This past weekend, Alice, a woman from Leeds, the third largest city in the UK, was walking back to her car with her 3-year-old daughter and husband when she saw his jaw drop. “I turned to see what he was looking at and I felt sick.” She quickly blocked her daughter’s view and snapped this picture.
The image staring them (and anyone else on the street, for that matter) in the face was a photo-realistic, optical illusion creating decal of a girl, bound and gagged. It was affixed to the tailgate of a pickup truck parked in plain sight on a busy, urban street. There was no other visible branding, just this one horrific image.
“What kind of muppet would think this is okay to have on their car? This is rape humor and it’s not okay.”
In an exclusive chat with WYSK this morning, Alice told us that she and her husband stood there scratching their heads, wondering, “What kind of muppet would think this is okay to have on their car? This is rape humor and it’s not okay.”
Uncertain if this type of visual assault warranted a “true crime,” Alice didn’t really know what to do from there. But after speaking with friends, she notified her local police. Sight unseen, one of the male officers she spoke with suggested the decal could be a “strip club advert.” With no other messaging on the truck, that seems highly unlikely to us (ps – that officer should clearly stick to his day job, as we cannot imagine a WORSE ad campaign for a “nudie bar”). Despite initial dismissals, the police are now looking into it.
In an effort to get this out to the widest possible audience, Alice then took to social media, posting the following to her Twitter feed, which she directed to Everyday Sexism, a social project and website we have covered that was founded by WYSK Laura Bates as a place where women can share their experiences of sexism, harassment and assault.
In doing our own digging into the possible origin of this stomach turning image being paraded around Leeds, we came across some equally disturbing behavior right here in the U.S.
In September of 2013, Hornet Signs, a sign and vehicle wrapping company in Waco, Texas, placed an eerily similar image on one of its company trucks as a way to “drum up business.” It created a social media firestorm on the company’s Facebook page, and even inspired a MoveOn.org petition, demanding Hornet Signs to “remove the decal of a hog-tied woman from your advertising and catalog.”
Sadly, this is the statement Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb made about his company’s egregious error in judgement, “I wasn’t expecting the reactions we got. It was more or less something we put out there to see who noticed it.”
Based on the image Alice shot only two days ago, are we to assume that Mr. Kolb has made his way across the pond to spread his twisted and depraved brand of marketing over there? Or are there just far too many people in the world that think just like him?
Whatever the case and whoever is perpetrating this crime, none of it is okay, and we applaud women like Alice, who don’t turn a blind eye to it. “If You See Something, Say Something™,” may be a slogan to come out of our country’s War on Terror, but it is just as important a mantra to follow when it comes to the global War on Women.
As this story went live, Alice contacted us with an update… her local police just let her know that the vehicle owner was given a “48 notice to remove the offensive decal or risk arrest.” The policewoman who called her made a point to mention that the image was, “very offensive and deeply shocking.”