Obscene T-shirts cause controversy

  • 2001-08-09
  • Virgilijus Savickas
VILNIUS - T-shirts with repugnant phrases in English like "Fuck me!... I will make you famous" and "Fuck Me!... I'm good" being sold at the fashionable Vero Moda clothing store in Vilnius have received a great deal of publicity and caused a storm of controversy over public morality.

The story began when a woman bought one of the T-shirts for her adolescent daughter. As there was no translation of the phrase into Lithuanian she took it. The items are being sold at the comparatively cheap price of 29 litas ($7.25) each.

However, upon returning home, the woman studied the phrase more carefully. She realized that other caring parents should be advised against buying clothes for their daughters with such open invitations for sex proudly displayed on them. Some men could take it too literally.

The woman wrote a letter to the parliamentary standing committee on human rights. Although her name was not made public her interests were defended and represented by the chairman of the committee, Gediminas Dalinkevicius, a Social Liberal member of Parliament.

He declared an anathema on the shirts.

"Such obscene words on a young girl's breast is a blow to public morality. The mother came to the Parliament in defense of her daughter's honor. If no one else does, I will defend these innocent people," said Dalinkevicius to The Baltic Times, confirming that his intentions have not changed.

"I'll form a working group to tackle this problem, which will propose necessary amendments to the law. We must not allow for the obstruction of public morality. We are a Catholic country," Dalinkevicius said.

He could not reveal the details of which laws should be changed.

The T-shirt story was immediately seized on by the Lithuanian press. It made for some fine advertising for Vero Moda and the T-shirts in particular. They have sold fast.

"We never wanted to insult anyone," said Nomeda Zukauskaite, manager of the store, which is run by the Danish company Danbalt International. "Now the tops have become really fashionable. We've had widespread publicity. Only four or five XXLs are left in stock."

The T-shirts came from Denmark as a stylish garment for youngsters, having already sold widely in Scandinavia and Western Europe.

"I don't intend to bring in more of them, but if we find something similar that's interesting, I'll certainly order it."

After the scandal broke, the shirts were sold with an accompanying translation into Lithuanian. "Fuck me" reads as "Love me once."

"Of course, it's not the exact meaning of the phrase," Dalinkevicius explained. "It's all about nude sex, isn't it?"

Meanwhile, it is still left to customers to decide whether or not to buy the shirts. Other Lithuanian companies unopposed by the law are selling T-shirts with lighter phrases in Lithuanian, like the one that runs: "Laugh and all the world will laugh with you. Make farts and you'll stay alone."