In honor of International Women’s Day last week, we have seen a lot of individuals, organizations, and brands vocalizing support for women’s rights and the need for gender equality. Unfortunately, there’s also no shortage of individuals, organizations, and brands that continue to show us how far we still have to go before achieving these goals. This was the clear case with Salvo Sports, an Indonesian clothing company that spent International Women’s Day not promoting women’s rights, but rather apologizing in the face of accusations of sexism.

 

These accusations came after people online began lashing out against the wash and care instructions on the label of a Pusamania Borneo jersey sold by the company. The label outlined two options for washing the garment: the typical instructions regarding the importance of washing inside out with like colors, using non-chlorine bleach, etc., and the alternative of simply “giving it to your woman” because “it’s her job.”

 

The care instructions on the Salvo Sports jersey label suggests giving the garment to a woman to clean (metro.co.uk)

The care instructions on the Salvo Sports jersey label suggests giving the garment to a woman to clean (metro.co.uk)

The blatant sexism of the label is unquestionable, but to make matters worse, Salvo Sports’ apology for the controversial label following backlash still echoed the same sexist notions. In framing the apology, Salvo Sports claimed that the intention was never to humiliate women, but rather to emphasize that they are more capable of properly washing clothes. According to the apparel company, there is a lot that men can apparently learn from women when it comes to their knowledge and expertise on laundry.

 

The label and the subsequent apology are heavily informed by the flawed, but unfortunately all too familiar mentality, that women are meant to be recognized first and foremost for their homemaking skills.

 

It goes without saying that this is immensely troubling from a feminist standpoint. However, it is simultaneously problematic from a PR perspective, as well. Specifically, the importance of language use in dialogues and positioning messages for global brands.

 

When it comes to PR, it is essential to recognize how the messages you are sending as a company, even in something as simple as a clothing label, will translate across cultures and play into social attitudes. Being able to use those messages to facilitate positive change is ideal, but at the very least we should hope that they do not perpetuate negative notions.

 

How damaging do you think something like Salvo Sports’ controversial label can be to the global dialogue on gender equality and women’s rights? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi