A Chinese advertisement for make-up wipes that linked a woman’s appearance to the likelihood of assault has been taken down, and the company forced to apologize, after a backlash over “victim-blaming.”
The advert released last week by Chinese cotton products manufacturer Purcotton showed a woman walking home at night followed by a male stalker. As he gains on her, she removes her make-up using the wipes and transforms into a man, scaring off the would-be attacker.
It was widely panned on Chinese social media, as users on Sina Weibo said it made light of a serious issue and vowed to boycott the brand’s products.
“Isn’t this simply insulting the female sex? Making an ad out of a woman being stalked? This is a crime,” one user wrote, in a comment that amassed more than 50,000 likes.
Although the company has since apologized twice, it initially defended the ad as a “creative concept,” prompting further outrage.
“To use women’s worst fears and pain as the subject of an ad, and then defend it loudly — do you even have a brain?” read one comment that more than 30,000 likes.
Faced with a deepening public relations disaster, Purcotton on Friday wrote on Weibo that it attached “high importance” to the affair.
“As for the discomfort the video’s content caused to everyone, we deeply apologize and will immediately take down the video,” it added.
However, the Internet furor did not abate and Purcotton issued a longer apology on Monday.
The Weibo “#Purcotton apology” had gained 500 million views as of yesterday morning.
Even state media weighed in on the controversy.
“It beautifies the criminal and smears the victim, and is full of prejudice, malice and ignorance,” the official newspaper of the state-run women’s rights group All-China Women’s Federation wrote in a Friday commentary.
The Purcotton brand, owned by Winner Medical Group, operates more than 240 stores across China, selling products such as clothing, tissues, sanitary pads and diapers.
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