By: Danielle Jackson, Online Outreach AssociatePosted on December 9, 2011

Another Friday is here, and we’re getting closer still to the end of the year. This week I’ve got stories on H&M’s new models, a controversial ad meant to curb teen drinking, a new documentary, and how mall Santas are managing expectations during tough times, all after the jump.

First up is this story from Ms., in which we learned of clothing retailer H&M’s new practice of using “completely virtual” models. Want to see something creepy? Just take a look at this image with some of the, um, models. No really, go look. Everything from the faces to the skin tone of these models is altered. Way to continue push unattainable standards for women’s bodies… in a weird new way, H&M. Ms. really nails this one on the head with their commentary: “It’s emblematic of a very strange trope in fashion and advertising, in which women are treated as little more than composites of various body parts that can either be isolated and displayed on their own or (as we see here) reassembled into new and alien Frankenmodels.”

Here’s another story that was causing some uproar around the Internet this week: the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released a new series of ads to PA Liquor Control Board Adhelp reduce teen drinking, including one that uses the threat and tragedy of rape. (Ad can be seen at right – click for full size.) I’m in agreement with what Feministing community member Julie Mastrine says in her blog post – that “The campaign blatantly shifts the blame onto victims and friends, and away from the very person who deserves it: the rapist.”

While, overall, the PA Liquor Control Board might have had good intentions – it’s worth noting that this campaign also included hypothetical stories about needing to rush a friend to the ER or a friend getting arrested after a night of drinking – this one particular part of the campaign does little more than continue to shame victims. This continues to push the notion that if a woman or girl does not practice constant vigilance, she is to blame for being raped or sexually assaulted, when really it is her attacker to blame. Not only that, but her friends are to.

On the sort-of upside, the PA Liquor Control Board pulled these ads yesterday in the wake of the uproar. Here comes the downside: they say they did it not because their ads were victim blaming and shaming, but that the “number of concerns that we heard about that specific ad, and the victims especially that we heard from talking about how the image … made them feel victimized all over again” convinced them. I appreciate the organization listening to victims who spoke out against the ads, because using triggering imagery like this is all-around troubling to me. But seriously, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, next time could you just admit your ad perpetuated rape culture in addition to causing victims to relive some of their worst moments? Seriously. All this is just making me ashamed to call Pennsylvania my home state.

Quick hit: Jessica Valenti’s book The Purity Myth has been made into a documentary. You can view the trailer below. Things I just learned from it: apparently, as a feminist, I’d like drag a man around like a dog on the end of a rope. Good to know…?

Lastly, a story from Monday’s All Things Considered. Fred Honerkamp of the – believe it or not – Charles W. Howard Santa School sat down with NPR’s Lynn Neary to talk about what it’s like to be a mall Santa in tough economic times. Lately he’s been coaching other mall Santas on how to manage the expectations of children, especially when parents indicate they can’t afford the expensive gift their kid is really after this year. Honerkamp suggests weaving a story about the elf working in electronics playing with all the new toys when children ask for an item out of their parent’s reach. He also points out how many children realize that times are tough – and that they often ask for their presents to be brought to others who need them more. You can listen to the full interview here.

Before I wrap up, I want to extend our thanks again to all the bloggers who participated in this week’s HERvotes blog carnival on the need to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. You can take a look at all of our posts here, and peruse the full list of blog posts here. Please also take a moment to contact your members of Congress and urge them to extend UI benefits.

That’s all! Read anything interesting this week? Leave us a comment with the link!