My post today examines an ad I saw on the television not too long ago. This ad was put out by the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
For those who chose not to watch the video, I’ll sum it up for you: women are shown at a baby shower for a girl (denoted by pink balloons saying “It’s a Girl”. The mother-to-be opens gifts, guests sip tea. All is well until she opens a box which contains a black whistle. The gift-giver says “It’s a rape whistle.” The video provides the startling statistic that 1 in 2 girls will be sexually or physically assaulted growing up in Canada.
I have a few comments on this video.
The first thing that I noticed was the incredibly high amount of “dislikes” that this video has received on Youtube. One commenter even complains that the video is “a bit of a downer”. I find this response a little surprising. Of course it’s a downer, it’s about the rape and assault of women! One commenter debates the veracity of the statistic using Wikipedia as their reference. Although I knew women’s rights were not primary on most people’s agendas, I did not expect the amount of backlash a simple t.v. commercial would receive.
Secondly, this video excludes many groups. It makes no mention of trans individuals who identify as female, or of how the risk of sexual or physical assault increases depending on the race of the woman in question. I recognize that this wasn’t the point of the video. You can’t revolutionize society, especially not through a commercial. But trans individuals are consistently excluded in feminist circles. If the general public is to be more aware of their struggles, them and their own struggles should be depicted in the media.
My final observation is that although commercials are a succinct and far-reaching way to raise awareness, it is perhaps not the most effective method for getting across important issues in the realm of women’s issues. Women’s issues are complex, and this simplifies the statistics, and shows a very narrow view of gender roles and identities. Again my theoretical preference rears it’s ugly head – the reality is so much more complex than can be easily consumed by the public.