Holy Crap: Belvedere’s Despicable Rape Ad

Belvedere Vodka quickly revoked the blatantly offensive image that it tweeted and posted on its Facebook page today, as posted by Forbes.com, that showed a man grabbing a woman from behind, against her will, with the tagline, “Belvedere always goes down smoothly.” Just as despicable as the image, however, was its follow-up “apology”: “We apologize to any of our fans who were offended by our recent tweet. We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.”

Do they really think the problem with the image and tagline was the suggestion of irresponsible drinking? Unbelievable.

 

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About Mark D White

Mark D. White is a professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, where he teaches courses in economics, philosophy, and law. He has written and edited a number of scholarly and popular books, and blogs at Psychology Today, Economics and Ethics, and The Comics Professor.

Comments

  1. sigh.

  2. MichelleG says:

    What a disgusting ad. That would be something a teenager would have created or posted on their Facebook rape page. Only irresponsible people would see this as remotely humorous. I would never want my brand to be associated with rape or inadvertently encouraging it — what was Belvedere thinking? This was very poor judgment.

  3. Soullite says:

    Well, in all fairness, if does kind of have something to do with responsible drinking. If you’re inclined towards rape, drinking an inhibition-lowering substance does seem pretty irresponsible.

    And it isn’t even like I think rape can never be funny. We have jokes about war, disease, famine, murder, terrorism and molestation in the Catholic church – I don’t see rape as somehow uniquely beyond the pale when compared to all of that. But there isn’t any real joke here. They just assert a premise (rape is awesome) that few people will get behind and treat it like a punchline.

    It’s not that I think rape can never be funny. We have jokes about war, disease, famine, murder and terrorism – we can pretty much find the humor in anything if we want to. But there’s no joke here. The ad strong implies that rape is kind of awesome, and treats that as if it’s the set-up for a punchline that doesn’t make much sense even if you accept the premise.

    • Mark D White says:

      Sorry, I thought I wrote that they seemed to think the *main* problem with it was about drinking–of course, drinking does have something to do with it, I agree, but not the biggest issue (to me).

  4. Brilliant.

    They put the image up on twitter briefly and are guaranteed to get the feminist social media buzzing.

    • Yeah Eoghan….and you know why they did? Because the more people talk about the ad (even to complain) the more they will sell. It’s a terrible ad. And for anyone who believes that sexual assault occurs female to male, imagine the image reversed. Not cool. Not cool to portray men this way (I mean her face is NOT happy), it wouldn’t be cool to portray a woman raping a man either.
      It’s nasty attention getting marketing and I’m really damn sure they exactly what they were doing.
      Anyone with decency, would do well to ignore ad and buy Stoli instead. Better vodka to begin with.
      Gross. Human beings can be so gross.

      • Julie, rape is a political platform, a rhetorical and rabble rousing and fundraising trick for politicking feminists and progressives in the stats. Why is it all of sudden wrong when advertisers are cashing in too?

        • Um, excuse me? Rape? It’s always wrong. No matter who it happens to. Male or female, adult or child, gay or straight. So you can just back off on me about that. It’s especially indicative of a culture gone very very WRONG when advertisers think it’s a good idea to cash in on an action that damages both men and women. Imagine this if it was a racially based ad. WRONG. Imagine this if it was homophobic. WRONG.
          Rape appears to be used by pretty much everyone to justify shitty assholic behavior all over the place so far as I can see.
          It’s WRONG. Period.

          • I never said rape wasn’t wrong.

            I asked you why it was ok for progressive and feminist political interests to exploit rape and not ok for this company to exploit the rape hype that that the progressive and feminist political interests create to exploit?

            • I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that maybe the difference between, on the one hand, advocating to raise awareness about rape and, on the other, making a clever-clever joke about rape to sell booze is that the latter is twisted and cruel.

              Just a thought.

            • I’m with you PDA.

              I’d go so far as to say that just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked by what people say anymore… I’m shocked by Eoghan. I mean, completely flabbergasted.

              And does our large community of men who are survivors of abuse think this is okay? Wow.

            • Joanna

              Im not saying that think that its ok.

              I’m asking progressive and feminist types why its ok for these two movements to exploit rape and rape victims for political ends and when advertisers inevitably jump on their rape hysteria bandwagon and exploit it all of a sudden its wrong.

              I’m asking people to think his through.

            • Okay so I’m thinking it through.

              Tell me how feminists or progressives use rape victims to further their agendas?

            • Very good question, Joanna. Considering the denizens of this site, many of whom are progressives and feminists, are highly focused on civil and social rights for all (and feel quite certain men suffer from issues of assault), one wonders.

            • Well, for starters, they erase victims of female perpetrators(like myself) in order to advance an agenda that rape is something done by men to women. Or they simply ignore it or the high-volume attention is given over to the worthy victims of rape. (See this site and it’s focus on this ad when there are dozens of hi-larious portrayals of women raping men in the media that go completely unremarked upon.)

            • Typhon, please submit a piece to us on the topic, with the ads.
              That’s how we get much of our content.

            • Please do submit the story Typhon, I want to see the ads too. If a terrible ad exists in any form, any combo of genders, it needs to be drawn out n quartered.

            • I’m not thinking of Ads, but off the top of my head I can name a few movies with gut-churning depictions of female-on-male rape that are intended to come off as funny.

              The Wedding Crashers
              Get Him to the Greek
              Norbert

              Hell, here’s an entire collection of them:

              http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsOkWhenItIsFemaleOnMale

            • I wasn’t talking about creating rape awareness, I was talking about political movements exploiting rape, under the guise of creating awareness.

            • I don't know says:

              As a man who was raped, I don’t agree that progressives or feminists exploit the issue.

            • Anthony Zarat says:

              You are in denial.

            • I don't know says:

              And I believe you are. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            • I don’t think you get to tell people how they feel, Anthony.

              Unless you’re got a degree in psychiatry and have had several sessions with IDK, I highly doubt you’re qualified to evaluate whether he is in a state of denial. To do so is incredibly rude and offensive.

            • I’m so with you, Artemis.

              Anthony, that’s awfully bold for you to tell a rape victim how he feels about ANYTHING. Take a look, for a moment, at what you’re saying.

            • Progressives have been using rape hysteria since the progressive era.

            • I don't know says:

              There is no “hysteria” around rape. If anything, the problem is under “exploited,” particularly with regards to how rapes of men are under reported, under treated, under discussed, and under analyzed. Every sitcom or standup joke about men getting raped in prison proves rape culture exists, and that it does not gender discriminate. If progressives have political solutions to the problem of rape, I support them fully.

            • In your entire life have you ever seen a progressive ‘rape awareness’ campaign that raised awareness that women can rape?

              Now that’s a subject that truly needs to have awareness raised about it.

            • I’ve searched for one, never found it. Even after the CDC stats came out. I understand the cynicism regarding feminist support of rape campaigns, cuz I sure as hell don’t see much support for anything but the typical male attacker, female victim model.

              I still don’t fully trust the anti-rape campaigns due to their highly gendered view of rape whilst also not showing the male victim, female perp combination. Is it really that hard to make such a campaign? Forgive me, but when I hear the equality word, when I see the cdc stats proving significant levels of male victimizations and female perpetration, yet a deafening silence on female perpetrated rape of men….it starts to sound like empty words.

              Before anyone says, well you can make a campaign for that, there already exists groups to combat rape, why the fuck haven’t they done it? Or is it acceptable to ignore huge amounts of victims because the other gender gets more victims? And then to be asked for support on fighting abuse against women without the support on fighting abuse against men makes me REALLY REALLY question their intentions.

              And here was me thinking 6 months ago these anti-rape campaigns were actually about ending rape, instead they seem to exist solely to push a limited view of rape/sexual abuse whilst their fingers are in their ears singing LA LA LA I Can’t hear you men, your cries are not real.

              /end dramatic rant
              TL:DR, Don’t pretend on wanting to end all rape if you routinely ignore male rape, female perps and you aren’t identified as a gender-based anti-rape campaign. Rape victimization is not the sole domain of females, rape perpetration is not the sole domain of males.

            • Archy, the one thing we all need to consider here is that each org that focuses on sexual assault is made up of people. Lots of them. Like there are probably tens of thousands of individual people working in the arena of sexual violence across our nation (US).
              There isn’t a monolithic person ignoring the cries of men, but a system of people who have learned a narrative over time about how sexual assault works. They’ve learned this particular model for a variety of reason including that it’s the most assertive narrative, but also because the men who have been assaulted haven’t been reporting as much (I presume) thus changing and creating a new story to follow. This is now happening, not only because of men’s groups pushing for it, but also because there are women listening, and because FBI issues are changing etc.
              50-75 years ago, in the US, I don’t believe there were any sexual assault awareness campaigns at all. Spousal rape was still legal, girls were taught to keep their legs closed etc boys were taught not much better. It has taken a long time, with concerted effort by many many people men included, on a number of playing fields (legal, political, social, education, religious), to get the narrative to change. Rape is bad.
              Why wasn’t it rape of men too?
              Good question and if I could go back in time I’d ask. Probably because people are short sighted. Probably because the culture of the time never would have accepted that men could be raped or would rape men as that would be homosexual and 50-75 years ago that was a huge bad thing, probably because women were finally working outside the home, had birth control and a particular freedom to start getting more highly educated and they had time to devote to making social change. Because groups of people tend to be single focused, not out of malice, but because they work that way. It’s hard to get intersectionality going between say a race focused policy group and an envioronment focused policy group.
              People get siloed.
              Remember in the US civil rights was happening 50 years ago too. And then LGBT civil rights issues began in earnest in the 80′s.
              I really cringe hard when I see people saying things like, “And here was me thinking 6 months ago these anti-rape campaigns were actually about ending rape, instead they seem to exist solely to push a limited view of rape/sexual abuse whilst their fingers are in their ears singing LA LA LA I Can’t hear you men, your cries are not real.”

              I get it. It feels that way. Now what? Look at how systems work and figure out what to do next. And who to do it with.

              I’m willing to believe that there are actual policy groups out there, these 50 years later who have a vested financial interest in keeping their group and their group alone funded (another sad dynamic of groups), but I want people to look at a) how long social change actually takes and b) how the power of a narrative needs to be consciously built and figure out where it is they can have influence in that narrative.

              Cause I don’t know a single person male or female (and I know many men working in the DV community) who would laugh at the cries of any person assaulted.

            • @ Julie

              If the unworthy victims of rape and abuse (ie. victims of female perpetrators, victims explicitly denied by the current orthodoxy) are supposed to forgive and forget their marginalization because of the prevailing culture of the time…

              Why, exactly, can’t certain feminists forgive and forget about historical marginalization of women*?

              * Not that I agree with belief that women were more marginalized then men historically, personally.

            • I don’t know about certain feminists. If you are speaking of some of the leadership like Marcotte, McEwan etc, I don’t know them personally and doubt I have any particular influence over them.

              I know about me and the people here, mostly. And people in my day to day life who work for change systemically, for social justice and civil rights and are appalled by anyone abused.

              I”m not advocating forgetting. In fact forgetting how systems work, how narratives deepen and how groups do what they do (or do not, because they get tunnel vision) means repeating the past over and over again. It may be more pleasant for people to rage and rage can inspire, but thoughtful understanding of time, systems, stories and how things got they way they got, and how to change them is vital, in my opinion.

              Forgiveness? I’m of a mind that the only person I can forgive is a person who has wronged me personally. I can learn to live with or trust systems that have previously caused me problems if I see change in them.

              I’m pragmatic. What can we do now, with the systems we understand, to change the narrative, gain support for any and all individuals who have been abused/assaulted and to push for a more true equality among all of us. That’s the question I’m looking at from the lens of how we got here.

            • In other words. I’m not suggesting excusing the past, but learning how to improve from it. And trying to open the conversation from “women don’t want men to get support” to “how the hell did we get here and how to we shift.”

              And trying to point out that systems are always imperfect because they are made up of people. It’s not like…oops! But…huh. Now what. How do we all get smarter about this. Anger is justified. Change is justified. How? How to make it so it doesn’t turn into a pendulum or another silo over time.

              Not just happening in gender, certainly.

            • “It may be more pleasant for people to rage and rage can inspire, but thoughtful understanding of time, systems, stories and how things got they way they got, and how to change them is vital, in my opinion.”

              That’s a good sentiment.

              I agree that the people who offer solutions are not going to be the ones focused on raging at past transgressions. Unfortunately raging at the sins of men past is a necessary engine of our particular culture.

              Where would we be if we couldn’t shame men from sharing a positive identity with other men?

              We’d be down an expendable labor pool that’s what. And say goodbye to war too!

            • Thank-you Julie for such a concise and honest reply. It’s been a frustrating journey in realizing the campaigns of all abuse are so gendered, it’s left me flabbergasted but I am hoping more n more spot the CDC stats for instance and realize hey, we need to stop all combinations of abuse since both genders are significant in perpetration and victimization.

              Bring on a white ribbon type campaign to end violence against all, end rape against all and I’ll gladly pledge, make it gendered without adequate representation for the other gender and I’ll leave it unanswered since I do not support half-arsed attempts at ending violence in the world. By that I mean ignoring 1 side in favour of the other. I can’t stand half-arsed attempts like that, the only way to make a significant impact is side by side together.

    • QuantumInc says:

      The feminist movement isn’t using Rape to further agenda because rape IS their agenda. Helping female rape victims has ALWAYS been a big part of the feminist movement’s goals. Saying they’re exploiting rape victims to further some agenda is completely absurd.

      If you read about something and what you read inspires negative feelings, you do not need to remember to remember any of the details for those negative feelings to remain associated with that thing. If someone reads an article criticizing Belvedere and latter forget’s every word of that article they can still remember “Belvedere = Bad” when they’re in the Liquor store.

      • >Saying they’re exploiting rape victims to further some agenda is completely absurd.

        They’re certainly exploiting male rape victims by ignoring and minimizing them.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        “.. Helping female rape victims has ALWAYS been a big part of the feminist movement’s goal ..”

        This could have come from the theatre of the absurd. Fortunatelly for me, laughter is good for health. I needed this :)

  5. Mistinguette S says:

    Don’t complain here. Go their Facebook page.
    https://www.facebook.com/belvederevodka?sk=wall
    Don’t join the long list of responses to their lame apology. Make your own Wall post. And if you are a man who was insulted by this depiction of masculinity, be sure to tell them so.

  6. Alright seriously how hard would it have been to have her smiling and showing excitement in that image?

    The look on her face is terror, no question.

    • That’s probably the most horrifying comment I’ve ever seen on this site.

      • I think what Danny was getting at, is that if she’d looked excited it wouldn’t have necessarily been about sexual abuse…but maybe could have been interpreted as…I dunno…sex without enough lubrication or something.

        He wasn’t suggesting that the victim look turned on by her abuser. He was saying that the photo really drives home the idea that it’s a “joke” about rape, as opposed to just a joke about bad sex.

        • It’s an ad that’s clearly about date rape. If there was any ambiguity, the title of the post clears it right up. So in that context, the comment “how hard would it have been to show her smiling and showing excitement,” is creepy AS HELL to me.

          And, gee willikers yes: an ad showing a loving couple having affectionate fun would have been preferable to an ad showing date rape. If that’s all Danny meant to say… well… um… thanks, chief. I’m not sure that I’m any less horrified at the thought that someone would find that a noteworthy insight.

          • So my comment just went from “possibly the most horrifying” you’ve seen on this site to being Captain Obvious?

            So in that context, the comment “how hard would it have been to show her smiling and showing excitement,” is creepy AS HELL to me.
            And asking for clarification just didn’t cross your mind? But why do that when its so much easier to presume worst case?

            If that’s all Danny meant to say… well… um… thanks, chief.
            I’d say your welcome but you’d probably think that’s horrifying too…

            • To me, the words in the ad are emphasizing that whatever sex is going implied by the photo isn’t going to be good. The “goes down smoothly” could have been a reference to blow jobs, or perhaps just to bad sex in general. The words in of themselves don’t imply sexual assault.

              It is the photo that really pushed the idea of sexual assault home. So a change in the photo could have really changed the meaning behind the ad, even if the words had stayed the same.

              The title of this blog post is about the ad (and so it mentions rape), but Danny’s comment was about ways to change the ad so that it wasn’t about rape. It’s tough to always figure out what people mean in online comments, I know. I think it was just a case of miscommunication.

            • The title of this blog post is about the ad (and so it mentions rape), but Danny’s comment was about ways to change the ad so that it wasn’t about rape.
              That’s what I was trying to get at but PDA seems to think that suggesting positive ways to advertise a product are so obvious that to mention them is an act of horror.

              It’s tough to always figure out what people mean in online comments, I know. I think it was just a case of miscommunication.
              Yeah it probably was but seeing as how even after I explained it PDA still sees fit to be insulting I supposed the possibility of miscommunication doesn’t really matter.

            • Heather, thank you… and I don’t mean that in a patronizing way: THANK YOU. I get that you are trying to help. I’ve met Danny on other threads on this blog, though, and just like we all do in day-to-day life, I form judgments about people based on what they say and do.

              Obviously I don’t know the guy, and I might be misjudging him. But in every interaction, all I can do is use my experience and my intuition. I’ve seen this guy make comments that in my judgment are hateful. In that light, this comment is really nasty.

              I will make every effort to let Danny prove me wrong. But just like I would do in daily life, it would not be words but DEEDS that would convince me.

              Hope you understand. I have no intent to make you uncomfortable in this interaction.

            • Well…I’d actually have to say quite the opposite about Danny. (Yeah Danny, that’s right, I’m talkin about you. lol). But really, he’s always been quite open minded and willing to have great discussions.

            • Well let’s not get too happy with the praise. I have my share of demons just like the vast majority of people (in fact I personally think that a person that is truly free of demons are rare Mother Teresa type people) and I’ve been working to keep them under control. It just set me off when he opened with calling my comment horrifying.

            • Well yeah, of course. I just meant you’ve always seemed rather reasonable to me, is all. :)

              Anyway…to me this whole exchange here seems like a great example of how words have power, and how written words can be open to all sorts of problematic interpretations. Which…is like…I guess sort of what the problem with this advert is. Words (and images) have power and without having a personal conversation where someone can say “no actually this is what I meant,” we’re left with this image and these words in this advert that are really horrible. I bet whoever made this doesn’t actually think rape is okay…s/he probably just didn’t consider how the image and words would appear once taken out of the context of his/her own mind and put into the larger world. Or something.

            • Yes, Danny: If you are Captain Obvious about the fact that date rape is worse than romance and playfulness… then, yeah, I find that horrifying. As I said in my last comment. It’s just about three inches up the page if you need to do some research.

      • I really really hope you’re going to explain why this comment is so horrifying…..

        • I think PDA was assuming that you wanted the ad to make it look like the woman was about to enjoy being raped. You were asking for the pic to have her be excited…and yeah I think he thought you meant she should be excited about her impending sexual assault.

          (I don’t mean to be talking for you guys, but that’s just how I’m reading both of your guys’ comments. Hope my translations are accurate). :)

          • I think PDA was assuming that you wanted the ad to make it look like the woman was about to enjoy being raped. You were asking for the pic to have her be excited…and yeah I think he thought you meant she should be excited about her impending sexual assault.
            I appreciate your efforts to cool the air HeatherN. But you know what? PDA could have asked for an explanation or even demanded one, but why put in all that work to ask “what the hell is that supposed to men?” when its just so easy to act like I was saying she should be enjoying her impending rape.

      • Is it really that hard to imagine a guy grabbing his girlfriend around her waist in a consensual manner? That’s what I was saying. I was saying that they could have made that ad with them both smiling like they are about to have sex that’s consensual on both sides.

        Of course if you are so convinced my comment may be ” the most horrifying comment I’ve ever seen on this site” I would really like to hear you explain why…

        • Got it. Instead of making an ad about rape, they could have made an ad about love and romance. I get it. Thanks for your insightful comment.

          • Good and now that you’ve finally figured that out and seem to not want to waste anymore time insulting me let me answer you request about some deeds.

            Since you’re so hard up for proof I’ll share a post that I had written up earlier tonight and set to post next week.

            It would seem that are some sick minds working in the advertising department of Belvedere Vodka. That image you see there? Yeah that’s an ad that they recently released.

            And queue the usual apology.

            I don’t very much like the implication that as a man (and I bet a lot of other men too) I would drink vodka and then go rape someone and I bet there’s women that don’t like the idea of seeing a woman about to be raped as an advertisement and I bet there are men that don’t like the idea of seeing a woman about to be raped as an advertisement and I bet there are women that don’t like the idea that a man is being depicted as a rapist as an advertisement.

            Time to ante up and tell these folks this is not funny, hip, responsible, positive, sexy, or anything of that nature.

            Tell them how you really feel.

            But quick question:
            I’ve seen this guy make comments that in my judgment are hateful. In that light, this comment is really nasty.

            I will make every effort to let Danny prove me wrong. But just like I would do in daily life, it would not be words but DEEDS that would convince me.

            So apparently “every effort” doesn’t include simply asking for an explanation? And while we’re talking about deeds I really hope you have some deeds up your sleeve to show that you aren’t just trying to take my words in the worst faith possible when we now have at least one example of where you are judging my words as hateful without even understanding them.

          • PDA? Really? I think again, I know I probably shouldn’t speak for Danny but yes, I think he’s definitely horrified by the ad and is wondering why the hell they didn’t make one that was fun, clever and playful.
            I don’t understand why you are hammering on him so. Maybe this looks like me coming to defense, and that’s inappropriate, but I don’t get it. The ad is crap. The way advertisers minds think is crap apparently. I don’t see anyone on this thread saying “what a brilliant marketing idea.”

        • Danny, I think this has been hammered to death and I”m certainly not trying to speak for anyone. I think you are saying if the ad and the tag line had been different yes? Happy couple goofing around. Belvedere: for good times!

          The tag line is as problematic as the image. Combo double plus bad. Danny seems to find the ad horrifying.

  7. Bipartisan says:

    The idiots who designed this ad should be fired

  8. Well they’ve just ensured that now whenever I get a cocktail at a bar I’ll make sure it’s not with Belvedere.

  9. Random_Stranger says:

    “Do they really think the problem with the image and tagline was the suggestion of irresponsible drinking?”

    When experiencing a PR crisis…make liberal use of distraction and redirection. check.

  10. Anthony Zarat says:

    Feminists are already attempting to make this into a “misogyny” issue. It is not. It is a misandry issue. In the image, who is a beast, and who is human? Who is acting in a justifiable way, and who is a thoughless animal?

    The following thought experiment will illustrate the foolishness of the feminist “misogyny” thesis. Think of a new add for high-heel shoes:

    “Women who use Belvedere Stilettoes know how to stick it to em!”

    The add shows a woman kicking a man out of the door of a house, thrusting a high-heel shoe deep into the flesh of the man’s back. She is holding back two children with one hand and grabbing the airborn victim’s wallet with the other hand.

    Would that add be misandric, or misogynist?

    Keep in mind the following:

    1) The stiletto add is an actual celebration of “theft of children” culture. Every Western society supports “theft of children” culture, with the full backing of the law enforcement, the judicial system, and national institutions from A to Z. In contrast, “rape culture” is a complete fabrication that only exists in the minds of feminists.

    2) The suffering of the men who are “raped” in family court is arguably FAR worse than the suffering of victims of physical rape.

    • Um mate, that add you suggest doesn’t exist, so it’s a bit pointless to analyse it. The add that exists isn’t so much a misogyny thing, as making light of sexual abuse.

    • That’s a good point, Anthony. It’s clear that Belvedere’s marketing people believe this man is acting like a “thoughtless animal.” Tagging the scene with a whimsical double-entendre is a clear indication that they strongly disapprove of this man’s actions. And it’s unquestionable that any ad executive would think this tableau of rape and terror would be a good way to sell vodka.

      Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

      • It’s both misogynistic and misandrist for that matter. As I said. Wrong.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          On some level, it does not matter. It is time to act. I can’t think, I am so angry. How many men will be beaten by sexist law enforcement because of that add? How many fathers will lose their children because of that add? How many gallons of blood and tears will flow because of that add? I want the company gone, yesterday.

          • I get it. You saw an ad showing a rape, and your only concern is how it will affect men.

            Yes, by all means let’s storm the Polish Embassy.

            • Anthony Zarat says:

              And what is your concern? Are you worried about the suffering of the woman in the add? It is not a real event, it is an add. That means nobody was raped. That means the only effect it has is how people perceive. And the people who will be perceived in a negative light are men. Not women. Understand?

            • And what is your concern? Are you worried about the suffering of the woman in the add? It is not a real event, it is an add. That means nobody was raped. That means the only effect it has is how people perceive. And the people who will be perceived in a negative light are men. Not women. Understand?
              Even though the image there is not a real event there is still a problem of them thinking that its okay to advertise to men by depicting us as those commit a crime against women.

              I agree that men are the ones perceived in the negative light as this guy is about to commit rape. But also there is the idea that a crime against a woman is a valid marketing strategy.

              In short this shit is fucked up on all sides.

            • PDA I am with you again. You are making perfect sense.

              How about the fact that men might suffer because women assume they’re all creepy rapists like this guy, and women might suffer because it perpetuates the idea that rape is okay, and that non-consensual sex would be okay if there were just a way to make it “go down smoother” or whatever.

              Either way, the ad is fucked. Seriously fucked. And I believe we all agree. I can’t see how it does anyone any good to figure out who suffers worse at the hands of this ad. Let’s all just say “Fuck You Belvedere Vodka”.

            • Joanna

              Its a very similar marketing technique to the one that feminism has been using for decades.

            • PDA

              It’s not a crime to not follow the gender script, men are allowed to look after themselves. Its not a requirement that men sacrifice their own well being to protect women first and foremost.

            • What I’m saying is that I don’t get how you look at a rape and think about whether it’s good or bad for you or ” the gender script,” whatever that may be. I’m just talking about a baseline level of mere human compassion.

            • And what I don’t understand about Eoghan’s commentary here is that this place is already a space where men and women are questioning the politics behind how sexual assault is dealt with in this country. He’s hammering on the thread as if we don’t think assault happens to men, or as if we don’t (here at least) question why things happen in politics.
              Rape happens. On college campuses just like this ad. I have too much insight into that particular window to ever sleep well again.
              Rape happens. To men. In lots of ways.
              None of us here at GMP believe otherwise. We think the ad is terrible for all the messages it contains. So why act as if we are all “oh the poor women.” We are not acting that way. We are acting like. What a crap piece of advertising, born out of a cynical desire to cast men in a shitty light, and women in a shitty light, and booze as a tool for that abuse, and to make money most of all.

              People here DO think Eoghan, and it’s really insulting to assume we don’t. The staff of this place is amazing, the writers dedicated and talented. The readers come from a broad demographic and I assume would comment even more if they believed the place wouldn’t wind up turning into a flame war. I mean, I can’t tell you the times I see threads devolve like this (and worse) when actually dialogue could have happened. I don’t blame lurkers from shying away. I wish they’d comment more and help change the tone.

              Finally, Lisa Hickey is no fool. She chooses people based on their ability to think outside the poles and to seek profoundly different solutions to polarized dynamics that plague us. Going back into the negative doesn’t do a damn bit of good. Asking people who are already on the side of equity and understanding explain themselves as if they aren’t already thinking (and hard mind you) the dynamics affected from an ad campaign that is obviously disgusting, is presuming the worst about a community of people who actually want things to change.

              Thee are a lot of us in the world that hate ads like this. That hate ads that cast men and or women, and or the races, and or LGBT issues in such a cynical light. It ain’t just feminists angry about ads in the world.

              I’m going to take another long break.

            • PDA

              If the misandry is invisible to you and you can only see the damsel in distress. I think that you are following a cultural gender script. Some call it white knighting.

            • Anthony Zarat says:

              He is beyond help.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        They have a weakness, but my proposed strategy is getting hung up on moderation.

        The name “Belvedere” is from a Polish government building. Write to the Polish embassy, and demand that they condemn the company. I can’t tell you the e-mail of the Polish embassy, because it hangs the comment. But you can easily google “Polish embassy new york e-mail.” Everyone should write the Polish embassy and demand a public reproach. Feminists and MRAs finally agree on something, lets make it count.

        Suggestiion, make your e-mail polite and short. Poland has done nothing wrong here, the company is dragging the reputation of Poland through the mud along with the reputation of men.

      • OK, somebody’s going to have to explain the misandry angle to me. I mean, are we supposed to think the subtext is anything other than “HURR HURR HURR VODKA BLOWJOB?”

        I mean, agree that this man looks like a cretinous frat boy, but I don’t think the intent was to show him as a cretinous frat boy.

        • I mean.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          A man who walks into a criminal court is a presumed perpetrator. A beast to be jailed.
          A father who walks into a family court is a presumed perpetrator. A danger to his children.
          A boy who walks on the street in Sanford is a presumed perpetrator. A threat to be eliminated.

          How can you even ask?

          • This is a picture of Trayvon Martin, is what you’re saying.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              He’s saying that constantly depicting men as rapists harms men just as constantly depicting them as criminals can get them killed.

            • If it was a black man accosting a white woman, what would you think about the politics of the ad?

            • Anthony Zarat says:

              Brillian, Typhon. In the Western world, a Black Man is just an uber-man. A man with even more maleness than other men. Nut just a perpetrator, a SUPER perpetrator. Not just a threat, a SUPER threat.

        • OK, somebody’s going to have to explain the misandry angle to me. I mean, are we supposed to think the subtext is anything other than “HURR HURR HURR VODKA BLOWJOB?”
          Its a matter of depicting men as rapists that drink Belveder Vodka before grabbing the wife for some nonconsensual sex. I know I’m not a rapist (and I bet you aren’t either) and I don’t like the idea that Belveder thought it appropriate to relate to me as a man with rape.

          I mean, agree that this man looks like a cretinous frat boy, but I don’t think the intent was to show him as a cretinous frat boy.
          Well its not like intent is supposed to matter when it comes to these things right?

          • Why is intent not to matter when it comes to these things right? I am genuinely curious.

            • Its my understanding when saying/doing/etc… something offensive the fact that they didn’t mean to do it doesn’t matter but what’s more important is that they did that thing. It indicates that they didn’t consider the implications of whatever that thing was.

              A couple of weeks ago someone dug up a post on my tumblr where I laughed at a comic drawing of a guy grabbing a woman’s boob and when she raised her hand to slap him he put his hand up and met hers in a high five motion. Does it really matter that I wasn’t meaning to say that sexual harassment was funny when I shared that? No most people would stick to the fact that I laughed at a depiction of sexual harassment.

              If this had been the other way around would people bothering with, “But I don’t think they intended to show her as a rapist”. I bet most people would still be talking about how offensive it was that Belveder thought it was appropriate to use a depiction of rape to advertise their product.

            • Which brings me full circle to ‘horrifying.’ If you’re really saying there’s any question that this isn’t an ‘oopsie…’ that they meant to make a fun playful ad but through bad production values or whatever, accidentally depicted a rape… I just don’t get it.

            • Look you seem to have jumped from thinking that I was being hateful and thinking the woman in that ad should enjoy being raped to acting as if asking, “Why can’t they just use a positive image to advertise their product.”

              I’ve explained myself and told Belvedere why their ad was terrible.

              If that doesn’t cut it for you then peace be with you.

    • I don't know says:

      As a man who was raped, I don’t believe men in family court suffer a tenth as much as rape victims.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        Talk to Thomas James Ball.

        • I don't know says:

          You mean the guy who slapped his four year old daughter so hard her lip bled? Sorry, but I don’t feel terribly sorry for him.

          The problem is not that the courts treat abusive fathers that harshly, but that they don’t treat abusive mothers that harshly. Far too few parents have their children taken from them.

          • Peter Houlihan says:

            I’ve never been raped, so I can’t claim to know how that feels. Equally I’ve never been falsely accused of assaulting a child and dragged through the courts that way, so I can’t say how I know that feels either.

            But I would argue that horrible horrible experiences such as those shouldn’t be compared and ranked. It doesn’t help anyone to say that their suffering doesn’t compare to yours. Maybe Ball was guilty, maybe he wasn’t. Either way I’d say he was going through something pretty rough to end his life that way.

            • I don't know says:

              Okay, perhaps in some cases they are comparable. Although in Ball’s case I believe there were other contributing factors. But Mr. Zarat suggested rape victims suffer “FAR” (his capitalization) less than men in family court, which is thoughtless and shallow.

            • Word of advice, I don’t know: Anthony is a single-issue commenter, he always finds a way to bring the topic back around to the issue of family court, and yes, he thinks it is the worst thing to ever happen. The pain of anyone else’s suffering, from any other source, is not nearly as powerful and crippling as the pain from family court.

              Translation: if you don’t want to feel like crap from reading this website, I would suggest not interacting with him.

            • I don't know says:

              I don’t have to interact with him to feel like crap from reading this website.

              Hell, I don’t have to read this website at all to feel like crap.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              He wasn’t right to do so either.

  11. The ad is horrible, and what’s going on in it is horrible, but here’s something I don’t quite get:

    If the ad was of a guy sucker-punching another guy, in a depiction of what looked like clearly inappropriate or even criminal behavior, would it be properly characterized in a headline that described it as “Belvedere’s despicable murder ad”?

    To repeat, *this* ad is terrible, it looks like a woman being sexually assaulted against her will, and there’s nothing excusable or marketable about that. But I don’t see the rape. Is everyone assuming that this isn’t just forcible groping, but that the assaulter is penetrating her in the part of the picture below the frame (despite looking otherwise fully clothed)? If so, I guess I just don’t see that much, but if not, it looks like a still-despicable attempt at marketing humor…but not rape.

    To repeat *again*, because I can hear the accusations of “rape apologist” already, I’m not saying groping is okay, or that the pictured scene is playful, or that rape can’t sometimes start with the kind of behavior pictured, but I think it doesn’t help the cause of rape awareness, prevention, and prosecution, to call every unwanted physical touch “rape”.

    • Okay, so looking at it again, I guess it’s not the image alone (which I repeat, is bad), but the juxtaposition of that with “goes down smoothly” in the text, which does imply that he’s not just groping, but about to force her to “go down”, which I would assume to mean forced oral penetration. And yup, that’s rape. It’s not as clear cut as vaginal or anal rape, but with evolving definitions that include my own sense of what’s enough of a violation to qualify, oral counts.

      So, my bad. I should have paid closer attention to the text. If it was picture only, though, I still wouldn’t think it would qualify.

      • Eh don’t worry sometimes things don’t click on first look. Its good you took another look at it.

        I’ll say that without the words I would probably see it as a depiction of DV. Not trying to say its any worse/better than rape but saying that I think its the words that really push the forced sex angle.

      • Yep, you got it Marcus. The picture on its own is… well, it’s still sort of a weird picture. But on its own, there’s no sexual (forced or consensual) connotation. It’s with the caption that the sexual connotation appears, and then coupled with the picture it suggests non-consensual sex.

        Basically, whoever designed this ad was drunk off their own product.

    • Seems almost superfluous to put a trigger warning on anything in this thread, but I will anyway: TW for rape imagery.

      Anyway, just to confirm: you look at this image – with a leering man restraining a terrified woman with both hands – as something other than a depiction of date rape? It’s true that there is no indication that penetration has occurred, but whether we are looking at the image of the beginning stages of a rape or the beginning stages of an attempted rape… is it really any less offensive to you?

      • It must have been tough wading through all my “to repeat” statements while still holding on to the conclusion that if I didn’t think the picture showed rape, I found it inoffensive. Way to stick to your guns, I guess.

        As I noted earlier, the *combination* of text and picture suggests an end result of rape, but I don’t think the picture alone does. Groping is not rape. Groping while drunk is not rape. Restraining another person who is obviously trying to get away is not rape. All are offensive, all might be “beginning stages” of rape, but there’s nothing clear or inevitable about it, any more than my example of a punch being thrown being the “beginning stage” of murder.

        So to be clear, without the text, I don’t see rape in the picture. Without the text, it’s still offensive, but I don’t think I’m unusual in thinking that groping sans rape would be a lesser offense than groping with rape. With the text, I see how it’s rape, because the text removes ambiguity about what happens next. I would add, however, that in that full context, I just see rape, not date rape, unless there is yet another element that I’m missing (feel free to point it out) that indicates these two were on a date. To ward off being scolded by PDA for denying that date rape is real… I’m talking about *this* picture, not denying that date rape is a real and serious crime.

    • The implication is Marcus, and this may have been answered already, is that he’s having a hard time getting her to submit, but he will get her to “go down” in some way. Down on his dick. The vodka will be easier for her to swallow then him, but both will happen.

  12. Here is another thought.

    Advertisers have exploited the apatite for misandry in women that feminism has (largely) created for years now to the point that misandry is a normal part of marketing products to women as women consume disproportionately, a disproportionate section of the media is dedicated to selling products to women.

    Now, because one misandric marketing campaign all of a sudden involves rape of a woman, its blasphomy and people suddenly care.

    Its like men are being given human value by proxy, misandry is all of a sudden visible and wrong because it involves a woman being raped.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      That is a pretty solid argument. It makes me question my own motivations. However, we both agree on one thing: this add hurts men because:

      1) It encourages the prevailing feminist narrative that masculinity is predatory and violent.
      2) It justifies sexist treatment of men by law enforcement, because if mascuilinity is intrinsicallhy predatory and violent, then “dominant agressor” laws that presume male guilt make sense.
      3) It justifies sexist treatment of men in family court, because if masculinity is intrinsically predatory and violent, then presumption of paternal inadequacy makes sense.
      4) It justifies sexist treatment of men in criminal court, because if masculinity is intrinsically predatory and violent, then a lower bar for a male “guilty” finding (compared to female) makes sense.
      5) It justifies the crazed mass-exorcism of maleness from boys in K-12 public schools ( including compulsory administration or Ritalin and other personality killing drugs) because criminalizing masculinity is HELPING the boys, since masculinity is a dirty and dangerous thing.

      Your question is then, is this one of thousands of misandric adds, or one of millions? Your question is, if this misandric add did not have a (very minor) female angle, would we be talking about it at all? Your question is valid, but …

      Can’t we answer your question while we get together the torches and pitch forks? Because there is a castle that I want to storm, and a very evil villain inside called “Belvedere”.

  13. Possible response would be for bars to stop carrying that brand of vodka. If a customer orders it and it’s not available, they’ll just order something else. Bars have enough problems w/o catering to potential rapists and since many bar employees are women, management might feel inclined to discontinue that brand to protect their employees.

    I imagine that any woman who now sees a man ordering this brand will probably move quickly away from him, but still maybe feel unsafe on the premises.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      Not that I plan on drinking their stuff or anything, but do you really think its going to encourage rape? If a man were going to rape someone in a bar I doubt it’ll be the kind of vodka they serve that tips them over the edge.

  14. wellokaythen says:

    They could have achieved a similar but much less offensive message if the photo was of a man sleazily coming onto a woman instead of outright grabbing her, and if her expression was disgust instead of fear. Give him a cheesy pick-up expression on his face and give her an eye roll, and the ad would have worked without suggesting sexual assault.

    Not to minimize the seriousness of this, but the photo shows what would probably considered a lesser sexual assault and not a rape, though perhaps it is showing what happens before a rape. I think the word rape is being used a little too freely here. That does NOT mean the ad is harmless. That is not what I’m saying. But there are other things besides and between complete innocence and rape.

    I also wonder what was going on in the mind of the actress who agreed to do this ad. Presumably this final photo chosen was the product of multiple takes. How did she explain this to herself, if she did at all?

    Just to play devil’s advocate, would it have made the slightest difference if the photo was used not to sell alcohol but for something more wholesome? For example, am I just cynical in thinking that PETA might get away with something like this more than a vodka brand?…..

    • I completely agree with your second paragraph.

      Regarding the first paragraph, I don’t think the alternate scene you paint would have worked, either. It wouldn’t fail on grounds of being offensive, but if the message the brand is going for (as most brands of alchohol do) is that their product is correlated with sexual success with the opposite sex, an image of a sleazy guy getting rejected with an eye roll would not convey that message, especially if it’s supposed to look like either one of them was consuming said brand of alcohol.

      As for how the model could do it, I can think of many ways:
      1. It’s work.
      2. Might be a stock photo, not shot specifically for an ad they’d circulate by social media.
      3. I doubt the description was “Act like you’re being raped, and then we’ll make it look cool.”
      4. As you say, I’m sure many frames were shot, and any single frame doesn’t necessarily reflect what the tone or direction was.

      Several comments have noted the horror in her face, but have you seen some of the expressions captured in a still photo or paused frame of video, that aren’t remotely like expressions in real time? She looks surprised and yes, scared, in the photo, *because* of where the the text says it’s leading, but if the direction was “Look fun, flirty, and surprised,” it’s not hard for me to believe this frame could come out of that photo shoot, without any overt plan or direction to the models to make it look like a rape scene. If possible, try to forget it’s a rapey vodka ad for a second, and the caption was something like, “When your ring arrives, even your husband can’t hold you back. Diamonds by DeBeers.” Would it still look like rape? Would her expression still read only as horror? Would he look sleazy, or maybe pleased by her excited surprise?

      • wellokaythen says:

        You’re right. I didn’t really catch the “going down” double entendre at first. I kept thinking it was about “how well your advances are received,” like “going down” well as in “it went well.” Odd that I missed that when I usually spot sexual innuendo pretty quickly (or even invent it when it’s not there).

        That shows the ad failed with me on one more level…..

        • “As for how the model could do it, I can think of many ways:
          1. It’s work.
          2. Might be a stock photo, not shot specifically for an ad they’d circulate by social media.
          3. I doubt the description was “Act like you’re being raped, and then we’ll make it look cool.”
          4. As you say, I’m sure many frames were shot, and any single frame doesn’t necessarily reflect what the tone or direction was.”

          Yes on #1. For example, look at a lot of stereotypes that surround black men and the black men who play the roles and/or pose for the pictures. At some point, you have to say, “if I don’t take this job, someone else will.” So either I’ll take the money, or he/she will. The ad/show will still happen. When you’re in such a competitive industry, turning down an advertisement for a national brand–one that will both get you money for rent and that you can put on a resume–is not a good idea. A national commercial is not something that comes along every day for your average actor/model. And as you say, it’s unlikely that she even knew the context in which it would be used.

    • “Not to minimize the seriousness of this, but the photo shows what would probably considered a lesser sexual assault and not a rape, though perhaps it is showing what happens before a rape. I think the word rape is being used a little too freely here.”

      Well, it’s implied non-consensual oral sex. Cuz she’s “going down” not so smoothly. According to the FBI definition, is that not considered rape, as opposed to sexual assault? The FBI definition includes the putting of one’s genitals into another person’s mouth, non-consensually. Basically, putting parts of your body in another person or putting objects in a person’s vagina/anus constitutes rape (once again, if it is non-consensual). I think sexual assault would be anything non-penetrative (groping, masturbating on, etc.).

      So I would argue the use of the word rape here is valid.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Yeah, I totally missed the whole “going down” connotation, which I’m embarrassed to admit. (It’s not an expression I use myself. I’m choosing to explain my cluelessnes that way….)

        As Marcus pointed out above, in this light the caption suggests something more thanjust grabbing her.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        “The FBI definition includes the putting of one’s genitals into another person’s mouth, non-consensually.”

        Does it? I thought the FBI definition was unconsentual penetration of the anus or vagina. Not that I’m complaining, oral rape victims deserve recognition too.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          The FBI definition requires that the perpetrator force something (object, finger, penis) inside of the victim (mouth, anus, vagina). In most circumstances, women cannot be perpetrators of rape according to the FBI.

          For example a 40 year old woman who threatens a 13 year old boy, ties him up, beats him unconscious, drugs him, and mounts him is not guilty of rape. In fact, if the 40 year old woman is drunk, the 13 year old boys is guilty of rape.

          • She probably also could be charged with reckless endangerment to a child, assault, kidnapping and possession of illegal drugs, depending on what they were. Certainly sexual assault and battery. And statutory rape, based on his age. Definitely statutory rape.
            Mary Kay Latourneau was imprisoned (not nearly long enough in my opinion) for her rape of Vili Fualaau.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              Pretty much everything except actual rape.

              Its the same in Ireland: nothing a woman does to a man can be considered more serious than sexual assault.

              We also have what has been called the “romeo and juliet law” which stipulates that given any sex act between minors either partner can be charged at the discretion of the DPP (director of public prosecution) except PIV sex. In the case of PIV sex between minors, under no circumstances can a female child be charged on the basis that since she ran the risk of getting pregnant she can’t have committed sexual assault, regardless of the age gap between her and her partner or any other considerations. If anyone can explain the reasoning behind this I’m all ears.

            • She probably also could be charged with reckless endangerment to a child, assault, kidnapping and possession of illegal drugs, depending on what they were. Certainly sexual assault and battery. And statutory rape, based on his age. Definitely statutory rape.

              Mary Kay Latourneau was imprisoned (not nearly long enough in my opinion) for her rape of Vili Fualaau.
              You sure about? Bear in mind that Latourneau was statutory second degree rape of a child.

              But considering we live in a country where a woman can have a baby by a male minor, keep custody, then turn around and successfully sue the minor boy (or his parents) for child support its not very surprising she got off so light. I’m no parent but one of the last things I would want to think about is being court ordered to pay child support to the woman that statutory raped my son.

              And another odd thing about Latourneau. I get the feeling that if this were a man that had statutory sex with a minor girl and when that girl grew up she decided to keep a relationship with that man people would be going nuts about how he “brainwashed her” or how “she doesn’t know what she’s doing” and how “he abused his power in the teacher/student relationship”.

  15. The vodka maker has been caught tacitly approving violence against women and heightened the stigma that women are ultimately at best nothing but sex objects that go with one’s stiff drink. Am I right lads?

    Let’s hope you have the courage ladies to have a Belvedere on the rocks in the future and if you don’t never mind, there are bound to be many other choices….

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/03/so-what-was-belvedere-thinking-when-it-came-up-with-its-rape-ad/

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