December 15, 2015 7:12 pm
Updated: December 16, 2015 2:59 pm

Photographer’s holiday photo of bound, gagged women provokes vitriol

WATCH: The Johnson family's Christmas photo has become the centre of controversy.


Louisiana photographer Hannah Hawkes didn’t get the response she was hoping for when she posted a picture she’d taken on her Facebook page Sunday.

The image was a posed Christmas photo for the Johnson family — a mom, a dad, two girls and a boy.

Except the mother and two girls are bound and gagged with neon green tape. The little boy is giving a thumb’s up while his dad holds up a small chalkboard sign reading “Peace on Earth.”

The intimation, apparently, is that everything is peaceful when females are silent and still.

The Internet was not amused.


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There is nothing humorous about promoting rape culture. Ever,” Whitney Huffman commented on the Facebook post.

Many survivors of abuse said they found the image horrifyingly reminiscent of their own traumatic experiences.

Some survivors of abuse have also found the photo to be triggering.

“My ex repeatedly bound and gagged me to keep me ‘silent’ when his friends were over,” wrote Leah Pederson.

“You may have not intended to promote abuse and violence, but to those who are survivors of [domestic violence], that’s EXACTLY what it looks like.”

As a victim of domestic violence this made my gut churn,” Cassandra Finlay-Johnson wrote.

Some of the thousands of comments defend Hawkes, calling the photo “cute” and “hilarious.”

They are in the minority.

Facebook user Terry McGlynn took it upon itself to photoshop the message on the board to one he thought was more fitting.


Countless other are sounding off on Reddit, which is where the photo went viral in the first place.

After about 24 hours of vitriol (and a mysterious shutdown of her page), Hawkes removed the photo and replaced it with a message.

“I do not support abuse, or the degradation of women,” she wrote.

“My controversial photo was taken by request by the family, and was in no way meant to promote abuse. This photo was taken with humor in mind, and was meant as a comical Christmas photo.”

Hawkes added that she knows the Johnsons and “they are not abusive to their children in any shape or form.”

She has left a few other photos on her page, including some shots of the Johnsons looking a little less constrained.

Or as one Facebook commenter put it, “before they were kidnapped.”

SOUND OFF: What are your thoughts on the photo? Funny or too far?

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