Princess Rape Campaign: WTF?

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.


Suzie Ridler said...

You are absolutely not off base at all! I just can't believe it? What are they thinking? Good GOD! It's like the total opposite to what they were attempting to do. Seriously disturbing and messed up!

Barbara/myth maker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara/myth maker said...

The large fonted words seem to read as if "this is what is supposed to happen"......... how many young minds will see beyond that to the small warning beneath. What an horrendous ad.

mattfiss said...

I have some complex feelings towards this, but a few of my reactions are as follows.

• It's hilarious to me, but I'm not the target audience.

• The types of young minds most likely to be exploited in this manner aren't likely the types of minds that will understand the meaning of this ad, rendering it pretty useless.

• Statutory rape is pretty "meh" on the spectrum of sexual travesties. I'm not sure why they are wasting the resources to target it. It seems... short-sighted.

• Lastly, it's causing a lot of commotion and starting conversations about the topic, so aside from it being stupid in so many other ways, it's working.

Shell said...

I'm not even sure what to make of this. Hopefully, enough people will complain, they will come back with an ad that is more respectful and real to younger girls.

Dream With the Fishes said...

I'm 1000% with you on this! It is absolutely completely insulting - exactly as you said, like the victims got themselves themselves raped through naivete or ignorance. It's just wrong on so many levels!

kijjet said...

Ugh! This is disgusting! I look at that ad and all I can think of is a little girl tugging at her mom saying "Mommy, look a princess! I wanna be just like her. What does it say?" *shiver*

I understand trying to be shocking in an ad campaign, but they went about this all wrong.

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

I had the same reaction as Barbara, I read the big font and felt "that is what girls should learn will happen to them".
The small font didn´t provide any further clue, it doesn´t seem connected to the first visual impact.


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