Girl Rising: From Demure to Defiant
I am affected today by the final paragraph in this piece by former UK Prime Minister now UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. It echoes, I think, the mood of myself and my colleagues in Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation. The time for politeness is over. We are tired of Zoo magazine (read by 28,000 14-19 year old boys each week) cutting women in half and asking men to comment on which dismembered half they prefer and calling it ‘Men’s Lifestyle’. (See here and here). We are tired of companies like Condom Kingdom being allowed to sell Lolita virgin vibrating sex rings (promoted as just like having sex with a young virgin every time), with government departments and so-called regulators passing the buck (“not our responsibility” is a common refrain). We’re fed up with illegal porn in corner stores and milkbars promoting sex with little girls, rape and incest. And countless other women and girl-hating cultural expressions.
Why is it that we have a Royal Commission into responses to child sexual abuse (rightly so) but no inquiry into the permission-giving drivers which encourage and enable men to abuse women and girls? As Jayneen Saunders, author of Some Secrets Should Never be Kept wrote in a blog comment last night: “I continually despair. Here so many of us are fighting tirelessly for sexual abuse prevention education and reducing the statistics of 1 in 4 girls being sexually abused before 18, and business such as this are allowed to sell , market and encourage fantasies of the sexual abuse of young girls. Where is government regulation when you need it!”
There’s a Federal election this year. Don’t expect us to be demure. Those in high places who are supposed to protect the interests of women and girls have failed. Over and over again. There’s little political will to do anything of substance to call advertisers, marketers, Lads Mags, pornographers and other sexploiters to account. But there is a tide of rising anger and we’re going to harness it. Watch this space. Here’s the Brown quote:
I see in recent protests a real shift. Demonstrations that started as cautious, often gentle, admonitions to the powers that be, with respectful requests for change, have now come to encompass a set of defiant, non-negotiable demands in the form of ultimatums — and rightly so. Protests that once were pleas to ‘please stop this’ have become protests that insist ‘no more and never again’.