Due to no response, I had all but given up on writing strongly worded e-mails to companies, organizations, or individuals that brought offense to my ideals in some way or another -- until yesterday evening. I was quietly unwinding after a long day at work at Men Can Stop Rape by cruising the blogosphere. I was startled when I came across this "suitcase sticker" advertised on the INFMETRY shop website. The sticker is among a series that allows you to have some fun with your luggage by making one side of it look x-rayed revealing drugs, sex toys, dollar bills, and lastly the one I took issue with, a bound and gagged, crying woman. I had seen this sticker before on feministing.com. They initially noted its existence back in 2010, and I was incensed to realize that despite many complaints made to www.thecheeky.com, the stickers are still for sale. While suitcase stickers may be a fun idea to "take a stand against monotonous travel" as advertised on their website, making light of violence against women and human trafficking is inexcusable. Since when is kidnapping and binding a woman against her will "fun"? And, how does a company place trafficking a human being on the same level as trafficking drugs, wads of cash and sex toys?
Maybe it's because I have been reading Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinham, or maybe it was because I have become more confident expressing my distaste of individuals joking about violence against women, or violence in general by working at Men Can Stop Rape, or maybe it's because I just felt like writing a strongly worded e-mail (it had been awhile!). Whatever the reason was, I proactively decided not to keep silent, and I put into practice some bystander intervention we always discuss and defend at work, by sending a strongly worded e-mail to INFMETRY's customer service department. I wrote:
"This is regarding your company's decision to sell this item here: http://www.infmetry.com/toys/
wicked/suitcase-stickers.Canada has banned the sale of these stickers for a reason. It is completely offensive and in bad taste to market an item that obviously makes light of violence against women. I hope you can reconsider your poor decision to make a profit off a serious and underreported issue that wreaks havoc on the livelihood of millions of women, girls, and men worldwide."
If you notice, the link above doesn't work. This is because within an hour of berating them electronically, they responded with:
Thanks for you warning, in fact we just think it is a little wicked so we put it in our site, we donot have it in stock, and actually not one of our customer has place the order for it, anyway, we will cancel the page as your will.
Kudos to Infmetry! Not only did I receive the self-satisfaction that one of my strongly worded e-mails finally made some sort of impact, but now this offensive and ridiculous item is removed from their site. However, the fact that is exists still troubles me, and really shows how harmful attitudes towards women exist in many arenas. Sometimes you need to just focus on a job well done, no matter how small, and celebrate that taking action is not always met with roadblocks. I have sent the same e-mail to thecheeky.com, and I urge you to do the same if you feel strongly. Only when we realize that violence against women, human trafficking, and other serious issues focused on destroying individual freedoms are not a joke, will we be able to move past these issues once and for all.
Abigail Eisley has been working as Administrative Assistant with MCSR since June of this year, following an internship with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance in Richmond, VA. She is a graduate of James Madison University with a degree in Justice Studies: Global Justice and Policy. At MCSR she provides administrative and program support as well as other tasks.