by Heather Corcoran
It’s known for outré advertising, but Diesel’s latest campaign seems to have taken its Live Stupid motto a little too seriously. A new website called Diesel for Women appears to be the latest in the Italian label's ongoing Successful Living campaign. But the proposed secret to success this time? Abortions.
The well-produced site imagines a world called Misopolis, where sex reigns free and female factory workers are given “the same rights as successful people.” The press release brings up legitimate women's issues (“[they're] marginalized, abused, raped, impoverished and exploited by the garment industry”) before veering into tastelessness (“we are giving them recognition, dignity, the right to have a safe abortion and fun”). That sentiment is echoed in over-the-top slogans: "Abortion Pill, A Gift from God," "Immaculate Contraception," and "Say Goodbye to Coat Hangers."
Fashion’s politics have always leaned left, but this is not your average pro-choice message. In fact, the ads are not real, according to a Diesel spokesperson, who tells the Huffington Post, "We will ensure all steps are taken to hold the person(s) accountable for this fake campaign activity."
Though no one is claiming responsibility yet, Twitter users have collectively determined the campaign was created by the Amsterdam-based Women on Waves. The pro-choice group apparently believes that, in their opposition to abstinence-only education, it's okay to make light of a traumatic experience for millions.
After sending shockwaves through the blogosphere and bitter condemnation from Diesel, it turns out the Diesel for Women site is indeed a spoof started by Women on Waves. The Dutch non-profit issued a letter explaining that they, along with the activist group Yes Men, “designed the hoax to expose the violations of women’s rights that take place in the garment industry.”
But why pose as Diesel? The organization cites the 2011 report “Captured by Cotton” which claims that companies such as Diesel exploit garment workers hired by subcontractors through the “sumangali scheme,” forcing women to work for years in anticipation of a lump-sum payment. The ad’s faux-factory, with its abundant abortion-related imagery, was intended to point out that many garment factory workers (75 – 90% of whom are women, average age 19) face unsafe conditions, rampant sexual harassment, poor healthcare and no maternity leave. Many of these factories are located in countries where abortion is illegal. Women on Waves is campaigning to make medical abortion available to women all over the world. May we recommend Change.org?