A new ad campaign from three young creatives is drawing attention to the everyday abuse and degradation of women we all ignore.
“Defacing Abuse,” a campaign designed by three young creatives, shines a spotlight on the sexist comments scrawled all over our billboards. The creators noticed the derogatory language that many amateur graffiti artists use to deface these ads, and decided to flip it on its head.
They took to the streets of Chicago with a camera and photographed the worst graffiti they could find. (Words like “whore” and “bitch,” and cartoons penises popped up repeatedly.) Then, they stuck their own posters over them.
“If this happens in public,” the sign reads, “what happens in private?”
The campaign raises an important point: Women are more likely to be displayed as passive objects in advertisements than men, which reflects the way they're objectified, and abused, in real life.
“We believe that this project will hopefully raise a conversation about how society views women,” art director Jen Garcia told Agency Spy. “We often pass beautiful women in advertisements that have been defaced, and we just took a closer look at the words and images that were used to deface these women, which we found disturbing.”
Garcia said she thought about covering up the images entirely, or correcting them. But in the end, she and her team decided to leave some of the defacement visible, so viewers could reckon with what it meant.
The group also hopes to draw attention to the larger issue of domestic violence. The bottom of their website even links to a donations portal for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. But they caution viewers not to discount the effect that a few hastily-scrawled words can have.
“Verbal insults and harassment linger only in our memories, [but] the ones scrawled around our streets, buses and playgrounds linger to victimize again and again,” they wrote.
Check out some more images from the campaign, below: