“There is a type of media outlet that thinks it can make fun of these kinds of things as clickbait [content designed to drive traffic to a website]; since women make up half of the population and half the market, I decided to appeal to the social responsibility of the brands that keep these media outlets running,” said Cristina Hernández, 37, in statements to EL PAIS’ Verne section.
Hernández, a feminist with a long history of activism, took screenshots of the ads showing up on Mediterráneo Digital after the publication – whose tagline is “Politically Incorrect” – ran a story on January 24 that commented on feminists’ looks and attitude, comparing them to “Chewbacca’s cousins” – a reference to a character from Star Wars.
Hernández then asked five companies through Twitter whether they knew that their ads were running on a site that publishes this type of article.
Anida Vivienda, a real estate firm associated to the BBVA Group, replied that same Wednesday afternoon, saying it would pull its ads on the site. Nissan and Toyota did the same soon later.
“This really angers me; it’s no joke,” says Hernández. “Sexism is what supports the violence against women that exists in this country. The data shows that around 300 women file a complaint against their partners every day, and one woman is killed every five days.”
A spokesman for Norwegian Airlines said it is “too early to know what action will be taken. The fact that a banner appears in a certain outlet does not entail support from the advertising company.”
The insurance company Línea Directa originally declined to pull its ads, but later changed its decision. A spokesperson said that the content is “despicable, in bad taste and offensive, since we are a company that does not support sexism.”
Sexism is what supports the violence against women that exists in this country
According to Hernández, making fun of feminists is an attempt to “delegitimize their fight for equality and to be able to live in a violence-free society. What’s at stake is my freedom and the freedom of my friends, my sisters.”
The controversial article is reminiscent of others seen on the controversial right-wing and pro-Donald Trump website Breitbart News, which has run stories with headlines such as Does feminism make women ugly?.
“Citizens have one kind of responsibility, the media have another, and brands yet another,” said Hernández.
Following the uproar on the social media, Mediterráneo Digital has announced legal action against the activist for allegedly accusing them “of encouraging gender violence.”
“What I said is that sexism encourages gender violence, and I will assert that in a court of law, inside a classroom, on the street and anywhere else necessary,” retorts Hernández. “Sexism does kill in this country.”
In fact, she encourages others to follow her lead and let brands know when their ads are running next to sexist content.
“The success of feminism is collective, and the social media have given us a tremendous power to act.”
English version by Susana Urra.