My friend and fellow Collective Shout activist Talitha Stone has launched this petition calling on Twitter to add a report abuse button to tweets. Please support this brave and gutsy young woman.
In June this year, I was subjected to an horrific torrent of abusive tweets from fans of rapper Tyler Okonma on twitter when I challenged his lyrics which encourage rape and violence towards women. The abuse was unbelievable. It included direct threats of rape, and at one point, twitter users tried to publish my address. Worse, I was told by police there was no way to stop it other than deleting my account: letting the abusers win.
Nothing has changed. Recently, Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned to keep women on banknotes in the United Kingdom, has been targeted repeatedly, with rape threats over three days because of her campaign. We have to be able to change this – and urgently.
Women should be able to speak out without facing threats of rape and assault.
I’m asking for your help to get Twitter to urgently add a Report Abuse Button to tweets on all platforms. It won’t fix everything – but it’s a good start. We know they’re listening – but they need to move quickly – this is out of control.
At Tyler’s concert, he told his fans he hoped my children got STDs, and “dedicated” songs to me that included lyrics like “punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin’ shit” – the people who responded to his call to arms are still free to do to everyone else on twitter what they did to me.
It’s time Twitter took a zero tolerance policy on abuse, and learns to tell the difference between abuse and defence. Women standing up to abuse should not fear having their accounts cancelled because Twitter fail to see the issue at hand. This behaviour would have people banned from other public spaces – it’s barely acknowledged as being wrong on twitter.
Please sign my petition to ask Twitter to urgently add a Report Abuse Button to tweets on all platforms.
Statement from twitter:
We hear you
Monday, July 29, 2013
At Twitter, we work every day to create products that can reach every person on the planet. To do that, we must take a wide range of use cases into consideration when designing interfaces or developing user tools. We want Twitter to work whether you are trying to follow your favourite musician, talk to others about shared interests, or raise the visibility of a human rights issue.
We also have to think about scale and volume. We see an incredible amount of activity passing through our systems – there are more than 400 million Tweets sent every day worldwide. Those Tweets not only appear on our site and in our apps, but are also embedded into the fabric of traditional and digital media.
The vast majority of these use cases are positive. That said, we are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others.
While manually reviewing every Tweet is not possible due to Twitter’s global reach and level of activity, we use both automated and manual systems to evaluate reports of users potentially violating our Twitter Rules. These rules explicitly bar direct, specific threats of violence against others and use of our service for unlawful purposes, for which users may be suspended when reported.
To the extent that our system is based around the filing of reports with our Trust & Safety team, we strive to make it easier and more practical to file them. Three weeks ago, we rolled out the ability to file reports from an individual Tweet on our iPhone app and the mobile version of our site, and we plan to bring this functionality to Android and desktop web users.
We are constantly talking with our users, advocacy groups, and government officials to see how we can improve Twitter, and will continue to do so. Such feedback has always played an important role in the development of our service. We hope the public understands the balances we’re trying to strike as we continue to work to make our systems and processes better.
Prostituted women are the ones at the coalface of the misogyny and pornography-fuelled attitudes
Commentators this week have been falling over themselves to decry the ‘hypocritical’ public quiet over the murder of St Kilda prostituted woman ‘Tracy’, compared to the attention Jill Meagher’s death attracted last year. Wendy Squires wrote that, even though ‘Jill and Tracy are one and the same – women in the wrong place at the wrong time’, it’s outrageous that last week’s ‘dead woman isn’t headline news’. Squires believes it ‘ironic’ that Jill Meagher’s husband attracted media attention last week, while Tracy’s murder raised barely a headline. In fact, Squires ‘could have been Tracy’, just as she ‘could have been Jill Meagher’, so she wonders why the murder of women in prostitution is treated so differently from the murder of middle class, educated women with supportive friends and family.
While it is true murdered prostituted women don’t receive the same attention, do any of us really believe that either Jill or Wendy could have been Tracy? The crime committed against Jill was unforgivable, but do we really think she has anything in common with Tracy? Going on what we know about the population demographics of women in prostitution, Tracy was most likely abused as a child, homeless from an early age, preyed upon in her teenage years by pimps posing as boyfriends, and subject to a range of alcohol and drug addictions over the years of her sexual exploitation. She would also likely have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, possibly exposing her to the risk of mental illness. While Jill and Wendy might have faced hardships in their lives, we can speculate these hardships were never aggravated by the experience of being traded for prostitution. Unlike Wendy or Jill, being a prostituted woman means you are always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Prostitution is precisely the variable that sets Tracy apart from Wendy and Jill. Women in prostitution are at risk of murder and serious injury at a rate many times higher than even people working in bottle shops. The experience of being pimped and prostituted makes it almost inevitable they must shut down their minds with drugs or alcohol, or risk acquiring a mental illness. They are the ones at the coalface of the misogyny and pornography-fuelled attitudes circulating in our society. The physical expression of male rage is channelled their way in the form of brutal sex acts, verbal abuse, and practices of humiliation and degradation. They must withstand all of this with a smile, or risk non-payment or a beating from the customer or their pimp.
We do women like Tracy no favours when we pretend she is ‘just like us’, and express outrage that her murder doesn’t get the same attention as ours would. While we allow a vulnerable population of women and girls (and some young men) to languish in the sex industry while we happily take up opportunities of education and economic privilege, we cannot decry ‘hypocrisy’ and engage in after-the-fact hand-wringing over media bias. We need to recognise the fundamentally different health and wellbeing outcomes that prostitution imposes on its victims, and work to develop ‘exit programs’ to assist people out of the sex industry. We need to recognise the human rights harms that men who patronise the sex industry are causing, and develop policies and education campaigns to reduce their demand for prostitution.
Let’s be angry and upset at the absence of public outcry—but not just now a woman in prostitution has been murdered. We might feel the same outrage every time we drive past a brothel, or see advertisements for ‘escort’ services in our local paper. We might become upset at the state government bureaucrats who continue to collect money from pimps who legally trade people for prostitution in Victoria. Or our anger might be directed toward a federal government that fails to declare prostitution a gendered human rights violation like its counterparts in Sweden, South Korea, Norway and Iceland. Our tears might flow every time we hear a sex industry-apologist in the media calling prostitution a ‘job’ for women with no other choices.
In reality, Tracy could not have been Wendy or Jill, but she could have been any other woman in prostitution. All people in prostitution—whether in brothels, ‘escort’ agencies or on the street—risk the same unacceptable fate as Tracy. Those of us who downplay or deny the risks of prostitution seal this fate for generations of abused people who will be preyed upon by the pimps and traffickers of the sex industry. We must take policy and educative action now to dismantle legalised prostitution in Victoria and create a safe society for even our most vulnerable of fellow citizens.
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, and researches prostitution and trafficking policy in Australia, South Korea and Japan.
See also: ‘Why virginity is a best seller: how the sex industry profits from an Asian girl’s ‘first time’, http://www.pac.nsw.edu.au/contact-details/ MTR blog, November 14, 2011
A 15-year-old boy confided in me after I addressed his class at a Sydney school last year. He cried as he told me he had been using porn since the age of nine. He didn’t have a social life, had few friends, had never had a girlfriend. His life revolved around online porn. He wanted to stop, he said, but didn’t know how.
I have had similar conversations with other boys since then.
Girls also share their experiences. Of boys pressuring them to provide porn-inspired acts. Of being expected to put up with things they don’t enjoy. Of seeing sex in terms of performance. Girls as young as 12 show me the text messages they routinely receive requesting naked images.
Pornography is invading the lives of young people – 70 per cent of boys and 53.5 per cent of girls have seen porn by age 12, 100 per cent of boys and 97 per cent of girls by age 16, according to a study behind the book The Sex Lives of Australian Teenagers, by Joan Sauers.
This is an unprecedented experiment on the sexual development of young people. The Australian Medical Association says there is a strong relationship between exposure to sexually explicit material and sexual behaviour that predisposes to adverse sexual and mental health outcomes.cent of girls have seen porn by age 12, 100 per cent of boys and 97 per cent of girls by age 16, according to a study behind the book The Sex Lives of Australian Teenagers, by Joan Sauers.
The 2012 report of Britain’s Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection found that exposure to porn had a negative impact on children’s attitudes to sex, relationships and body image. Cross-country studies link teens’ frequent consumption of porn with acceptance of sexual harassment and forcing someone into sex.
The globalisation of pornographic imagery has led to destructive ideas about sex. This is canvassed in the documentary Love and Sex in an Age of Pornography, which screened on SBS Two on Friday night and will be repeated on August 15 on SBS One). Co-directed by Maree Crabbe and David Corlett, the film draws on interviews with 75 young people.
It shows how healthy sexual exploration is distorted in a pornified world. The importance of consent and respect has become clouded. Boys are imitating what they see online and find that girls don’t always groan with pleasure at porn-styled sexual pounding.
According to a 2010 content analysis of the most popular porn, 88 per cent of scenes included acts of physical aggression and 48 per cent of scenes contained verbal aggression. In 94 per cent of cases, the aggression was directed towards women who were often shown enjoying it.
Jake, 18, says of his first sexual experience at 15: ”First time I had sex, because I’d watched so much porn, I thought all chicks dig this, all chicks want this done to them … all chicks love it there. So I tried all this stuff and, yeah, it turned out bad …
”When a guy watches porn: ‘that’s hot, I want to try that. You, do this, this and this,’ you know what I mean? And they will just keep pressuring and pressuring. I’ve got mates who do it. They will tell you, ‘Yeah, she didn’t want to at first but I just kept hounding her and hounding her and finally she let me …”’
The level of disempowerment in the girls is disheartening. Disconnected from their own sense of pleasure and intimacy, they often pretend to like certain acts to keep a boy happy. Often he doesn’t even ask permission.
Sara, 20, says, ”Girls, they love it in porn, so maybe boys think that girls like that and, you know, when you love someone, you know, you’re always willing to just … make them happy. [if] I’m in love, then I’ll do it for you and I’ll pretend that I like it … And in the end … I just became an object … ”
Porn has also contributed to body-image dissatisfaction. Boys think they need bigger penises. Girls have their pubic hair removed because boys who regularly consume porn think it’s disgusting. Sara says: ”[Porn stars] are really pretty … like they’ve got gigantic breasts and … perfectly moulded vaginas … my body does not look like that.”
Co-director Crabbe says what was most striking to her in making the film was the pressure porn put on young people.
”Young people are receiving very unhelpful messages about what it means to be a man, or a woman, and about sexuality,” she says. ”It’s selling sexuality short. Where do young people find mutually consenting, pleasurable experiences of sexuality in a culture in which the porn industry has such a powerful voice?”
One sign of hope is the young people who want just that. They have a desire for something better than what porn offers, a quest for authentic intimacy and love. As Joel says: ”It is all about being close to that person and showing them how much you love them.”
Sometimes I wonder if one girl’s mag gets wind of what another is up to and copies it. In this case it’s a good thing, with Dolly also running a feature on binge drinking. I commended Girlfriend for a strong piece on “liquid poison” also this month. What is less understandable is why it Dolly has assigned the piece to the ‘Sealed Section’. I see no rationale for this. (Girlfriend did the same thing awhile back with a special feature on mental illness which I questioned here ). Let’s face it, the sealed section is pretty useless anyway (a simple tear reveals the contents). But what is being implied here? Why doesn’t the piece belong in the body of the magazine with the rest of the ‘open content’?
The piece opens with the story of ‘Jen’, 16, who lost control after consuming vodka at a party and regretted her behaviour. Research shows 40% of girls 14-19 drink at levels which put them at risk of alcohol-related harm, those aged 15-24 account for 52% all alcohol related serious injuries and one in two 15-17 will regret something they did when drunk. “Binge drinking’s not only bad for your health, but it can seriously impact your wellbeing and relationships”, says Dolly. More than two standard drinks is enough to start physical damage to organs. Professor Gordian Fulde, Director of the Emergency Department, Sydney Hospital, says: “Usually the teenage girl who comes in will be vomiting and dehydrated so we’ll have to hook them up to a drip for fluid transfusions…Sometimes we’ll have unconscious patients who’ve fallen when intoxicated. We’ll cut their clothes off to do full body checks so we don’t miss a life-threatening injury…It’s often very distressing once they’ve sobered up and can’t remember what happened.” Long term effects are listed: alcohol dependence, physical health problems, mental health problems and unsafe situations e.g unprotected or unwanted sex. Girls are given tips for resisting peer pressure – say you’ve already had one, don’t feel pressured to give in – “true friends respect your decisions – swap the alcohol for your drink of choice, find other ways to beat party nerves. Support is offered through Reach Out.com.au and Alcohol & Drug Information Service (1800422599).
Two more important contributions this issue. ‘Relationships that hurt’ helps girls recognise dangerous and harmful relationships with boys who are jealous and controlling. Studies show teen girls are at greatest risk of entering abusive relationships – more than any women in other age groups. Many don’t recognise possessive behaviour as a red flag. “Jealousy is not the sign of love that girls often think it is,” says Carmen Garrett a social worker at Headspace. “When it leads to a boy trying to control your life- who you speak to, where you go – that’s serious.”
Megan at first thought the constant surveillance of her boyfriend was “proof he loved me”. She became withdrawn, her social life suffered, she lost her friends, and quit sport because her boyfriend hated her playing with boys on the team. Ella’s boyfriend, who she had kept secret for a year, started pressuring her for sex. “I wasn’t ready. But he kept threatening to tell my parents we’d done all this sexual stuff, even if we hadn’t,” she says. She gave in to the pressure out of fear and because she didn’t want to lose him. Melissa was pressured by her boyfriend to lose weight, telling her she was “too fat” and he would find someone else. “All I could think about was losing weight to make him like me again,” she says. Read more
‘Help out by staying in, demonstrates a lack of understanding of some of the fundamental issues relating to family violence, and men’s violence against women’
Danny Blay is Executive Officer at the ‘No To Violence Male Family Violence Prevention Association (NTV) Inc’ Incorporating the Men’s Referral Service in Melbourne, Victoria.
I’m impressed with Danny’s work to address violence against women. If we had more men like him we might get somewhere. I published a piece he wrote for me ‘Men: It’s Time to Change’ here in December 2011 (a while ago but still sadly so relevant).
Danny and his organisation have bravely questioned the rationale behind the White Ribbon Foundation’s latest fundraising campaign. Below their recent press release in full. White Ribbon has responded here).
The latest White Ribbon Foundation fundraising campaign, Help out by staying in, demonstrates a lack of understanding of some of the fundamental issues relating to family violence, and men’s violence against women.
While we fully support the Foundation’s intent in preventing men’s violence against women, and the need to have a sustainable funding basis to conduct this work, we are significantly concerned with this campaign on two levels.
Devaluing women and women’s efforts
First, in a recent email the Foundation positioned the event as raising funds for “Australia’s Campaign to stop men’s violence against women.” This wording positions the Foundation’s work as the campaign in Australia attempting to prevent men’s violence against women. The statement dismisses, and makes invisible, the many existing campaigns by a range of community-based agencies, involving both women and men, to prevent men’s violence against women. It privileges the Foundation’s campaign above all others, thereby devaluing other efforts, particularly those of women who continue to do the bulk of the work in responding to and preventing violence.
NTV assumes this isn’t intentional. However, the effect is to reproduce the devaluing of women and women’s efforts, and processes that make women invisible, through the way in which this fundraising event is framed. The use of entitlement and privilege to dismiss and render invisible women’s voices and efforts is at the heart of men’s violence against women.
Links to the alcohol industry
Second, we are dismayed that the event is associated with the alcohol industry. While alcohol is not a cause of men’s violence against women, there is substantial and conclusive research that it can intensify the severity of violence that women and children experience. There is also considerable clinical evidence that alcohol abuse can make it more difficult for men to do the work necessary to change their behaviour through a men’s behaviour change program. Given the strong association between alcohol and violence, obtaining the support of the alcohol industry is as analogous to as a fast food corporation sponsoring a fun run.
Belittling the issues
Furthermore, while the intent is to provide activities while men spend the night in, the association with alcohol retail outlets will implicitly, and directly, link the night with alcohol consumption. This belittles the issues, and can be seen as encouraging men to ‘crack open a can’ while raising funds for the Foundation.
The email distributed to promote this event provides online links to major alcohol retail outlets, thereby promoting the consumption of alcohol.
We also question the invitation to men to have a ‘movie marathon’ without recommendations about ensuring selected movies are appropriate within the context of preventing violence against women.
Numerous studies have shown an overt prevalence of the objectification and sexualisation of women in the film industry, and sexist references that are in the name of entertainment or humour. We would be most concerned that such movies would be watched in the context of raising money for the Foundation, or, worse, that some men use the opportunity to make fun of the campaign.
Understanding men’s violence against women
We understand the need for a social marketing approach that involves social media, ‘real-life’ opportunities for men to gather, and symbols and analogies that help men to start identifying with the issues. However, the framing of the event, and its connection with the alcohol industry, demonstrates that the Foundation is not achieving an appropriate balance between marketability/accessibility and a sufficient understanding of men’s violence against women.
For the Foundation’s credibility in the violence against women and family violence sectors, we’d strongly encourage steps towards increasing this understanding. We wonder, for example, what processes the Foundation uses to test fundraising and marketing concepts with family violence professionals as part of striving for the above-mentioned balance.
Reflect on the issues
We strongly encourage Foundation staff and Board members to read the Superman? Really? article, to encourage reflection on how violence against women campaigns, conducted by men’s organisations, can inadvertently reproduce patriarchy and reduce the space available for the voices of women and women’s organisations who conduct this work.
This latest event demonstrates that despite obvious goodwill and positive intent, the Foundation does not yet have a sufficient understanding of the issues that underpin men’s violence against women, and is at continuing risk of reproducing the conditions that feed this massive social problem.
The Foundation’s email promoting the campaign is reproduced below.
For questions or further comments, contact NTV Policy and Practice Coordinator, Rodney Vlais.
Alert White Ribbon to your concerns about this fundraising campaign:
Kirsty Jagger is the White Ribbon National
Communications and Marketing Officer
phone: 02 9045 8419
mobile: 0406 757 568.
See also: ‘An Open Letter to White Ribbon Ambassadors’, MTR blog.
‘AFL supports White Ribbon Day while ignoring Buddy Franklin degrading porn tees and company’s jokes about raping women’. MTR blog.
‘I hadn’t anticipated the massive backlash from the boys’
… I started to notice how much the girls at my school suffer because of the pressures associated with our gender. Many of the girls have eating disorders, some have had peers heavily pressure them into sexual acts, others suffer in emotionally abusive relationships where they are constantly told they are worthless…
What I hadn’t anticipated on setting up the feminist society was a massive backlash from the boys in my wider peer circle. They took to Twitter and started a campaign of abuse against me. I was called a “feminist bitch”, accused of “feeding [girls] bullshit”, and in a particularly racist comment was told “all this feminism bull won’t stop uncle Sanjit from marrying you when you leave school”.
Our feminist society was derided with retorts such as, “FemSoc, is that for real? #DPMO” [don't piss me off] and every attempt we made to start a serious debate was met with responses such as “feminism and rape are both ridiculously tiring”.
The more girls started to voice their opinions about gender issues, the more vitriolic the boys’ abuse became. One boy declared that “bitches should keep their bitchiness to their bitch-selves #BITCH” and another smugly quipped, “feminism doesn’t mean they don’t like the D, they just haven’t found one to satisfy them yet.” Any attempt we made to stick up for each other was aggressively shot down with “get in your lane before I par [ridicule] you too”, or belittled with remarks like “cute, they got offended”.
I fear that many boys of my age fundamentally don’t respect women. They want us around for parties, banter and most of all sex. But they don’t think of us as intellectual equals, highlighted by accusations of being hysterical and over sensitive when we attempted to discuss serious issues facing women…
We were told that our “militant vaginas” were “as dry as the Sahara desert”, girls who complained of sexual objectification in their photos were given ratings out of 10, details of the sex lives of some of the girls were posted beside their photos, and others were sent threatening messages warning them that things would soon “get personal”. Read full article here
An important article on the health impacts of alcohol
In my talks in schools around the country, I am told distressing stories of alcohol-related harm. Violence, sexual assault, damage to physical and mental health. My friend and colleague Paul Dillon, a drug educator with 25 years experience and founder of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA) hears these stories too. He’s written about this recently here.
We are concerned about the damage being done in an alcohol saturated culture and by an industry which deliberately targets young people by designing, packaging and marketing alcohol in ways attractive to them (see my Sunday Herald Sun piece on this Here.) So it is timely and a positive intervention when a magazine like Girlfriend decides it has to educate its readers on the issue.
‘Drinking this weekend? Read this first’ is a direct piece about the harms of alcohol, especially binge drinking. Describing alcohol as ‘liquid poison’ GF exposes the risks of drinking: brain damage, breast cancer, liver damage, stomach inflammation, pancreatitis, heart disease, nerve damage, weakened bones, damaged skin and death (alcohol causes 13 percent of teen deaths in Australia). Nicola Newton from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre warms that binge drinking increases risk of injury and accidents and makes you do things you’ll regret. Read more
Complete disregard for the wellbeing and safety of young girls
Last night Foxtel gave this response to our criticism of it facilitating a sexualising contest of adult beauty standards to promote Australia’s Next Top Model.
“There’s no doubt that the socially engaged fans of Australia’s Next Top Model have embraced Australia’s Next Top Selfie. The “selfie” is a global social media phenomenon that is fun and light-hearted – just like this promotion.”
This may well be the most pathetic, socially irresponsible response I have ever seen from a corporate in my many years of activism. Foxtel has shown compete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of girls. The company doesn’t give a damn that images of underage girls are likely being snagged and captured right now and forwarded to porn sites.
The response is devoid of any sense of responsibility for facilitating and enabling this.
Foxtel seems happy to exploit the bodies of underage girls to promote its modelling competition.
Here’s the story in Mumbrella today
Foxtel faces social media backlash with Australia’s #NextTopPredator hashtag
A Fox8 social media promotion for Australia’s Next Top Model urging people to take ‘selfies’ and post them on Instagram is facing a social media backlash by a group of feminist activists launching the hashtag Australia’s #NextTopPredator to counter the competition.
The activists, who include social commentator Melinda Tankard Reist, claim girls, as young as nine, are posting images of themselves in sexual poses and are instead urging people to enter the competition with positive messages.
“Research by the Internet Watch Foundation tells us that 88 per cent of self made images posted by girls online are captured sent to porn websites,” claimed Tankard Reist. They are snatched and captured and sent to what are known as parasite pornsites,” she said. “These girls have no idea that their images could be going there and here is Australia’s Next Top Model is soliciting this.”
Under the rules of the competition any Australian resident can enter the competition. Those under the age of 18 must have parental permission. To date there have been more than 50,000 entries in the competition.
As part of the competition there is also a moderated live feed of the images from the competition which is being posted to the ANTM home page.
Foxtel faces social media backlash with Australias #NextTopPredator hashtag Top model 468x492However, a search of the competition hashtag #antmselfie on Twitter and Instagram shows that among the entries from adults are images of girls who have entered the competition as as young as eight or nine dressed in swim suits and other revealing clothing.
“They’re got some rules about who can enter the competition but they’re not stopping young girls from just sending entries in and they not deleting them,” said Tankard Reist.
“The images are all over Instagram and so we decided to engage in some culture jamming in creating our own hashtag and sending out positive messages to girls.
Entries on the rival #nexttoppredator hashtag
A spokesman for Fox8 said: “There’s no doubt that the socially engaged fans of Australia’s Next Top Model have embraced Australia’s Next Top Selfie. The “selfie” is a global social media phenomenon that is fun and light-hearted – just like this promotion,” said the Fox8 spokesman.
Tankard Reist said: “The response is devoid of any sense of responsibility for facilitating and enabling this.”
Tankard Reist has shown images to Mumbrella entered for the competition featuring girls clearly only in their early teens which are not appropriate for re-publication here.
Reality TV Show soliciting sexy selfies from girls
Fox 8 reality show Australia’s Next Top Model is currently running a competition on social media looking for Australia’s ‘next top selfie’. To enter, young modeling hopefuls are required to post selfies on instagram and twitter, using hashtags #antmselfie and #fox8tv.
To date, there are over 52 000 entries around the country. This means a vast collection of publicly accessible images of teen girls ranging from innocent to more risqué.
Conditions state that entrants must be a minimum of thirteen years of age, however there are no measures in place to prevent younger children from participating. We found entries from girls as young as nine.
When girls are judged primarily on the basis of their appearance and sex appeal, the implication is that their worth lies in their physical attractiveness, and in conforming to increasingly narrow standards of beauty. This message limits women and girls and we must be vocal in rejecting it.
Sexting among adolescents is a significant public health issue with serious consequences, including the possibility of being charged with creating or receiving child pornography. Any competition that legitimizes this risky behavior is problematic.
In October, a study by Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found that 88 per cent of self-made sexual or suggestive images and videos posted online by young people do not stay within their control, but ultimately wind up on pornographic websites.
Kids Helpline recently stated, ‘In a three-month period, around 500 counselling sessions were offered to kids who called with sexting- related concerns.
We call upon Australia’s Next Top Model to exercise responsibility and immediately remove images of underage girls.
Upload your own entries to Instagram and Twitter, with positive messages like these:
Don’t forget to use the hashtags #antmselfie and #fox8tv. Take a screenshot and share it with us!
Nicole Jameson, our SA State Coordinator said it well:
“The ‘major issue’ here is underage girls being encouraged to participate in a sexualising contest of adult beauty standards, by uploading their image online. UK Research has shown that nearly 90% of images like this uploaded by children & young people are hijacked and used by ‘parasite’ porn sites. We could show you dozens of images from this ANTM competition alone of girls as young as 12, with NO security settings on their instagram accounts, including personal details such as their school along with their photo. ANTM is being completely reckless in soliciting these images without providing any safeguards. Does that sound like healthy sexual development to you?”
Collective Shout supporters are making their voices heard on social media.
Pouty self portraits have turned boy-girl relations into a cut-throat sexual rat race.
If social media only caused narcissism, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. Instagram and Facebook are social networks that not only breed narcissistic tendencies but transform relations into a sexual rat race.
On these ubiquitous portals, the popularity of girls is hotly contested over one big deal: how sexy can I appear and bring it off with everyone’s admiration?
That’s the reason we see mirror shots, pouting self-portraits of teenagers (typically female) and sexually suggestively posed girls in a mini-dress ”before a party last night”. They’re showing how much they like themselves and hoping that you’ll hit ”like” to reinforce the claim.
This isn’t just an interest in vanity but vainglory, being high up on a scale of ”likes” . There isn’t anything inherently wrong with uploading self-portraits.
Everyone likes receiving compliments and it makes us feel awesome that our own appearance can provide us with an ego boost. But what kind of photos produce an epidemic of ”likes?” Nothing with too much creativity but hip, titty and kiss. It’s the true scourge of the selfie.
Why are we girls competing to be the Queen of Pouts? Why do we scour through photos of celebrities and all our ambitious friends to find out who is the new princess of prurient poses? Even demure girls are tempted to strike sexually suggestive poses. But they must be careful, not because parents are looking but because they might not score any ”likes” and might then feel a failure, unworthy among their peers.
How confident can you appear at being lascivious? How credible is your air of lewdness? A girl who is just a try-hard will lose credibility and become an outcast. So a lot depends on how much support you can get from other girls.
Girls zealously scroll down their Instagram or Facebook feeds. In Instagram, they might cleverly hashtag the most popular tags, such as #me, #selfie, #instacute to get an influx of ”likes” while they are on the most-recently tagged photos, then delete all the tags as though nothing’s happened.
They’re manipulating their image into popularity. Girls spray their ”likes”. They comment: ”Wow, you’re a model”; ”Oh my god you babe”; ”F–k you’re hot”; ”You’re perfect”; ”Best body”. Occasionally it’s genuine and supportive but it can also be very calculating. Girls fake flattery to get higher on the food chain. In my mind a comment such as, ”Oh my god, you’re so beautiful!” really means: she has to ”like” and comment on my photo! Then behind her back: ”What the f—! She is such a slut … I heard she hooked up with heaps of guys and got really drunk at a party and in every photo she poses with her tits out and a push-up bra.”
It’s tense because it’s duplicitous. We’re faking it, so that we get to be among the most popular, get to be ”liked” by the most popular and thereby gain popularity.
Seeing some of these images can feel too intimate. It’s almost as though we’re peering through a window. Some photos may be of girls showing skin, or girls lying on a bed. Just about all are seeking some sort of approval from their friends. The aim is not to communicate joy but to score a position.
It’s a neurotic impulse, not a happy one. I’m anxious that girls are higher up on the ladder than I am: boys are looking at her, not me. I have to look like her to be worthy of boys’ attention. Boys’ tastes are not always sophisticated. The aesthetic yardstick is what they see in pornography. So girls have to conform to what boys see in pornography. And then girls post photos to ”out-hot” the other girls by porn star criteria.
Who do we blame for this moral mess? As feminists, we correctly blame patriarchy because boys are securely at the top of the status game. Boys end up with the authority. They have their cake and eat it.
From the moral high ground, they can damn a girl for visual promiscuity, yet enjoy the spectacle at the same time, both with the same misogynistic motives: I like your form but I’m able to scorn you. You’re what I want but you’re less than me. Girls try to conform to this ”ideal” stereotype in their photos and these boys sarcastically comment, ”Nice personality” – really implying that the cleavage is their only attribute. Yet they also click the ”like” button. The boy who mocks a girl showing her cleavage is in fact the same boy who craves sexual opportunities with her.
A common adult reaction to social media is to restrict things, as if that could ever be possible. You can’t force kids to be nice. The real problem isn’t something tangible like sexting or bullying, which adults focus on in patronising and unimaginative ways. The real problem relates to conformity. Kids are compelled to act the stereotype, because those who opt out commit themselves to social leprosy. Social media doesn’t need adult control. What we need is some good taste.
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
“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.