I was recently scrolling through social media when a disturbing sponsored ad showed up in my feed. It instantly didn't sit right with me. Women's body parts were featured coming out of holes in the wall, hands, feet, arms and legs with accessories and clothing dangling off them. There were no heads, no faces, just limbs.
According to the #CountingDeadWomen tally 66 women have violently died this year in Australia alone. Violence against women is at epidemic proportions and many community groups are working collaboratively to change the toxic culture that lays the foundation for this violence to continue.
After I saw the disturbing image online I decided to contact the app makers through Twitter. They didn't respond. Although others shared my concern.
A couple of days later I saw the ad emblazoned across the whole side of a bus whilst driving and then later on a bus stop regularly used by school children. The sponsored ad then appeared on two other social networking platforms. I couldn't escape it.
This week I was contacted by a Collective Shout supporter who had also seen the ad and was very concerned. She explained how the ad was on a bus shelter near her child's school and that it has caused her 10 year old daughter considerable confusion and distress.
“Every time I look at that ad, I feel nervous in my tummy and I don’t know why.” her daughter said.
"I told her that our instincts let us know what is right or wrong, even if we don’t know the words to describe what we’re seeing and feeling. I said it’s the violence to women you see in it that is upsetting, even though you’re not seeing a violent act.” Said her mother.
Women have been routinely objectified in advertising for years. Reduced to the sum of their parts, not deemed whole human beings with thoughts and feelings. This harmful portrayal of women in advertising has serious consequences for women in real life. Exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.
To tackle the culture of gender inequality and reduce male violence against women we must address the cultural drivers. Corporates have a role to play in the way they represent women and girls in their advertising. If women and girls really matter it is time companies like Shedd start to treat us like whole human beings.
We invite Shedd to sign our Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge.
Stop advertisers using sexism and objectification. Sign the petition.