Female drivers are the worst! Amirite, broskis?
That was the sentiment of a recent Subaru Emirates Facebook post that warned of the dangers of letting women get behind the wheel.
Based in Abu Dhabi, the car dealership posted the above photo of a recent fatal car accident—one that took the lives of four people—and headlined it with the words, "Women drivers at it again."
You can see a full-size shot of the post at Alex of Arabia.
In response, the dealership's Facebook fans left a barrage of angry comments, deriding the company for its blatant sexism.
But the anonymous social media admin running the dealership's page doubled-down on his misogyny and responded to the criticisms by saying:
"Not anti-women bro. Just pointing out few facts. Now we cannot avoid this fact that accident happened due to women driver carelessness."
Within a few hours, however, the entire post was deleted, and eventually replaced with an apology this morning, which read in part:
A recent post on our Facebook Page offended the sentiments of a number of people.
Our sincere apology goes out to everyone for this.
We respect your sentiments and have taken down the post with immediate effect.
But that statement didn't help matters, seeming like it was closer to, "We're sorry you were offended," rather than, "We're sorry we were awful and what we did was wrong."
Nonetheless, Subaru Emirates are hardly the first, nor will they be the last, car company to degrade women as an advertising strategy.
Last year, JWT India did exactly the same thing when it released mock-ups of its latest ad campaign for the Ford Figo (which Ford did not approve).
The samples featured the three Kardashian sisters gagged and tied up in the trunk, with a quippy tagline about how drivers will enjoy all the extra cargo room. (Because when you're assaulting women, you need all that trunk space to haul their bodies around—haha!)
And the automobile industry certainly isn't alone in this. It may be 2013, but plenty others still use violence, or threats of violence against women, or women as punchlines, in an attempt portray their brands as sexy or edgy.
And while it's easy as Westerners to distance ourselves from the Subaru Emirates post—because we can say it's from the Middle East, a region that's often associated with the subjugation of women—obviously advertising that dehumanizes women is practiced everywhere, all the time. Western interpretations of it may not be as blatant as Subaru Emirates', but they're far from covert and they're just as damaging.
The real danger happens when we become so accustomed to these ideas and images, they begin to look normal—and therefore acceptable. To see that in action, look no further than the recent scourge of women-focused attacks on Twitter.