Laurie Toby Edison


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Advertising from The Dark Side

Laurie and Debbie say:

We were completely horrified by this unbelievably blog post from Copyranter about a nonprofit campaign against statutory rape.

young teenager with her hands just above her deep cleavage

All three pictures all over-emphasize sexual availability (while warning against it) to a terrifying degree, but the text in the background of this one is particularly telling:

young black girl with caption

We have to wonder what the ad campaign conversation was like; almost certainly, one of the clinching arguments was, “This way people will actually look at the ads.”

The net result, of course, since a picture is and always has been worth a thousand words, is to sexualize these teenagers, and underscore their attractiveness and availability while claiming otherwise.

This, we believe, is a nonprofit organization and an ad agency that have been so seduced by the dark side of sexualization of young girls that they may not even realize they are sending a message opposite to the one they intend.

Bittersweet thanks to Steven S. for the pointer.

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11 Responses to “Advertising from The Dark Side”

  1. serene says:

    I didn’t think they were teenagers — I thought they were little kid heads photoshopped onto adult bodies. At any rate, yes, creepy.

  2. Horrific. The first thing I thought of when looking at this ad? It might even push some men over from “occasionally thinking about molesting girls” to actually doing it. Like, “See? Other people look at girls the way I do, so that makes it okay.”


  3. Patsy Nevins says:

    That is exactly what it is, heads of little girls put on women’s bodies, & this is very wrong & very sick. And, as the daughter of a pedophile, I have to say that at least most pedophiles do not molest children because they look at them & see women’s bodies, but often BECAUSE they look like children…Father tended to lose interest once a girl hit 12 or 13. But this is indeed godawful, terrifyingly so to a survivor, it does sexualize children, & it certainly can be seen by those of a certain mindset as encouragement.

  4. Miriam Heddy says:

    This series of advertisements is designed to get people to think twice about statutory rape, not pedophilia, and the two are entirely different crimes, with different profiles.

    Pedophiles, as Patsy Nevins notes, are interested in children. Men who commit statutory rape are not, as a rule, pedophiles, but are, instead, adult men who are more comfortable in sexual relationships with relatively unthreatening teenage girls.

    The problem with the ads is that they aren’t telling the man anything he doesn’t already know. The fact that her body is mature while her brain (her emotions, her mental status, her ability to consent) is immature is precisely the point–and the appeal–of a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

  5. doppjuice says:

    I saw that out in the world and it scared the crap out of me!

    “Just because she has the body doesn’t mean she has the brain.”

    Offensive on about three levels and sending the wrong message entirely. JEEZ, people…

  6. JeanC says:

    Whoever came up with this campaign is in serious need of having a clue bat applied to their skull. SIGH!!!!!

  7. Suzanne says:

    Actually, the second subtext of that body vs. brain ad can be that women with hot bodies don’t have brains. Fucked up in all respects.

  8. Sweetsong says:

    This is the biggest insult to black people I’ve seen in a long time. To imply that a black girl doesn’t have a brain is racism of the worst kind. I’ll be complaining to the ASA and the Campaign for Racial Equality with a view to getting the ad banned.

  9. Debbie says:

    Sweetsong, please notice that this is a year and a half old. The ads are probably (I hope, I hope) long gone.

  10. Daria says:

    What would have been a better way to make explicit to those who are unaware of the harm of statutory rape, as well as help illustrate to a perpetrator of these acts, something they may not have known? It is a literal question that should help us understand why these design choices were made. If you have a better idea lets make it because it’s easy to say what isn’t working but what will?

  11. TruthLiesWhereWeLeastExpectIt says:

    Statutory rape is one of the most ridiculous crimes. Age of sexual consent BY NATURE is the first day a person is sexually mature. Most girls mature at 13 or 14. Some go up to 16 and 17… Few aren’t mature before they hit 18…

    Society says it’s bad to do what nature compels us to do with the people that nature convinces us to do it with.

    In Victorian times a girl was married and with child by 15 or she was considered strange. Mary of Nazareth was 12 when she immaculately conceived (combination of history and biblical research there.)

    Puberty is the change from an asexual person to a sexual one… simple as that.

    The idea that a teenager is mentally incapable of consenting to sex is one of the reasons our nation is so messed up right now.
    Teenagers in the Victorian age were more mature. Teenagers 200,000 years ago were sure as hell more mature. They were adults… And what we consider ‘adults’ right now were the elderly.

    When we allow young adults to be considered children, we allow them to act like children and forget consequences… which is why there are so many adults that act like teenagers and forget that there is a reaction to their actions.

    Give teenagers more legal control over their lives and most of their behavior problems will be alleviated. (due either to their becoming more mature, or natural selection.) It will also allow for more mature adults.