Here in Milwaukee, The United Way has launched an anti-statutory rape campaign that's raising eyebrows. I first saw the PSA while waiting at a bus stop: my eyes bugged, my jaw dropped and then my nose scrunched up. Here's the ad:
I kept seeing different renditions of the princess ad around town--each one more scathing than the next. Here's why this bothers me:
The Tone: This ad is written like a smarmy joke told between to cynical friends trying to out-ass each other. It doesn't read as a stern warning, it reads as a joke at a victims expense. It also portrays teen pregnancy and statutory rape as mutually exclusive: this is a two-dimensional illustration of a complex tragic social ill.
The Imagery: The sugary Disney-esque princesses (actually the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit) only pile on to the insensitivity towards the issue. The imagery itself is not shocking or cutting, it's mocking. Want to scare people? Use faces. Show us a person. NOT a digitized Miley Cyrus. Don't slight me with frilly font: let the text tell me you're serious.
It's Insulting: The copy of this ad implies that these young women were raped because they were too dumb to anticipate the attack. "If you weren't so stupid, you wouldn't be a victim." Assault happens to all kinds of women, all over the world--not just to those who are "too dense to recognize the danger".
You can read the JSOnline article here for more information. I do believe the issue needs to be addressed. Are the ads provocative? Of course. Are they effective? Arguable. Assault, rape and teen pregnancy are real problems effecting lives of real women in my city--but there has to be a better way to approach the issue. A way that doesn't blame the victim.
Am I off base? What are your thoughts? Let's talk.