You know the one thing that’s more insulting than blatantly sexist/misogynistic advertising?
Advertising that touts pseudo-feminism but sends the exact same bigoted message, only cloaking it in women’s liberation to soften the blow.
Take the new ad from Triumph Lingerie Australia, for example. The ad’s tagline reads ‘Welcome to the Republic of Triumph’ and asks women to declare themselves. The associated image is rather epic – featuring lingerie-clad women marching and waving Mao-ish red flags while holding protest signs aloft. One of the signs reads “It’s my right to have a career and a baby” while another declares “It’s my right to smash the glass ceiling.”
Except the ad’s attempt at appealing to our feminist souls is an epic fail, because the women featured are not only perfectly perky and seriously skinny, they’re also airbrushed to the nth degree and look decidedly plastic and flawless. They are entirely, disturbingly unreal.
The Triumph ‘feminist’ message that sits alongside its contradictory content is awful, but by no means is it the first time a company has hidden misogynistic agendas behind pseudo-feminist armour.
Take the Dove real beauty campaign, for example. The toiletries company claims to be about advertising images of women with real bodies, of all ages who are ethnically diverse. An admirable effort.
But their ‘real beauty’ campaign is utterly hollow, when Dove is owned by Unilever who sell such patriarchal products like ‘Fair and Lovely’ skin-lightening cream (which is particularly popular in India where women are made to feel that the lighter their skin, the more beautiful they’ll be).
Or how about everyone’s favourite (insert sarcasm) athletic company, Nike? For a little while there they actually churned out some (surprisingly, begrudgingly) good and powerful ads that portrayed famous sportswomen not as sex symbols, but as the tough athletes they are in the feminist ‘Rock Victorious’ campaign of 2010.
But any ground Nike gained with women has been lost after their EPIC FAIL in releasing a Gold Digging t-shirt to ‘celebrate’ the fact that female athletes bought home 29 of Team USA’s 46 gold medals at the London Olympic Games.
If that t-shirt was Nike’s attempt at showing support for their female athletes, then we’d prefer they Just Not Do It.
But, back to the Triumph Australia ad and its ‘Declare Yourself’ feminist message alongside contradictory models. The height of irony is that one of the models is waving a sign that says “It’s my right to feel good about myself” – so we hope women looking at this ad take a moment to note the wrinkle-free, no-bulge-in-sight, big-breasted (airbrushed) models in their bras and undies and Declare themselves unimpressed with this faux-feminism marketing campaign.
Cleo Magazine: Stop digitally altering images to change appearances #RealGirlsCleo
Following a US teenager’s successful petition calling on 17 Magazine to publish one unaltered photo spread per month, Melbourne woman Jessica Barlow has created a petition calling on Australian Cleo Magazine to do the same.
The petition reads:
Reality is beautiful. Stop using Photoshop to alter appearances.
In high school, not a day would go by without hearing another girl complain about her weight or appearance. I saw girls get severely bullied and excluded because they didn’t live up to the beauty ideals of women in magazines.And it made me want to doctor my own appearance even more.
My friends and I looked up to the models in Cleo magazine. It was one of the most popular among my classmates. But what I think many of us didn’t know is that Cleo was altering the images of women to make them skinny and blemish free.
The altered pictures make readers question their weight, appearance and self-worth. I know this much first hand. They teach us that to be “pretty” you have to be thin and have perfect skin. Studies now show that these damaging images can lead to eating disorders, dieting and depression.
Distorting and editing the appearances of models in magazines is distorting the mental health of girls who read magazines that engage in these practices.
Public pressure is building across the world for magazines to stop altering images of girls. In the US a teenager convinced Seventeen Magazine to publish one unaltered spread a month after thousands joined her petition. I think Cleo should do the same for their readers.
I want Cleo to stop selling images that hurt girls and break our self-esteem. Let us see real faces and real shapes in at least one photo spread a month — and always put a warning symbol on any image that has been altered.
It’s time to put an end to the digitally enhanced, unrealistic beauty we see in the pages of magazines. Please sign my petition to Cleo Magazine editors calling on them to give us images of real girls in their magazines.
And I’d love to hear your stories — if you’re on Twitter use #RealGirlsCleo hashtag.
To help convince Cleo to get on board, I have launched the “Brainwash Project”, which involves the presentation of this petition along with edition one of a new magazine showing what young females want and need in their magazines. To complete it, I need as much help as I can get, please visit: http://pozible.com/brainwashproject and/or www.facebook.com/brainwashproject for more information.
In this guest post, Cleo reader Madeleine Rigelsford reveals the humiliating process she went through after the avowedly body positive magazine chose her for its Body Challenge feature before dumping her.
The latest edition of Cleo magazine features the Cleo Body Challenge – in which ordinary readers talk about their weight struggles and the magazine helps them get in shape by the end of it. I was nearly one of them.
I applied. It involved providing the participants with a trainer and a nutritionist – they would be followed on their journey across four-page spreads in three editions. They asked readers to write in, telling them their weight struggles and to provide photos. Read full article here.
Ok, firstly, a disclosure. I’m going to open with some praise for a Girlfriend which, naturally, you the reader could be tempted to think is just because I’m quoted in it and the organisation I’m part of gets a guernsey. While it does feel somewhat novel to see one’s words in a magazine that I’m not known for raving about, the article in which they appear comes at a critical time in the current conversation and about girls, sexualisation and sexuality.
‘Let’s talk about sexy’ by London based blogger Rachel Hills, (‘Musing of an inappropriate woman’ ) explores the contradictory messages girls get about their bodies and sexuality, the way young women are taught to satisfy others while at the same time being alienated from their own bodies. I see this a lot in my work, girls feeling they have to be performers, sexual service stations for men and boys, while being completely cut off from their own desires, not expecting pleasure or intimacy in return. This is what I said in response to Hill’s questions:
Many of the girls I meet feel pressured to act in highly sexual ways. Many are engaging in sexual practices they don’t actually like or enjoy, but think they are meant to. Objecting to the sexualisation of girls is not the same as objecting to sexuality. The shame is not the sexuality of young women, but with a culture that teaches them that is their only value.
I’m really pleased Hills chose to include mention of Collective Shout for a world free of sexploitation, which some other activists and I launched a couple of years ago. The response from young women to this new grassroots movement is one of the things that keeps me going. Read more here .
‘How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved?’
The articles last week in New Matilda (Trixie Wellington), Crikey (Helen Razer) and ABC Unleashed (Lauren Rosewarne) were so nasty and hurtful to mothers who are legitimately doing their best to make sure their daughters don’t come to any harm from men.
What about mothers who are survivors who might feel like they worry too much about child sexualisation stuff? (which I don’t think is possible). It’s just feeding into their self-doubt, and disempowering them from taking proper action to try and protect their kids better than they were protected.
I think there’s an implicit message in Wellington’s article that mothers are looking at their daughters sexually, which she should be called out on. This is an outrageous claim – Australian courts are currently chock full of, not women, but men who have decided to extend their violent pornography consumption to children. The statistics are huge and getting worse by the year.
Of course we would all love men to come to their senses and begin to lead decent lives like women have managed to for hundreds of years, but at this point in history there’s no indication they’re collectively deciding to do that. So, in the meantime, we have to let mothers feel as empowered as possible to protect their kids, without feeling like they’re weird or being told, (with no evidence) their agenda is puritanical: to ‘shame’ girls and put them in burqas?
How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved? It smacks of classism. Why are mothers not eligible to speak on behalf of other women? Why can’t they lead the women’s movement (however that’s defined)?
Why can’t we have a women’s movement that’s influenced by our concern for children? Do we have to hide the fact we’re mothers if we want to speak out? And what’s with ‘feminists’ siding with corporations over an individual mother? How could that happen?
More than ever, we need to stand together across the class divide to protect children against trends like sexualisation. Disparaging and belittling mothers, who are most qualified to speak on behalf of children, is just a good way to let the corporations win.
The pornification of culture occurs because not enough of us have children’s rights foremost in our minds. On a daily basis mothers are going about their lives with children’s wellbeing and welfare as their top priority, so we could learn from their example.
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global Urban and, Social Studies at RMIT University and a contributor to Big Porn Inc: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry.
I wanted to know what someone actually working in the field of sexual assault counselling through of the piece so I asked, Alison Grundy, a counsellor with 20 years experience, to comment.
There is nothing new in these stories from perpetrators of sexual violence. Nothing that hasn’t been openly related, reported, commented upon and pondered over for the last 30 years – certainly in the last 25 that I have been working in the field, I have read and been exposed to this type of material literally thousands of times .
It’s nothing that the workers, researchers, therapists, educators and those who run treatment programs haven’t heard over and over and over again.
It’s a mistake to think we’re justifying rapists’ actions by listening to their stories.
True – but it is a very big mistake to print rapist’s stories as if they are the truth or to print them without any analysis about what the attitudes they express mean to their victims, their families and the wider community.
Read any book on treating sexual abusers and rapists – the fundamental notion is that these people do not tell the truth. Or their truth is critically and extremely biased by justifying their actions.
Those working with offenders report “cognitive distortions” that they routinely express to excuse, deny and minimise their actions. The most common of these is blaming the victim. We, as a community, also routinely join them in this most insidious of cognitive distortions.
In my view, not all sexual abusers have” cognitive distortions.” Some – perhaps most- know what they are doing is wrong and also know that nothing will happen to them – that mostly they can get away with it. I think you can hear this in their stories if you listen with a critical ear. As well, they live in a culture which enables rape permission giving beliefs.
Some of them are tough to read, but their brutal honesty illustrates how a lack of communication and education perpetuates rape culture. Ignoring or dismissing these men (and women) out of hand may be an effective coping strategy for a given individual, but not for society. It gets us nowhere.
The accounts are not “brutally honest” – they are self-serving and excusing. They do not point to education and better communication – they point to a complete shift in the way sexual violence is perceived and perpetuated in our society.
Of the guys who express regret, I can’t remember any of them saying what they did to right the wrong, seek out the consequences, own up to the victim, their family or the community for doing this. The central step in many offender programmes is going to the police and owning up to the crime or at least “facing up” and taking responsibility to significant people. I didn’t hear anything like this.
It’s not enough to feel regret- that doesn’t help the victim. This is not stealing something from a shop – this crime changes its victim’s lives, it wreaks havoc in their bodies and destroys their faith in the central notions of safety, community and in some cases love. Regret just doesn’t cut it.
It would have been more useful, in the battle against violence against women, to have someone trained in working with offenders to comment on each of the stories from a critical perspective so we could all understand the inherent distortions and self- serving nuances that help confuse the central issues of violence and responsibility.
Target has drawn fire from campaigners against the sexualisation of children for selling clothes considered sexually inappropriate for young girls
Click on image to watch interview on ABC’s Lateline
(just as an aside, I don’t ‘run’ Collective Shout. I am part of a founding board which takes responsibility for the organisation. The day to day running of the movement is managed by Melinda Liszewski in Brisbane supported by volunteer activists around the country).
My favourite article on the Olympics. Just magnificent. Tahmina Kohistani of Afghanistan, we salute you.
OH, to be the fastest woman in the world.
KATHLEEN PARKER The Washington Post - August 10, 2012
Other dreams may be equal to this, but few are as accessible. Every able-bodied person on the planet can run, knows the feeling of running full speed and the exhilaration of crossing the finishing line, but unless you’re Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, someone is always faster. Never mind – whoever may be faster in the next lane, the fastest person in the runner’s heart is themself.
The feeling of fastest possible, although known to most, is indescribable. It is too bad life eventually slows the sprinter in every child.
Running is unique as a sport by virtue of its utter purity, requiring nothing more than a willing body and force of spirit. No accoutrements – no bats, balls, helmets, motors, masks, goggles, oars, nets, padding, bars or beams. It’s just you against the ground, gravity and your own heart. Read the entire article here.
The porn industry must be throwing a fit right now. The adult book Fifty Shades of Grey has sold over twenty million copies in record time, and sales are still going strong. How did E.L. James, a first-time author who was a television executive, manage to pull off a feat that has eluded the porn industry—getting women to see sexual cruelty as hot sex? In my interviews with them, porn producers regularly bemoan the fact that they just can’t seem to make porn that appeals to the majority of women.
I can’t say I am surprised that the normally business-savvy porn industry has been bested by a novice, given the somewhat ridiculous advice Adult Video News (the porn industry’s premier trade) journal offered to pornographers interested in attracting more women to their websites. Arguing that only 15% of Internet porn consumers are women, AVN suggests that to attract women, “adult Webmasters need to create sites where the primary elements are interaction and education.” And what would these sites look like? “Such sites would allow women to obtain advice, perhaps during teleconferences with experts, have elements of cybersex, and should play into women’s relationship fantasies”.
I can’t imagine women flocking to websites where they can get handy hints from experts mid-arousal. But The AVN article did get something right: women are flocking to a book that plays into, and exploits, “women’s relationship fantasies.” The fantasy they recommended, “a story of how a woman got a rich and powerful boyfriend” because she is good in bed, is very close to the formula James followed. But this story line alone isn’t going to sell to women, as the porn industry knows only too well.
While much of the sex in Fifty Shades is as cruel and sadistic as in mainstream porn, it is expertly packaged for women who want a “fairy tale” ending. In male-targeted porn, the woman is interesting only for as long as the sex lasts. Once done with her, the man is onto the next, and the next, and the next.… She is disposable, interchangeable, and easily replaced. No happy ending here for women.
In Fifty Shades, however, the naïve, immature, bland Anastasia is, for some unfathomable reason, the most compelling woman our rich, sadistic, narcissistic hero has ever met, and he not only kisses her during sex (something you rarely see in Internet hardcore porn) but he doesn’t move on to the next conquest once he has had his wicked way with her. In fact, he actually marries her and confesses undying love. As one of the female fans I interviewed said, this is like Pretty Woman all over again.
Indeed, Fifty Shades is about as realistic as Pretty Woman. How many prostitutes do you know who end up living in marital bliss with a former john? I would guess about the same number of women who live happily ever after with a man who dictates, in a written contract, what to eat and wear, and when to exercise, wax, and sleep. In my work, I meet many women who started out like our heroine, only to end up, a few years later, not in luxury homes, but running for their lives to a battered women’s shelter with a couple of equally terrified kids in tow. No happy ending here, either.
In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Mr. Grey is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.
And yet women of all ages are swooning over this guy and misreading his obsessive, cruel behavior as evidence of love and romance. Part of the reason for this is that his wealth acts as a kind of up-market cleansing cream for his abuse, and his pathological attachment to Anastasia is reframed as devotion, since he showers luxury items on her. This is a very retrograde and dangerous world for our daughters to buy into, and speaks to the appalling lack of any public consciousness as to the reality of violence against women.
Fifty Shades also reveals just how pornographic our culture has become over the last decade or so. While the old Harlequin romance novels had narcissistic heroes who toyed, sexually and psychologically, with their much younger prey, however remote and emotionally challenged he was, the hero did not have a torture chamber tucked away in his basement. Fifty Shades of Grey is Harlequin on steroids, a kind of romance novel for the porn age in which overt sexual sadism masquerades as adoration and love. New as this is, the ending remains depressingly the same for real women who end up falling for the Mr. Greys of the world.
GAIL DINES is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. Her latest book is Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality (Beacon Press). She a founding member of Stop Porn Culture.
Gail Dines is a contributor to Big Porn Inc:Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry (Ed MTR and Dr Abigail Bray, Spinifex Press, 2011).
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.