I enjoy all the new murals being created around our city. But I take offense to a new mural on the side of Orbit DVD at 781 Haywood Road in West Asheville. The mural features a young woman on all fours in a suggestive pose. Next to her is a three-toed sloth on top of a television set.
The objectification of a young woman was disappointing enough, but what really puzzled me was the juxtaposition of the sloth. My background in art history prompted me do a little online research to determine if there existed any symbology associated with the image of a sloth.
To my horror, I discovered a popular online meme called the “rape sloth.” Graphics for this meme usually feature a sloth in a naked woman’s arms, whispering in her ear. The captions in most variations of this meme advocate rape in some manner. In one version, the sloth whispers, “Psst…you [sic] gonna get raped.” This is one of the tamer captions I encountered! (Source: knowyourmeme.com/memes/rape-sloth)
Even if we give the mural artist the benefit of the doubt and assume that he had no knowledge of the “rape sloth” meme when he included the sloth in his composition, we now know what the combination of the sloth and the young woman insinuates. I urge Orbit DVD to remove this mural without delay. I doubt Orbit wants to give the impression that it endorses the trivialization of rape.