Like Deborah, I've been unable to find anything on the American feminist blogs* about the Declare Yourself campaign, and specifically the image of Jessica Alba which I blogged about briefly last night. Have a look at that post if you want to see what I'm talking about; I'm not really interested in reproducing it more than is necessary for discussion.
The rest of the shots used for the campaign show various celebs (many I didn't recognise, I am so not down with the kidz) with their mouths sealed though a variety of methods - sewn, nailed, stapled, stuffed with a bow tie, you get the idea. All have tears tracking down their face, showing their deep sorrow at the silence they suffer.
So I understand the point of the campaign is to encourage young people to enrol to vote. And I know that there seems to be a general belief in Media Land that in order to get through to the youf one has to employ "shock tactics" and be "edgy". But aren't there other ways to be inventive and get cut through that don't involve wrapping an apparently naked woman in duct tape?
The Alba ad seems to be the one the campaign has used to launch their enrolment drive, and it just comes across all wrong to me. When I see an image like that I don't think of electoral matters, I think about domestic violence, the subjugation of women (particularly in some places overseas where the restrictions women face are far more aggressive than in Aotearoa New Zealand), and actually I think about slavery. I would have thought in a country where the history of the civil rights movement, and everything that went with it, is still within living memory, they would have thought a little longer about this, and come to the conclusion that such an image was not a good idea, even if the woman they use is not African American.
I'd love to see the focus group research on this one. I can only assume that they sat a group of young hetero men down in a room, showed them the image, and then asked them if it would encourage them to enrol to vote. Sex sells yet again, seems to be the conclusion they came to. And even better than just sex; sex in which an attractive young woman is tied up, crying and vulnerable. That must sell Christmas to turkeys (or, voter enrolment to the apathetic even).
Finally, the whole campaign completely ignores the fact that actually there are external barriers to voting in the USA. There's the difficulty of enrolling in some states (or indeed staying on the roll), the practical realities of getting some bosses to release workers to cast their vote, the difficulties some people face in making it to a polling booth for reasons of cost, time, childcare, and access. It's not as straight forward as the message "only you can silence yourself" suggests.
P.S. I also noticed that in all but one of the male celeb pics in the gallery you can clearly see that they are clothed. But in all three female shots, guess what?
* I did find this post at Australian team feminist blog The Dawn Chorus.