The image below, an ad for Target, has caused quite the stir on the internet. You know because, given that the U.S. has the highest rate of rape in the Western world, maybe it’s not a good idea to put a woman’s crotch on a bullseye. I’m just sayin’. And so are some other people (see a random selection here, here, here, and here in the New York Times). Well, Target took at least one of the images down. Click here to see the ad being taken down in Times Square. Notice that this is the second time this week that Sociological Images has been able to report that an outcry made a difference.
I’m actually willing to give Target the benefit of doubt on this one… that they didn’t really mean to try to titillate the viewer with fantasies of rape. But it is quite possible that they imagined that the ad might titillate the viewer with fantasies of sex. And making women a target for such fantasies, in itself, likely contributes to a rape culture, or a culture that facilitates the development of an orientation towards women as anonymous sexual objects that can be acquired, used, and disposed of. This ad does this, of course, no more than the countless other ads that do. In fact, I’d say that, save for the target, it’s actually a more benign ad than many. The target just, well, made it a target.