Social media sites have brewed a storm over an Oxford taxi company’s latest advertising venture, which critics claim blames rape victims for their experiences.
A postcard, delivered to houses in Oxford, shows a bedraggled girl making her way home in the rain, with the caption “Should Have Used 001 Taxis”.
Images of the postcard have been reposted on Misogyny Overheard at Oxford Uni, Wadham Feminists, the Oxford Feminist Network, and the international group Everyday Sexism. Those reposting the image have called it “sexist” and “disempowering”, saying it contributes to a culture of victim blaming, and calling for a boycott of the company.
Aaron Singh, a manager at 001 Taxis, called these reactions a “misinterpretation”.
He stated, “We sincerely apologise if in any way we have caused offense (sic). It is certainly not the aim of the campaign. The image is merely that of a girl caught in the rain with the campaign wording reflecting exactly this theme.”
“We have in no way attempted to use the image to portray the themes being stated.[…]The wording on the back of the postcard makes it clear: “You should look just as great coming home as you did going out, so don’t gamble on the weather… get a 001 Taxi.”
People see everything in different ways. Most people who have looked at it, say 99.5 per cent, have seen it exactly for what it is[…] We hope they will take time to study and reflect on the picture further taking the whole campaign into consideration and reconsider their position.”
He added: “The situation is frustrating as we promote safety more than any other taxi company in Oxfordshire.”
Sophie Terrett, a Merton English and History student, who describes herself as an active feminist, said, “While the caption on the postcard suggests girls should take a 001 Taxi to avoid getting caught in the rain and thereby maintaining the perfect appearance society expects us to achieve, a first glance at the image gave me the impression of a woman with bruises. The implication that this was the girl’s fault really annoyed me; it seemed symptomatic of the general victim-blaming culture pervasive in Oxford despite the best efforts of WomCam.”
She continued: “I most definitely will never take a 001 Taxi; the insinuations of the advert are clear and suggest I would be to blame for the actions of any man that couldn’t control himself at night. I’m sure there are plenty of Oxfordshire taxi companies that I could use without feeling so insulted.”
The row follows a similar case last month, when identical postcards were delivered to residents of Lewisham on behalf of local minicab firm Data Cars, which prompted criticisms from rape crisis charities.