that rapey calvin klein ad

So I am sure that many of you by now have heard that the government of Australia has banned this Calvin Klein ad, citing its suggestion to sexual violence.

As a sex-positive feminist, it takes a lot to offend me. I don't have a problem with using sex to sell products because SEX IS AWESOME! and it is something that all humans can relate to. I do, however, have a problem when glorified sexualized violence is selling a product.

Let me back up for a minute. Consensual, safe abuse during sex and getting gang-banged are solely up to the discretion of the individual(s), and I don't believe in judging other people's fetishes (as long as they don't infringe on someone else's sexual freedom). There's plenty of women who enjoy having consensual sex with multiple partners at once, and there is nothing wrong with that . This image is depicting a ~*fashionable*~ Lara Stone, presumably involved in a gang bang, except the subtext is that of violence. She does not appear to be in the throes of passion. With her hair being pulled and a decidedly unglamorous look on her face, the underlying message seems to suggest a total lack of consent on the part of Lara's photo character.

That's why this image is problematic. Any sexual activity, no matter how kinky or raunchy it is, should always be predicated on the notion of willing and enthusiastic participation on behalf of all parties involved. This photo does not present any such avidity from Lara Stone and thus crosses the line into glamorization of sexual violence.

I like Calvin Klein and I adore Lara Stone, but this is absolutely indefensible. Rape culture doesn't exist? Um, okay.


Ross C. said...

Please take into consideration that Australia is one of the most hypocritical countries on the planet: they have a very strict and politically correct censorship board (this ad, drug content in videogames, album covers, etc.), yet they have government that is fundamentally racist. Not sure I'd trust them to make sound judgments.
The ad itself, I don't really care. If it was a man surrounded by women, I wouldn't be typing this because there would be a post made about it. But either way CK wins because I'm sure their marketing department isn't naive to this sort of thing and it's just free press (ie: I would have never seen this ad or known there was controversy about it had it not been posted here.)

meagan said...

australia's goverment's alleged hypocrisy really isn't the issue here.

the ad is problematic because it reduces the horror of gang rape into a simple photo to sell products. advertising like this furthers a society where sexual assault is not taken seriously - to the detriment of us all.

Vinda Sonata said...

i read in a fashion book somewhere, that sex sells.

but i'm totally agree with you in term of blurred lines between glamor and offensive sex-oriented "arts". when it comes to art, though, sometimes things just got so mixed-up, most of the times up to the line they could hardly be defined whether such "Art" is really offensive or simply "arts for art's sake." with art and glamor teamed-up together, lines of creativity are blurred even further, and it's hard for us, audiences, to really define whether--for example--such ads really imply such offense (say, gang-bang), or simply artistic work of art to arouse wild imaginations and sell the product.

great post. very acknowledging.:)
you're a good writer with genuine insights. love you!

Mat said...

i can't say i have really given it much though but know you mention it, pretty irresponsible