Advertisement Offends

To the Editor:

A recent advertisement for the Guardian, its website, and the Canadian Press online news service (November 21, B6) has left us upset and dismayed at the PEI Status of Women office.

The ad apparently portrays a woman participant in a protest in Tibet being violently pulled and tugged by the arms and legs by soldiers. A monk who reaches out to her is having his arm wrenched away by another soldier. The woman’s body is splayed and being torn in four directions. Her face is determined but in pain. Her twisted and pulled clothing emphasizes and sexualizes her form. The way the picture is shot and the way the light falls, the viewer’s attention is drawn to her contorted thighs. It is a vantage point of violation.

As documentary, the photo is shocking, designed to move the viewer to learn more and respond to an obvious injustice. However, superimposed on this scene of agony, chaos, and violence is a “frame” around the woman’s face with the Guardian’s masthead.

Using this image for advertising says that our shock is up for sale, and so is this woman’s suffering. Implicitly, the ad suggests that violence against women is dramatic and even exciting, an acceptable part of a marketing strategy.

I “get it” that the advertisement says there is more drama to the story than just the pain on this woman’s face, and that context is needed to reveal the torture she is being subjected to. However, I do not accept in any way that the Guardian and the Canadian Press exploit this anonymous woman protester, her body, and her pain in a half-page, self-serving advertisement.

I cringe to think this letter to the editor may bring more attention to this exploitative ad, but this letter is necessary to call for the ad to be pulled and for the Guardian to apologize for its offensive choice to exploit, objectify, and trivialize an image of a woman being brutalized.

Jane Ledwell
Researcher/Policy Analyst
PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women

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