A protester places a placard demanding tougher rape laws and better police protection for women, outside the Parliament in New Delhi, India. Picture: Saurabh Das/AP

Johannesburg - A Joburg woman has expressed her horror over keyrings being sold at a novelty store which she said were "blatantly sexist and offensive" and claims that one of them promotes rape culture.

Bianca Mclean said she was worried about the messages the keyrings were spreading, which she believes are not doing much to curb incidents of violence against women.

Some of the offending key rings, sold at Birthdays, were inscribed with phrases like: "Men Have Feelings Too But Who Cares"; "Ten Best Things About Women- Tits, Ass, P***y; as well as "I'm already Visualising You With Duct Tape Over Your Mouth".

"The first keyring implies that nobody cares about men’s feelings yet male suicide is on the rise. The second keyring implies that all that women are good for is sex and the third keyring promotes and makes a joke out of rape culture. None of these issues are funny or should be a joke. 

"Who are these keyrings marketed to? Surely anyone with half a brain cell will realise how deeply offensive these keyrings are," she said.

Bianca Mclean says this key ring which is being sold at Birthdays' Cresta and Clearwater branches promotes rape culture.

Mclean said the keyrings were sold at Birthdays' Cresta and Clearwater branches and that she tried to get the store to remove them but that her pleas fell on deaf ears.

She took pictures of them but was asked to leave, she said.

"I have a thick skin and can brush off these distasteful keyrings, but not everyone can. I see children in the store reading these keyrings and laughing. I fear this is only normalising what this generation is fighting to abolish. If my plea will not be answered then I have no choice but to expose them."

Mclean also contacted Birthdays' CEO Eddie Lyons, telling him about the keyrings and asking him to remove them from their stores. 

However, she said, Lyons was "very blasé about the issue and even laughed when I mentioned many of his keyrings were offensive."

"I was told he would look into the issue. It was very clear that he was not interested in taking care of this issue and was merely pacifying like a child. I still decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and waited two and a half months before returning to the Cresta branch to find the exact key rings I complained about and more that are offensive.

"Yes, the keyrings about the best things about woman and about men’s feelings not mattering were the original complaint. I now returned after about two and a half months to find more vulgar and offensive key rings with the originals," she said.

According to Mclean a key ring like this plays on the stereotype that women are only good for sex.

The Star spoke to Lyons who confirmed that he had received a call from Mclean complaining about the keyrings. He said Mclean was the only person recorded to have complained about them.

I don't find them particularly offensive...I think the lady came across as a bit sensitive. It's not bad language or anything like that. I checked with my manager and he said she was the only one to complain, " Lyons said.

Asked what he thought of the keyring with the words "I'm already Visualising You With Duct Tape Over Your Mouth" and if he agreed with Mclean that it promotes rape culture, Lyons said he was shocked that they have something like that in their stock as he had not been aware.

"I am actually taken aback. I know that some of the keyrings have some risque titles but I will check."

This key ring, according to Bianca Mclean, implies that nobody cares about men’s feelings yet male suicide is on the rise.

While Lyons did not promise to remove the keyrings, he said he was to drive to the shops to see for himself and that he might end up removing those that were deemed offensive.

"I don't want to come across as offensive. These shops are a tiny portion of the family business so even if I remove them that won't affect the  business," he said.

The Star