I Write Letters

[Trigger warning.]

On Friday, I posted an unbelievable advert care of Method cleaning products in which chemical residue was equated with sexual assault and harassment. It is my typical habit to wait to write a letter myself until I see the response(s) Shakers have gotten, so I can frame my letter with the pre-packaged response(s) in mind. Below is the letter I've just sent to Method, after reading their despicable attempts to cast critics of the advert as hypersensitive rubes who just can't appreciate the nuance of their advertising.


To Whom It May Concern:

Regarding your soap bubbles advert, to which I understand you've already received a number of complaints, I would like to share with you my personal experience.

I am a survival of sexual assault. This is not an incidental fact about me. It is, unfortunately, one of the defining features of my life, because I was not the same person I was after I was raped as I was before.

I have been sexually assaulted in my home, in a place where any woman should feel safe, but the reality is that women are about nine times more likely to be sexually assaulted in their homes, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being assaulted on the street, contrary to popular images and narratives about sexual assault.

That, your ad gets right.

Here's what it gets wrong: That there's anything—anything—amusing, clever, or appropriate about equating chemical residue with sexual assault and harassment. That the leering, objectification, and sexual bullying are perpetrated by anthropomorphized cartoons does not minimize the effect watching a woman be assaulted in her own home has. The victim is a human being either way, a fact of which you seem to have lost sight.

I am not, as your responses to other complainants have implied, too daft too appreciate the alleged humor of this commercial. Nor am I too unsophisticated to understand that the ad is a metaphor and "not to be interpreted literally." I get it. It is, in fact, because I get it, and because of your shameful attempts to dissociate yourself from using sexual assault as a humorous metaphor by accusing critics of not getting it, that I am writing to you.

Do not mistake my response for "offense." I am not offended; I am contemptuous. Do not believe that I am oversensitive because I am a survivor of sexual assault. I spend my days as an anti-rape advocate, reading and writing about the most horrible acts of sexual assault and harassment perpetrated against women every day. I assure you that I am not oversensitive about the implicit messaging in your ad. The problem, I'm afraid, is that you were not sensitive enough.

I will make sure my readership is well aware that your priority is to continue to defend an advert which minimizes the gravity of sexual assault and harassment than be an ally to survivors.

Melissa McEwan

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus