Former employees of Feminist Apparel, an online store, are publicizing their old boss’ past sexual abuse and their wrongful termination. CEO and Founder, Alan Martofel has admitted to past sexual abuse in an old Facebook post. But when nine former employees brought up his past and asked for his termination, it was actually them who were fired.
Now those nine employees are talking about working in a feminist company for a boss who has admitted to sexual abuse and why they were fired.
Feminist Apparel is an online clothing brand that makes popular feminist clothes. They have shirts that say, “Cats against catcalls,” “Riots not diets” and of course just simply “Feminist.”
Their products became a staple in marches and have been an outlet feminists regularly shop at. So employees were shocked to find a Facebook post of Martofel’s from 2013 where he openly admits to sexually abusing a woman.
In the Facebook post, Martofel (whose full name is Alan Javier Martofel) starts the lengthy post off by talking about sexual harassment and assault. He writes about sexual abuse statistics and how our society keeps rape culture alive. He wrote that abusive behavior seems “innocent” and “harmless,” but actually it’s not okay.
He then says that we all either face this sort of abuse, know someone who has endured it or are perpetrators of it. He then admits that he is a perpetrator of sexual abuse.
“I’ve grinded up on women on buses and at concerts without their consent. I’ve made out with ‘the drunk chick’ at a party because it was easier. I’ve put a woman’s hand on my d**k while she was sleeping. Before I started reading up on these topics and seeing the statistic, I would hear one of my feminist friends on Facebook bring up ‘rape culture’ in relation to rape jokes and I would laugh about it with my (obviously) non-feminist friends, “What’s the harm? It’s just a joke,”.
He thanks himself for being able to see past the fog of rape culture. He caps off his post announcing the formation of Feminist Apparel, a clothing company that will help him spread his new feminist lifestyle to the world.
This origin story of Feminist Apparel isn’t what was told to employees. In a Forbes interview, he credits the start of Feminist Apparel to a brainstorming session for a documentary he was making about sexual assault. “I learned what feminism is and preaches, and I thought it was incredible,” Martofel told Forbes at the time. “I began working on a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses at my alma mater, and while I was brainstorming ways to raise funds to better carry out that project, I came up with the idea for Feminist Apparel.”
After his employees uncovered this post, they asked for his resignation, but instead, those employees were fired without notice or severance according to Refinery29.
“This is the patriarchy and toxic masculinity at its f***ing finest,” says Rebecca Green, the company’s now-former art director, told Refinery29. “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.”
Ryker Fry, the now former office and HR manager, told Refinery29 that it “was hard to hear” that they were working for an abuser who has taken money from survivors. When the employees originally asked for Martofel’s resignation he admitted to the allegations and said he’d step down. He left the office soon after.
After he left the employees found that their company cards weren’t working, so they closed the site. Morotfel messaged the team and told them to take the week off while he figures out the outstanding orders. He said he’d give them an update Friday. On Saturday an employee noticed their company email accounts were closed, but the site was live. Employees reached out to Martofel and were ignored. Early Sunday they were all fired via email.
Now the employees aren’t being quiet about their boss’ past, how they were fired and their thoughts about an abuser profiting off of feminism.