Twitter’s brought up a lot of conversations in the past, but if you were on the social media platform this past weekend, your timeline may have been flooded with tweets that circulated around one key phrase: “Men Are Trash.”
It all started on May 5 when Kelsey Joie, a YouTube hair vlogger and massive tweeter who had just moved from Missouri to Dallas, made a post about her shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Men are Trash” were available for purchase. It wasn’t her first time, according to Joie, who originally released the same T-shirt in Feb. “Of course there were people mad, like, ‘Man this some bulls*** lol,’” Jolie tells the AFRO. “But they weren’t seriously pissed off. It didn’t really get that big and I only sold a few shirts…So I kind of left it alone.”
That is until a couple of days ago, when Joie was asked about the shirt from a follower and was soon inspired to bring the shirt back to life. However, she wasn’t ready for the massive response she was going to receive over the weekend after posting the link on Twitter. “I went ahead and reactivated the link to the shirt and…it just…my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since 11 a.m. It hasn’t stopped,” she said. What started out as a simple drop of an online retail item had soon become a conversation about both the T-shirts and the phrase itself.
“It was a lot. Personally, I didn’t take anything too harsh.” says Joie “The more personal it got, the harder I laughed.” As the tweet and the photo of the “Men Are Trash” shirts receive more viral attention, tweets started to get a bit more violent, and that’s when the message started to prove her point.
“I had so many threats from men who were going to beat me, rape me, and I need to die, and all types of things. And I was like, ‘You know what, this is why I made the shirts.’ I don’t literally feel like all men are trash, no, but on this, ya’ll proved my point.” There was even a shirt made in opposition to Joie’s link, with T-shirts and hoodies with the words “Black Women Are Trash” from the Twitter account @TrueCharter. The AFRO reached out to the Twitter account, but received no response. Fortunately for Joie, the controversy from the “Men Are Trash” shirts brought in more traffic than she expected. Selling over one hundred shirts over the weekend for $15, Joie made over $1,500.
As the weekend rolled on, more people continued the “Men Are Trash” conversation on Twitter. That is until I received a reply from a someone named Londeka Lukhele (or @Londz_Lukhelz on Twitter) that would soon be a huge plot twist.
It turned out that the photo which was used to sell the Kelsey Joie’s T-shirts were originally photos from a photo shoot for Vision, a clothing line in Durban, South Africa.
In response to Kelsey Joie’s reaction and financial gain from the controversy, the designer of the shirt and official model Mantombi Makhubela wearing the shirt fired back. Joie mentioned some of the criticism that she was receiving from the T-shirts but declined to be specific. Makhubela eventually responded to both criticism and Joie’s response by tweeting, “INVASION OF PRIVACY, VIOLATION OF RIGHT OF PUBLICITY OR DEFAMATION! STOP USING PEOPLES FACES WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION!”
The AFRO reached out to both the designer and model behind the original photos, however, we have yet to receive a response. However, she did open up on Twitter about why she wanted to make the shirt. “The men are trash design was literally just something I came up with months ago on a random day while thinking about what’s big in society,” Heather (also known as @Boo_Zwane) wrote on Twitter. “The design is so simple but it doesn’t take away the fact that it came from my own mind/imagination…The phrase was big on Twitter streets and taken from there but the design of the top was all me.”
She continues, “Yes I have no copywrite or whatever over the design cause i was just doing something fun and making extra money on the side as a student..But stealing the EXACT design,claiming it as ur own,selling it while using my friends faces,bragging that u making money of MY design is BS.” Once word had spread about the situation, not only did Men Are Trash still get notification on Twitter, the wave of Men Are Trash Scam started to form, and that’s when the jokes came out.
Although the “Men Are Trash” conversation had soon turned to an alleged episode of Catfish with twitter fingers. The controversy that surrounded the statement over the weekend had deeply opened a wound between people, yet another digital situation that shows us the current climate of modern society.