Can someone please tell Brian McFadden that ‘taking advantage’ of a woman when she’s drunk is sexual assault and against the law?
Because he seems to have missed the announcement.
The Irish singer-songwriter and ‘honorary’ Australian on account of his four-year engagement to songstress Delta Goodrem, McFadden today officially releases Just The Way You Are (Drunk at the Bar).
The barn-dance meets rap recording is described here as the novelty song from hell and hard to beat as the worst song of the year (and it’s only February).
But apart from its all-round awfulness it’s these lyrics which, with International Women’s Day almost upon us, show us just how far we haven’t come.
I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can do some damage
I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can take advantage
Describing the song as “infectious”, Universal Music in a statement Friday said the dance track will “rattle around in your head for hours”. Doing some damage, taking advantage of a woman under the influence of alcohol… is this the soundtrack we want going round and round in the heads of males?
Just one more message reinforcing the rape myths circulating in our culture: that inebriated girls are asking for it, and that you’re not really to blame. One more message encouraging boys to help themselves. I love you just the way you are, drunk, because it’s easier to get what I want that way.
A recent UK study found that 48% of males aged 18-25 did not consider rape to have taken place if the woman was too drunk to know what was happening.
There’s a kind of party atmosphere around these criminal assaults, with many men boasting about their conquests. An on-line genre known as ‘Passed Out P*ssy’ encourages men to share photos online of women and girls they have taken advantage of while drunk. ‘She’s drunk? Don’t call a taxi and make sure she gets home safely! Call your friends, have some fun and share the pictures!’ men are exhorted.
Love you just the way you are (drunk at the bar) helps legitimise this behaviour.
McFadden – also a judge on Australia’s Got Talent and a father of daughters – hasn’t taken well to the criticism. He swears on his heart that he wrote the song for Delta.
That’s right, ‘Can’t wait to do some damage’ is the sort of poetry McFadden writes to demonstrate the depths of his love for his bride-in-waiting. Look into my eyes Delta, he croons, I stayed up all night writing this ode to love, just for you my darling. Wow, lucky girl Delta.
Perhaps he even expects her to swoon?
The song was first played on 2Day FM’s Kyle & Jackie O show last week. Jackie O – who could also benefit from reading ‘Consent for Dummies’ – gushed that it was her “new favourite song”. “I love it, I’m a big fan of this song… this song rocks.”
And Kyle Sandilands, not exactly legendary for his sensitive treatment of young women -recall the lie detector scandal involving a 14-year-old rape survivor – said, “It’s a fun sort of song.”
Discussing this with Nina Funnell who campaigns to end sexual assault and is a member of the NSW Premier’s Council on Preventing Violence Against Women, she says McFadden’s lyrics echo a broader culture which ostensibly opposes rape while simultaneously demonstrating no real understanding of what actually constitutes sexual assault.
“Unfortunately many people still believe the myth that most sexual assaults are committed down dark alleys by strangers in balaclavas. This myth is damaging as it conceals the reality that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim – usually a family member, friend, someone they go to school or work with.
“It is important that we recognize that the sort of behavior that some people are referring to as ‘taking advantage’ may legally count as sexual assault. In NSW the consent laws now state that a person cannot give consent if they are intoxicated to the point that they lose the capacity to do so, such as if they are passed out. To ‘take advantage’ of someone in such a state would unquestionably constitute sexual assault”.
“Having sex with a woman who does not have the capacity to consent is not called ‘taking advantage’. It’s called rape. Calling it ‘taking advantage’ reclassifies an action from being a serious crime to a negative but essentially trivial behaviour with no legal dimension whatsoever. “
Alison Grundy a clinical psychologist in the field of sexual violence for 20 years, describes the lyrics as “one more open demonstration of the contempt shown to women’s human rights and the fundamental legislation that is place to protect them”.
“Now we have thirty years of research to show that the sexualized and violent messages of popular music, media and video games do shape and provoke male aggressive and sexualized violence. I wonder how long it will be before songs like this are seen as inciting crimes under the criminal code?
“Not soon enough for those of us who work with victims on the long road to recovery after experiencing the ‘do some damage and take advantage’ behaviour lauded in this song”.
So there you have it. A fun sort of song about sexually exploiting women – doing damage to them – to top off a night out. Let the good times roll. Just not for the one in five women over 15 who are sexually assaulted in this country.
I’m really not all that interested in Royal Weddings. I’m actually not all that interested in royal things in general (I do like the horses though. And I confess I can remember where I was when Lady Di got killed in the car crash).
But finding out who and who isn’t on the guest list for the April 29 marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton has got me interested.
For example, the President of the United States of America, Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are not among the 1,900 invitees. But it appears rapper Kanye West is. Yes, the same Kanye West holding a woman’s decapitated head. The same Kanye West who sings lines like “She just wants a swallowship” has apparently received an invitation from the Palace seeking the pleasure of his company.
As readers of this blog know, I have been involved in a global protest against Kanye West’s Monster video. You can read about it here and the petition is here (approaching 15,000 signatures).
But last night I saw a Kanye West tweet which promoted me to take matters a bit higher and ask the Queen (through @britishmonarchy – who’d have thought the monarchy was into twitter, but there you go. Thanks @fittoprint) whether Kanye West was the kind of guest you wanted at the celebration of your grandson’s nuptials. I thought she needed to see this:
Now there’s a ‘post modern critique of female sexuality’. Perhaps, as is my habit, I’m missing all the irony and satire.
Fortunately British pop star Lily Allen understood full well what West meant. She tweeted:
I’m hoping it will put Her Majesty the Queen in a bad mood too, and she’ll take another look at that invite list.
There are reports Victoria’s Secret may be planning to set up shop in Australia.
As if we don’t already have enough companies spruiking their pornified and false idea of empowerment for women?
This guest blog post by Lindsay and Lexie Kite, PhD students at the University of Utah, couldn’t be more timely. The 25-year-old Kite twin sisters recently established the website Beauty Redefined to “help people recognize and reject harmful messages about bodies and then redefine beauty for themselves”.
In this piece, they cut through Victoria’s Secret claims to empower women and increase their confidence. The company, they write, “teaches and normalizes self-objectification and normalized pornography as desirable, self chosen, and empowering.”
Victoria’s Secret DIY guide to self-objectification
In the U.S. and now across the world, a multi-billion-dollar corporation has been fighting a tough battle for female empowerment since 1963, and according to their unmatched commercial success, women appear to be quite literally buying what this franchise is selling. Holding tight to a mission statement that stands first and foremost to “empower women,” and a slogan stating the brand is one to “Inspire, Empower and Indulge,” the company “helps customers to feel sexy, bold and powerful.” This is being accomplished through the distribution of 400 million catalogs to homes each year, a constant array of television commercials all hours of the day, a CBS primetime show viewed by 100 million, and 1,500 mall storefront displays in the U.S. alone. And to the tune of $5 billion every year, women are buying into the envelope-pushing “empowerment” sold by Victoria’s Secret, the nation’s premiere lingerie retailer.
So you thought slap and tickle carry-on flicks were a thing of the past?
A Gold Coast property dealer has breathed new life into old-fashioned sexism with this one and a half minute clip flogging a property on the Gold Coast. The clip has already gone viral so I’m posting it as a case study in sexist advertising in the year 2011.
The video is full of nudge nudge wink wink innuendos and double entendres such as “Property isn’t the only thing going off!!” and “No ifs or buts!! (butts, get it?). A model is shown in various states of undress while agents Ian Adams and Adrian Jenkins (that’s them, left) talk about the property listed by NEO. This sterile, soulless strip pad is pitched as a family home.
It’s rare to see a man talk so honestly about how frequent on-line porn use impacts real world relationships. While of course the author appears to be writing from a purely selfish perspective: this is how porn screws with my sexual relationships and why I gave it up for four days – rather than a realisation of its mass industrialised dehumanisation of women – at least it may give other men cause to examine their own compulsive habits. And, hopefully, for women to seek men who want something more than porn sex.
David Rothbart relays how porn re-shaped the desires of a number of men – men who previously had happy, loving relationships with their partners. Here’s what some of them told him.
Perry, 41, lawyer:
“I used to race home to have sex with my wife… Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn…Not to be mean, but they’re younger, hotter, and wilder in the sack than my wife…Me and her, we still ‘do it’ and everything, but instead of every day, it’s maybe once a week. It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”
Stefan, 43-year, composer:
“I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”
Ron, 27, architecture student:
“I guess I’ve been fading from her. It’s like all that time with these porn stars was subduing any physical desire for my girlfriend. And, in some weird way, my emotional need for her, too.”
And here’s what one woman had to say.
Sadie, 29 real-estate agent:
“There is no glory in trying to make love to men who only know how to f**k—man after man after man after man raised on porn…A lot of guys have come to expect P.S.E. [the ‘Porn-Star Experience’] as a common thing… A few [women] might enjoy it, but for most it’s harrowing. I think there’s a fear that if they can’t make it happen, their boyfriend will retreat online.”
Porn’s socialising effect on boys: girls pressured to provide naked images
In a piece titled ‘They Know What Boys Wants’ by Alex Morris, the New York Magazine also gave us an inside look at how porn is shaping the attitudes of boys towards the girls in their lives. Rarely is there the slow-burn of a relationship developing: girls are treated as living sexual performances from younger and younger ages. Porn conditions boys to becoming sexually demanding. Girls have to pay for relationships with sexual tokens. In an account relayed to me last year, a schoolgirl was told by a boy: “If you give me [oral sex] I’ll give you a kiss.”
This extract from the New York Magazine piece:
“I wouldn’t mind if they said, ‘Send me a picture of you,’ just a regular picture, with everything on,” says Samantha…“But it’s like the way they ask for it? Naked?”
Tricey nods. “It affects them, the Internet. The guys expect to just chat girls up online, but when y’all see each other and y’all go out or whatever, the only thing that they want to do is get in the bed.”
Star, who’s 14, rolls her eyes. “Yeah, that’s the only thing they talk about.”
“I think they’re pressured by the Internet,” says Tricey. “When you see some of those things, you actually get a negative mind.”
Samantha frowns. “They see a pretty girl on the computer, big boobs or whatever, so they’ll be like, ‘Okay, I want a girl like that.’ ”
Do you relate to any of these accounts? Willing to tell me about it? You can post as a blog comment or contact me through the form at the top of this page.
Kanye West petition update
Well wasn’t that fun. After being attacked and ridiculed in The Punch on Wednesday, I woke yesterday morning to find 2000 additional signatures on our Care2 petition protesting Kanye West’s horror porn music video Monster. Another 3000 were added during the day, which meant we had surpassed our goal of 10,000. There are now 13,500 signatures.
Buddy Franklin and Nena&Pasadena and their porn inspired tees update
The AFL has had nothing to say to my question asking how Hawks star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s porn-inspired t.shirts fit in with the League’s ‘Respect and Responsibility policy. See my piece from ABC The Drum Unleashed here . Hello AFL, we’re waiting! Or don’t you think it matters that your players are flogging t.shirts which reduce women to sex objects?
Dull, derivative, repetitive
While we’re waiting for a response from the AFL, you must read this from a fashion industry insider, posted in comments to my ABC piece:
Fashion Merchandise Planner, 16 Feb 2011 9:07:28pm
You are seriously deluded if you think what you produce is fashion. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years for some of Australia’s leading retailers and fashion houses (both high end and mass market) I can tell you that what you produce is barely a blip on the Australian fashion scene and you wouldn’t rate a mention anywhere it counts… ‘edgy’ give me a break… bogan streetwear more like it. Maybe a Design Degree would give your ‘designers’ a richer troff to plunder from. The t-shirts are dull, derivative, repetitive and would do well in the markets. I don’t normally get personal but to sell your two bit company as an Australian success story is really stretching it. You produce unimaginative dull T-shirts for 20 somethings who think that a naked woman on a T-shirt is an artistic statement.
I am neither a Christian nor a prude just a highly successful and respected retail professional who has seen people like you come and go in droves. Believe your own marketing spin at your peril.
Lets have this conversation in two years time… or will you like the hundreds of other ‘talented designers’ crying into your beer and complaining that no one understands how you suffer for your art.
You produce unimaginative cheap T-shirts lets just call it what it is. You know sex sells and you are too dull to come up with anything better that tits and arse… congratulations you just discovered sex… like no one has ever done that before…
How convenient to caricature someone whose work you oppose by reducing them to a cartoon parody. Like I haven’t had enough Helen Lovejoy clichés to last a lifetime? Oh, and look, another media studies academic watching The Simpsons. Are we impressed yet?
Where Stephen Harrington sees “a graphic critique of post-feminist female sexuality”, I see Kanye West holding a woman’s decapitated head. Where those like Harrington see ambiguous, complicated narrative and linear narrative fantasy, I see semi-naked dead women swinging from ropes around their necks.
When I see Rick Ross in the ‘Behind the scenes’ You Tube clip tucking into a plate of raw meat before a spreadeagled dead woman on the table, I see the brutalization and degradation of female sexuality. I don’t think ‘Oh, check out that satire’.
King Kanye has produced a carnage of female corpses, brutality and eroticized violence: torture porn. I agree with Zerlina Maxwell who described it as ‘a rape scenario set to a soundtrack’.
And Ta-Nehisi Coates has asked, what if John Mayer decided to cut a video with dead black women strewn about?
But of course my readings are to be dismissed. Because Harrington is a MEDIA AUTHORITY and he knows best.
Harrington’s dismissal of media interpretations other than his own as invalid, wrong, or hysterical is to buy into a predictable stereotype designed to dismiss women and their readings of culture. Only those like himself can coolly and rationally respond to culture. The rest are to be condescendingly dismissed.
Telling women who read oppression and offense into cultural representations that “they are reading it wrong” is to delegitimize their cultural interactions and ignore their perspectives.
Sharon Haywood from Argentina and I started a petition sponsored by Collective Shout, Adios Barbie, the Coalition Against Trafficking Australia and CATWA International, and Media Watch (U.S) calling on Universal Music Group to withdraw the video. That petition is hosted on two well respect global sites for activists: Care2 and Change.org. So far 10,000 have signed.
We believe that the mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. They are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even when dead. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women.
We hoped to challenge the view that women’s pain and suffering is perfect fodder for entertainment.
…I teach [in the ‘hood’] in a very rough zip code. This crap is the ONLY music these kids listen to, so it has everything to do with violence against women because it forms their opinions.
… I have to hear the high school boy say “b–ches are only good for three things, f—ing, cooking, and cleaning.” I have to hear the high school girls…explain how you know a boy really loves you if he hits you.
Rappers…promote the ideas that the measure of a man is how many b–ches he can f—, or how much violence he can do, and that women’s only value is what’s between their legs, and as a punching bag. And that harms women and men.
Those kids just don’t seem to understand that misogynist rap videos are just graphic critiques of post-feminist [read anti-feminist] culture.
While not specifically naming West, international recording artist Moby may as well have in this article from 2005. Moby asks why racism is seen as bad but misogyny seen as cool. To those creating music which glamourises misogyny he writes: “you have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create”.
Sex is a ‘source of negativity and fear’ for so many women and girls. Yes. But it’s not the fault of my colleagues and I. West’s video is one great big dog whistle to all the women and girls who’ve had to put up with abusive sexuality that their pain is just good fun and entertainment. And it’s a dog whistle to men who choose to be perpetrators as well.
I talk to a lot of girls every year. They tell meabout being dis-empowered by pornified imagery which conveys their power lies in their ability to pleasure men on demand. They say boys are acting in more sexually aggressive ways towards them. They share stories of coerced sex, unwanted hookups, pressure to provide oral sex at parties and to send naked images. These stories come from girls as young as 11 and 12.
The sexualisation of murdered women on CSI doesn’t make West’s video any better. Just because we haven’t listed every last example of media sexualisation of female destruction, doesn’t mean we don’t see it elsewhere. We just choose our battles, and we’ve identified West’s video as a significant watershed in the de-humanisation of women.
Harrington can keep watching The Simpsons and I’ll keep working with my friends around the world to try to make things better for real women.
Nena + Pasadena’s fashion statement celebrating the objectification of women
Wondering how some of our footballers are putting their Code’s ‘Respect and Responsibility’ policies into practice?
Curious as to whether all the effort that has gone into addressing sexual misconduct, harassment, indecent exposure, violence and other myriad manifestations of disrespect for women? (You’ll find some here)
Perhaps Hawthorn star Lance “Buddy” Franklin can help us answer these important questions?
Here’s some t.shirts he has designed – and is seen here proudly modeling – for his Nena and Pasadena brand.
Franklin is headless wearing in the t.shirts above. But of course it’s him.
A topless women, with her breast and nipple visible, has her head wrapped in a scarf. Perhaps that’s because her face – and her full humanity – don’t count that much. A headless woman, her butt cheeks glowing and emphasised. Because, again, no need to bother with her face. The man in the photo with her is not revealing his backside. They pretty much never do.
Another image depicts a topless woman covering her breast with her hand. ‘Angel of silence’ reads the slogan. The best kind of women right? They let their bodies do the talking and keen their mouths shut. This image features on billboards.
Up until a short time ago the same ‘Angel of Silence’ image was also the profile picture for Nena and Pasadena’s facebook page. It’s been replaced with a new one of Franklin in a t.shirt with a bearded man on it. That man has clothes on.
The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy “represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community”.
In serious tones, the Code informs us that ”in March 2009, the AFL, in cooperation with State League/TAC Cup Clubs, commenced delivering a State League Respect and Responsibility Module. The aims of the Module are to:
• Promote safe and inclusive environments for women and girls at all levels of Australian Football and the wider community;
• Increase players understanding of how sexual assault, violence, harassment and abuse can affect the lives of women and girls;
• Provide practical information that assists players to understand the meaning of consent, and identify situations that have the potential to go wrong; and,
• Provide players with information that may assist them to build and maintain social relationships with women that are healthy and respectful.
I asked anti sexual violence campaigner Nina Funnell, who trains other elite sporting codes on their attitudes towards women, sex and consent, what impact she thought these t.shirts could have:
It is vital that sporting codes and individual athletes who undertake and commit to respectful relationship courses are consistent in their behavior. To superficially pay lip service to respecting women while simultaneously perpetuating attitudes or behaviors that either objectify or harm women is not only disingenuous and insincere, it is destructive as it undermines respect for women as a value. To send a confusing message on this topic is worse than sending no message at all.
AFL players are recognisable public figures. They get paid the big bucks for a reason and it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence in thinking through the issues and brands they endorse. Like other athletes and public figures, they must take responsibility for this. “
The t.shirts are a form of harassment. They normalise sexualised representations of women and send a message that women are merely ornaments and decorations whose sole role is to bare their flesh and gratify men. They erode efforts of the AFL to change the disrespectful attitudes of many of their players. And they make the work of women like Nina Funnell even harder.
Does Franklin share the patronizing and dismissive views of his business partner Tim Arandt who has been sending this reply to Collective Shout members who have voiced their complaint?
Thanks for your comments and views but we feel we know what young people want to wear so we choose to continue our design concepts in full. I have three teenage boys of my own and have discussed your email with them, they were humored by your thoughts and added that the 6 o’clock news contained far more adult contact than a tshirt!! If you feel that we degrade women or promote violence against women please further your emails to the editor of the herald sun.
So teenage boys are now the leading experts on understanding the nuances of how the repeated sexualisation of female bodies affects young women’s self esteem and experience of public space? They are the arbiters of cultural standards regarding young women? The same boys whose views are reflected in a recent White Ribbon foundation report which found that one in seven teen boys thinks it is permissible to hold a girl down and force her to have sex if she has flirted or ‘led the guy on’.
But back to Buddy Franklin. Interesting to see he weighed in on the St Kilda nude photo scandal.
“I know that the AFL puts in place things at a young age, as soon as you get drafted, where you’ve got to be smart enough to know what’s going on in your private life and not to do things that are going to get out in public.”
Maybe Lance buddy, you should have kept those t.shirts of yours in a cupboard.
Two young women dead thanks to the fetishisation of female body parts
British woman Claudia Aderotimi was only 20 when she died last week after travelling to the US for a procedure to give her a bigger ‘booty’. She paid more than £1000 ($1600 AUD) for silicone injections to give her the look she thought would help score a part in music video clips. She’d auditioned before, and failed.
The practitioner used industrial silicone. Think sealant designed for plumbing kitchens and bathrooms. This noxious substance was injected into a vein, in error.
Claudia Aderotimi flew to Philadelphia for a cut-rate bottom enhancement in a hotel near the airport in an effort to conform to pornified ideals of women’s backsides, increasingly featured in music video clips.
The silicone injection was apparently a ‘top-up’ to a procedure carried out last November. It was arranged online and performed by a practitioner believe to be lacking qualifications.
Last Monday she developed chest pains and was taken to hospital where she died 24 hours later from a suspected a blood clot in the lung believe to be caused by the silicone entering her bloodstream.
It’s not the first time women have been harmed from the use of cheap industrial silicone. Here’s a report about how other women were made gravely ill as a result.
Susannah Frankel observes that we fetishise the female form and then condemn the wish to improve it. She writes:
Of course, anyone with more than a passing interest in body image will know that the roundness of rump that Aderotimi aspired to is no more easily achievable than the ideal of extreme slenderness that is still more widely upheld by the media – unless, of course, one is born in possession of either. Times may be changing – it is reported that buttock implants are almost as much in demand as breast augmentation – but the emotional impulse that lies beneath the desire to change one’s body in any shape or form remains the same. And so, after years of women the world over wondering “does my bum look big in this?”, will they now be asking: “Does it look big enough?” And if anyone were ever likely to miss the cruel irony that lies at the heart of this, then Aderotimi’s story has driven it home.
But some women shouldn’t have bums at all
But of course it has to be the right kind of ‘big’ – not the ‘wrong’ kind used by the weight-loss industry to shame women into buying its products. Have a look at this add (left) seen in a Melbourne shopping mall last week (thank to Catherine Manning for forwarding).
“No hips or butts”
Apparently OptiSlim’s meal replacements will magically transform the woman on the left into the woman on the right and give her that nice, tight, pert, rounded backside so necessary to be an acceptable woman and to complete and utter happiness in life.
While OptiSlim doesn’t involve knives or needles, the female body is still broken down into problematic parts (hips, butts) which need to be transformed.
Carolin dead after sixth breast enlargement: male fans pay tribute – to her breasts.
Claudia’s death came after another woman of similar age also had her life cut short while trying to super-size her breasts. German porn actress Carolin Berger, better known as ‘Sexy Cora’, dead at 23.
Carolin Berger, who weighed a mere 46 kilos, wanted to fill a size 34G cup. During the operation by two US surgeons (do these people ever say no?) she suffered a brain hemorrhage and was put into an induced coma where she lay for nine days before dying. Sky News reported:
She went under the knife for the last time at the Alster Clinic and was having 800g (28oz) of silicon injected into each breast. But her heart stopped beating during the operation. She suffered brain damage and was put into an induced coma. Cora’s husband Tim Wosnitza remarked, “The doctors told me that she wouldn’t make it. The brain damage was too big.”
Basically every mainstream headline about her death involves the words ‘porn star’ or ‘sexy’, and few use her non-porn-industry name. A couple examples: “‘Sexy Cora’ Dead: Porn Star Dies After Sixth Breast Operation” . . . “Porn Star Dead After Breast Surgery”
She cites a post on a forum eulogising ‘Sexy Cora’ for dying in the line of duty:
She’s a hero. She died doing something awesome to an extent that most people wouldn’t dream of. She’s like a cop that died saving a bus full of babies and puppies by pushing it through the wall of a burning building.
Her death is a tragedy because it lessens the pool of new pornographic images of women with grotesque silicone mounds where there natural breasts once were, for men like him to enjoy.
Porn stars are not human beings, they are a brand of consumer sex receptacle. Thus are the dimensions of Berger’s breasts, both pre- and post-op, more germane to the announcement of her death than, apparently, the detail… that her surgeon-butchers are now up on negligent homicide charges. To find out about that, you have to go to CBS News’ lurid true crime website, where Berger’s humanity is of little importance compared to her value as a sensationalized dead TV slut. If you doubt this, you have only to observe the 38-page wealth of “Sexy Cora” images available in a CBS online photo gallery, and compare it to the amount of CBS discourse relating to Berger as a human person (barely any), or to the instances of broader CBS discussion of the murderous effects of institutionalized misogyny on the quest for human enlightenment (zilch-o).
She says Carolin died because of “rigorous adherence to deeply internalized pornographic beauty standards.”
Claudia and Carolin were real women whose lives were needlessly sacrificied in pursuit of a goal inspired by pornographic fantasises about what constitues a sexy woman. But all women and girls are harmed by the message that they are in need of repair, a message becoming so loud that in the end they think of their whole bodies as deformed and in need to correction.
‘Surrounded by a culture in which girls are all body and only body’
Glee star Lea Michele features on the March cover of Cosmopolitan. We’re seeing more of this sexification of popular schoolgirl characters. Of course it’s not just sexing up female actresses from the high school TV show genre – this is just another example of the sexual scripts young women celebrities are expected to follow. You’re famous? Show us your flesh.
I’ve written before about the creepy photo shoot by Terry Richardson for November’s GQ, featuring Glee’s lead characters in poses suggesting schoolgirls are seductive temptresses and promoting the schoolgirl porn fantasy/barely-legal genre.
The objectification of women confronts us everywhere. It’s not about being personally ‘offended’ at seeing Lea Michele pulling back her clothing to reveal a significant amount of breast. It’s not that this cover is worse than others. It’s the cumulative impact of so many like it. It’s what it says and represents and the message it sends about women’s worth and value – on the front of a magazine read by thousands of young women. This is where your power lies: in your ability to attract sexual attention. Natasha Walter in Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, expresses it well:
Through the glamour-modelling culture, through the mainstreaming of pornography and the new acceptability of the sex industry, through the modishness of lap and pole-dancing, through the sexualisation of young girls, many young women are being surrounded by a culture in which they are all body and only body. In the hypersexual culture the woman who has won is the woman who foregrounds her physical perfection and silences any discomfort she may feel.
MTR on The Morning Show: why is it all up to parents?
I commented on the Cosmo cover and broader implications for women and girls on Channel 7’s Morning Show today with parenting expert Yvette Vignando who has also written on the issue here.
Here’s an email I received after the show. It takes up a point I got a bit passionate about as Kylie and David were trying to wrap up the show – why is it parents who are expected to clean up the mess created by a pornified culture? The onus is always on parents, rather than cultural change.
Thank you once again Melinda for speaking on The Morning Show (unfortunately for us all, you seem to be invited to that programme along with Dr Carr-Gregg time and time again yet nothing seems to change). I agree with everything you speak about in regards to the skank culture that my generation are forced to raise our children in…I can safely say that on many an occasion I feel so frustrated and angry that I have been known to say…‘Oh I give up… why don’t you marketers and money makers just take my kids from me and raise them yourself!’ As you said today, it’s ludicrous to expect parents to fight the over sexualized society we live in, at every turn, get blamed for the damaged children produced from it and witness NO ACCOUNTABILITY from the media and culture perpetuating the damage. I have three daughters of teenage years and very often I wish I didn’t…I fear for them and the damaged boys/men they may well encounter in the near future…Maybe the tides will turn and my future grandchildren will have a better start in their cultural life than this current young generation have been forced to endure.
The Morning Show had another show earlier in the week about growing parental concern about sexualisation of children. Yes, I know, I’ve said the same things many times. Until things change, expect me to keep going on about it.
See also: ‘Equality hampered by sexualisation of young girls’, originally posted at The Vibe. Marcus Cleaver argues: “Despite legislation and the feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s, we still live in a society where girls are conditioned from a young age to see themselves as sexualised objects”. It’s worth reading the full article.
People for the ethical treatment of animals but not women
The latest ads by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) raise questions about the animal rights group’s understanding of the words ethical treatment.
PETA objects loudly to the use of animals as meat while treating women as just that – raw lumps of meat. While its manifesto opposes the use of “living creatures” for entertainment, it’s apparently OK if the living creature is a woman in a bikini.
PETA has a long history of objectifying women in its pro-animal campaigns, and its latest ads are no exception.
Do you love vegetables so much you want to get intimate with them?
That’s the theme of new ads by the group, which perhaps should be renamed Pornographers for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The ad, which carries the tagline, “Studies Show Vegetarians Have Better Sex,” shows models getting up close and personal not with people they might be having “better sex” with – but with vegetables.
“Why don’t you pick a vegetable and show us how much you love it,” the casting director instructs one of the models.
PETA had wanted the ads shown during this week’s Super Bowl. Fortunately Super Bowl’s ad executives had more sense. Last year’s “Veggie Love” promotion was also declined by NBC despite a $3m offer. The new ads are apparently ‘outtakes’ of auditions for the 2010 ad.
This representation of vegetables as phallic symbols that women can’t resist is just one of many of PETA’s crude, sexist creations which denigrate women and reduce them to objects for sexual fetish fantasy. In 2006 in its ‘Milk Gone Wild’ campaign, PETA portrayed women as party animals with udders instead of breasts. The “udder babes” sprayed milk on the crowd as men urged them on. It was the first PETA ad I’d seen and I wasn’t sure how depicting women as hybrid human-animals flashing grotesque milk-spurting udders would further their cause. As Kat observed in a comment on Perth Indy Media, “turning a woman into a beast for sexual pleasure”.
Vegans and other animal-rights activists have spoken out against PETA’s sexist approach. Vegansaurus!, a vegan eating/living guide based in the San Francisco Bay Area, described the new ad as “softcore porn masquerading as an anti-animal-cruelty video”. “Whatever the hell the women in lettuce bikinis are supposed to represent? The Worst. Why are you such hypocrites?”
“How is exhorting young women to get it on with gourds in any way ethical treatment? … are there exceptions in the vegan manifesto about how living creatures aren’t to be exploited for our entertainment?”
PETA’s crude sexism harms the animal rights cause. It also undermines campaigns against objectifying and exploiting women. It’s actions tell women: if you love animals you’ll take your clothes off.
Until PETA understands what ‘ethical treatment’ means, it doesn’t deserve any support.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
Heather Douglas – Parent – Pembroke School
“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
Paul Teys – Principal – Hunter Valley Grammar
“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
“As you read, be prepared to feel both grief and rage.” Robert Jensen
“These accounts are among the most unsettling you will ever read.” Steve Biddulph
“This powerful and humane book is a breakthrough…Big Porn Inc shows us we are poisoning our own spirits.” – Steve Biddulph
“A landmark publication” – Clive Hamilton
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It, Men of Honour, Sexts Texts & Selfies, Raising Girls, Raising Boys, MTR DVD, Ruby Who? DVD & book, Girl Wise guide to friends, Girl Wise guide to being you, Girl Wise guide to life and Girl Wise guide to taking care of your body, and the new Wise Guys for the combined discounted price of $250.
‘The foremost authority in Australia cyber safety lays it on the line and challenges parents to find their digital spine.’ – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
Whether it is problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – these books are written especially for you – to help you in your journey. Purchase all four together and save $18.50 on postage! Author: Sharon Witt
In this DVD, Melinda takes us on a visual tour of popular culture. “Melinda’s presentation leaves audiences reeling. She delivers her message with a clarity and commonsense without peer.” – Steve Biddulph, author, Raising Boys, Raising Girls
In this easy-to-read updated book, Steve Biddulph shares powerful stories and give practical advice about every aspect of boyhood.
“Overflowing with incisive understandings…a comprehensive and in-depth guide.” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Men of Honour -written by Glen Gerreyn- encourages and inspires young men to take up the challenge to be honourable. Whether at school, in sport, at work or in relationships, we must develp our character to achieve success and experience the thrills life has on offer.
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“Getting Real contains a treasure trove of information and should be mandatory reading for all workers with young people in health, education and welfare” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Adolescent Psychologist
Do you read women’s lifestyle magazines? Have you thought about how magazines might affect you when you read them? Faking It reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media, and the sexual objectification of women.
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.