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In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need an advertisement campaign talking about improving the ways we treat one another. In a perfect world, we would value each other as human beings, no matter our differences, whether or not we can relate to one another on any other level than that we’re all human. In a perfect world, rape culture isn’t real. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. This is a world that needs (and still gets significant push back against) advertisements explaining what many women and LGBT folks experience on a daily basis. As such, we framed a series of advertisements that would best engage others and loop them into the conversation, newly aware of and equipped to resist rape culture.
We’ve received some messages about this specific ad, and want to publicly respond. We understand the problematic framing of this ad and did grapple with it (read: had heated debates about it) before ultimately deciding to use it. The goal with this series of advertisements is to broaden the conversation about rape culture and the ways our streets are constructed as hostile to women and LGBTQ folks, largely at the hands of male behavior. We wanted to start that conversation in a way that engages people who might otherwise dismiss street harassment, and rape culture along with it, encouraging them to delve deeper into the issues, and to hopefully join a conversation about how we can do better.
We recognize that this form of relating to issues can be seen as degrading to everyone involved: women shouldn’t need to be seen as sisters/daughters/girlfriends/mothers/wives in order to be seen as human, and people should be above needing that form of relation to value others for their basic humanity. This criticism, however, comes from people as entrenched and aware of rape culture as we are. Throughout the course of the past year we’ve written dozens of variations of these advertisements and shown them to countless people to get their visceral, gut reactions. Even when those people weren’t shown this specific ad, men and women alike often related the issue to those closest to them, and imagined this experience through their eyes; this was especially true for people who had never experienced street harassment, and thus had never considered the lasting effects street harassment can have. When this ad was included in the series we showed people, they usually chose this as one of the most powerful, the one that resonated with them the most. Despite its flaws, this ad is the one that most effectively meets the goal of this entire project.
We welcome you to publicly post your comments on this advertisement, but we also request that you keep in mind the overall goal of this campaign: to get us all to the same point of understanding, that we’re all human beings, regardless of our gender, gender presentation, or relation to one another on anything more than a human level. That being the end goal, we have to start at the beginning. The beginning involves reaching people where they are, in the ways that are most relatable.
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