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Mexican penis seat spreads awareness of harassment on the metro

Mexican penis seat spreads awareness of harassment on the metro

Adweek today featured a truly disturbing ambient marketing PSA on sexual harassment, which has gained infamy on English-language social media as the “penis seat.”

This moulded. anatomically-correct male torso and crotch appears in the seating area of a car on Metro de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City Metro), beneath a sign that says “for men only.”

Adweek’s Tim Nudd observes that the people in the video are “clearly actors,” but that won’t make much difference. It’s already gone viral.

The messaging that accompanies the installation, according to Metro News, states “It’s uncomfortable to sit here but it doesn’t compare with the sexual violence that women suffer in their everyday lives.”

The campaign is pretty blunt, and doesn’t address the nuances of gender identity that are becoming more and more part of the conversation about sexual abuse. As well, I’m not sure exactly what message the experience itself is trying to deliver: That men’s uncomfortable sexual attention is something women have to deal with at all times? Unfortunately, the laughs generated by the men’s reactions rely too much on homophobia.

A second, more interactive, installation in the campaign had close-ups of male riders’ bums captured on video and broadcast live to a big screen:

While it’s less outrageous than the “penis seat,” I found this one more potentially effective, as it appeared to more accurately provide a feeling of what it’s like to be a woman in public having her body constantly stared at.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more