Is it really good fun to pretend to kill a woman? Apparently, it is for Zombie Industries, an American company making life-sized mannequin targets and which has just released its new model of target: ‘The Ex’, recently renamed ‘Alexa’. The concept? Very simple: the mannequin embodies a potential ex-girlfriend, you can shoot it and it bleeds, like a real person. As if you were killing a real woman! All this for $99.
Gun violence against women is a serious problem, everywhere in the world. But ‘The Ex’ shooting target turns violence against women into a joke (no need to say one of very bad taste), it promotes domestic violence and the idea that men should want to kill their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends. It’s a way of telling men that it’s funny or okay to practice murdering a woman.
But it is NOT okay. Gun violence impacts women and men in very different ways: women are much more vulnerable to violence within the home than men, and the presence of a gun in the house makes women considerably less safe. This zombie female target might only be meant as a fun game, but it’s not okay to play a game that encourages men to shoot and kill women.
On its website, the company – that was featured at the last National Rifle Association (NRA) convention at the beginning of May – asserts that having a target representing a woman amongst their product selection is a way not to discriminate against women. However, normalizing armed violence against women with a human-sized female mannequin will certainly not help solve domestic violence.
Although the company stated that “the female zombie target that we made is not intended to be a real woman; it is supposed to be a representation of a zombie”, it has the shape of a real woman, and according to the appalling comments that the website got from buyers, the message has certainly been interpreted that way: “This Zombie Bitch is awesome, reminds me of a girl I knew in High School”.
According to the Huffington Post, the company will discontinue this female target and redesign it to have green skin in order to further differentiate it from a real woman (but will changing the color of the skin really make a difference? We’re not so sure…). Yet, so far, the female mannequin available on their website remains to look like a real woman, unbelievable.
Gender-based violence should be taken seriously; such bad taste ‘jokes’ are obstacles to what WILPF and others are trying to do to put an end to gun violence. That is why WILPF thinks it is important to speak out against this type of appalling misogynist ‘jokes’ that normalize and encourage armed violence against women; raising awareness is a way to combat these stereotypes.