TW, Rape and violence.
Imagine you were going to create a poster that illustrated the notion of male entitlement. Male entitlement, being the idea that some men feel they have rights to women's bodies, to sex with women, and obviously, those being the key functions of women, to women themselves. And the problem with male entitlement, being, among numerous other major and minor violations of women's self determination, rape.
You could have a picture of a naked or near naked woman with a vacuous expression, passive and laid out, clearly for perusal by men. Perhaps you could have some text that reinforces the idea that the woman is not a person, but an object. You could show the man's game is to access the object. Let's get to all the bits of her we can. That could be quite educational, to show how nasty those ideas are and the harm they cause. The way in which attitude is linked to action.
Wait! Look! Access Solutions have come to the party.
What do we have, popping up on billboards around the country? A vacuous naked woman, the implication she's just an awkward building that a man has to manouevere around. Yup, she's no more than a thing to gain access to. This ticks all the boxes as a great piece on rape education.
But these billboards aren't here as a statement on the way men are educated to believe women should lie around waiting to be accessed. Nor is it a cutting satire to show up the insidious way in which culture normalises the idea that women are men's property and play things. Nope. This thing is for real. This is an advertisement for a company that rents out scaffolding and forklifts.
Hahahahaha. A women as an object that we could lend you a cherry (snigger) picker to gain access to. Oooooh loook, he's about to paste up the bit with her nipple on it. She'll just lie there and you can do anything you want, and we'll help you. Hilarious.
The problem with promoting these ideas, is not that it's going to insult feminists' sensibilities, or that it's smutty. The idea promoted in this poster, is actually hurting women of all sorts. It's telling certain men that their sense of entitlement is right on. The men who habitually rape and hit their partners. The men who do things to women who are drunk and passed out. The men who in more subtle ways pressure women into doing things they're uncomfortable with. This poster tells women and men, that men with entitlement issues, have the backing of their company and all sorts of large machinery.
The NZ Advertising Standards Authority have rejected a complaint against the poster, citing a humour clause in their guidelines:
The owner and directer of Access Solutions, Michael Biddick, assured someone who had written directly to him asking him to remove the billboard that he too abhorred advertising that promoted rape, and went on to say:
I disagree with your accusations that our advertising in any way 'condone violence towards women’ as there is nothing in this billboard that is even suggestive of violence, nor does it 'promotes a rape culture by saying that men can access women's bodies at any time with the right equipment’. I am surprised that you have interpreted the concept in this way - we sell equipment that enables workers to reach high levels safely: the billboard shows the use of an EWP (Elevated Work Platform) allowing a worker to do just that - to change out a billboard advertisement. There is no suggestion of the worker (or anyone else) having any intention of rape or inciting violence towards the woman.
Hmm, 'I throw my innocent arms in front of me, I'm just a simple guy doing my best, oh I barely noticed it was a picture of a naked woman!' Snigger, snigger.
Do we really need to explain again that rape and violence against women are not spontaneous and natural behaviours or inclinations of men? Do we really need to say that all people are equally capable and inclined to gentleness and genorousity? Do we really need to say that a society where rape is common, doesn't emerge in a vacuum? Do we really have to tell you that men are actively trained in minimising and laughing about male violence against women? That this tells them it's okay? Do we really? Again?
(C) Copyright 2012, Mrs Loolupants, All Rights Reserved.