On Black Friday, Singaporean online fashion retailer SuperGurl decided that the slogan Rape Us Now was acceptable. I’m happy to say this was met with a lot of outcry on social media, and consequently, the company apologised and removed the phrase from their website.
But the sad thing about this case is that it’s not the first time a big brand thought something so insensitive was so funny and eye-catching, and nor will it be the last. Rape is suddenly okay to talk about in this context, yet when it actually happens to someone it is spoken about in whispers. This is not okay. And yet somewhere along the line, it somehow became okay. Why?
What I don’t understand about this whole fiasco is how not one SuperGurl employee pointed out that this was a completely unacceptable marketing strategy. Who was the person who thought that rape would be a great way to encourage women to shop?
Rape is not something that should be encouraged. Arguably the worst thing about this is that the site itself seems to be largely aimed a younger audience; it’s messages like this, thoughtless messages, that are going to make young girls think it is okay when a guy gets forceful or slides his hand towards a place they are not comfortable with.
There are so many cases of rape being used in this subtext, or even just blatantly, in culture today. Obviously, the most famous example of this is Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, which has still has its mark despite being about three years old now. People try to justify the fact they bop along because it is catchy and, to be fair, it is kind of catchy.
But that’s entirely the problem: it would have been equally as catchy with less misogynistic lyrics. Lyrics that are still referenced even today, because it perfectly represents how a lot of people think sexual harassment and rape is somehow ‘cheeky’ and ‘a little bit naughty’. It’s not. It’s vile.
Then you also have the fact that young boys are starting to buy into the idea that it’s okay to force themselves onto girls. The easiest way for any person to explore their sexuality is obviously through porn, which is fair enough to an extent.
However, porn is very unrealistic in terms of what it preaches and shows on the camera, and can add to the already skewed view its audience may have on what consensual sex looks like. I don’t see why rape porn has to be so accessible and so commercialised within that sector, or why it’s even allowed at all.
I do have to commend the porn industry for something, however. Never thought I’d type that sentence! But the recent allegations regarding James Deen and the rapes and assaults of various porn actresses is currently being dealt with in a promising manner.
He has flat-out been dropped numerous porn websites, which shows that despite promoting some bad messages, sections of the porn industry do have standards to make sure commercialising rape does not happen.
Something similar happened to Rick Ross after some more than questionable lyrics in his song U.O.E.N.O:
Rap isn’t exactly known for its safe lyrical content or wholesome values, but Ross’ graphical description of drugging and raping an unconscious girl clearly crossed the line – so much so that Reebok dropped his sponsorship deal. The lyrics really didn’t really say anything meaningful or offer any commentary on rape, unlike Nirvana’s controversial ‘Rape Me’ where the lyrical bluntness actually serves some kind of artistic purpose.
Unfortunately, while originally conceived as an anti-rape metaphor, that song has a dark history; during the Rwandan Genocide it was played on a state-sponsored pro-Hutu radio station to encourage the rape of Tutsi women. Misinterpreted or not, those lyrics are now associated with violence and rape in the history of Rwanda.
If you’ve sat through this article wondering why I’m making such a big deal about this, I highly suggest that you consider what happened to your morals. Rape hasn’t stopped being one of the most violating things that could ever happen to a person, and comparing rape to getting clothing for cheaper than normal is just disgraceful.
Next time your eye is caught by such an advert, or you hear a song like Blurred Lines or Rick Ross’ U.O.E.N.O, spare a thought for the countless victims of this horrific act. They are not entertained.