a charitable venture; he did it to make himself a profit, and pretending to value his employees is a selling point to distinguish himself in a business where he would otherwise have little to offer.

    If a large publisher was devoted to churning out White Power books, would that be OK with you because, dude, they employ lots of people!!11!! so dont be hatin!!!!

  22. Wendy
    January 29, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Richard J. Gelles, Domestic Violence: Not An Even Playing Field: “One piece of statistical evidence (that women and men hit one another in roughly equal numbers) is hauled out from my 1985 research – and distorted – to “prove” the position on violence against men. However, the critical rate of injury and homicide statistics provided in that same research are often eliminated altogether, or reduced to a parenthetical statement saying that ‘men typically do more damage.’ The statement that men and women hit one another in roughly equal numbers is true, however, it cannot be made in a vacuum without the qualifiers that a) women are seriously injured at seven times the rate of men and b) that women are killed by partners at more than two times the rate of men.”

  23. January 29, 2009 at 10:41 am

    If Charny said this in Jane Magazine four and a half years ago and this ad is indeed fake, boycotting his entire company may not make much sense now. Everyone remembers the public outcry following his commentary several years ago; it would be my guess that he subsequently learned a few things or at least learned to shut up. Is this the case?

    No idea if he’s still making offensive comments to reporters, but he does continue to sexually harass his employees. A whole lot of women have sued him for really over the top workplace behavior — calling female employees (and other women) sluts and cunts, having sexual relationships with lots of them, pulling his pants down in front of them, discussing his own genitalia and the genitalia of others, etc etc. And “you don’t boycott every clothing store that has some bad people working in it” is not a very effective reason to not boycott the one that has a particularly egregious individual at its head. Sweatshop free clothing is great — although as others have mentioned, Charney is a big union-buster — but I don’t see why we should have to trade off basic respect for women just because he does one good progressive thing for his own economic benefit.

  24. evil_fizz
    January 29, 2009 at 11:23 am

    It’s hard to find sweatshop-free affordable clothes, and they’re good for basics like sweatpants and t-shirts.

    I honestly can’t believe you can make it into an AA store. I am so unsettled by the mannequins, displays, and ads, that I honestly can’t walk into the store. The whole set up screams misogyny on a bad day and appalling sense of aesthetics on a good one.

  25. Kristin
    January 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    evil_fizz: I share your unsettled reaction to American Apparel stores in general.

    everyone else: I’m surprised there are people on a feminist blog who are defending this guy and/or trying to suggest that “it may not be as bad as it sounds. It just means women are more likely to hit.” Um…

    Also, what Caro said here:

    “Besides, they may be “sweatshop free,” but they are also anti-union, so it’s not really not that much better.”

    They aren’t and have never been a responsible, pro-worker business. They’re also incredibly misogynistic. So, yeah.

  26. January 29, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    There are options to shopping at American Apparel.

    No Sweat Apparel and All American Clothing Co. both offer union made clothing at affordable prices.

    I have never shopped at American Apparel and I own none of their products. The reason is stuff like this. I have always heard that Dov Charney was an asshole.

  27. January 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Um, yeah. When you bust a union, I’m skeptical of the “we’re so awesome ‘cuz we’re sweatshop freeeeeeee!!!” BS, especially when your CEO has sexual harassment suit #4 on his head. FFS.

  28. January 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Ditto to what Evil Fizz just said.

    That place is one big toilet hole.

    I get the sweatshop free thing, but everything else about it puts it in the shitter.

  29. January 31, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Wow, I’m pretty shocked…but having read the things I have about the AA work environment, I’ve never doubted that Dov Charney is a sexist douche bag who needs to be tried and convicted for harassing employees. Kinda sad, really–given some of the other good things that AA boldly stands for (sweatshop free, and immigration reform).

  30. February 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t think his committment to one noble cause excuses the thousands of women (and men!) who have been negatively affected by his advertising methods, not to mention the women who have been sexually harassed at work by this guy. I know plenty of people who have “done more” to make positive changes that don’t deserve anything but criticism for their outright chauvinism. (Oh the misogynists I’ve met in the anti-war movement!)

    Think about it: the Salvation Army has “done more” to help people than I have, but they also help only those who ascribe to their very closed-minded ideals of Christianity. Mao Tse-Tung boosted the literacy rate in China and fought sexism, but that doesn’t change the fact that his armies forced Tibetan children to shoot their parents. The Gap has donated millions of dollars to AIDS research, but, well, you see where I’m going here. You could even argue that (former!) Prez Bush has “helped” many people around the country, but we’re far from ready to give him a free pass on his heinous policies on things like education and reproductive rights.

  31. February 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    “Women initiate most domestic violence” means exactly what it says: women are more likely to act out violently against an intimate partner (by like 2% though, so it’s pretty small). But that’s including things like slaps to the face. People say that 84% of spouse *abuse* victims are female

    Carla N in 21, are you seriously making a claim that slapping a spouse in the face is not necessarily abuse? Or that the definition of abuse has anything to do with whether permanent physical damage is left?

    Let’s be clear. It is abuse, and assault, for anyone to slap a partner in the face.

  32. Alex Chen
    February 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    That’s it, I’m boycotting AA, and getting all my friends to.

  33. Mias P.
    February 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you SO SO SO much for posting this

  34. Riotangst
    February 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    This is really, really, really sad. But this is a true test of whether one is really commited to the movement or not. While AA started off on awesome intentions, it’s all gone down the drain. It’s very important to remember this: The Left, no matter how progressive they have presented themselves, isn’t taking women seriously. Women cannot be victimized, no matter how good the intentions are.

    I’m a male by the way, and I believe firmly and fundamentally, that any movement no matter how progressive it seems, if it goes out to victimize any group -queer, female, trangender, race, etc- it must be boycotted. And it’s so hard… because as a gay male who has been victimized by patriarchy, finding queer positive entrepeneurs is hard. But as permissive or queer positive as Dov is, I can no longer support him if women are to be victimized. It would make me a hypocrite and a contradiction of everything I believe in.

    I love AA clothing and ideals. But not at the expense of women. And if I get angry with men who endorse Axe commercial their chauvenistic heterosexism, then how can I turn a blind eye to AA now?

    I wish it didn’t have to be this way, I wish there was a happy compromise, I wish he were removed and the company maintained it’s policy on sweatshop free clothing, but until Dov is removed I cannot keep putting money into his sleaze bag hands. This isn’t an attack on his sexual morality, or a statement against liberal sexuality, this is about the victimization of those who did not want to engage in this kind of behaviour and were then reprimanded for it.

  35. Pete Roustelle
    March 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

    As a straight man who has been victimized by both his mother and his father — involving multiple bouts of inappropriate behavior. I am going to go with what Emily said back in January. The notion that only gay men and straight women, who have been legitimately victimized, can have a voice in this arena is misguided and underdeveloped. Feminism is not the antidote to domestic unrest. It just isn’t. Peace

  36. James
    June 30, 2009 at 2:31 am

    In the world of apparel manufacturing, I assure you the workers at AA have it better than 98% of the world. Boycotting them could result in NO apparel manufacturing domestically and all production being done overseas. If you think women are treated poorly at AA you should look into the contractors that produce for American labels. There is no accountability and workers in places like Asia make between 17¢-43¢ an hour. I have no particular love for Mr. Charney, but you should realize that in this industry, you are probably going after the least guilty.

  37. July 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Do your homework. That quote is verbatim from a book called “Not Guilty: The Case in Defense of Men” which was published more than a decade before the college kid interviewed Charney. He was discussing the book with the student journalist, and I guess the kid just couldn’t resist the temptation of garnering fifteen minutes of fame by quoting him out of context. Or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention and doing a half-ass job.

    Seriously, I didn’t believe Charney at first either, but then he threw the book in my face. Ver-f**king-batim…

    Given that the student journalist attributed a verbatim quote to Charney that is obviously not his, I think that we have to give Charney the benefit of the doubt on at least this one.

    Gawd, I don’t know what’s worse: that so many bloggers were so amateurish to run with this without checking their facts, or that the libelous work of a zealot-wannabe-journalist is still getting mentioned 5 year after the fact.

    Anyway, do with that what you will. I’m not exactly Charney’s number one fan. But I did get to spend some time around him, and just like anyone else, there’s both good and bad to him…

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