My publishers, Spinifex Press, made this Christmas decoration for their Christmas mailout. I bet you’ve never quite seen one like that before. I confess to some cognitive dissonance when I first saw the image. I don’t really picture Big Porn Inc under the Christmas tree, or as something ones true love would give you on the 13th day of Christmas after the turtle doves and the partridges and geese, or as the ideal last minute gift idea for the special person in your life (at the annual neighbourhood Xmas party in our street the sweet elderly lady from across the road asked where could she buy a copy of my latest book. I tried to interest her in something else).
It’s been a wild year, I think the busiest and most demanding ever. The release of my fourth book, huge amounts of travel and speaking, daily media and campaigning with Collective Shout. We have seen many wins over major corporations and our voice continues to get louder.
As the year winds up, I reflect on the amazing support I’ve had this past year which has got me through some pretty challenging days. If you are someone who has sent just one word of encouragement please know how greatly I appreciated it. Often such words came at the perfect time (for some reason, I am not universally adored!). So, big thanks.
I’m taking a break. I might do something really crazy and take all of January off. So things will be quiet here. But I look forward to engaging with my readers again after then and hope for your support for another year. Until then, you have my best good wishes for Christmas and New Year.
“Pussy is great by itself, but you know sharing with friends, it’s nice to experiment and I would recommend sharing pussy with friends…”
Where did I find these quotes? Comments posted on a porn site? Men discussing their sexual preferences perhaps?
No, they’re found in this promotion for an energy drink called Pussy. These words were uttered through the dazzling teeth of Sam Branson and filmed at the Kensington Roof Gardens owned by daddy Sir Richard Branson.
The video’s opening frame states the company’s mission is for “Global Pussyfication.”
It appears they are succeeding.
Three thousand retailers in the UK alone can’t get enough of it. It’s even in Tesco. And Selfridges. And on Virgin trains (maybe the planes are next – surely Richard Branson will see the cross-promotional opportunities in combining the company names?).
The beverage is now in 18 countries worldwide, including Australia where it can be found in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
Shearer has a photo of porn mogul Hugh Hefner drinking Pussy at his 80th birthday. Shearer has now joined entrepreneurs Sam Branson and sister Holly in their corporate sexualisation mission.
While smothered in porno references and online pics of women naked from the waist down and in sexual acts illustrating the brand, Pussy’s marketers tell us: “The drink is pure. It’s your mind that’s the problem”.
Their drink “challenges the consensus” and is “spontaneous, entertaining, optimistic and fun. It’s a starting point. A moment when something happens and when things begin – Pussy starts conversations. It believes in having a good time as often as possible”.
At the expense of women. Because this drink contributes to the second class status of women and girls. How is it that appropriating porn industry terminology is seen as cool bourgeois sophistication? It’s happening every day, as I’ve documented so many times (including here recently).
The product is so mainsteam that an online vocational training institute has established a new distribution business for the energy drink in Australia, in a move described by the CEO of the Dymond Institute of Business, Russell Dymond, as a “giant leap forward”. The brand, says the cool and sophisticated Dymond, is “exciting and progressive.”
“This is a golden opportunity for Dymond Institute’s Business and Marketing students to apply their learning, knowledge and skills, to a real life business, as opposed to simulated business scenarios,” Dymond says proudly.
“The Pussy Drinks option…will enable our students… to develop product, pricing, promotional and distribution tactics, as well as strategic direction.”
So even our educational institutions are getting in on the act. Female students will be expected to market and promote a symbol of their own objectification.
Marketing Sexploitation 101: enroll now at the Dymond Institute of Business.
Thanks to the Pussy wunderkinds, boys are encouraged to crack sexist jokes and harass girls. If Pussy is in the fridge at their local milkbar next to the milk, what’s the harm in using the term in interaction with each other and with girls?
The drink and the advertising that goes with it entice boys and men to jest about ‘drinking pussy’ or ‘needing pussy’ or ‘getting pussy’ (you can enquire about the drink through an email whose address begins ‘Get Pussy’). Fuelled by the porn-inspired references, they will ask their mates if they ‘would like some pussy’ or tell them it’s ‘BYO Pussy’.
The porn-inspired name encourages boys and men to dissect women and see them only in terms of their sexual body parts. “Pussy is great by itself,” as Branson Junior informs us, as though it is an inanimate object not connected to a real flesh and blood woman. All women are collapsed as pussy, to be shared and consumed by men.
This product is part of the widespread sexploitation of women and girls. The mainstreaming of the drink treats women and girls as objects and is part of the sexual harassment of women and girls, especially given plans to saturate Queensland with the product.
The young woman serving behind the counter is asked by a male where he can find some “pussy”. It’s not hard to imagine what she could be subjected to while going about her work. Pussy has provided yet another tool for multiple harassment scenarios.
Of course many girls will joke and laugh along. Certainly, that is what they are expected to do. Girls are taught to put up with sexist crap from the earliest of ages, even to embrace it as liberating. And if they are upset, or distressed, or uncomfortable, well that’s too bad, they just need to lighten up. And don’t they know that even Holly Branson thinks Pussy is great and has one every morning?
The Pussy energy drink is just another example of the mainstreaming of porn-inspired themes. It pretends to be cool but really it’s just Big Sexism in a can. And that doesn’t “move us forward” as the drink’s masterminds claim. It sets us back. Again.
As I read Jennifer Wilson’s article, I couldn’t help thinking that the pro-porn crowd must be producing a list of talking points that they endlessly circulate among themselves. They trot out the same old arguments without a shred of empirical evidence to back them up, and then they suggest that it is the anti-porn feminists who are lacking in rigor and theory.
Let me be more specific. I had the misfortune earlier this month to attend a conference in London called “Pornified: Complicating debates about the ‘sexualisation of culture’,” but it did anything but complicate. On the contrary, the complex, global, maturing porn industry was simplified right down to the point of disappearance: they made the argument that there is in fact no “it” – meaning the porn industry – because there are so many producers of porn and just so many types of much porn on the internet, that it is impossible to locate any actual industry.
It’s like being at a conference on food and the researchers argue that because we have fast food, gourmet food, independently owned restaurants, chain restaurants and even people cooking their own food at home, well there is just so much food that there is no such thing as a food industry.
I want to suggest to those people who make bold statements about what porn people are watching, that they do some basic research on the “it” – the industry, that is. When I was in Australia, the echo chamber from the pro-porners was that because there is just so much amateur porn and free porn, it is a mistake to focus on the hardcore gonzo porn that the industry produces. Read more
Ten years ago, Puangthong Simaplee died at the age of 27. She had been picked up in a police raid on a Surry Hills brothel on 23 September 2001, and was sent to Villawood Detention Centre. Three days later, she died in a pool of her own vomit. When she died, Puangthong weighed 31kg, about the weight of a 10-year-old girl. According to a coronial inquiry held in 2003, she had hepatitis C, an eye infection, possible pneumonia, and was addicted to heroin.
Immigration officials said that Puangthong told them that she had been sold into prostitution. On one account, she said that her parents had sold her into sexual slavery in Thailand when she was 12, and that she had been trafficked into Australia on a false Malaysian passport when she was 15. When Puangthong’s parents were interviewed by an Australian reporter, however, they said that their daughter had left their village in Thailand to find work, and that she had sent them money and smiling pictures of herself from Australia.
When these conflicting accounts came to light, people lined up to slime Puangthong, and to traduce other women who claim to be trafficked to Australia as sex slaves.
The journalist Piers Akerman for example asserted dismissively, ‘The story was a real tearjerker’. He dismissed the fuss around Puangthong’s death as just ‘sensationalistic journalism’. Akerman blamed ‘some zealots’ for inflating the number of ‘sex slaves’ [his scare quotes], and ‘quoted’ [my scare quotes] an unnamed spokesman for the Immigration Department as saying that ‘almost all so-called sex-slaves picked up from brothels reject the notion that they were enslaved, do not want to assist authorities and wish only to leave the country as soon as possible and ply their trade in other First World countries. If they have a complaint about working in Australia, it is that they have not made as much money as they expected’ (‘When Truth Spoils a Good Slavery Story’, The Daily Telegraph, 3 June 2003, p. 16).
In 2008, the president of the Scarlet Alliance, Elena Jeffreys, added her voice to Akerman’s pitiless tirade, asserting that Ms Simaplee was not trafficked, but was simply a ‘sex worker’. According to Jeffreys, the popular picture of women like Ms Simaplee as Asian sex slaves has ‘capture[d] the Australian imagination’, all part of a stereotype ‘of pre-pubescent Asian girls chained to beds in back rooms with barred windows’ (‘Truth and visas will set Asian sex workers free’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April 2008). Jeffreys concurred that Ms Simaplee’s case was just ‘sensationalism’ and moral hysteria, which has created a ‘government-funded rescue industry’.
Strangely however, the Immigration Minister at that time and his Department were not well-known as compassionate rescue entrepreneurs. It should be a cause of shame for Australians that the former Minister is known rather for the trail of death and deportations left by his term in office than for his rescue efforts.
Puangthong did tell different stories about herself to different people before she died. Prostituted women do not get paid for being themselves, for being authentic. A prostituted woman is paid to ask, ‘What do you want me to be?’, and to act out the answer. But Puangthong was brutally honest with herself, and her body bore the marks of her honesty. After her death, her boyfriend told police, ‘She had two or three scars that were from one side of the wrist to the other. Some scars were a couple of months old and some scars were a couple of years old.’ When the boyfriend asked Puangthong why she harmed herself, she replied, ‘When I do something wrong I mark it with a scar so I remember what I did wrong’ (Elisabeth Wynhausen, ‘Parents deny selling daughter’, The Australian, 7 June 2003).
Like other prostituted women, Puangthong Simaplee had a lot of wrong done to her. Research done by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW and published in 2006, found that many of the street sex workers interviewed had higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder than combat veterans. A majority had been sexually abused as children, and most had been assaulted sexually or physically as adults. These findings are consistent with studies done in other countries of the victimisation of prostituted women, and form part of the basis of the Swedish model approach to prostitution and trafficking, which criminalises the purchase of sex, but does not criminalise those who are bought and sold.
Puangthong Simaplee’s story is one of vulnerability abused, and of autonomy lost. It is a story of exploitation. It is in so many ways a typical story of a life that was trafficked and prostituted, of a person whose intrinsic worth and dignity received no respect, even after she died.
If we could only listen to Puangthong’s story, in all its tellings, perhaps we would not tell so easily the old lies about the selling of women in our world as a form of pleasure and freedom. For now, let’s ring the passing bells and mourn the memory of a gentle and vulnerable woman.
Why I took part in 16 days of activism against gendered violence against women
By Kate Ravenscroft
“How frequently women are hurt and violated by the people they love. How rarely those criminals are brought to justice. How devastating the consequences of rape and gendered violence are. How effectively and irreparably violence against women destroys a woman’s self-esteem, her freedom and her capacity to live the life she is entitled to.’
Violence against women is an invisible crime. A crime that more often than not goes unrecognised, unreported and unpunished. Most devastatingly, it is going on routinely and unabated.
One in three Australian women will be the victim of violence in their lifetime. I am one of three daughters. I am also the victim of rape. Does that make my sisters safe? Does that mean that I need not stay awake at night worrying that what happened to me might happen to them? Does that mean that I can relax knowing they will live untouched by the tyranny of violence? That they will live instead a life of security and dignity?
If only statistics worked that way. I cannot know, I can never be sure, that my sisters will be safe from violence. I can never be sure that any of the women in my life will live their lives through without being terrorised, traumatised and victimised. None of us can.
Violence against women occurs so frequently in our society that it constitutes the most significant human rights abuse occurring in the world today. With one in three women confronted by violence in their lifetime, the only fitting term for the situation is an epidemic.
None of us are left untouched by this rampant occurrence of criminal behaviour. We all know at least three women, we all know victims of gendered violence. We all know women who are dealing with the devastating consequences of assault, intimidation and brutality, whose lives are constrained and limited by the deliberate infringement of their integrity and their liberty.
Yet, where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation? Where are the action groups and action plans? Where is the public discussion on this catastrophic situation? Where is the determination to confront this criminal behaviour and punish it appropriately? Where are the clear and bold messages that this is unacceptable? That this must change?
This is how the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence emerged. Developed by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, the 16 Days begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ended on December 10, International Human Rights Day, dates chosen deliberately “in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.” The campaign set out from the very beginning to ensure that the issue of violence against women was no longer considered as an obscure and marginal issue but as the significant and urgent public health crisis and global human rights abuse that it is.
The 16 Days campaign recognised that a systemic crime required a systemic response. If governments, justice systems and community leaders worldwide weren’t prepared to address this issue with the gravity and urgency it required then a bold, international education campaign was necessary.
16 Days is all about awareness and education. It is about showing people how dire violence against women is. This is not a situation we can ignore and just hope it goes away. We need to be aware how many women are living lives in the face of terrorism and abuse, how rampant the occurrence of gendered violence is and how great the cost to all of us is. In Australia alone, violence against women costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion annually. This is a very significant burden we are choosing to bear and one we can choose to confront, diminish and end, whenever we are ready.
And so 16 Days is also about recognising that our behaviour matters. That violence against women is not inevitable and that we will end this abuse when we choose to confront the attitudes and behaviours that enable this violence to continue. Ending violence against women is something we all need to take part in: we are all implicated in both the current situation and the solution. We can only end violence against women when we tackle the problem as something both personal and communal, both private and public, both local and international.
H 3 I first participated in the 16 Days campaign last year. The same year that I became a victim of rape.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I became a victim of gendered violence that I realised the nature and extent of this crime. Only then did I learn how common sexual assault is. How frequently women are hurt and violated by the people they love. How rarely those criminals are brought to justice. How devastating the consequences of rape and gendered violence are. How effectively and irreparably violence against women destroys a woman’s self-esteem, her freedom and her capacity to live the life she is entitled to.
I had not understood how dire the situation was until I became the victim of it. My ignorance devastates me now for I understand how that very ignorance is part of what allows these crimes to continue. Because we do not see this crime we cannot prevent it. Because we do not understand it, we cannot support victims and aid them to recover. Because we do not recognise or acknowledge it for the very serious abuse it constitutes, we do not avert, let alone discourage, perpetrators from committing their crimes. Instead, we aid and abet them.
Until we grasp that violence against women is an urgent crisis affecting us all, until we give this crisis the attention and resolute determination that it so desperately requires – on both a public and personal level – we will continue to undermine not only individuals but families, communities and societies worldwide. We will continue to disable a vast majority of the global population and force them into half-lives of terror and constraint. We will continue to enable perpetrators to commit their crimes unrestrained, without fear of punishment or consequence.
16 Days is about showing us that the way to end this terrifying situation is about each of us taking responsibility for our part in the solution. It is about showing us that, as individuals and as a community, we can address the attitudes and behaviours, the culture, that allows violence against women to occur so frequently and so readily. In being willing to examine our own attitudes and our own behaviours and then change them to ensure that we are not facilitating violence but rather facilitating security, respect and peace – this is how we will confront gendered violence and prevent it.
That’s what 16 Days means for me. It’s why I take part. It’s what I write about on my blog 16 Impacts of Sexual Assault. It’s why I think the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence is so important. I don’t want my behaviour to contribute to the occurrence of violence against women any longer. In fact, I am determined to do everything I can to ensure that my behaviour, my attitudes, my culture abhors, criminalises and justly punishes any and all forms of violence against women. I don’t want to live in shame any longer. And shame it is to be part of a world that condones and enables violence and abuse against any of us. Let us live instead in pride and security and dignity. Let us do all we can to end the epidemic of violence against women.
Here are just a few of the determined initiatives undertaken around the world as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence:
● Take Back the Tech, an international campaign to take control of technology to end violence against women.
‘We have made huge gains in becoming aware of the realities of many women’s and girl’s lives, and have a greater understanding of what can be done to call men to account and invite them to change’
As readers would know, I’m always encouraged when men decide to speak out against the objectification of women, sexualisation of girls and violence against women. On Wednesday I published a piece by Simon Kennedy on how City Beach acclimatises boys to porn, and his plea for something better. (It was originally sent in as a blog comment, I thought it deserved more attention). Today I run the second piece in a row by a man.
‘If there’s war between the sexes then there’ll be no people left’.
This phrase from Joe Jackson’s 1982 hit ‘Real Men’ has stayed with me since then. At the time I was only a young bloke, but in amongst the turmoil of the Falklands War, fighting in Lebanon, Ethiopia and Somalia, the launch of the then strange but intimidating and short-lived National Action party in Australia and the inner mayhem that is early teenage years, I not only became aware of the young women around me (where were they before?), but also how many young men had begun sprouting muscles, height, pimples and troubling attitudes and language towards and about girls.
From the end of primary school, gender became a reference point to everything. Relationships, sporting prowess, politics, authority, social status – especially through male commentary. Girls were rated on the basis of looks, and boys muttered what they would do to (not with) them if given half the chance. Relationships started forming and breaking, sex was spoken about relentlessly, and boys came to school on Mondays bragging about the number of impossibly pneumatic and athletic older women they bedded over the previous couple of days. All of this of course was bullshit.
Not that I thought there was anything wrong with it. Indeed, I participated. That’s what you did. That’s how you fitted in, in a dire attempt to not be classified as a nerd, gay or both. Boys had to be loud, obnoxious, resistant to authority, and defined by their sexual observations, desires and lies. Of course, not all boys were, or are, but the attention and oxygen such boys demanded seem to prevent other ways of relating into the space.
I never really thought objectively about gender until much later when re-evaluating my career options and found myself volunteering for the Men’s Referral Service.
The training program to become a telephone counsellor was one part counselling skills and two parts being confronted with the realities of the everyday lives of so many women and girls on the receiving end of violence and abuse. Until then I didn’t really consider the realities of the lives of the women around me – the people you associate with are often part of the furniture, until some realities are exposed.
I had initially thought becoming a volunteer telephone counsellor with the Men’s Referral Service was a means to an end – perhaps some further study, a job in a local community service that would do slightly more good for the world than my then soul-destroying corporate gigs. Little did I know that I was on a journey to bigger things.
Family – or domestic – violence was a term I was aware of but in the abstract. I didn’t think I saw it, nor did I think it affected anyone I knew. It was like considering major disability or some exotic disease – it affected others, but nobody in my world.
But the realities started becoming difficult to ignore. One in three women experience violence in a relationship. It is hard not to immediately reflect on the women in our lives when confronted with this statistic. Partners, daughters, relatives, friends, mothers of friends, work colleagues, shopkeepers, bus drivers, politicians, someone pushing her pram through the park when you take the dog for a walk, another doing the shopping and comparing the prices of mince. Counting one in three became overwhelming – almost threatening. All these people. Why?
Volunteering at the Men’s Referral Service, by its very nature, got me and my colleagues thinking not only about the people who overwhelmingly experience violence within relationships and families, but the people using the violence. The people doing the damage. Almost entirely men.
That meant me.
I can confidently say I have not used violence or abuse towards women, but I became aware that for many of us, our gender identity is our identity. I started thinking about my every day. Dressing, walking, driving, speaking, observing, thinking, assuming, accusing, judging. Why this way and not some other way? What is it about my gender – and that of my fellow blokes – that informs how we engage with the world?
I didn’t know it then, but am much more aware now. The vast bulk of prisoners, users of violent crime, the dead and injured on our roads, sexual offenders, those suspended and expelled from school… are all male. Call it standard male behaviour (simplistic), oversupply of testosterone (erroneous), biologically determined (naïve) or a misguided sense of entitlement (now we’re getting somewhere), but I began to realise that so many men make poor decisions that end up having massive consequences.
In my current role at No To Violence Male Family Violence Prevention Association and the Men’s Referral Service I sometimes think about what life would be like if there was no gender difference in behaving badly – and dangerously. But that’s like wondering what the world would be like without any gender bias – that is, a world where men don’t overwhelmingly hold the power, cash and means to exert control over others – often women and girls. It’s a nice thought, but distant from much of our reality today.
We have made huge gains in becoming aware of the realities of many women’s and girl’s lives, and have a greater understanding of what can be done to call men to account and invite them to change. But it’s slow going.
I think that my career in male family violence prevention over the last fourteen years or so has influenced me as a man, and in particular how I relate to my partner, my children and the people around me. Yet it worries me that this might be because of the impact of my work on my personal life. What of the other men? How are we trying to invite them to consider things differently?
This year NTV distributed ‘16 Actions, 16 Days’ – real, tangible things men can do over the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. It was borne out of a frustration that most men believe that violence against women is wrong, but they struggle to conceptualise what that means in their daily lives, and consider what small things they can do to affect change.
Ultimately, we’re inviting men to think about sexism and patriarchy as reality, not in the abstract. We can think that we aren’t part of the problem, but there are things all around us that suggest otherwise. And we can stop it.
Many would consider ‘war between the sexes’ as a glib and poetic fictionalised perception, but it’s the reality for many women and girls. Actually, ‘war’ implies two sides fighting, whereas with violence against women, it’s mostly one way.
Until we immerse ourselves in their world and their experiences, violence and abuse will continue to be used against the one in three women in our lives – partners, daughters, relatives, friends, mothers of friends, work colleagues, shopkeepers, bus drivers, politicians, someone pushing her pram through the park when you take the dog for a walk, another doing the shopping and comparing the prices of mince.
If sexual images are inappropriate in the workplace, they are inappropriate at school
I have spent the last two years working at a multi-billion mega-project construction worksite in regional Western Australia. Every day I walk amongst a bunch of men that resemble a merry band of desert vikings who are building prosperity for their community and their country. They come in all shapes and sizes, tall, short, hairy, dark, light and in desperate need of a shower by 5pm (at least those who aren’t scared of a hard day’s work). These are the boys you would want by your side in a catastrophe – they can get it done.
Whilst their language can be lacking in imagination, and using repetitive adjectives (predominantly beginning with the letter F), not one of the 2,450 workforce would consider bringing this pencil case to our worksite. It is not because the graphics are not arousing or stimulating enough (exactly the opposite). It is because they would understand that in this day and age, it is inappropriate material for the workplace. Should they want to keep their well-paid employment, all racist, sexist, ageist and every other potentially offensive material is not to be brought into the workplace. It is not worth losing your job over.
How can a school principal be so blind in their ways as to set this student up for future failure solely based in a lack of basic understanding that women, like men, come in all shapes and sizes? If nude and semi-nude pictures of women which are commonly presented in mainstream marketing (but really representing a tiny fraction of the total population) are inappropriate in my workplace, they are not appropriate in primary or high school.
This sort of marketing by City Beach is about weaning our young men, our future hope, onto a pornography habit that costs plenty and yields nothing but broken relationships and despair.
Use that $19 to help pay for his footy fees, his wrestling trunks, a new basketball, his piano tuition, his dance class, his favourite hobby, his favourite charity, his best mate, flowers for his girlfriend’s mother, a unitard because you don’t want to dispel his dream of lead guitarist in the new Kiss! Just don’t sell his future down the road of self-gratification through the visualisation of 2-dimensional imagery that even if he could snare such a perceived beauty, would only last a relatively short season – what is he supposed to do for the next 40 years?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – pornography is in the eye of the captive.
I hate this pencil case – at 14 years of age, it should be skateboards and motorbikes that fathers have to contend with, not a hyper-sexualised mini-me.
Magazines aimed at teen boys condition them to pro offending attitudes
Are sex offenders and lads’ mags using the same language?
Far from being harmless or ironic fun, lads’ mags could be legitimising hostile sexist attitudes, according to new research.
Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey found that when presented with descriptions of women taken from lads’ mags, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not distinguish the source of the quotes.
The research due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology also revealed that most men who took part in the study identified themselves more with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
Psychologists presented men between the ages of 18 and 46 with a range of statements taken from magazines and from convicted rapists in the study, and gave the men different information about the source of the quotes. Men identified more with the comments made by rapists more than the quotes made in lads’ mags, but men identified more with quotes said to have been drawn from lads’ mags more than those said to have been comments by convicted rapists.
The researchers also asked a separate group of women and men aged between 19 and 30 to rank the quotes on how derogatory they were, and to try to identify the source of the quotes. Men and women rated the quotes from lads’ mags as somewhat more derogatory, and could categorize the quotes by source little better than chance.
Dr Miranda Horvath and Dr Peter Hegarty argue that the findings are consistent with the possibility that lads’ mags normalise hostile sexism, by making it seem more acceptable when its source is a popular magazine. Read more
Wet t.shirt comp, simulated sex, ‘best tits’: young women as sexual fodder at end of school celebrations
Scarlett from Victoria, wrote to me about her experience of Schoolies. I thought what she wrote deserved a wider audience and asked if I could reprint her letter. She agreed.
After meaning to read your book Getting Real for a while now, I just finished after arriving back from schoolies. I loved it. I felt as though all the contributors including yourself articulated exactly how I feel about the sexualisation of women and girls and what I have been unable to express myself.
I don’t want to use my full name because I want to share with you some of my personal experiences which I thought of when reading Getting Real. I’m 18 years old and I’ve just finished Year 12 and all I’ve done is kissed boys. I’ve never done anything more, not because I don’t want to, just because I haven’t found the right boy.
While on schoolies at the Gold Coast, I heard numerous stories of girls I go to school with having sex in club toilets with complete strangers before schoolies to ‘get it over and done with’ because most of their friends have already had sex. They feared that if they went on schoolies as virgins, they would be deemed ‘losers’ and wanted to gain experience so they would be ‘experienced enough’ to have sex on schoolies, if they chose to.
While on schoolies, some of my closest friends had sex or gave oral sex or hand to complete strangers as they felt it was ‘expected of them’ by the boys and because ‘it’s schoolies!’. I noticed so many things about the treatment of women that really frustrated me and reading your book reminded me how wrong they were.
At clubs and bars we went to boys chanted ‘tits out for the boys, tits out for the boys’, I was left wondering why no girls were singing ‘dicks out for the chicks’. There was also a ‘wet-shirt competition’, prizes for lesbian kisses with friends and games which included partners miming a blow job and lying on top of each other as well as girls as partners if there were no boys left who had to take off items of clothing to stay in the game, we ended up watching two girls in bras and underwear lying on top of each other or pretending to have oral sex (which a guy filmed and took photos of on his phone). There was also a ‘best tits’ competition at one of the bars, in which girls got up on the stage and squeezed their breasts together to receive a reaction from the largely male audience, the girl that one kissed another girl on stage causing the largest noise from the audience ending in her winning.
None of the girls I stayed with or saw while I was there, thought any of the treatment of girls was abnormal, all of them thought it was completely normal. Some girls even joined in the chant ‘tits out for the boys’ as though they saw it as ‘empowerment’. A lot of girls did show their breasts, while others (including me) just laughed it off or pretended to be ‘above it’ or in deep conversation with the person next to them. If boys came up to the girls and chanted it, the girls would take their tops off or show their bra, because a massive group/club full of horny boys chanting at you is pretty forceful.
Many of the girls were definitely under the influence of alcohol and yes, boys did prey on drunk girls – I even overheard two boys saying to each other ‘let’s get these girls drunk on goon and take them down to the beach’. Apparently (according to rumours) one girl was raped in a club toilet while we were there.
We had a pool at our place and after arriving home from going out at about 2am, two of my friends wanted to go swimming, but when they got to the pool area boys staying in the other apartment (around 5) were already in the pool. They dared my friends who had been drinking to skinny dip with them and after shedding their clothes together the girls got in the pool with the boys only to be felt up and one was fingered by a boy while another held her down. The girls were really confused and upset when they came back to the apartment and told us the story.
If all of what I described isn’t objectification of women, I don’t know what is. Those situations lumped together like that would put anybody off sending their child to schoolies and that’s not what I’m suggesting. But not enough is said about the negative side especially for girls. So I’m sharing with you what I experienced and the fact that I didn’t like it…all my thoughts were articulated in your book. So thank you for opening my eyes. And reminding me that we live in a male-dominated society and men often think they can treat women as ‘objects’ because of pornography and advertising.
Did you attend Schoolies this year? Feel free to tell me about your experience by posting a comment or contacting me through the ‘contact’ tab at the top of my web page.
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg: Students need alternatives to schoolies
Schoolies as David Penberthy wrote in his column in the Herald Sun has become the ‘byword for the worst elements of Australia’s teenage binge drinking culture.’ My patients returning from the Gold Coast often describe it as a bacchanalian orgy of excess, drinking, drugs and often unprotected sex . Read more
Imagine what would happen if a teacher downloaded or decorated his office wall with the same images. But hypersexualised images on student’s school items are apparently exempt. These images are a form of sexual harassment for schoolgirls and re-enforce a message they receive daily from media, advertising and popular culture that they are merely objects for male gratification and pleasure. They are also harassing to female teachers.
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.
Purchase the Ruby Who? DVD and book together for only $35 saving 10% off the individual price.
“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.