Calvin Klein using violence against women to sell jeans

*Trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault* Recently, Patrice blogged on our community page about a Calvin Klein advertisement in Sydney's Kings Cross. Patrice said she has noticed advertisements before that were offensive, but this one motivated her to action. We can see why. A giant billboard overlooking Kings Cross features this image. 

From Patrice's blog post:

Here is an ad displayed on a billboard in Kings Cross. I have often noticed ads before and thought they were offensive but this was the one that inspired me to action. I apologise this is very distrubing and my commentary is rather graphic but I am enraged at the injustice of this. All shouters are probably aware of CK's reputation. There is quite a bit of commentary about CK ads which are graphic and always push the envelope. This is well beyond anything that I have seen before. Maybe I just haven't been looking. It's so subtle not! The woman, well she was asking for it I guess given her pose (!) (of course all rapists say that don't they?) is completely passive (is it shock?), clutching at her bra strap and clearly naked from the waist down. Two of the men have their jean buttons undone with one straddling her and another looking on. One is looking bored and smoking a cigarette, perhaps finished his business. The man looking on appears to be restraining the poor woman by holding her hair. This is not so clear but that's my take on it. Its a disgusting ad and that's why I am boycotting Calvin Klein. Please join me. I will be complaining to the ASB about this and anyone else I can find who will listen.

Melinda Tankard Reist also featured this ad as an example of anti-woman attitudes and sexism in her article "Sexism, alive and well in Australia."

Another example of violence against women being promoted as sexy, with intimations of the gang rape of an inanimate young woman. Where the hell is the Advertising Standards Board on this and others like it?

We would like to know too. If you need any more reason to contact the Advertising Standards Board about this ad, just look at this comment from Melinda Tankard Reist's blog in response to her article. From a sexual assault counselor.

As a psychologist working in the field of sexual assault I find the Calvin klein billboard chilling and just plainly criminal. I have sat in counseling with many women, often very young,(and therefore just beginning to define what they would like their lives to be)who have experienced the terror and unrelenting horror of rape and gang rape. It’s a struggle that goes on and on and on through years of rebuilding a sense of self, a world view and working out a way of being part of a society again that not only allows the vast majority of rapes to never be punished but allows constant ‘ in your face’ debasement and trivialization of their trauma in billboards such as this.
Where are the regulators? Where is the huge outcry?
Where are the minds and hearts of the people who get paid to make these offensive campaigns? Maybe they can spend just an hour or two in my office any day of the week…..


Contact the Advertising standards board here.

Contact APN (the company that owns the billboard) here.

Suggested points to include in your complaint: 

  • The billboard eroticises sexual assault, which is a violent, horrible and traumatic event
  • The billboard is triggering and insulting for those who have experienced sexual assault
  • Take the billboard down.

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  • Ian Abbott
    commented 2015-02-19 21:01:49 +1100
    There’s a newly posted Calvin Klein jeans ad on platforms 3 & 4 at Wynyard station (Sydney Aust). I complained this evening to the Ads Standards board and to PVH Corp which owns the CK brand. ([email protected]). I also joined a petition on re CK.

    The ad pictures a man lying almost on top of a topless woman apparently about have sex.

    Its possibly not violent as such, though the man does look sinister. The main thing I objected to was I had was seeing in a public place a huge picture of an activity designed to be a loving and intimate non-public activity between two individuals.

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