Wednesday, August 05, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Belize Telemedia Limited has removed two Facebook posts with suggestive content after complaints by prominent Belizeans including Senator Lisa Shoman.
The telephone provider sent out a short statement from Chairman of the Executive Committee Anwar Barrow responding to an open letter from Shoman as follows:
And we quote, “We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated yesterday 4th August, 2015. As an immediate response I can say that we agree that those particular two social media posts were offensive and as such removed them immediately upon concerns being raised by another member of the public prior to your letter.
We have subsequently put in place a proper screening process for social media posts and will be further considering other supplemental measures. The company sincerely apologizes to our customers for any offense taken.
The company will be issuing a more substantive, formal response on Friday of this week in relation to this matter.”
Shoman, who told us via email that she was out of the country and could not sit down with us for an interview, wrote to BTL listing a series of advertisements and posts she found offensive and degrading to women. Of the two most recent posts she writes, “I was utterly appalled and disgusted at the use by DigiCell of the image of (actress) Jennifer Coolidge to sell their product, coupled with the tawdry text above. The message was unmistakable and degrades women but in particular, older women.
This was not the first time DigiCell had used female flesh in order to advertise their product, but it was the first time as far as I am aware, that this particular type of suggestive degradation has been used, implying among other things, that older affluent women are insatiable pedophiles. It is completely unacceptable.
Furthermore, if DigiCell did not get permission to use the image of Ms. Coolidge, it is stealing. It probably would not be the first use of an image without prior authorization by the DigiCell marketing team either.
As if this were not sufficient, other outraged Belizean women brought to my attention another advertisement, featuring a young woman, bound and gagged with rope and duct tape covering her mouth, being held by a man, with text on the picture saying: This could be us but you keep escaping.
This meme used by DigiCell for an ad is accompanied this text:
Sighhhhhhhhhhhh, there’s nothing like true love….but if your true love keeps escaping, Talk & Text with them ALL NIGHT for only $2.49 with DigiCell’s new Nightshift. Just dial * 638 to activate.
and if they el chapoed on you, call the US or Mexico or China or India or any of the top 10 most dialed countries for as low as 19 cents a minute in July to track em down!
#GetMORE #TeamDigiCell #tryducttape
Memes like this help to perpetuate a culture of contempt for women and abuse of their personhood. It is this that helps to cement a culture of violence against women, and equates women as flesh for male consumption.
It caters to, and is dreamed up by an adolescent male fantasy of rape, submission, degradation, depredation of women, and incredibly, the geniuses who create your ad campaigns helpfully suggest that the consumer “#tryducttape.” Even more incredibly, some marketing superior of the genius (es) sanctioned it.
These ads serve to anoint your company as an endorser, if not an accomplice of rape culture. Your corporation peddles the suggestion that the rightful place of women is to be an object of “true love” – bound, gagged and submissive. And for what? For the most egregious of reasons –to market and sell your products in the cyber marketplace.” end quote.
She demands an apology and cessation of the campaign, sanctions for offenders, the appointment of experts to determine the extent of misogyny and homophobia at BTL; and the establishment of a policy protecting women from degradation. As the BTL response states they will be speaking more on Friday.
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