SOMERDALE, New Jersey — Alan Martofel is the CEO of Feminist Apparel, a T-shirt company run out of a New Jersey strip mall promoting feminism and equality, one pro-women catchphrase at a time. He's also the guy who went viral this summer for firing all but one of his employees after they found out he founded the company as "penance" for prior sexual misconduct.
Martofel's diverse group of employees, who were unaware of the true provenance of the feminist company, were furious when they discovered their CEO had once admitted to grinding on women without consent and groping another while she was sleeping. Starting Feminist Apparel, Martofel wrote in 2013, was a "humble attempt" at penance for his misdeeds.
"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 when she was sleeping," he wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post. "I can't go back and change my actions in any of those situations, and luckily I was able to see through the fog of rape culture enough to not have done anything worse."
Martofel later told Forbes the company was inspired by a documentary he worked on about sexual assault. Either way, he considers the matter settled.
So when Martofel's staff expressed concerns that a man who had victimized women was now profiting from it, he fired nine out of 10 of them. But Feminist Apparel’s ex-employees tell VICE News that the truth about the company’s founding is only part of their problem with Martofel. There are only a few radical ways they can see Feminist Apparel authentically reflecting its message — and none of them involve him owning it.
This segment originally aired November 27, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.