Win! Calvin Klein 'gang rape' billboards removed

Collective Shout speaks out against billboards depicting violence against women and gets results

Collective Shout supporter Patrice had posted a message about this billboard on our community page. We followed that up with a blog post encouraging other supporters to take action by writing to the Advertising Standards Board. The Advertising Standards Board have upheld complaints against Calvin Klein billboards in Sydney and Melbourne. Thanks to all who made their voices heard on this issue. As reported by the Herald Sun:

The Advertising Standards Bureau revealed today it has upheld complaints about the campaign, which includes a near-naked woman being straddled by a man while another pulls her hair.

The latest campaign has appeared on billboards in Sydney and Melbourne and sparked up to 50 complaints.

The move comes after the Herald Sun today reported concerns by sexual assault workers and women’s advocates that the ad had connotations of gang rape.

The case report said two have already been removed, while a third billboard at the St Kilda Rd junction, featuring a woman with barely concealed breasts, will be removed today.

It said the depiction of the woman with three men was "highly sexualised and clearly suggestive of sexual behaviour''.

"The Board considered that whilst the act depicted could be consensual, the overall impact and most likely takeout is that the scene is suggestive of violence and rape,’’’ it said.

"The Board considered that the image was demeaning to women by suggesting that she is a plaything of these men. It also demeans men by implying sexualised violence against women.''

Read more at The Herald Sun.

After we alerted our supporters to this billboard and encouraged them to make complaints, the ASB contacted us to ask if we would encourage our supporters to use the online complaints form instead of post or fax. They had received so many complaints about the billboards that entering information into their system from faxes and posted complaints was causing delay. Such is the energy and commitment of our supporters! We are more than happy to pass on this information to supporters to assist with a speedy complaints process.

Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist also wrote about the billboards on ABC's The Drum and her blog. Melinda followed that article with a guest post from a psychologist who specialises in counselling victim survivors of sexual assault who told of the impact of these images.  Melinda Tankard Reist's write up on the successful outcome of this campaign, including a copy of the case report from the Advertising Standards Board can be found here. The removal of the billboard continues to attract press from overseas including this article in the New York Daily News and The Huffington Post.

The outcome of this campaign really highlights the importance of the community speaking up on these issues. The fact that this campaign was reported so widely here and overseas means there will be a growing awareness that people will not tolerate this type of advertising anymore. Naturally, there will always be the criticism, "you've just given Calvin Klein free advertising."  That might well be the case, however there is nothing to gain from remaining silent. We must continue to challenge the objectification of women and the eroticism of violence. Silence has never changed anything and never will.

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