Protests surrounding the controversial site Wife-Beaters.com are having the opposite of their intended effect.
Traffic at the site, which sells white tank tops called wife-beaters – a name supposedly based on the high number of men wearing them who are arrested on the TV show “Cops” – increased after articles appeared in The New York Times and on USAToday.com.
“He’s making a joke about abuse to women,” said Leigh Edgar of Dallas’ Genesis Women’s Shelter in USA Today. “We’re outraged he makes a profit out of someone’s misfortune.”
The number of visitors reportedly jumped from 42,000 on April 25, when an article on feminists’ disapproval of the site appeared on USAToday.com, to more than 62,000 the following day.
“The more they stir the pot, the more they do to help me,” said James Doolin, the Dallas man who started the site. “I have not put any money into any type of advertising. All of the publicity I have gotten is a result of their actions.”
Doolin said that he does not condone violence toward women and that the site is intended as a joke. He said he was only looking to take advantage of a current fashion trend made popular by musicians such as Kid Rock, Eminem and ‘N Sync.
“The site is intended to be humorous with the hopes that some people will buy a shirt,” he said. “The domain name is for sale, so if some of these women’s groups want to buy it, they can make me an offer, buy and take it down if they want.”
Doolin said his target audience is high school and college-age men and women who get the joke.
“Surprisingly, there has been a 50-50 split of men and women who have made purchases from the site,” he said. “It’s a unisex item that girls, who know what this is about and are not offended by it, will purchase.”
While traffic has increased at the site, apparently most of the visitors are just lookers. Doolin said he has invested close to $1,000 in the site and has broken even. The site offers four styles of the $20 shirts with the words “Wife Beater” embroidered on them, including a “Lil’ Wife Beater” shirt for infants.
The part of the site that may upset his critics most is the special “bonus beater” offer of a second shirt for half price if a consumer can prove he is a convicted wife beater.
“I don’t really expect anyone to take me up on that offer,” Doolin said.
The site also includes a Wife Beater Hall of Fame that contains pictures of Mike Tyson, James Brown, Riddick Bowe, Rick James, Ike Turner, O.J. Simpson and rock drummer Tommy Lee of the group Mötley Crüe.
Doolin said he hopes to expand sales of the shirts to retail locations, including smoke shops, music stores and adult entertainment stores.