The Age has covered our protest against Rivers for appropriating the image of a dead woman in fishnet stockings and stilettos on the front of a catalogue headed “10 deadly deals” as described on the Collective Shout website and here below. I was amused to see River’s spokesman describe our interpretation of the catalogue cover as “weird and draconian”. So if we weren’t meant to interpret the woman as being dead - murdered even - why the heading “10 deadly deals”? Is she merely under the couch searching for her missing purse? The damn remote? Or playing hide-and-seek badly? If she tripped and fell wouldn’t the heading be ’10 clumsy deals’? If we’ve got it so wrong, why doesn’t Rivers tell us what they meant to convey with the image and wording?
Here’s Michelle Griffin’s piece which also mentions some of our other actions against eroticised violence against women in advertising. We can’t be blasé about this trivialisation of violence against women.
Rivers ad campaign ‘a deadly deal for women’
DEAD women are the new black in marketing, says feminist campaign group Collective Shout, which is calling for a boycott of the Rivers Australia clothing chain because the cover image of its latest “Deadly Deals” catalogue features a leggy corpse in fishnets and high heels sprawled under a couch.
“Rivers has been excelling in the objectification of women for some time now,” says the group’s founder, Melinda Tankard Reist, “but this ramps it up a notch — using a dead woman for the purposes of selling clothing.”
Violence against women is a common marketing tactic in videos such as Kanye West’s Monster, says Ms Reist, but she finds the Rivers catalogue particularly disturbing “because it’s so mainstream. They’re a mass-market, run-of-the-mill clothing company eroticising violence against women.”
Rivers’ head office in Ballarat has defended the catalogue cover image as “for more tame art work compared to many examples in the industry”. While the company declined to be interviewed, in an email to The Age it accused the Collective Shout website of “weird and draconian interpretations of our catalogue covers”.
Lessons in feminist activism, from someone who has been on both sides
A thoughtful blog post by Australian feminist blogger Rachel Hills – also quoted in The Age piece above – about her own journey – from publishing an image of a headless woman in a student magazine in her 20s to acknowledging what such images represent and how we have become habituated to depictions of sexualised violence – how they are so ingrained in the culture as to become almost banal. And why we can’t let that remain the status quo.
[These images] might seem innocuous because they’re so ingrained in our collective cultural memory, but by repeating them, we only normalise them further…
I bring this story up because yesterday I was asked to comment on a new campaign by Melinda Tankard Reist and Collective Shout in response the latest catalogue for “wholesome” clothing retailer, Rivers. The catalogue features a woman’s legs, in heels and suspenders, sticking out under a sofa with the accompanying text, “deadly deals”. Tankard Reist says image is “eroticising violence against women”, and says it fits into a broader trend of using erotic/violent imagery to attract attention (think Kanye’s ‘Monster’ video)…