Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning.]

Shaker samanthab sent me a New York Times article, headlined "French Ad Shocks, but Will It Stop Young Smokers?" the first paragraph of which reads: "A new French antismoking advertisement aimed at the young that plays off a pornographic stereotype has gotten more attention than even its creators intended, and critics suggest that it offends common decency and creates a false analogy between oral sex and smoking."

Which is only accurate if you think "oral sex" is a euphemism for sexual assault.
The slogan is bland enough: "To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco." But it accompanies photographs of an older man, his torso seen from the side, pushing down on the head of a teenage girl with a cigarette in her mouth. Her eyes are at belt level, glancing upward fearfully. The cigarette appears to emerge from the adult's trousers.

Two other ads show young men in the same position as the girl, though the adult is wearing a suit jacket and a watch.
The ads are viewable here.

At minimum, if one inexplicably imagines, despite the reluctant and fearful expressions on the models' faces and the heavy, directive hand on their heads, that the analogical sex act is consensual, it appears to be statutory rape. But even that is an absurd stretch, given that the tagline of the ad equates smoking/the analogical sex act with being enslaved—which explicitly excludes the possibility of consent.

Florence Montreynaud, the feminist president of La Meute des Chiennes de Garde [the Pack of Female Watchdogs], which identifies and opposes symbols of sexual violence in films and advertising in France, said the ads are "unbearable" and "shocking [in their] banalization of sexual violence." And despite being "a longtime member of Droits des Non-fumeurs [Nonsmokers' Rights]," the anti-smoking group that created the ad, she strongly objects to the campaign: "I'm appalled. It's a poverty of imagination. When people have no ideas, they use female bodies." Indeed so.

Meanwhile, Gérard Audureau, the president of Droits des Non-fumeurs, defends the ad by saying, "Using sex is a way to get [young people's] attention. And if it's necessary to shock, let's shock."

Except, of course, that what's being shown in the ad doesn't look like "sex." It looks like sexual assault.

And thus necessarily implies that, like not smoking, not being sexually assaulted is simply a matter of making the choice not to.

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