The rapist’s drink

// 30 July 2012

Tags: , ,

I was in my local Tesco Metro the other day with my husband, browsing the drinks aisle, when I came across an energy drink I’d never seen before. It’s a brand called Black Energy, and emblazoned across the can was a huge photograph of Mike Tyson’s face. It would appear that Black Energy have chosen Tyson as their new face of the drink, and Tesco are happily endorsing this, despite Tyson’s conviction for rape and reported history of spousal abuse. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the advertising campaign features Tyson surrounded by sexy young women and appropriates the concept of black power for the purposes of making profit.

After posting about this on Facebook, I noticed a comment from a man that was something along the lines of “He’s served his time, nobody’s calling for the end of David Dickinson’s career.” Quite aside from the fact that a conviction for rape and a conviction for fraud, as was the case with Dickinson, are two very different things, this comment angered, hurt and disappointed me because it shows just how unimportant rape victims’ and survivors’ experiences are to the general public, and how misogyny ingrains itself in society even in those who are good people.

Tyson has served his prison sentence, that’s true. But somewhere out there is a woman who is still serving her sentence. There are thousands of women – and men – who still wake from nightmares, memories of a person or people doing the unspeakable to them. What are we telling Tyson’s victim, and the other one-quarter of the female population who have suffered rape, when we say that someone like Tyson ought to be forgiven his violent past and allowed to live in the public eye as a celebrated man?

The rate of conviction for rape in this country is less than six per cent. That’s only the reported ones, and it is widely known that the vast majority of rapes in the UK, and abroad, are not even reported. Little wonder that women don’t bother to report the horrific crimes perpetrated against them, when the world is telling them that their attackers will be forgiven anyway. Why would any woman report her rape when she is told that her attacker should be celebrated and that when she – the victim of these crimes – complains, she will be silenced with the attitude that he has served his time, if any at all, and that she needs to shut up and stop complaining?

By supporting a man like Tyson, by perpetuating the attitude that simply because he has served a (far too short) prison sentence for his crime, then that crime ought to be forgotten about, we are telling rape victims that their experiences don’t matter. I accept that a rapist could perhaps be rehabilitated, but I refuse to even entertain the idea that he can or should be forgiven for a crime that will probably affect his victim for the rest of her life.

Sign the petition asking Tesco to withdraw the drink.

Photo of a poster featuring multiple “STOP RAPE” traffic signs clipped to a white brick wall by Steve Rhodes, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

Louise McCudden // Posted 30 July 2012 at 11:52 am

Yes, “he’s served his time” means he gets let out of prison, gets his freedom back, his basic human rights restored etc. I believe in that. But that’s it. It doesn’t mean no-one else is allowed to mention what he did ever again.

And even then, there’s a difference between saying “ok he’s served his time, let’s stop condemning him, let’s give him another chance, restored his human rights in full”, and actually CELEBRATING him, using to him sponsor products, making him out to be a hero – because of his powerful brute force, too.

Celeb endorsements are pulled or rejected for all sorts of reasons, and it’s nothing really to do with whether he’s serving his time or not. Tiger Woods lost sponsorship deals when he cheated on his wife for instance. Some stars lose sponsorship deals for the way they look, because they take drugs (didn’t Kerry Katona lose an ad deal with Iceland for this? That may be wrong) or basically, because for whatever reason, they’re not considered cool or socially acceptable any more.

It isn’t a human right to be a massive star or be featured on bottles of drink.

It’s like the difference between listening to a Chris Brown record and thinking it rocks in spite of him being a scumbag, and actually respecting him as a celebrity, a star, a legend, etc, giving him social respect, not just acknowledging any talent he has as a singer.

LUVM // Posted 30 July 2012 at 1:50 pm

Tweet Tesco’s customer care here: @UKTesco (I just did)

Amanda McIndoe // Posted 1 August 2012 at 8:07 pm

I just signed the petition too. If I remember correctly a couple of years ago Mike Tyson also got his own tv programme. If that doesn’t show that he’s forgivin I don’t know what does.

Sira // Posted 2 August 2012 at 10:59 am

Just signed the petition, and commented on the story posted on Huffington Post UK comedy section(!) painting him as just a bit of an eccentric – yes, that’s the word they use http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/27/mike-tyson-polish-energy-drink-advert_n_1630363.html

The Telegraph has also reviewed his theatre show in which they give him three stars for being ‘amusingly honest’ if a little ‘self indulgent’. Here’s a quote:

“But while the show’s title is Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, for large parts of the show the stories Tyson told, while clearly accurate in his own mind, were likely to be disputed.

At times it felt as if Tyson’s sole purpose in taking the stage was to eviscerate those who he felt had wronged him.

His ex-wife Robin Givens, former promoter Don King and even Desiree Washington, the teenager Tyson was convicted of raping in 1992, are all targets of his contempt and painted as villains in tales they are likely to recall differently.”

Likely to be disputed!! Likely to recall differently!! WTF.

Here’s the link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9445864/Mike-Tyson-Undisputed-Truth-New-York-review.html

LUVM // Posted 20 August 2012 at 1:36 pm

I complained to Tesco:

Hi there

I just wondered what your thought process was when stocking convicted rapist mike tyson’s drink in your stores?

Does Tesco endorse rape?

I tweeted your customer care section and got no response so I guess you just have no respect for women or your customers?

I look forward to the Gary Glitter fairy cakes and the Ian Huntley’s guide to caretaking.

Insensitive, money-grabbing and immoral.

I really want to hear your justification for this, because you have not got a leg to stand on.

Disgusted.

and got this predictably generic response:

Thank you for your email and I appreciate your patience while awaiting a reply.

…I am very sorry to learn that you’re unhappy with the Power drink we have been selling in some of our stores. I can assure you that we certainly had no intention of offending any of our customers by stocking this product, and I apologise for any upset this has caused.

Your feedback has been fully logged with our Buying Department and your views will be seriously considered.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Kind regards

Sarah Taylor

Tesco Customer Service

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