The medium is the message

Anti-rape poster shocks Milan’s city hall

Editorial Staff
November 27, 2008

The poster features a beautiful brunette lying naked in a bed. But with her arms spread wide, palms up, her genitals concealed by a white sheet, and one foot on top of the other, the image recalls that of Christ on the cross. So does the slogan: ‘Who Pays for Man's Sins?'


The poster, which announces the international day for the elimination of violence against women, November 25, was commissioned by Italy's rape crisis hotline, Telefono Donna. The caption continues, ‘Only 4 percent of women who suffer sexual violence report their assailants. Other women pay for them too.'


Telefono Donna asked the city of Milan permission to display the poster across the city. However, when conservative city councilors saw it, they vowed to block its appearance.


‘When I first caught a glimpse of the poster, I jumped out of my seat because the image offends the Christian tradition ... I'll do everything in my power to stop this poster going up', said Milan's advertisement councilor Maurizio Cadeo. Cadeo and other right-wing councilors maintain that the poster will offend Christians' religious feelings.


According to news reports, Milan mayor Letizia Moratti has washed her hands of the controversy, saying she will let Cadeo decide whether to censure the poster or not.


Meanwhile, art critic and Milan's former culture superintendent, Vittorio Sgarbi, condemned the censure, promising to display the poster in the small Sicilian town of Salemi where he is now mayor. He plans to place it alongside a controversial poster intended to combat anorexia.


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