A Sydney man who is boycotting Davenport underwear over swimmer Stephanie Rice’s use of the word ‘faggot’ to abuse the South African rugby team says the company and Rice still need to do more to respond to the issue.
Elizabeth Bay resident Jim Morris wrote to Davenport after being offended by Rice’s comment, telling them that he and around 25 friends would boycott their products while they continued to sponsor her.
Davenport responded to Morris, stating the company did not “in any way” condone Rice’s comment.
“We can also say that the Davenport brand values are such that they do not discriminate between gender, sexuality, race, creed or religion,” the statement said.
“We believe Stephanie is not nor has ever been homophobic … Stephanie has admitted her comments were thoughtless and careless and Davenport will continue to monitor Stephanie’s commitment to improvement as she learns from this mistake.”
But Morris told Southern Star Observer the use of the term as an insult was inherently homophobic as it implied homosexuals were sub-standard, and Rice should have mentioned gay people as the group she might have offended when making a teary apology at a televised press conference.
“The fact that she didn’t reference gay people as a group simply shows she still didn’t understand or acknowledge the wider effects her choice of words can have.”
Morris was unaware of a website that was encouraging people to boycott Davenport and said he had taken his actions independently.
On September 6, Davenport acknowledged the issue on its Facebook page with a one-line comment, “As publicly stated today, Stephanie Rice’s Twitter comments were not condoned by Davenport”.
However, Morris would like to see Davenport respond on its website.
Rice has been supported by openly gay diving champion Matthew Mitcham, who wrote on Twitter that the comment did not reflect the Rice he knew.
“She meant no malice, and she has apologised for her careless comment posted in the excitement of the moment … it was offensive and very thoughtless, but being friends with her for two years, I know she is not homophobic,” Mitcham said.
Rice has lost a sponsorship deal with Jaguar over the incident.
Victorian gay rights advocate Rob Mitchell has called on Davenport to donate money to a GLBT youth charity to show support for the gay community in the wake of Rice’s comments.