Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Found this at The Standard tonight, and don't have time to check if the US feminist blogs are writing about it.

Is anyone else disturbed by this imagery in a campaign encouraging people to vote? It just seems pretty gratuitous to me, but maybe I'm overreacting?

Anyway, more tomorrow, hopefully.


Deborah said...

Definitely gratuitous.

Checked out Shakesville (my fav), Feministe, and Feministing, and even broke all my principles and checked out Pandagon - nothing being said there. Nothing doing at Maia's other place either (Alas, a Blog).

homepaddock said...

I second Deborah's definitely gratuitous.

barvasfiend said...

And third it from me. A naked woman wrapped in large gauge electrical tape with a fearful look on her face? Bit off.

Craig Ranapia said...

Gratuitous? How about we go for fucking weird -- what's the beef here: Register to vote or Goths will kick down your door and force you to tie 'em up in duct tape?

And clicking through to the Declare Yourself website the image is supposed to be "provocative" -- and they certainly are. Very worthy case, no doubt, but I've got to wonder whether shock jock imagery like this ends up being the story. And if so, is that a good thing?

Hugh said...

Remember 'Vote or Die' four years ago?

Craig Ranapia said...

Certainly do, Hugh -- and I've got to admit my response was "P-Diddy, I'll got for the latter. You first."

Looking at the Declare Yourself website, the images are described as "provocative" -- and they certainly are. So would a picture of Justin Timberlake, ballock naked with a dildo up his arse and the legend "Vote or you're fucked".

And looking at all the images (at http://www.declareyourself.com/multimedia/gallery_197.html ), it's interesting how none of the men went quite so blatantly for the Duct Tape Dungeon vibe. I actually think the pic of hip-hop dandy Andre Benjamin, with a spiffy bow-tie between his teeth, made the same point in a cool, un-creepy manner. But I guess trussing up a black person like Benjamin or LaToya London in duct tape would be too "provocative".

weka said...

I think there's a couple of things going on here. One is the image of the woman itself, which is probably gratuitous in any context.

The other thing is the effect of that image in that particular context. For a start it's just daft - if you can only silence yourself, why use an image of a woman who's obviously been tied up by someone else?

But more than that there is something downright creepy about telling young people to get registered to vote at the same time telling them something about young, naked women being tied up and feeling scared. WTF is that about?

That image is a pretty strong one of women being silenced in society. Is it telling women that if they're oppressed it's because they do it to themselves, and the solution is one of personal will?

Images convey messages as much as words albeit in more subtle ways. This one not only contradicts the main message of the campaign but it conveys another darker message about women.

Hugh said...

Perhaps in the interests of accuracy the ad should read "Nobody can silence you but yourself - or a Republican party scrutineer who challenges your eligibility to vote on the basis of a home foreclosure or a purported felony"

weka said...

Ha ha, good one Hugh.

The interesting thing about the other images is that all of them are of something you could technically do to yourself. The bound woman one isn't.

The message would work better if it was saying your society oppresses your voice as a young person, here's something you can do about that.

ms poinsettia said...

It's not just gratuitous but completely sidetracks the ad's message, as others have already pointed out. I'm sure the logic was 'but it has to be 'sexxxy' to get young people's attention', which says a lot about popular culture. And I too immediately thought of that darker message that if women end up abused and silenced, then somehow they are responsible. Just depressing.