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David Lee King

I Don’t Get It, or The Wonders of Mudflap Babe



More than one blogger this week has been pontificating on the wonders of the Wyoming Library Campaign’s mudflap girl. Here she is:

<sarcasm and nasty disagreeable Dave starts here>
I’m sorry, Wyoming. I realize that you hired “a team of Wyoming library public relations specialists” and that those professionals “have been planning this campaign for months.”

And I know you state the goal of the mudflap babe is to first allow people to see the babe, and then to somehow… miraculously… get from the mudflap babe to the realization that “There is something for me at the library, and I can grow, explore and wonder.”

Uhm… I just don’t see how the mudflap girl does that! See, I grew up in the midwest. Driving down I-70. Behind trucks. Big trucks. Lots of trucks. With mudflaps. Those mudflaps looked like the one below:

When I was a kid, everyone and my sister understood that those truckers liked scantily-clad women, that those truckers had pretty much no respect for women, and treated them as sex objects. That was just a given – especially when you tacked on all the silly sexist trucker songs and movies that were also popular when I was a kid.

[I asked my wife to take a peek. She said “but that’s a naked lady!”]

Sorry, Wyoming. I simply do not see how mudflap babe shows me that libraries are “reliable and exciting.” Or how said hottie shows me that libraries “add value to our lives.” Whose value? Certainly not the women being treated as eye candy.
< / sarcasm off>

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://subjecobject.net/ Steven

    Whew. And I thought it was just me.

  • http://subjecobject.net Steven

    Whew. And I thought it was just me.

  • Laura

    I completely agree with you. I’m glad someone finally said it.

  • Laura

    I completely agree with you. I’m glad someone finally said it.

  • Gail Richardson

    Hahahahahaha – right on Dave! But maybe they thought it was ok because – did anyone notice – the uh “huge” difference in bosom size between the two images? Oh -the things that marketing firms talk us into!

  • Gail Richardson

    Hahahahahaha – right on Dave! But maybe they thought it was ok because – did anyone notice – the uh “huge” difference in bosom size between the two images? Oh -the things that marketing firms talk us into!

  • http://www.utopianlibrary.com/ Ruth

    Personally, I can’t stand those mudflaps… or the bobbing version of the mudflap girl that I often see suckered to the inside of car windows. Oh yuck.

    What does make me laugh out loud and applaud the campaign is the risk that the Wyoming Library system took in building and launching their campaign. They’ve shaken the library cage and everyone in it, especially the people responsible for the success (and failure) of libraries everywhere. Maybe the campaign will shake a few people OUT of the cage and into a new generation of library service that turns disinterested non-users into enthusiastic users.

    If nothing else, the Mud Flap Girl has made the library news circuit, started a conversation, and served her purpose: to make people notice the Wyoming Libraries. We notice, we’re talking, and we won’t soon forget. That’s marketing at its best.

  • http://www.utopianlibrary.com Ruth

    Personally, I can’t stand those mudflaps… or the bobbing version of the mudflap girl that I often see suckered to the inside of car windows. Oh yuck.

    What does make me laugh out loud and applaud the campaign is the risk that the Wyoming Library system took in building and launching their campaign. They’ve shaken the library cage and everyone in it, especially the people responsible for the success (and failure) of libraries everywhere. Maybe the campaign will shake a few people OUT of the cage and into a new generation of library service that turns disinterested non-users into enthusiastic users.

    If nothing else, the Mud Flap Girl has made the library news circuit, started a conversation, and served her purpose: to make people notice the Wyoming Libraries. We notice, we’re talking, and we won’t soon forget. That’s marketing at its best.

  • davidleeking

    Ruth, I’ll give you (and the PR dudes) that – a good marketing campaign should be talked about, and should stir people up – either negatively or positively.

    And they definitely did that.

    Gail – Yes, I did notice… I thought about mentioning the book/bosom switcheroo, but decided I didn’t want to go there!

  • davidleeking

    Ruth, I’ll give you (and the PR dudes) that – a good marketing campaign should be talked about, and should stir people up – either negatively or positively.

    And they definitely did that.

    Gail – Yes, I did notice… I thought about mentioning the book/bosom switcheroo, but decided I didn’t want to go there!

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    Actually, the issue is not whether we talk about the campaign, but whether our users talk about the campaign. Or for that matter whether it brings people into libraries or increases the positive attitudes toward library services.

    Having worked in male-dominant professions, my take is that this is a particular disservice to woman truckers, who will be forced to go along with the joke or be perceived as humorless feminists, blah blah. Been there, done that, got the teeshirt.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    Actually, the issue is not whether we talk about the campaign, but whether our users talk about the campaign. Or for that matter whether it brings people into libraries or increases the positive attitudes toward library services.

    Having worked in male-dominant professions, my take is that this is a particular disservice to woman truckers, who will be forced to go along with the joke or be perceived as humorless feminists, blah blah. Been there, done that, got the teeshirt.

  • davidleeking

    Ooh – Karen, that’s true. It’s all about the patrons! Will this get them talking, or usher them into libraries? not sure.

    How funny – how often do libraries focus on some new tool, blog, campaign, etc… then think it’s a success when other librarians talk about it? Success comes when your CUSTOMERS talk about it (or better yet, start using your services).

  • davidleeking

    Ooh – Karen, that’s true. It’s all about the patrons! Will this get them talking, or usher them into libraries? not sure.

    How funny – how often do libraries focus on some new tool, blog, campaign, etc… then think it’s a success when other librarians talk about it? Success comes when your CUSTOMERS talk about it (or better yet, start using your services).

  • http://www.utopianlibrary.com/ Ruth

    My point (and I do have one): If we match (or exceed) all that librarian talk with librarian action and offer meaningful services (even the ones we don’t understand), our customers WILL have something to talk about. Even better, something to use.

    It could be worse. They could have covered the Mud Flap Girl with a flannel shirt. (smiley goes here)

  • http://www.utopianlibrary.com Ruth

    My point (and I do have one): If we match (or exceed) all that librarian talk with librarian action and offer meaningful services (even the ones we don’t understand), our customers WILL have something to talk about. Even better, something to use.

    It could be worse. They could have covered the Mud Flap Girl with a flannel shirt. (smiley goes here)

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    One more thought: imagine if this were rolled out as an internal campaign at the library (to, I don’t know, get employees to fill out their leave requests in a timely fashion). How well would that go over?

    It’s “do as we say, not as we do.” Not to flog this to death… but there’s a whiff of condescension about this campaign.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    One more thought: imagine if this were rolled out as an internal campaign at the library (to, I don’t know, get employees to fill out their leave requests in a timely fashion). How well would that go over?

    It’s “do as we say, not as we do.” Not to flog this to death… but there’s a whiff of condescension about this campaign.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/ joshua m. neff

    I was wondering if I should post about this, since I didn’t get to really say what I think during the most recent Uncontrolled Vocabulary. But I think you’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts, David, so I have nothing left to say besides, “Yeah! Right on!”

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com joshua m. neff

    I was wondering if I should post about this, since I didn’t get to really say what I think during the most recent Uncontrolled Vocabulary. But I think you’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts, David, so I have nothing left to say besides, “Yeah! Right on!”

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    I saw it very differently. I saw them as reclaiming that image from its original usage. To me that image says, hey, that girl you found so sexy isn’t so one-dimensional. She loves to read. There’s a lot more to her. And they’re also saying that reading is sexy. I love it. It’s a wonderful thing when we can reclaim an image that has meant something negative and turn it into a positive image. I also think if a marketing campaign captures the attention of a group that normally wouldn’t pay any attention to libraries, then that is a good thing.

    Saying that truckers who have that mudflap girl on their trucks don’t respect women or that people who like scantily-clad women can’t also respect women is a bit of a reach.

    But it really is interesting how everyone is seeing this through their own personal lens (influenced by our history and biases) and how that makes each of our views of this completely unique. There is no right or wrong with this, but I certainly hope it will get Wyoming-ites talking as much as it has gotten us talking.

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    I saw it very differently. I saw them as reclaiming that image from its original usage. To me that image says, hey, that girl you found so sexy isn’t so one-dimensional. She loves to read. There’s a lot more to her. And they’re also saying that reading is sexy. I love it. It’s a wonderful thing when we can reclaim an image that has meant something negative and turn it into a positive image. I also think if a marketing campaign captures the attention of a group that normally wouldn’t pay any attention to libraries, then that is a good thing.

    Saying that truckers who have that mudflap girl on their trucks don’t respect women or that people who like scantily-clad women can’t also respect women is a bit of a reach.

    But it really is interesting how everyone is seeing this through their own personal lens (influenced by our history and biases) and how that makes each of our views of this completely unique. There is no right or wrong with this, but I certainly hope it will get Wyoming-ites talking as much as it has gotten us talking.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/ joshua m. neff

    As someone who likes scantily-clad women, you make an excellent point, Meredith. On the other hand, even with the book in hand, the figure still looks like a typical objectified female-figure to me. It just doesn’t look “reclaimed” to me so much as “playing into typical stereotypes.” But that’s almost certainly because of the lens I tend to see this through.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com joshua m. neff

    As someone who likes scantily-clad women, you make an excellent point, Meredith. On the other hand, even with the book in hand, the figure still looks like a typical objectified female-figure to me. It just doesn’t look “reclaimed” to me so much as “playing into typical stereotypes.” But that’s almost certainly because of the lens I tend to see this through.

  • http://harperlibrarian.blogspot.com/ Sonja

    If you ignore this one part of the ad campaign, the rest of them make sense. http://www.wyominglibraries.org/campaign.html

    Actually when I first saw it I thought it was a joke!

  • http://harperlibrarian.blogspot.com Sonja

    If you ignore this one part of the ad campaign, the rest of them make sense. http://www.wyominglibraries.org/campaign.html

    Actually when I first saw it I thought it was a joke!

  • http://alreadygone.blogspot.com/ Cindi

    Why is no one calling her “Mud Flap Woman”? I mean, come on, show some respect. What do you think she would say to “Mud Flap Man” (or the other Mud Flap Woman!) at the dinner table about all this kerfuffle?

  • http://alreadygone.blogspot.com Cindi

    Why is no one calling her “Mud Flap Woman”? I mean, come on, show some respect. What do you think she would say to “Mud Flap Man” (or the other Mud Flap Woman!) at the dinner table about all this kerfuffle?

  • http://pafa.net/ pollyalida

    My first reaction to this was negative as well. I’ve tried to put a fun, playful spin on it, but found I can’t. I’ve always hated those mudflaps and their variations. I won’t ascribe any particular values to all truckers, but I do take issue with the the objectification of women that the mudflaps represent to me. Others will have a different take on it. I will be very interested to see if there is an increase in library usage as a result though.

  • pollyalida

    My first reaction to this was negative as well. I’ve tried to put a fun, playful spin on it, but found I can’t. I’ve always hated those mudflaps and their variations. I won’t ascribe any particular values to all truckers, but I do take issue with the the objectification of women that the mudflaps represent to me. Others will have a different take on it. I will be very interested to see if there is an increase in library usage as a result though.

  • http://pafa.net/ pollyalida

    p.s. really like some of the other parts of the wyoming campaign though!

  • pollyalida

    p.s. really like some of the other parts of the wyoming campaign though!

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    The file actually has the word “girl” in its name.

    There is a blog out there that has responded to this campaign with an image of a man who is “enjoying” what he is reading as well. I’ll mention it in as work-safe a way as possible if I write about this.

    I find it interesting how we view our patrons… an image that wouldn’t be appropriate in a library or university is just fine for the masses.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    The file actually has the word “girl” in its name.

    There is a blog out there that has responded to this campaign with an image of a man who is “enjoying” what he is reading as well. I’ll mention it in as work-safe a way as possible if I write about this.

    I find it interesting how we view our patrons… an image that wouldn’t be appropriate in a library or university is just fine for the masses.

  • Pingback: How many flaps does a mudflap flap?()

  • http://cavlec.yarinareth.net/ Dorothea Salo

    Thank you for this post.

  • http://cavlec.yarinareth.net/ Dorothea Salo

    Thank you for this post.

  • http://sarahmae.info/ Sarah Mae

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I don’t see why calling the image sexist such a shocker for people. I don’t need libraries to be “sexy,” I’ve got enough people hitting on me at the reference desk as it is.

  • http://sarahmae.info Sarah Mae

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I don’t see why calling the image sexist such a shocker for people. I don’t need libraries to be “sexy,” I’ve got enough people hitting on me at the reference desk as it is.

  • Esti

    I am so tired of people talking about how the library is claiming or transforming this image. In reality they’re just riding on the coattails of a pop culture image, and a disrespectful one at that. They’re just trying to get attention because everything has to be sexy these days, so of course the library does too… and I am so tired of it.

    Yeah, marketing succeeds if it gets (the right) people talking. But just because it gets people talking does not mean it’s respectable or a good promotion of how the library should be viewed. So what if everyone in Wyoming recognizes the Mud Flap Girl? Why does that make the image a good candidate to promote the library?

  • Esti

    I am so tired of people talking about how the library is claiming or transforming this image. In reality they’re just riding on the coattails of a pop culture image, and a disrespectful one at that. They’re just trying to get attention because everything has to be sexy these days, so of course the library does too… and I am so tired of it.

    Yeah, marketing succeeds if it gets (the right) people talking. But just because it gets people talking does not mean it’s respectable or a good promotion of how the library should be viewed. So what if everyone in Wyoming recognizes the Mud Flap Girl? Why does that make the image a good candidate to promote the library?

  • davidleeking

    Esti – you’re compeletely right, and I think many of these commenters would agree with you. Just because they can does not equal cool, I should do this!

  • davidleeking

    Esti – you’re compeletely right, and I think many of these commenters would agree with you. Just because they can does not equal cool, I should do this!

  • Kaijsa

    This campaign offends me. Period. I get that not everybody is offended, but it makes my blood boil when I hear people basically reject the idea that it’s offensive at all. While I don’t expect everybody to agree with me, it does feel good to read several thoughtful posts like this one that really echo how I feel about sexist advertising, which I’m against. As a librarian, I don’t think we should play on the sexism in our culture to sell libraries, and as a librarian in Wyoming, I’m disappointed and upset that this campaign is representing us all.

  • Kaijsa

    This campaign offends me. Period. I get that not everybody is offended, but it makes my blood boil when I hear people basically reject the idea that it’s offensive at all. While I don’t expect everybody to agree with me, it does feel good to read several thoughtful posts like this one that really echo how I feel about sexist advertising, which I’m against. As a librarian, I don’t think we should play on the sexism in our culture to sell libraries, and as a librarian in Wyoming, I’m disappointed and upset that this campaign is representing us all.

  • Bo

    Maybe they are trying to make a point…that if you read, you might be able to do other things in life that you like if you want (like with an education.) Or they just like mudflaps.

  • Bo

    Maybe they are trying to make a point…that if you read, you might be able to do other things in life that you like if you want (like with an education.) Or they just like mudflaps.

  • Sue Ann

    After the initial “Oh no, they didn’t…” I took a double-take and noted that the breast outline is completely forsaken for the arm holding the book. While I can see why some are offended, I found the fact that I had to take a second look to reconcile the image of memory with the new, literate pin-up thoroughly amusing.

    Would I wear it on a t-shirt to a grocery store, mall or local watering hole? Proudly.

    Would I put it on my business card, letterhead or hang a poster-sized rendition in my library? Absolutely not.

  • Sue Ann

    After the initial “Oh no, they didn’t…” I took a double-take and noted that the breast outline is completely forsaken for the arm holding the book. While I can see why some are offended, I found the fact that I had to take a second look to reconcile the image of memory with the new, literate pin-up thoroughly amusing.

    Would I wear it on a t-shirt to a grocery store, mall or local watering hole? Proudly.

    Would I put it on my business card, letterhead or hang a poster-sized rendition in my library? Absolutely not.

  • Jane

    The point is to get people’s attention, and apparently the mudflap girl done just that! Enough said!!!