Playboy-owned sex store Honey Birdette has been accused of pornifying slavery after sharing images depicting a headless black woman with "winding ropes" around her neck and cuffs on her wrists in a promotion for their Shibari pink bondage range.
‘Shibari’ refers to the practice of rope bondage.
A number of social media users called out the images as being racist.
“Nothing hotter than seeing a woman of colour with rope around her neck – little bit of lynching aesthetic there from Honey Birdette. Nice one,” wrote one commenter.
“Sexualising the slavery of black women? New low @HoneyBirdette,” said another.
“This is really disturbing.”
“So hot – seeing women of colour bound in ropes and cuffs. Not to mention progressive.”
Users who objected to the images as racially insensitive and dehumanising on the Honey Birdette's Instagram were promptly banned.
While Honey Birdette also shared images of white models wearing the Shibari pink lingerie set, their heads and faces were not cropped out of the images. Contrast that with this series of stories from the sex shop's Instagram account:
We've previously exposed Honey Birdette for broadcasting porn and BDSM-themed images, including those from their Kukuro range, to an all-ages audience.
Complaints have been submitted to Ad Standards.
The racist and misogynist origins of BDSM and kink, from black slavery to female punishment.— Caitlin Roper (@caitlin_roper) February 17, 2021
There is nothing remotely sexy about this. https://t.co/FFWhJwlDa9
To learn more about how the pornography industry perpetuates racist stereotypes of black women, check out this powerful documentary by Dr Carolyn West.
Update: Ad Standards dismisses complaints against ads 'suggestive of lynching'
Ad Standards has dismissed complaints against Honey Birdette's Instagram promos for 'Shibari -pink', ruling that they were neither exploitative nor degrading. The Community Panel framed their defense of the ads in terms of the model's choice to be in them, stating that 'people of colour are entitled to make their own decisions regarding what products they endorse'.
The Community Panel also stated that regarding their treatment of sex, sexuality and nudity, the ads 'may be inappropriate for display in a public arena such as a
storefront' but were 'not inappropriate when displayed on the advertiser’s own social media channel which has a targeted adult audience of followers' (emphasis added). Instagram's official user age is 13+.