Fake Apologies Won't Cut It for Abducted Woman Truck Decal

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Hornet Signs' truck decal of an abducted woman recently created outrage nationwide, sparked dialogue on domestic violence, and gave one blogger an idea for some Washington Post link bait.

Only one day after Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb issued his fauxpology for the marketing technique, Washington Post blogger Diana Reese elbowed her way into the conversation to ask:

Is it time to forgive Kolb for the decal of the hog-tied woman?

Touch√©, Diana Reese, a thought-provoking question indeed. And by “thought-provoking,” I mean that the question provoked one thought, and that thought was “No. Of course not.”

We can't forgive someone before they make a real apology. And more importantly, we shouldn't have to. People are speaking up about violence against women: Don't tell us to shut up so the adults can talk.

More on Reese's offensive opinion piece and Kolb's fake apology after the jump.In her post, Diana Reese equates the truck decal of a victim of violence with another decal depicting—get ready to clutch those pearls—a zombie, “which [she]find[s]disturbing as well.”

But despite Kolb's questionable interest in making light of domestic abuse and the undead, Reese demands forgiveness. He did, after all, make a donation to an advocacy center for crime victims and children, the amount of which is contingent on how many Facebook likes his company's page can garner. (As of press time, Kolb has not announced any charitable donations to organizations serving victims of zombies.)

“Yes, violence against women is a problem,” she admits. However, she continues, “He told me he was sorry and he's apologized publicly as well.”

Firstly, I don't think that Brad Kolb has made an apology. Although he released a video, blog post, and several social media posts in response to critics, he has yet to express remorse. His “apology” consists mostly of denial: Claiming that he just wanted to elicit a response, that neither he or his employees condone tying women up against their will, that he will rectify everything by donating to a shelter for victims of abuse.

If anything, he has blamed the public and the media for drumming up so much anger over the company's trivialization of domestic violence.

“Our challenge to you is to, instead of simply expressing outrage at the actions of others, be proactive in helping to solve that problem,” Kolb says in his video after begging for more Facebook likes. In other words, stop being a “butthurt b-tch,” as one of his employees called a female critic, if you actually care about violence against women.

Second, this isn't about Brad Kolb. In Reese's opinion piece, she says that “maybe, just maybe, this Texan has learned a valuable lesson.” Probably not, but for the sake of argument, maybe he has. Does it matter?

I seriously doubt that Kolb expected the truck decal to anger so many people. As he was planning this marketing campaign, asking a female employee to pose as an abducted woman in the back of a truck, and designing the decal, he didn't expect to be on national news. If he had, he would have framed it in terms of awareness raising from the beginning.

Kolb was able to use the image of an abused woman as a marketing ploy not because he is unfeeling or soulless. He, like the rest of us, is immersed in a patriarchal culture that glorifies the image of a broken woman's body.

Companies market their products by using women as spectacles every day: Hornet Signs could have just as easily slapped a nude blonde model on the back of a truck and stayed out of the spotlight.

Instead, they received criticism because they chose an image depicting a helpless, terrified woman as a victim of violence. Kolb used a more shocking way to draw attention to women's bodies and thus his product, but his marketing ideology was not unique: Women's value rests in their status as objects to be controlled.

In other words, who cares if we should forgive Brad Kolb? Dedicating thoughts, energy, and Internet space to decrying the decal isn't about a random guy with a sign company in Waco.

It's about our right to express our outrage—loudly, publicly, and unceasingly—at systematic violence.


About Author

Natalie San Luis

Natalie is a native Texan, a feminist, and a writer, focusing on reproductive justice, race, and pop culture. When she's not writing (and sometimes when she is), she's brewing beer, drinking beer, and reading stuff on the Internet. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, xoJane, The Billfold, Culturemap, and E3W Review of Books. She tweets from @nsanluis.

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