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Durex South Africa cocks up with poor-taste penis joke

The South African branch of condom company Durex has been forced to apologize after posting a poor-taste joke about penises on Twitter.
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Chinese people view condoms at a condom exhibition on April 26, 2005 in Shanghai, China. (ChinaPhotos/Gary Zhu/AFP/Getty Images)

Durex South Africa has issued an apology for an offensive joke published via its Twitter account, News24 reported.

The condom company, whose Twitter profile says it "supports non-violence against women," courted controversy with this Tweet on November 24:

DurexSA: Why did God give men penises? So they’d have at least one way to shut a woman up. #DurexJoke

The joke was especially unfunny in a country in which more than a quarter of men surveyed have admitted to raping at least one person.

And the comic timing was also off, since the Tweet came the day before the start of South Africa's 16 Days of Activism campaign against the abuse of women and children.

Local feminist website FeministsSA slammed Durex for its lack of sensitivity:

"Once again I was reminded that violence against women remains a joke to most South Africans, and that there is little understanding of the connection of social messages that sanction this violence (e.g. invite men to use their penises as a weapon) to the violence itself. Durex SA, you’ve really cocked it up here. Using one’s penis to ‘shut someone up’ sounds a lot like rape to me."

Rather than acknowledge the objections, Durex initially insisted its critics simply lacked a sense of humor:

@FeministsSA We have posted many jokes, see our timeline… And they not [sic] violent against woman! Re-read it!!!!!

Following a storm of Tweeted complaints and a call by FeministsSA to boycott the company, Durex finally apologised the following day.

Blaming the bad joke on its local PR agency, Euro RSCG, DurexSA marketing director Faisal Hashmi said the comments were "offensive and inappropriate and do not reflect the views of the Durex brand."

And on Twitter, the company attempted to regain some lost ground:

DurexSA: As a brand respected by millions, we wld like 2 take this opportunity 2 apologize 4 the jokes posted on our timeline yesterday #DurexApology

It's not the first time marketers have been criticized for sexist jokes. Last month, a major South African clothing company withdrew a range of men's T-shirts from its stores after complaints that slogans such as "I put the STD in STUD, all I need is U" were offensive to women.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/news/regions/africa/south-africa/durex-south-africa-cocks-poor-taste-penis-joke

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