If Dolly wasn’t persisting with its Model Search competition, which returned last year having been sensibly done away with by previous editors, I could probably have given this issue the thumbs up. Lydia Turner, Managing Director at BodyMatters Australasia, and I have written before about why this competition – won in 2012 by a 13-year-old – is harmful to girls for re-enforcing global norms about perfect bodies in an era rampant with body hatred and eating disorders. (see also ‘Girls still getting the wrong messages about their bodies’). Dolly is trying to cover over the criticism with lots of body friendly rhetoric such as ‘beauty that is more than skin deep’, ‘beauty comes in all shapes and sizes’, ‘the winner will be selected for being a relatable role model for teen girls.’ But the fact remains, this is a modelling competition and unless the entrant conforms to body limiting stereotypes and conventions, she won’t make it. Girls continue to be taught what matters most is to fit some cookie-cutter mould of what women should look like and Dolly isn’t helping. Read more here.
When disgraced AFL player manager Ricky Nixon attacked his then fiancée Tegan Gould, he grabbed her by the throat, pushed her against a wall, hit her in the head then fled police custody. In her victim impact statement, Gould said the assault left her suffering headaches, bruises, nightmares, panic attacks, and that she was intimidated, paranoid, introverted. She said she lived in fear of him hurting her again. With five serious offences against him – along with a pattern of inappropriate behaviour towards women over time – what sentence was applied to Nixon? A grand total of 200 hours community service. Domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women 15-45 years in Australia. It costs this country $8.1 billion a year, estimated to rise to $9.9 billion by 2012 if appropriate action isn’t taken. But even where guilty verdicts are achieved – which is rarely – the consequences seem minimal. When will these crimes against women be taken seriously? Here’s what I had to say on the subject on Channel 10’s The Project last night (starts at 3.46).
Ricky Nixon pleaded guilty to beating ex-fiancee Tegan Gould to ‘protect’ his and her family
But women’s advocate Melinda Tankard Reist said domestic violence was too serious an offence for perpetrators to be let off lightly.
“My fear is that this will send a message to other victims that domestic violence isn’t that serious – that if someone beats you, they will just get a community service,” she said yesterday.
“This is a vulnerable woman being attacked by an older man in a position of power and authority. It’s a concern when he gets off so lightly.” Full story here.
Topless women in newspapers are not ‘tough, rough, challenging’ ideas’
In a piece titled ‘Politician-Led Attack on Media Freedom is a Sentence on the public’, in The Australian last Thursday, Spiked Online editor Brendan O’Neill wrote an impassioned defence of free speech. O’Neill argued that attacks on press freedom were not only attacks on those who write and publish but also on the reader – hurting the “man on the street”. He condemned the “licensing of the press by the back door, the use of extreme financial pressure to make every paper, mag and zine bow before new codes of conduct.” He described (now failed) moves to regulate the press in Australia as a “wicked undermining” of the readers’ right to exercise their own moral judgement about the content. “…restrictions on the press are a sentence on the public, passed by elites who think we morons cannot handle tough or rough or challenging ideas”.
Tough, rough, challenging…
I support him on that. I’m all for giving as many column inches as possible to touch, rough and challenging ideas.
But O’Neill fails the argument when he includes as an example of content deserving the protection of free speech, the Page 3 semi-naked images of women, a regular feature in Britain’s The Sun newspaper. He labels as “censorious feminists” those who condemn the objectified and sexist images (over 87,000 so far in a Change petition, see below). Labelling the images as merely “saucy”, O’Neill mockingly collapsing the argument against them as being “because it makes men rapacious.”
By including The Sun’s Page 3 girls feature in his passionate treatise against the “mugging of press freedom”, O’Neil has undermined that fragile right. I was about to write about why, when I came across this piece by writer and actress Lucy-Anne Holmes, in Women’s Views on News (originally published in Huffington Post). Holmes has summarised it perfectly: “We are all affected by Page Three whether we buy it or not, because we all live in a society where the most widely read paper in the country makes ‘normal’ the idea that women are there primarily for men’s sexual pleasure.”
‘If you don’t like it don’t buy it’ – Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?
Guest post by Lucy-Anne Holmes, writer and actress currently working on the No More Page 3 campaign ‘to take the bare boobs out of the Sun’ newspaper.
This article appeared in The Huffington Post on 15 March 2013.
I’ve got a confession to make. I may have been a bit silly starting the No More Page 3 campaign. You see, someone just tweeted us something. “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it”, the tweet read.
There was I, ballistically campaigning about Page Three being damaging when, oh, I really am feeling very stupid now, because I could just not buy it and everything would be fine. So, I’ll be off then. Sorry about that. Or rather. No. Just no.
There are so many reasons why “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” doesn’t work as an argument for Page 3, that I will be breaking out the big gun bullet points.
So, here goes. This is for you, Mr If You Don’t Like It Don’t Buy It and all the others before you, and that includes you, Nick Clegg.
1) I was most affected by these images at the age of 11 when my breasts were developing and my brother and his mates would be commenting on Page Three girls breasts everyday. I really looked up to my big brother and this situation taught me that my breasts were only there for men to look at. Mine fell short of the ones that were in the daily newspaper, therefore I was failing somehow and I was ashamed. I didn’t buy it.Read more here.
Important articles on the dangers of sexting and pressures on girls to deliver oral sex
There are two really important and timely articles in this issue. ‘The Sext files’, is straightforward and honest with readers about the risks of sexting. A recent GF survey found one in four readers have sent a sext. Personal stories are told of girls pressured to send sexual images, threats used to get a girl to send more pictures, images being shared with other without consent.
Kids Helpline, the Australian Federal Police, and Cybersmart all agree there is no safe way to sext, as once an image is sent, the sender loses control of it. “Girls can be embarrassed, bullied and socially outcast, which can affect friendships and grades at school, and can also lead to mental health issues”, says Gretchen Martins from Cybersmart. Readers are reminded that if a male pressures them to send a sexual image, this is not the kind of man who respects them, nor someone they can trust. They are also given a run down of where the law stands in relation to sexting – illegal if under 18, because they cannot legally consent. Taking and distributing images of under-age girls can represent the production or distribution of child pornography material which can carry a penalty of 15 years. Practical advice is given on what to do if you are asked to send a sext (“Remember the social and legal consequences and remind yourself that it’s just not worth it.”), If you’ve sent a sext (tell a trusted adult), and if you are sent a sext (delete the image, don’t forward, tell trusted adult).
The second significant piece is on the pressure on girls to deliver oral sex. A 2011 study by thefound 37% of Year 10 students and 57% of Yr 12 students had engaged in oral sex. Girls describe an unspoken expectation that they will deliver oral sex when asked. Some describe giving in after multiple requests, even though they don’t enjoy the experience. Jodie, 16, is one of them. She felt used and regretted giving in. “If I’d stood my ground, I would have been better off”, she says. “Whatever the reason, girls seem to be working off the assumption that they need to trade sexual favours to please guys. Girls deserve better than this,” says Girlfriend. Indeed they do and I commend GF for saying so. Read more here.
There’s been a ton of media coverage on the adultification and sexualisation of children lately. This program aired on Channel 7’s Today Tonight Monday. Click picture below to view clip.
And just a clarification re the KMart campaign. It wasn’t actually me who was instrumental in getting KMart to pull certain items – that win was the result of grassroots protests by a number of individuals and it happened pretty quickly. However I was encouraged to receive a call from KMart CEO Guy Russo personally apologising and a short time after, with Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids, to meet Guy and his staff at the company’s Melbourne headquarters. KMart was invited to sign Collective Shout’s Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge which asks corporates to sign a statement of intention not to objectify women and sexualise girls in products and services. We hope to make an announcement soon.
And great to see this issue get Page 1 treatment in the Daily Telegraph this week.
“There really is a global backlash” – MTR
Netmums website finds parents believe modern life steals kids’ childhood
PARENTS believe childhood ends at 12 and blame pressure from friends, celebrity culture and social media for rushing kids into adulthood.
Almost 90 per cent of parents think modern children grow up faster than previous generations, while one in two parents admit their daughters worry about their Facebook popularity, a survey by the Netmums website has found.
Modern tweens prefer to play alone on iPads, with 83 per cent of their parents saying their favourite activity was playing outdoors.
Boys are under pressure to be “macho” and “good at everything” while girls are under “immense strain to be thin” and sexy before being mature enough to cope.
Do you agree? Tell us below.
The British survey found 54 per cent of parents were angry with retailers, saying clothing for girls was too sexual, provocative and short.
The anger against retailers who foster the “pornification of culture” was growing, said Melinda Tankard Reist, co-founder of campaign group Collective Shout. “There really is a global backlash about forcing children to grow up too fast and telling little girls they have to be thin, hot and sexy to be acceptable,” she said. Read more here.
The grief of seeing a crossroad and always taking the wrong turning.
That is how I remember prostitution – that is how it is remembered through self-loathing and inability to see all choice was stolen from me, was stolen from all my prostituted Sisters.
It is easier to blame yourself for taking too many wrong turning – than to know a reality of mental and physical manipulation, of being trapped into hell in degrees.
How can the truth be seen and known, when it so gradual?
The trap is make the prostitute feel it is her choice to have more and more sadist acts done to her.
Make her feel it the only way to get decent money; tell her she more adventurous than other women; say she is special so punters ask for her; say it just a one-off; say it is a punishment and won’t happen again.
It is a drip-feed of making the prostitute lose feeling, driving her into at first shocked numbness leading into violence so routine she is dead but somehow alive.
I know that deadness, I still carry it as I remember, I still carry it into all my words on what prostituted meant to me.
I know what it was to be dead, but having to continue.
Deadness is the only to deal with living inside routine rapes – heck, rapes is too banal for what the average prostitute goes through.
There is a limited and inadequate for being raped thousands of times. How does language framed that?
How does language give back the body which had no safe place from sexual invasion?
Prostituted women and women are nuked into being sexual goods, for then they can survive by not feeling, not remembering they are human.
To be a prostitute, is to be goods, that is the simple truth.
Punters buy prostitutes as they would choose instant coffee in a supermarket. In the end all instant coffee is the same, but the label makes the buyer say there is a difference.
It is the same as punter choose between street prostitute or an escort, between getting the prostitute on the net or going to a brothel – in the end all whores are the same to the punters.
All whores are there for him to do whatever sexual porn fantasy he wants – the only difference like his instant coffee is how much cash he will put out to destroy her.
There is no passion, no connection and certainly no idea of having mutual sex, when a punter makes the choice to consume a prostitute.
It is all about his “needs”, his greed, his hate of the prostitute, his desire to have control, his need to own another human, and his ability to be violent without consequences.
If anyone has made the wrong turning – it is every single man in the world who make the choice to consume prostitutes for any reason.
There is no reason that is good enough for buying a prostitute – every punter can walk away from making that choice.
But instead of seeing the punter, all the blame is placed onto the prostitute for her wrong choices and making the wrong turns in the road.
All prostitutes are made to blamed for their own rapes, their own tortures and their own murders.
Even the few who are lucky enough to have limited violence – are made to know that sexual violence is just their norm, it is the risk of their lifestyle.
Ever since prostitution has existed, it has been decided that it is impossible to rape a prostitution, it is decided that you cannot torture a prostitute for it just extras or kinky sex – it is decided that no-crime to murder a prostitute.
This is embedded in all aspects of prostitution – prostitutes are made nothing but throwaway goods.
We are given no rights to feel or know the violence that is our know – we have all language of rights, all language of saying you can’t do that to us, all language of self-dignity stolen from us.
The prostituted are made speechless – and then we are told it must be our choice for we never complain or speak out.
But look into the silence – and see it is rage of the tortured.
IT WAS International Women’s Day last Friday. We were supposed to celebrate but I struggled to get into party mood.
The 101st anniversary of the global event acknowledged the economic, political and social achievements of women. But the relentless onslaught of harms and injuries to women and girls continues and I wonder, has anything really changed?
Violence against women is a scourge on the planet. Millions of women and girls trafficked into sexual slavery, female genital mutilation, honour killings, dowry deaths, forced marriage, female foeticide and infanticide.
According to the UN, about 200 million girls in the world today are missing. India and China are believed to eliminate more baby girls than the number of girls born in the US each year.
Women and girls are ground down in so many parts of the world. They are at risk of violence at every stage of their lives: from conception to old age. That was vividly illustrated for me during a visit to a shelter for women and girls in Hyderabad, India. On the bottom level were the abandoned baby girls, many with broken limbs from being thrown on to garbage heaps. On the second were the abandoned pregnant girls and women. And on top were the discarded widows.
Every day some new atrocity against women and girls is reported. A 15-year-old girl in the Maldives was sentenced to 100 lashes. Why? Because she had pre-marital sex. Actually she was raped by her stepfather, who killed the resulting baby.
And of course the death by gang rape of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi. Rape is the fastest-growing crime in India. Delhi’s police commissioner compared women being raped to men being pickpocketed.
The conviction rate for rapes in India in 2011 was just 26.4 per cent. That seems bad, doesn’t it? Compare it with 5.7 per cent of convictions in England and Wales. And in the US, 97 per cent of rapists will get off scot free.
Reeva Steenkamp’s death brought to light that one South African is woman killed every six hours by her partner.
In Australia, violence against women costs the taxpayer an estimated $13.6 billion. Yet the mistreatment of women is routinely used in entertainment, fashion and advertising, even treated as a laugh. At the Oscars, host Seth MacFarlane’s sang We saw your boobs, a song about all the women in the audience whose breasts he had seen on screen.
MacFarlane seemed to miss the rapes and bashings, but at least he got to see naked breasts.
Men’s T-shirts collapse rape into a punch line, with slogans like: “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” and “Relax it’s just sex”, depicting the bound body of a naked woman spattered in blood, sold in youth surf stores. Online retailer Amazon had shirts printed with “Keep calm and rape a lot”. Another in the same line says, “Keep calm and hit her”.
Zoo magazine, read by 28,000 boys aged 14-17 a month, features two halves of a woman and invites readers to describe what they’d like to do to the disembodied half they prefer. Zoo is sold in supermarkets.
Facebook promotes violence against women: “Cleaning foundation off your sword after a hard day of hunting sluts, Dragging sluts into your room unconscious in a sack, You know she’s playing hard to get when she takes out a restraining order, I like my women how I like my Scotch, 10 years old and locked in my basement” are some examples.
“Rape is such a strong word, I prefer struggle snuggle” was shared widely through social media not long ago.
Sexual assault worker Alison Grundy says: “If we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualised and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse.”
But there are signs of hope. Women and girls are pushing back and demanding change. We saw it in the streets of India. We saw it in the response to the shooting in Pakistan of Malala Yuousafzai, who was shot because she wanted to go to school.
One Billion Rising (representing the number of female victims of violence) events have been held around the world. In Melbourne last month survivors of sexual assault launched a new book of their stories “We will not go quietly”, speaking out against sexual violence.
International Women’s Day should be an opportunity not to shy away from the difficult ugly truths, or be overwhelmed and depressed, but to name and shame them, harness our anger and be part of the solution.
Oscar-nominated actor produces violent pornography documentary
Today marks the national premiere of the much- anticipated Disney film Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco. James Franco’s past film credits include his Oscar-nominated role in 127 Hours, Tristan and Isolde and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, among others.
Now Franco can add a new credit to his name- pornographer.
James Franco is the producer of pornographic documentary Kink, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The title Kink refers to a BDSM porn website, where extreme violence against women and torture are the norm. Common acts include non-simulated actual footage of rope, metal and wood bondage, underwater suffocation torture, electric shocks, sex with machinery, gang rape, slave training and public humiliation.
Promotional material for the website:
“In our videos you will watch as some of the best riggers in the business bind, torture and f*ck gorgeous women”
“paddled, caned and flogged until their bodies are marked and red”
“Pushing the very limits of their endurance and pain tolerance”
”The women, like others who enter porn, are young and often don’t know the full extent of what will happen on the set, and cannot anticipate the lasting psychological and emotional effects. The ultimate lie of Kink is that it claims to do candid interviews with the women at the end of the scene so they can show how much they enjoyed the “sex.” This is like asking sweatshop laborers to talk about how happy they are to be working for some multinational corporation as the CEO films the interview.” Read more here.
Porn star Aurora Snow shared her traumatic experience making a Kink film.
“They are a company that looks for the moment when a girl has been mentally and at times physically pushed too far; the borderline of tears and pain. Sometimes talent leaves with giant bruises that take weeks to disappear.”
“The scenes will push a girl over the edge. It’s standard practice on set to take breaks in between filming and during these breaks the talent is fawned, told how amazing they are, catered to, etc. It makes for a very confusing experience when trying to evaluate one’s own feelings about what’s really happening.”
See images of a bruised woman taken after a Kink shoot here. (WARNING, GRAPHIC.)
Why is James Franco using his public platform to promote the extreme violence and actual torture of women? Franco’s “feel-good” documentary normalizes and brings violent pornography to the mainstream.
You can decide whether or not you will give financial support to James Franco’s films.
CALL TO ACTION
Boycott James Franco films
Contact James Franco’s Agent, Kami Putnam Heist from Creative Artists Agency firstname.lastname@example.org ATT: Kami Putnam Heist
Tweet James Franco and Walt Disney Pictures @JamesFrancoTV @DisneyPictures using the hashtag #boycottfranco
ON Bookworld’s website, you can find My first cupcake decorating book, Children’s book of art and Children’s book of mythical beasts. But until recently, other beasts lurked among the titles hosted by the online book seller, the rebranded version of Borders.
Hundreds of titles appeared under the heading, Incest, titles far too explicit, not to mention disturbing, to be mentioned here.
Incest is a criminal act of abuse against children. About one-in-four is a victim of child sexual abuse. Yet companies are profiting from selling incest-themed fiction, supporting the views of abusers or potential abusers that it is acceptable to have sex with (i.e. rape) children.
Bookworld says it is working on solutions to monitor content more closely.
‘‘We agree with you that these titles should not be on sale and are very grateful that we have been made aware of them so that we can remove them from the site and ensure none like them will be available on Bookworld in the future,’’ said Bookworld’s Kim Noble.
While their prompt response is welcome, didn’t one staffer notice the titles and ask questions? And while Bookworld says it didn’t market the titles, surely carrying them at all achieves the same thing?
Why no audit checks of the data feeds they were channeling through their site? Why effectively traffick contraband materials without checking they weren’t breaching Australian laws?
It is just the latest example of the mainstreaming of child sexual assault material.
The Federal Government has established a royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. There are various other state and internal inquiries. Rightly so. The issue is a blight on our nation and everything must be done to stop it. But while millions are spent on these inquiries, we live in a culture which sends messages that child abuse is sexy. There’s no inquiry into the permission-giving drivers which encourage and enable the sexual abuse of children.
Like teen-themed sex toys which eroticised sex with girls advertised through Condom Kingdom; or a Melbourne sex store advertising a ‘‘back to school’’ sale complete with school uniforms, blackboards and apples for the teacher.
Amazon also lists incest titles. Last year, a global campaign forced a recall of A paedophile’s guide to love and pleasure.
Then there’s porn in the corner store. Pictures include one of a girl (allegedly over 18 but posed as a child, which is illegal) on a bed in bobby sox and pigtails, holding a hand puppet.
For years, child development advocates have called for action, sending multiple copies of illegal titles to the Classification Board. Board chief Donald McDonald has written hundreds of ‘‘please explain’’ letters to porn distributors but none bother replying. The board’s annual reports bear that out, documenting ‘‘no reply received’’.
The system is broken. Jeff Sparrow’s new book, Money Shot, reveals the contempt porn profiteers have for the system. Those in the industry say the risks of getting caught aren’t that great. Sparrow writes: ‘‘The adult industry of Australia was almost entirely outside the legal system . . . the remote possibility of a fine was like the spectre of shoplifting, an annoyance that just went with the trade.’’
Why haven’t state and federal attorneys-general, who are responsible for classifications, done anything to intervene?
Melbourne author Jayneen Saunders wrote Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept about helping children stay safe from child sexual abuse, but she has struggled to get a publisher and has been prevented from reading from the book at public places such as libraries, because of the nature of the content.
Yet, mainstream companies can profit from trading in products encouraging child sexual assault.
All these permission-giving examples undermine child protection. The idea it is acceptable to fantasise about children is given the tick by those who profit from trading in such fantasies.
If we are serious about addressing child sexual assault, when are governments going to address the culture which fuels and feeds it?
Despite the fact the system is stuffed, the Australian Law Reform Commission has endorsed selfregulation.
There are endless complaints about all the above and more, but the system doesn’t change.
I’ll vote for whoever decides to take this seriously.
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.