Gail Dines and MTR on Phillip Adams Late Night Live
Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How porn has hijacked out sexuality – just published in Australia by Spinifex Press- and I were guests on ABC RN Late Night Live last night (repeated this afternoon). We discussed the harms of the global porn industry with well known ABC radio host and the man who coined the term ‘Corporate Paedophilia’, Phillip Adams. You can listen to it here: (Interview begins at the 15:00 minute mark)
Passive acceptance of the sexual oppression of women
Ginger shared her poignant experience of the men in her life using porn – including her 11-year-old son, on the ABC Late Line page last night.
I was raped twice in my youth. Can you imagine my horror when I found that my 11 year old son has been looking at porn? To find that he had been looking at rape sites was devastating. Yet his father looks at porn; his older brother (by ten years)asserts that it is a normal part of culture, that my arguments are those of an old fashioned prude.
I have tried to raise my sons with humanitarian values, where we respect the rights of others, are able to empathise and defend those who are less fortunate than us. Yet modelling my value system has come a poor second to the power of the media, of peer pressure and passive acceptance of the sexual oppression of women by a multi million business which is stripping us of deep intimacy, of meaningful relationships. I fear for future generations when ‘intelligent’ men are slaves to the need for ever increasing degrees of excitement rather than deepening intimate connection.
Men Who Hate Porn
Fortunately there is a new movement of men speaking out against porn. It is so encouraging to know there are men who recognise porn’s destructive agenda for their lives. The Age ran this piece today, reprinted from The Guardian:
…While an enormous amount has been written about how pornography affects women, less has been written about how it affects men, which seems odd given that, as McCormack Evans says, pornography is a product predominantly ”made by men, marketed by men and consumed by a massive male majority”.
One obvious problem for many porn users is the conflict between their stated belief in equality and respect for women, and the material they’re watching in private. McCormack Evans says he used to exist in a ”kind of double consciousness. For that half hour when I was watching porn I thought, ‘This is separate from my life, it won’t affect how I view the world.’ But then I realised it did.” Read full story here.
More men asking questions
How did porn get to be so cool?
Also in The Age this week, Adam Cary asks how it happened that porn became cool. “Maybe porn is the new black, and we should all wear it”, he writes.
Who needs porn when you’ve got MTV?
And Steve Kryger writes in The Punch about routine unintentional exposure to porn:
Three times a week I watch porn. I’m a man of routine, so the days are always the same – Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
It’s nothing too explicit – just stocking-clad women stripping off their clothes and shaking their breasts in my face as they rub up against other women, men, poles, or whatever else they can find nearby.
When it’s not lingerie models, it’s women in a nightclub, lying on the top of the bar, near naked, while groups of men pour alcohol over their glistening bodies, to the beat of the latest dance music sensation.
Then there’s the classic pool party scenario – groups of women in bikinis striking provocative poses as they splash and play in the pool – to an audience of men on poolside – and me.
This is the content of the MTV video clips that are playing on the television screens when I visit my local gym each week. It’s nothing short of soft-core pornography, and I’m over it. Read full story here
See also a piece I wrote on pornography for ABC The Drum Unleashed a couple of years ago (still entirely relevant, unfortunately).
Zoo magazine’s pornification of Mary MacKillop shows they consider no woman exempt from pornographic exploitation in pursuit of profit.
Australia’s first saint, Mary Mackillop, was a woman who devoted her life to the poor and speaking out against injustice. Known as a progressive woman of action, her canonisation has just been celebrated in Rome.
But for Zoo magazine, it doesn’t matter who she is. Or really, who any woman is. Because all women exist only to serve male gratification and pleasure. All women must be brought to their knees.
Here’s some examples of Zoo’s treatment of Mary MacKillop, using a model in a habit.
“The life and times of St Mary in lingerie”
“The newly canonised cans of St Mary”
“St Mary Mac and her holy rack”
“Mary’s heavenly hooters blessed by Pope”
She’s presented as on her knees and “begging for it”.
I know a number of religious sisters. They felt called to a different way of living. They rejected the usual life trajectories for women. They wanted to give their whole selves in service to others. They wanted to support each other in all-women communities. While difficult for many to understand, their actions are radically counter-cultural. It’s a radical act to turn your back on all the world offers and give yourself in service to others.
That’s what Mary Mackillop did.
But Zoo’s editors don’t understand things like higher callings and devotion to others. It’s beyond them to comprehend that there are women who really aren’t interested in conforming to the Zoo version of pornified womanhood.
Their main concern is finding more fodder for the sexual gratification of their hungry male readers. More ‘hot’ women for men to ogle. More women to dissect piece by sexual piece. Pages and pages of female flesh for consumption.
So, even a woman like Mary Mackillop has to be brought under the control of male pornographers.
Catholics are understandably outraged and distressed by the ACP-owned Zoo spread.
But you don’t need to be a Catholic to be affronted. The treatment of Mary MacKillop is an insult to all women. Zoo has made a statement that no woman deserves special treatment. All women exist to provide masturbatory material. All women exist to be served up, made-up, made-over as male sexual fantasy. And they should be flattered.
The latest in the continuing sexualising of young actresses
Glee actresses Lea Michele and Dianna Agron cavort in bras, knickers, short skirts, and long socks in a locker room. There are spread legs, lolly-pops, top tugging and come-hither expressions.
Michele and Agron’s co-star, Cory Monteith, is fully clothed. He’s not spreading his legs or sucking on a lolly-pop. He is not posed as sexually inviting or seductive. The girls are exposing their flesh while he’s playing the drums.
Michele and Agron press up against him, his hands on their backsides. One boy, two girls, at the ready to do his bidding.
“Glee gone wild: We show you what happens when the teachers aren’t around,” is the headline on the November issue of GQ, featuring the stars of the popular Fox owned show about a high-school choir.
The actresses may be in their 20s. But the aim is to sexify their school-girl characters, to play into the fantasy that female students are really temptresses, vixens, seducers, who want to perform sex acts for you in the locker room. GQ readers, these naughty school- girl babysitters want to get their uniforms off for you!
Michele and Agron have been exploited in the interests of GQ readers with tissue boxes close by (and not because the images make them cry).
It would be stretching the bounds of believability to say Fox executives didn’t know where this was heading.
GQ employed photographer Terry Richardson for the job. He’s described here:
For more than a decade, he’s been a high-profile pervy Zelig, documenting his sexual exploits… Virtually everyone who knows Richardson’s name can tell you about the brightly lit, porno-like quality of his pictures.
Richardson has been accused of inappropriate advances to young female models. You can read what some of his subjects have claimed about his behaviour here.
He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves.
This is the porn stylist paid to give the GQ shoot – featuring high school lead characters – his special touch.
Michele is quoted in GQ: “I’m proud to be on a positive show and to be a voice for girls and say, ‘You don’t need to look like everybody else. Love who you are.”
That’s nice. But Michele has been pornified like so many other young female celebrities. I’ve written about this before. It’s not taking a different road. It’s the same banal path, the same pre-determined sexualised script. You will bare your flesh. You will be turned into masturbatory material for male readers. You will suck on a lolly-pop in a childish way. You will be styled as barely legal.
The meaning of the Glee shoot is well captured in a piece by Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams:
What do you call a magazine that runs pictures of young women in suggestive poses, dolled up to look like lollipop-sucking, uniform disrobing teens? Barely Legal? Just 18? How about GQ?
For the November issue of the increasingly ironically designated gentleman’s magazine, “Glee’s” so-ubiquitous-they hurt Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith do what has been done with hot, sexy celebrities since the dawn of periodicals – they cavort around in various stages of undress. Well, the ladies do – Monteith remains demurely covered in rugby shirts and sweaters while his female castmates pull their shirts down, open and off. The shoot was photographed by the notoriously skeevy Terry Richardson and features clothing from American Apparel (neither of which are strangers to sexual misconduct)…
…playing off the setting of the show, it essentially keeps its stars in character, thereby then allowing its readers – median age 33.4 – to ogle them as porny teen fantasy characters – all spread legs and underpants in the locker room… And knowing that it was shot by a man with a long, storied and reputedly unpleasant history involving teenagers makes the whole thing just that much more repugnant.
Here’s what I had to say about the Glee shoot on Channel 7’s Morning Show.
I’ve included some of the pics me and my mate took on the day. I hesitiated to do this. But they illustrate the ugliness I have described. (I have not included more pornographic visuals).
Billed as the world’s biggest health, sexuality and lifestyle exhibition, Sexpo came to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion last weekend.
According to its website, “This show will increase your attractiveness and sexual drive. It contains beautiful women, hunky men, nudity and crackin’ entertainment.”
Call me fussy. Say I’m hard to please. But if what I witnessed is supposed to promote a healthy, happy sex life, then I think I just saw the death of sex.
Sexpo sex is formulaic, conveyor belt, plastic, industrialised, peep show porn sex.
The space was filled with pumping, grinding, crotch grabbing and female porn stars ‘presenting’, as they say in baboon studies. Cosmetically enhanced bodies waxed to within an inch of their lives, a landfill’s worth of plastic toys, dildos, whirling vibrators, penis rings and fake vaginas.
There were faux lesbian threesomes in hardcore acts of nastiness. Pole-dancers, strippers, bondage mistresses and men in little aprons with their bums showing. Audience members were hypnotised on stage into believing they were receiving oral sex.
Male show-goers pulled their pants down on stage and played with their penises. An artist known as Pricasso slathered his in paint, ready to capture your likeness.
Men practised their anal prowess on stage with lifeless blow-up dolls. Others paid a porn star $40 to pose topless with them. Many visited the laporium for paid personalised lap dances. At times it felt like you were walking through one giant erection.
All of it captured by men with video cameras, for a longer lasting Sexpo.
Designed to turn us all on were a man in a suit covered in fake penises, giant characters depicting male and female sexual parts, a sex sideshow alley including moving clowns with heads as genitals, the gerbil sex train advertised with giant breasts and a penis in between.
A celebration of the vandalism of the human body.
Ex- footballer now porn film maker Warwick Capper in his Hustler T-shirt? Sorry, just not doing it for me. Ex-Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Russell Gilbert as ‘crackin’ entertainer and MC. Define crackin?
Two older long-bearded men sold T-shirts with slogans like ‘Wipe ya eyes princess and harden the f*ck up’ and offered to sign ladies underwear. Another T-shirt depicted a woman bound, with a red ball stuffed in her mouth and the slogan ‘Silence is golden’. “I look at that and see fun!” said the cheery saleswoman.
I look at that and see the objectification and subordination of women.
My friend and I could ‘enhance our assets’ for a mere $7,000 each for boobs and ‘tush’. Photos of pumped up breasts and tight bums adorned the stand. We were invited to handle the silicone implants.
There were also before-and-after photos of labia subjected to a scalpel for a bit of tidying up. And would we like to know more about the G-spot enhancement? Women are not good enough as they are. We must be sexually modified.
The enthusiastic staff testified to the skill of the boss. He’s operated on all of them. One showed me the bandages around her mid section: pre-wedding liposuction. Hymen repair was also on the menu of services offered. They were seeing one to two Middle Eastern girls a week seeking the procedure to ‘prove’ their virginity.
Genital repair of another kind was being offered by a charity called Clitoraid. A devastating human rights violation against a woman’s bodily integrity is made sexy. They were raising money for female genital mutilation repair in Africa, with slogans such as “Give a Stranger an Orgasm”, “Help Build a Pleasure Hospital” and “Adopt a Clitoris”.
There were photos of smiling African women and a baby mid mutilation. A staffer told me they stopped showing a film of a child being cut as too many men stood around laughing.
I wondered what African women would think of the pornification of their suffering?
And, this, my last encounter as I was leaving.
A shivering young Thai woman in a wet T-shirt, sitting in a cage waiting for someone to strike the ‘bang me’ target on the image of a woman bent over.
Freezing, soaked, alone, disconnected, in an enclosure, to be ogled by men.
In the end, Sexpo is anti-intimacy, anti-connection and anti-warmth. It just leaves you feeling cold.
Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, blogger, commentator and advocate for women and girls.
The Advertising Standards Board has upheld complaints against Calvin Klein for billboards suggestive of sexual violence against a woman. The Board received 50 complaints against the ad.
I first mentioned the billboards in ‘Sexism: alive and well in Australia’, published on ABC The Drum Unleashed September 29. Last week I ran a guest post by sexual assault counsellor Alison Grundy who asked why Calvin Klein thought it acceptable to use sexual violence as a marketing tool.
Collective Shout led the charge against the ads. The issue was then picked up in the Herald Sun today. This afternoon Collective Shout supporter Patrice Daly – who first alerted us to the billboard she’d seen in Kings Cross – received the ruling of the Advertising Standards Board, upholding the complaints. Nine MSN reported the decision here. The Herald Sun updated its original piece here.
This is a significant ruling. I have reprinted it in full (it doesn’t appear to be on the ASB’s site yet). I love the ending.
One more thing: The boycott against Calvin Klein should continue. The company was made to act in this case and they are not exactly known as an objectification-free zone when it comes to their advertising.
For many girls, the magazines they read are their lifestyle bibles. How should they look, dress, act and relate? What’s important in life? Who should they look up to? My analysis of the September and October issues of Girlfriend, Dolly, Girlpower, Totalgirl, Disney Girl and Little Angel shows that girls are being delivered a fairly one-dimensional view of girl/young womanhood. The emphasis is on looks, fashion, beauty practices, gossip, celebrity culture and consumerism. While there are a few redeeming features, for example a little more body diversity in Dolly and features on real girls who have overcome difficulties in life to achieve their goals, in Dolly and Girlfriend, overall the message remains normative, limited and limiting.
“I cannot escape one simple fact: that if we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualized and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse.”
Alison Grundy is a Clinical Psychologist with 20 years experience working with victims of sexual and interpersonal violence. We got to know each other when she asked me to address sexual assault counsellors on the sexualisation of girls, at a seminar in Sydney last year. Alison posted a comment on my piece Sexism: alive and well in Australia (reprinted here from The Drum Unleashed)which I thought deserved expansion as a guest post.
As a therapist in the field of sexual violence for 20 years now, I always thought things would get better over time. As more people became aware of the pain and suffering, the utter devastation, the long-standing and often severe psychological problems, the drug and alcohol addictions, the relationship and parenting difficulties, society would change and we would protect women and children from abuse, especially sexual abuse. In short, we would become more civilized.
But as I look at the Calvin Klein poster clearly intimating the gang rape of a woman to advertise the brand, the inescapable conclusion is that we have somehow gone badly backwards. All kinds of questions occur to me.
How can it be OK to use sexual violence as a marketing tool? When did gang rape stop being abhorrent and become “sexy”? When did gang rape get minimized to “group sex”? Why does it seem so easy for the average person to believe that a woman (often a very young woman) would really consent to having sex with large groups of drunken, abusive men?
Of course there are many complex socio-political and psychological issues involved in sexual violence in all its forms. Given that orgasm is a powerful reinforcer of behaviour -and I would argue, attitudes – if our boys and men are watching and masturbating to endless scenes of women being sexually tortured by groups of men while breathlessly claiming they want more (through gritted teeth), we can hardly be surprised that our daughters are less safe from this type of sexual crime now than ever before.
Unfortunately, as this advertisement shows, the mainstreaming of pornography and violent sexualised imagery is ubiquitous. Boys and men no longer need to be ashamed of accessing demeaning and debasing images of women. They are everywhere, condoned by society, reflecting its values and therefore proudly shared on computers and phones, billboards and catalogues.
Meanwhile the sex industry is now seen as just that, an industry as like any other in the market place. But instead of selling the newest type of skateboards to our young men it sells the degradation of women. In doing so, it reduces their humanity to what they offer sexually, and contributes to making the world a very dangerous place – especially for women and children.
We now have 30 years of research demonstrating that what we watch on TV, play in interactive games and see in pornography, does affect us, does change us and does influence our choices of behaviour.
I am still surprised that most people think sexual violence is relatively uncommon. I think this is because the victims are so blamed, shamed and persecuted they rarely speak up – and because the perpetrators of this type of violence rarely face any consequences.
There are many studies showing that interpersonal violence is so common. As a clinical psychologist it is the foundation of most of the issues I will ever encounter no matter where I work. And one of the most damaging forms of interpersonal violence is of course, sexual abuse.
In its 2006 report, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research tells us there were more than 7000 reports to police of sexual and indecent assault in NSW in 2004. However, it is widely recognised that reports to police represent only a fraction of the assaults that are actually happening, perhaps only ten to fifteen percent.
So the Bureau’s statistics roughly translate, in the real world, to 50-70,000 crimes of this type against mostly women and children in 2004 in NSW. (The year 2004, by the way, did not differ much from the previous 10-year data and is probably reflective of the years since).
Most people would be staggered to know that only about one in ten of these reported incidents resulted in someone being found guilty in court and about half of those who were found guilty did not receive a prison sentence.
So, to summarise, a rough (and probably conservative) estimate of 50- 70,000 acts of sexual violence in one year in NSW and only 251 people receiving a full time prison sentence as a consequence of these actions. This sobering reality perhaps explains some of the high recidivist rates.
These are very complex issues, and there are very many reasons why sexual violence is so endemic in Australia. We need a much more concerted effort to bring these crimes into the light.
We need to believe victims and help them to heal with compassion and justice. We need to treat offenders with programs that accept no excuses and help them to recognise the immense damage their behaviour has caused.
But this will only happen in the context of the society we live in and the kind of world we allow. In this world, the horrifying crime of gang rape is being increasingly reported to professionals such as myself.
And this crime is being carried out on the bodies of young and younger girls. A phenomena my colleagues and I are seeing is younger and younger girls presenting – often 13 and 14 years of age – after gang rape.
I have sat in counseling with many women – often very young – and therefore just beginning to define what they would like their lives to be – who have experienced the terror and unrelenting horror of rape and gang rape. It’s a struggle that goes on and on through years of rebuilding a sense of self, a world view and working out a way of being part of a society again that not only allows the vast majority of rapes to never be punished but allows constant in your face debasement and trivialization of their trauma in billboards like this.
Where are the regulators? Where are the minds and hearts of the people who get paid to make these offensive campaigns? Maybe they can spend just an hour or two in my office any day of the week.
I cannot escape one simple fact: that if we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualised and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse.
We should be striving to be more, not less civilized. But Calvin Klein just makes this goal less attainable.
On Monday I ran here a guest blog post by Caroline S. Taylor, Foundation Chair in Social Justice and Head of the Social Justice Research Centre at Edith Cowan University, on the case of the 12-year-old Tasmanian girl forced into prostitution by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, while in the care of community protection workers. The girl was used by at least 120 men over two months.
ABC’s PM program covered the issue last night. A review of Tasmania’s child sex laws will be carried out by a group of independent lawyers. They will examine whether ‘mistaking’ the age of a girl is a reasonable excuse. However unfortunately it appears the review won’t be retropective, if it finds this is not a reasonable excuse. It is at this point the reporter, Felicity Ogilvie asks: “What about the human rights of this girl? Is it right that those men who had sex with her won’t be charged because of the way the Tasmanian Criminal Code is at the moment?” Great question. Listen here:
Here’s the transcript:
MARK COLVIN: There’s been heated debate in the Tasmanian Parliament about the case of the 12-year-old ward of the state who was sold for sex.
The Opposition is calling for a Royal Commission-style inquiry. The Government is rejecting that call but it will review the state’s child sex laws.
An independent group of lawyers will determine whether Tasmania’s laws about consent and mistaking the age of children should be changed.
The review has been sparked by the fact that the men who had sex with the girl will not be charged. But the lawyer who’s heading the review says even if the laws were to change those men would not be prosecuted.
And a warning – Felicity Ogilvie’s report from Hobart contains details which you may find disturbing.
FELICITY OGILVIE: The Opposition leader Will Hodgman started Question Time by calling for a commission of inquiry into child protection services in Tasmania.
Mr Hodgman also asked why the Children’s Minister still has a job when she’d admitted key agencies failed a 12-year-old girl who was sold for sex.
WILL HODGMAN: If you won’t sack a minister who has admitted that your Government’s system has failed, allowing a 12-year-old girl in state care to be repeatedly prostituted, at what point will you and your ministers accept responsibility for the failures of your Government?Read more.
“In a case involving the relentless sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse of a child, the men are protected”
A 12-year-old Tasmanian girl is forced into prostitution by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, while in the care of community protection workers. They advertise her as “Angela, 18”. She is allegedly used by at least 120 men in an ordeal that last two months and leaves her with a sexually transmitted illness. The mother and boyfriend are jailed. What happens to the men? Nothing.
Today, an important guest post by Professor S. Caroline Taylor, Foundation Chair in Social Justice and Head of theSocial Justice Research Centreat Edith Cowan University. Professor Taylor is also the Founder and Chair ofChildren of Phoenix Organisation, a charity that provides scholarships and mentoring support to children, adolescents and adults affected by childhood sexual abuse.
Last week, the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Tim Ellis, released an eight page Memorandum of Advice to the Tasmania police which instructed that at least 120 men who had paid to ‘have sex with’ a 12-year-old ward of the state will not be charged with breaking the law.
On October 1, on Stateline Tasmania, Mr Ellis dismissed broad community and expert concern about the case as nothing more than a symptom of “wicked” media sensationalism. He added the gratuitous comment that the law rests with a “reasonable jury, not a lynch mob”.
In effect Mr Ellis framed the numerous and profound media and expert critiques of the social justice issues that this case clearly raises as nothing more than an hysterical media driven moral panic about child sexual abuse.
It’s a puerile argument, as stupid as it is offensive to public sensibilities. This tactic reduces the complex reasons behind the critique of his decision with an underhanded accusation that such critiques are not “reasonable”. This is echoed in the Attorney-General Lara Giddings comment: “I understand their anger”. Reducing the profound ethical critiques of this case to a single reactionary emotion – anger – infantilises public concern in order to dismiss such concerns.
Our legal system is premised on the notion that police lay charges where there is evidence that a crime has been committed according to the rules of the law. Yet in this case the DPP has determined that not one, not two, not three, not four, but a series of men charged with paying to sexually abuse a child all really believed that a 12-year-old ward of the state was an adult. To be clear, the Director of Public Prosecution has used his discretion to void all charges on the grounds that he found every one of their arguments “convincing”. I wonder how many “arguments” they actually had? Or did they amount to the one generic excuse: they could not tell the difference between a primary school age child and a female aged 18.
A Tasmanian MP, Terry Martin, was, however, charged earlier in relation to the 12-year-old. He allegedly filmed the child giving him oral sex. Of course he should be pursued. But why him and not the other 120 men?
While the DPP may exercise discretion not to proceed with a case they do not believe is in the public interest or where the evidence is wholly insufficient, a case as serious as this should not have been remedied with his private deliberations. It appears the DPP determined himself as both judge and jury. In a case as serious as this, involving a child – one of society’s most vulnerable members – prostituted to numerous adult men, we are told that the DPP alone determined the authenticity of the excuses of a group of men who would normally be charged with the sexual abuse of a child. (And their computers probably searched for child pornography). It is important to recognise that in a case involving the relentless sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse of a child, Mr Ellis has accepted the various excuses of the men involved and effectively protected these men from further scrutiny.
The DPP has the right to use discretion to veto cases for prosecution. But I am staggered that charges against a string of men, for the same offences, were dropped on the subjective assessment of one man. This decision, I believe, denied our society the opportunity to determine the authenticity of the excuses relied on by the accused men. It could well have been an opportunity for society to determine the setting of our collective moral compass. Questions of law are not matters that should be adjudicated and determined singularly and behind closed doors. What happened to the concept of open, transparent and public justice?
This case is more than questions of law. It is also to do with questions of decency, of morality, and the ethical treatment of vulnerable girls. The sexual abuse of children is all too rampant in our society. Adults prostituting a child – their own child in this case – is not rare, I am sad to say.
Justice was not served, either in practice, or in principle. The excuses relied on by a group of men charged with a crime against a child should have been held up to scrutiny in a courtroom. Not the elite office of the DPP.
So if we follow this unusual logic, can we expect that the DPP would instruct the Tasmanian police not to charge numerous traffic offenders if those offenders claimed they “truly thought it was 100 km and not 60km”? And would they not truly prosecute a gang of burglars who “convincingly” persuaded the DPP that they either thought the items they stole were actually there for the taking, or that the men had a forgivable inability to comprehend the concept of ownership? Their claims to a criminal offence would be tested within the courtroom, not pardoned by one man’s subjective assessment.
This child was denied justice and a voice. She was also denied any sense of her humanity, her vulnerability, her suffering. Society was denied the opportunity to demonstrate that we have evolved our social and moral landscape and will not tolerate the sexual abuse, misuse and trafficking of children. The outcry from the public and members of the judiciary and legal field are, I think, testament to this claim – that we are capable of recognising and addressing revolting crimes against children.
The failure of the DPP to present the case at court represents, to my mind, an abject failure to both challenge the law to listen to the plight of children, and to challenge those who sexually prey upon them.
Even with the gaps about the prosecution having to prove the men knew the girl was underage, as a society we deserve a courageous lawyer, a brave leader to say, regardless of these limitations and challenges, we will take the case forward and prosecute with all our might.
Legal, societal and moral reform has always been preceded by challenges for change and development. The failure to bring the charges to light and to call the men to account for the crime they were charged with, and have it determined in a legal forum demonstrates a deeply imbedded flaw in the moral character of Tasmanian law.
The DPP’s remarkable counter claim that the area of law that should be reformed lies in the regulation of prostitution misses the entire basis of the argument raised by myself and others. It is a crime to work as a prostitute if one is under the legal age of consent. So even if prostitution were more tightly regulated it would never be legal for a 12-year-old to be prostituted to men.
Also, the “pimps” in this case were not seeking to set up a shingle and an office. Tighter regulation of prostitution would not have led to detection of the crime. It’s a stupid focus and takes us nowhere other than to shift focus from the facts of the case – the sexual abuse, exploitation and prostituting of a child and the abject failure of the law to seek any semblance of justice for the child or society for that matter.
It’s easy to attack and criticise my comments on the Stateline show (September 30) as DPP Ellis did. For my part, I do not retract my comments. The fact I was not privy to the “evidence” as he suggests, does not in my view negate my comments. Indeed, it is odd for Mr Ellis to suggest that if we (myself, presumably, and the public) had seen the evidence we would agree with him – the collective ‘we’ were all denied the opportunity to understand the logic behind Mr Ellis’ singular opinion because the evidence was never tested in a legal forum and his reasoning not open to scrutiny. My critique was not about the vocabulary of excuses – it was about the failure to test these excuses within a legal forum designed to hear and determine criminal charges.
I am concerned about the capacity of one man’s support for the chorus of claims by a large group of accused men that by right should have been delivered in a legal forum viva voce and adjudicated on by the court. I am concerned that the veracity of their claims about being unable to tell the difference between a primary school age child and a female over 18 has not been tested in a court of law.
This is about simply demanding that the line up of men who subjected a little girl to relentless penetrations and sexual violations have claims that they are unable to distinguish between a primary school age child and someone older, in a legal forum.
By not taking the matter to court, we abrogated a little girl’s most basic human right to at least have the law step in on some level to protect her and thousands like her. As a society we should not stand by silently and allow our public office of prosecution to indulge in secretive and un-democratic decision-making. To do so denies us our capacity as a democracy, and as a people, to reform both justice and our moral compass about the most vulnerable members of our society.
Channel 9 media celebrity Kerri-Anne Kennerley has attracted attention for her comments on Mornings with Kerri-Anne, likening women who are picked up by male footballers to strays. She was discussing with former AFL star footballer Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt, the alleged assault of a 20-year-old university student by a group of men including two Collingwood players after their premiership win.
Everitt had posted a number of tweets on the incident, suggesting it was a case of morning- after regret and that girls who go home with footballers shouldn’t be expecting Milo.
Men, said Kennerley, “put themselves in harm’s way by picking up strays”. She also asked what was it women expected in such situations and said that in alcohol fuelled scenarios at 3am “no one party can be blamed”. In a statement of ‘clarification’, Nine said: “Not one party can be blamed for this. The responsibility lies with the girls as well as with the guys when you’re talking about alcohol-fuelled situations at three o’clock in the morning.”
Let’s unpack these comments a little shall we?
“Picking up strays”
Women are to be compared with stray animals, like cats or (worse) dogs? We know that 85% of victims will never report to police. And people wonder why. When they risk being called, liars, sluts and now “strays”, why would any woman who has just been through a terrible ordeal also want to sign up for that?
It is probably unintentional, but Kennerley is sending a message to rape victims and to girls everywhere that if they are raped they will be vilified and humiliated. In so doing, they are re-abused.
“What do they expect?”
Maybe they expect not to be subjected to rape? Maybe they expect they won’t be sexually assaulted or subjected to any other criminal offense?
“They have to learn”
They have to learn that they could be seen as causing the assault? Leading him on? Contributing to it in some way? Women have to learn because they should expect to be sexually assaulted? As a commenter here said, “Men will be men”. And another: “The law holds men responsible for their behaviour whilst inebriated and specifically does not hold women responsible for their behaviour in the same state. Hence this situation is inevitable.”
More rape apologism suggesting rape is inevitable.
“No one party can be blamed”
If a man assaults a woman, is he not to be blamed? If a man takes advantage of a woman who is under the influence, she has not given consent. Therefore it is unlawful.
Drunkenness is not an invitation for sex. The inability to say no doesn’t mean a woman has said yes.
Sexual Assault for Dummies
Remarkably, grown men still need to be taught that if a woman is out of it, she can’t agree to sex. In the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility manual, under a section of checklist items to help a man know consent has been given, it states:
When is consent freely given? When she’s conscious – AWAKE!
MTR comments on The Morning Show
I also responded specifically to Kennerley’s comments on Channel 9’s Today Show this morning. Please follow this link to view.
There’s been some excellent commentary on this issue the last couple of days. These pieces deserve to be read.
A woman can’t be a little bit pregnant, she can’t be a little bit dead, she can’t be a little bit equal, and she most certainly can’t be a little bit sexually assaulted.
If consent is absent, rape has occurred. There is no grey.
While the details get shuffled about – the code, the players, the seedy nightclub providing the backdrop – in essence the same story is being retold. Footballers and sexual assault. The same story and frequently, the same public reaction: scepticism. Read more.
No men, including footballers, are entitled to sex with drunk women.
Women ask to be raped. Women fabricate rape allegations to assuage guilt. Rape victims are sluts and strays. These are some of the attitudes that have been unearthed this week following a police investigation into sexual assault allegations made by a 20-year-old woman.
The woman alleges she was the victim of a sexual assault involving a number of men, including two Collingwood players. The incident was said to have occurred in South Melbourne on Sunday morning, just hours after Collingwood defeated St Kilda in the grand final rematch. Read more.
In my perusings of the modern media landscape, a worrying trend has come to my attention: young men who apparently just can’t stop having non-consensual sex with others. It’s a tricky problem, and one to which there are, clearly, no easy solutions. I mean, it’s all very well to say “No means no”, but as popular ex-footballer/arachnid Peter “Spida” Everitt says, when a girl goes home with a guy at 3am, it’s not for a cup of Milo. So we can see there are two sides to every story: on the one hand, a young lady might feel violated, but on the other hand, why do these women keep going round to strangers’ houses in the hopes of having some Milo? Why don’t they buy their OWN Milo? Young people today, I ask you.Read more.
So here we are again – women are sluts and men are morons.
That would appear to be the view of many who have decided to venture opinions on the police investigation involving a number of young men, including two Collingwood footballers, over allegations of sexual assault.
The facts as known are simple. A young traumatised woman has told police she was raped. Experienced detectives used to dealing with sexual assault victims found her credible. Read more.
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