Feminist Apparel CEO Fired Employees Who Addressed His History of Sexual Abuse

Nine former employees are speaking out.

Former employees of the popular online store Feminist Apparel are currently addressing founder and CEO Alan Martofel's history as an admitted sexual abuser and the controversy surrounding their termination. Nine employees, who were fired after requesting Alan's termination late last month, are sharing their experiences working under an admitted sexual abuser at a company that sells the pro-feminist products that have dominated women's marches around the world.

In an email released last Wednesday to members of the press and partners of Feminist Apparel, the former employees called for supporters and partners of the brand to cut-ties with Feminist Apparel as a result of Alan's actions. This email came after members of the team discovered a 2013 Facebook post by Alan in which he admitted to sexually abusing women. “We’ve all either faced this firsthand, seen it, heard a firsthand account of it, or are guilty of it ourselves,” wrote Alan in the Facebook post. “I’m someone who’s guilty of it. 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 dick while she was sleeping.”

According to a report by Refinery 29, the employees immediately confronted Alan about the posting and requested he step down as CEO of the company because his previous history as a sexual abuser did not align with the company's message. "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," said former Art Director Rebecca Green. "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.”

According to Refinery 29, the employees said they were initially informed by Alan that he would step down to preserve the brand's integrity. However, almost a week later each employee was reportedly alerted via email that they were fired and the company would be moving forward with Alan still serving as its CEO. They said they did not receive any notice or severance, Refinery 29 reported. The nine employees who were fired immediately began sharing their stories on social media and created a Tumblr page to express their dismay with Alan's history of sexual abuse. In one post former Feminist Apparel employee Claire Quigley shared that she had Alan remove her work from the site. "He put countless other Feminist Creatives in a state of duress, having to choose between being tied to an abuser or giving up their income, which is unfair to anyone at an economic disadvantage," said Claire. "I feel betrayed by this in so many ways. I have had my personal designs taken down as well."

Much of the criticism Alan has received from his former employees and their supporters has been based on their dismay with a sexual abuser starting a company based on combating the very thing he's admitted to. Although Alan did admit in the 2013 Facebook post that his time as a sexual abuser inspired the creation of Feminist Apparel, many of the employees who are sexual assault survivors expressed displeasure with someone with this history profiting off of selling products featuring words like "Unlearn Sexism, End Rape Culture, Slay The Patriarchy, Fight Back."

In response to the publicity surrounding his sexual abuse of women and subsequent firing of his employees who asked him to step down, Alan posted a response on the brand's blog. He wrote,"This was something I went out of my way to share with my community at the time as a means to spark dialogue around the negative impact of toxic masculinity. I acknowledged my wrongdoing and committed myself to work within this movement. Spreading the message of consent culture and feminism has been my life's work since that note was written."

Teen Vogue has reached out to the Feminist Apparel for further comment.

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