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“Staring is Caring”: The ultimate objectification of women for a cause?

“Staring is Caring”: The ultimate objectification of women for a cause?

Stop AIDS Now!: Staring is Caring

We’ve written a lot, over the years, about how anti-cancer campaigns often use fundraising or awareness for then cause as an excuse to sexually objectify women. (Not to mention animal rights!)

Well, here’s one for AIDS: “Staring is Caring,” sponsored by fashion label SuperTrash. On a site whose loading time will tax all but the most patient netizen, users are invited to stare at the shapely legs of three models: Olcay Gulsen, Tess Milne and Anna Nooshin. You can scroll up, but just to the hemline of her each’s short skirt. Users are then invited to buy the skirt for € 29.95 ($39.07 USD) to support educational and development efforts aimed at preventing AIDS in the women of Godino, Ethopia.

From the campaign site:

All the proceeds of the Staring is Caring skirts go to a project of STOP AIDS NOW! in Godino: a small village in Ethiopia, based 8 kilometres away from the bigger city Debre Zeit. It’s a poor community whith approximately 3.500 inhabitants. HIV is an increasing problem in villages like Godino. The majority of people in rural areas have little knowledge about HIV and don’t really know how to protect themselves against the HIV virus. Moreover, existing stigma prevents people from accessing HIV services.

Bizarrely, parts of the page juxtapose the legs of the European models with biographies of women helped by the project.

Stop AIDS Now!: Staring is Caring

I don’t know what else to say. The three models are named and given biographies on the site, but are faceless legs that lead the user up towards a disembodied female crotch. This project may be well-intended, but empowering women in the developing world by treating developed-world women as sexual objects seems to cancel itself out, in a global pursuit of feminism.

Stop AIDS Now!: Staring is Caring

Advertiser:
Stop AIDS Now!
Agency:
Achtung! (Netherlands)
Source:
Adformatie (Dutch)

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