Collective Shout makes a case for change that puts women and girls ahead of corporate profits
On April 4 I appeared before the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs and gave verbal evidence, which can be found here. Yesterday I appeared (via teleconference) at the second inquiry and will provide a link when it’s up.
House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into the regulation of billboard and outdoor advertising
Collective Shout is critical of the self‐regulatory system and believes the advertising industry has used self‐regulation to its commercial advantage, to the detriment of the community, and women and girls in particular. The self‐regulation model enables the advertising industry to be seen to be responsible and to avoid real scrutiny of its long history of irresponsible and profit‐driven behaviour.
We have identified a range of inadequacies in the current system, including a weak code of ethics, the voluntary nature of the code, lack of pre-vetting, the Advertising Standards Board’s lack of power to order removal of advertisements, inadequate monitoring, de-sensitisation of panel members, little to no consultation with child development experts, and no meaningful penalties to provide any real incentive for advertisers to change their behaviour…
It is our view that the colonisation of public space with objectified and sexualised images of women and girls, together with the lack of action by regulatory bodies except in a minority of cases, conditions many people to seeing sexist advertising as acceptable, or as ‘just the way things are’. At a time when hyper-sexual imagery is increasing, regulatory bodies need to be given more powers to deal with this problem, not fewer.
We also wish to highlight the fact that sexualised representations of women and girls displayed in a workplace constitute sexual harassment under anti‐discrimination law.1 But the open display of similar objectified and sexualised images of women in the public domain is exempt from sexual harassment laws. If this material has been ruled inappropriate for workplaces or schools, why is it considered acceptable as the ‘wallpaper’ of the public domain, where we have no choice but to view it?
The proliferation and globalisation of sexual imagery is of serious concern. Pornographic representations of women in the public space have become normative. There is a growing body of research globally that demonstrates the detrimental effect of these representations, especially on children and young people. The Australian Psychological Society told the Senate Committee Inquiry into the sexualisation of children in 2008, “the values implicit in sexualised images are that physical appearance and beauty are intrinsic to self esteem and social worth, and that sexual attractiveness is a part of childhood experience… Girls learn to see and think of their bodies as objects of others’ desire, to be looked at and evaluated for its appearance.” In addition, advertising plays a crucial part in socialising men and boys to see the sexual objectification of women and girls as normal…Read the full submission here. It’s no. 43. (I also recommend The Castan Centre’s submission no. 40 and Julie Gale, Kids Free to Be Kids, no. 44)