Brothel legalisation: a Top End race to the bottom
…Tollner’s proposal to brothels is particularly cynical, given the population demographics of the Territory. As LNG development proceeds in Darwin, the city will host increasingly large numbers of white, cashed-up men who are a well-worn target consumer group of the sex industry.
Only a small proportion of these men (roughly 15 per cent) are likely to seek out a woman for prostitution, but a greater proportion are vulnerable to “opportunistic” patronage facilitated through semi-prostitution venues like strip clubs, advertising and touting, and all-male group activities like visiting a brothel after a night out drinking.
The sex industry stands to commercially benefit from Tollner’s proposal to legalise brothels through capturing this segment of the market that isn’t inclined to ring one of the NT’s legal outcall agencies.
The sex industry is keen for Tollner’s amendment to be made to the NT’s Prostitution Regulation Act because it would acquire a legitimate shop-front in the Territory. According to research, legalised brothels hamper efforts to detect illegal venues, normalise and encourage public acceptance of the pimping of women for prostitution, and foster an environment that is welcoming of sex tourists for economic gain.
Legal brothels act as “hidden-in-plain-sight” housing for trafficked women, and the Queensland Government has been forced to issue guidelines for “sleeping accommodation for sex workers” to stop the practice.
The Territory is a prime destination for women trafficked from South-East Asia, and also for homeless women, particularly from Aboriginal communities. Sex industry entrepreneurs in the Territory currently run into legal trouble setting up groups of women in apartments to be housed and pimped, but legal brothels would solve this problem….Read full story
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, and member of Amnesty Australia.
Mainstreaming and normalising the abuse and exploitation of women
The Sex Factor is a new reality TV program where contestants compete for the chance to become a porn star. It will be shown exclusively online. The Sex Factor is setting to profit from the mainstreaming of pornography and legitimising it as an attractive career choice for young women. It is also normalising violence against women, given what we know porn ‘performers’ suffer in the industry.
While discussions of the harms of pornography often focus on the damage to children, to the healthy sexuality of porn consumers and the damage to women as a whole, it is important to also acknowledge the harms to those (particularly women) in the industry. While the porn industry works hard to portray pornography as a glamorous and liberating career choice, many of the female performers speak of violence, exploitation and abuse.
A common misconception about pornography is that it is just people having sex on camera. However, in mainstream pornography violence is now the norm, with men inflicting violence and abuse against women who are forced to submit to body-punishing and humiliating sex acts. A 2010 study of the fifty most popular pornographic DVD titles found that 88% of scenes included violence. Of these, 95% depicted violence against women by men.
One need look no further than the industry’s own Adult Video News website to see the best-selling pornographic films to see sexualized violence against women, misogyny, incest and pseudo-child pornography in titles like the following: (Warning, graphic)
Deep Ass f*cking with young girls Gape Me 2 Daughter Does Daddy I wanna buttf*ck your daughter 16
The plot synopsis for each of these films lists the body punishing, humiliating sex acts inflicted on women including anal sex, cumshots (men ejaculating on women’s faces), multiple penetrations and ATM (Ass To Mouth, anal sex immediately followed by fellatio). These acts are designed do maximum physical damage to the woman. The damage to the female performers is often the drawcard, with descriptive phrases such as “red, glistening anal prolapse”, “gaping buttholes”, “prolapsing rectum”, “with her ass impaled on his boner”.
One of the judges on The Sex Factor is Miriam Weeks (aka Belle Knox, the Duke Porn Star.) Despite claims of empowerment, behind-the-scenes footage shows Weeks being choked, slapped and abused during filming. You can view a slightly censored version here- Warning, distressing content.
Activist Shelley Lubben, who exited the porn industry, exposed the abuse of women in the porn industry in this secret footage taken on a porn set. You can view a slightly censored video here- Warning, distressing content.
Many women who have exited the pornography industry have opened up and shared their experiences of body punishing sex acts, brutal physical abuse and injuries so severe they required surgery.
Female Performers recount incidents of physical violence against them in pornography.
”My first movie I was treated very rough by 3 guys. They pounded on me, gagged me with their penises, and tossed me around like I was a ball! I was sore, hurting and could barely walk. My insides burned and hurt so badly. I could barely pee and to try to have a bowel movement was out of the question. I was hurting so bad from the physical abuse from these 3 male porn stars.” -Alexa Milano Read more here.
”Guys punching you in the face. You have semen from many guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.” -Jersey Jaxin Read more here.
(After being whipped and caned for 35 minutes) “I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life. I have permanent scars up and down the backs of my thighs. It was all things that I had consented to, but I didn’t know quite the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.”- Alexander Read more here.
“I was crying and crying, which was not against their shooting rules. There was a male dominant and a male videographer and a female photographer. I kept looking to her to save me.”-Princess Donna Read more here.
“I got the shit kicked out of me. I was told before the video – and they said this very proudly, mind you – that in this line most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad . . . I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the f*cking camera off’, and they kept going.”-Regan Starr Read more here.
If you are still not convinced, you can read more stories of physical abuse to female porn performers here.
Many more performers also report rampant drug use, depression, trauma and suicide attempts.
“It was torture for seven years. I was miserable, I was lonely. I eventually turned to drugs and alcohol…to numb my pain and get me through…and attempted suicide. I knew I wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out.” -Jenna Presley Read more here.
“I’m not happy… I don’t like myself at all… My whole entire body feels it when I’m doing it and… I feel so — so gross. I hung out with a lot of people in the Adult industry, everybody from contract girls to gonzo actresses. Everybody has the same problems. Everybody is on drugs. It’s an empty lifestyle trying to fill up a void.” – Belladonna Read more here.
“I became horribly addicted to heroin and crack. I overdosed at least 3 times, had tricks pull knives on me, have been beaten half to death.” -Becca Brat Read more here.
”I honestly felt that if I had to have another strange man in my face, his hands (God knows where they’ve been all over me) him calling me his baby and having to exude some sort of forged passion for the world to see, I probably would have exploded. And what would have been stuck to the walls would have probably been nothing, just pieces of skin, bone, the brain of a robot, and what would have been left of what would have existed once as a huge and warm heart.”-Ashlyn Brooke Read more here.
Others still reported catching incurable STIs.
”After only 30 movies I caught two sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes, a non-curable disease and HPV, which led to cervical cancer where I had to have half of my cervix removed. Porn destroyed my life.”- Roxy Read more here.
”As for myself, I ended up paying the price from working in the porn industry. In 2006, not even 9 months in, I caught a moderate form of dysplasia of the cervix (which is a form of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease) and later that day, I also found out I was pregnant. I had only 1 choice which was to abort the baby during my first month. It was extremely painful emotionally and physically. When it was all over, I cried my eyes out.”-Tamra Toryn Read more here.
Given the horrific, abusive and even criminal treatment of female performers, why would entry into the pornography industry be a prize? Who is really winning here?
People power forces Wicked Campers to withdraw misogynistic marketing
Wicked Campers withdraws sexist slogans from vans after 110,000-strong change.org petition; petition starter Paula Orbea says it’s a “people powered win against sexism”
The campervan company at the centre of a people-powered revolt over sexist van slogans has today issued an apology and committed to reviewing and removing sexist or misogynistic marketing from all vans in the next six months.
Paula Orbea, the Sydney school teacher who started the 110,000-strong change.org petition against Wicked Campers says it’s a stunning people-power victory against sexism, with the result coming just four days after starting the petition.
In an email from Wicked Campers received by Paula, she says they’ve offered a personal apology, have now removed the sexist slogan Paula’s daughter saw, committed to reviewing and removing insensitive slogans from all vans in the next six months. The statement reads: “Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature.”
Wicked Campers have been at the centre of numerous ad watchdog complaints and social media backlashes in the past, and Paula says that it was the change.org petition which gathered more than 110,000 sigantures that made the difference.
“I’m overjoyed at the result, and commend Wicked Campers for eventually listening to consumers that their misogynistic slogans weren’t acceptable.”
“This was a people power win. The change.org petition worked just as it intended, with more than 110,000 people signing, it was an overwhelming show of community support.”
“The kind of sexism and misogyny on those Wicked Campers vans isn’t trivial – it’s degrading to women, harmful for our children to consume, and condones a rape culture that sees one-in-three Australian women sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
“I’m pleased my daughter said something, and that we stood up against it. It’s important that we call out sexism wherever it exists – and my change.org petition enabled me to actually make a difference and win change.”
Paula is urging those offended by the vans to continue to call out examples of misogynistic and offending vans by contacting the company and posting on social media about them – and she will be monitoring the company’s progress in removing offending slogans.
Karen Skinner, Australian Director of change.org says it’s an example of the growing success womens activism is having through online petitions.
“More than ever before, women are calling out everyday sexism and fighting back through social media and change.org petitions.”
“Online tools are giving women the ability to join together and achieve change incredibly quickly, in stark contrast to the individual complaints processes.”
“Women’s rights issues are among the most popular on change.org, and women make up more than 60% of our most active users. There’s a growing community going online and winning on these once-ignored issues.”
Unanimous vote for Greens anti-Wicked Campers motion in Senate
The Senate has unanimously passed a Greens’ motion condemning the sexist, misogynistic and racist slogans that Wicked Campers have on their hire vans.
“The Senate is sending a strong message that promoting violence against women is completely unacceptable in Australian society,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens spokesperson for women, said.
“I’m pleased to hear that Wicked Campers have said they will remove the specific slogan that sparked on online petition signed by more than 120 000 people, and have committed to remove more of what they describe as “insensitive” slogans in coming months.
“I wholeheartedly congratulate and thank Paula Orbea, who started the petition after her 11-year-old daughter read the slogan which incited sexual violence against women and girls.
“Paula has shown that by calling out sexism and misogyny, we can put a stop to it, and change the culture that normalises and condones it.
“These sexist slogans promote violence against women, which is sadly a massive problem in Australia.
“One in every three Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced violence and one in every five have experienced sexual violence.
“Most often women know their attacker, with one Australian woman a week killed by her partner or ex-partner.
“Violence against women is certainly no laughing matter – it is a national emergency,” Senator Waters said.
Wicked assigns women and girls to a place of inferiority: Dr Helen Pringle
…Wicked Campers is a serial offender at the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), which has formally considered dozens of complaints against the company since 2008. What is most striking over that time is that the ASB has completely failed to counter the campaign of derision and intimidation against Australian girls and women by the company. In fact, in the last two years, Wicked Campers has simply not responded in any way to complaints lodged with the ASB, or to determinations against its conduct by the Bureau. And the Bureau is powerless in the face of the company’s contempt for it….
One of the most egregious violations by the company did not even become the subject of a complaint to the ASB. During the 2012 Queensland state election campaign, a company campervan was painted with a garish cartoon of a naked middle-aged woman, with her legs spread wide apart so as to expose her whole body to the world, and her genitals obscured by two squares, marked as 1 (her vagina) and 2 (her anus). The caption to the cartoon shouted out to its audience, “Tick the Right Box!”. The cartoon represented Anna Bligh, then Queensland premier, who had earlier criticised the company’s use of a racist slogan on a van (“Save a Whale – Harpoon a Jap!”)…
In his book The Harm in Hate Speech, Jeremy Waldron argues that a flourishing and fair society rests on the equal standing and treatment of its members – and on the recognition and assurance of that equality in society’s “signage”. The Wicked camper vans assign girls and women to a place of inferiority and frustrate the assurance of equality to which we are entitled, in public places just as in workplaces. Read full article
Thousands support Sydney mother’s petition against misogynistic Wicked Campers.
Wicked Campers are known for their campervans emblazoned with sexist and demeaning slogans.We’ve written about them before.
One of our supporters, blogger and activist Paula Orbea, decided she had had enough after her young daughter was exposed to a certain van while out with her grandparents. She wrote on her blog:
“A few days ago, I went to pick up my 11 and 7 year old daughters from a holiday stint with my parents. As we greeted each other with hugs, my 11 year old did not hesitate in telling me, with great concern, that she saw something terrible when she was in the car with my dad – a van that said all girls were sluts who want to try it just once.
“So it’s official – something I personally called out has encroached and touched my family directly.”
Paula and her daughter contacted the Advertising Standards Bureau where her young daughter made an official complaint. She wrote, “I am a little girl and I am not a slut.”
Paula recounted her frustration as she discovered a long list of complaints against Wicked Campers for similarly misogynistic and demeaning slogans and imagery. Many complaints against Wicked Campers had been upheld, but Australia’s system of industry self regulation means there is no enforcement of the ASB’s ruling, and Wicked Campers have no obligation to remove the advertising. As such, Wicked Campers are free to disregard the ASB’s ruling and do whatever they want- there are no penalties, fines or legislation in place that would prevent Wicked Campers and other advertisers from using misogyny, racism or homophobia to sell their products.
We have raised this issue before, in submissions to inquiries for advertising and outdoor advertising, calling for a complete overhaul of the current system. We have called for regulation by an independent body rather than the industry itself, as well as pre-vetting of advertisements and substantial penalties for those who continually breach standards and codes, like Wicked Campers.
Paula decided it was time to take action, so she created a petition on change.org calling on Wicked Campers to remove misogynistic and degrading slogans and imagery. Her call to action resonated with many people, with thousands signing the petition and condemning Wicked Campers for their sexist and hateful slogans. Sign Paula’s petition here.
In just two days, Paula’s campaign has sparked national media coverage. Wicked Campers has removed the option to post on their Facebook wall after being inundated with complaints from people now empowered to speak out. This is a great lesson to Wicked Campers and other media and advertisers, that demeaning women to promote products is no longer acceptable and will hurt their business. As such, Paula’s campaign is already a success, and we are thrilled to see people like Paula speaking out.
As author and activist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Did you even know Australia had a Federal Children’s Commissioner? We don’t hear that much from her – so thought we would try to get her attention and involvement on this. Let her know you want her to act by signing the petition today!
Condemn & Take Action to Stop Exploitative Universal Royalty Child Beauty Pageant from coming to Australia
Universal Royalty’s Child Beauty Pageant is coming to Melbourne, Australia, despite clear evidence from experts that the practise is detrimental to the normal and healthy development of children.
Child beauty pageants are exploitation. Little girls are made to undergo unnecessary and painful beauty treatments such as waxing, tanning and even botox. They are adorned with make up, high heels, false eyelashes, acrylic nails, flippers (false teeth) and hairpieces. They are primped and styled to look and act like mini-adults, to flirt with the judges and to be sexy and alluring.
The pageants teach girls from a very early age that their worth is based on their appearance. Research shows that reinforcing an emphasis on looks and attractiveness leads to negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. There are now over a hundred global reports on the issue of sexualisation of children. This research has shown that sexualisation is harmful to children’s cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and beliefs.
A parliamentary report recently released in Western Australia by WA’s Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People called for child beauty pageants to be scrutinised as one of several ways to tackle the sexualisation of children.
Last year France outlawed child beauty pageants for children under 16 to protect them from being prematurely sexualised. Pageant organisers face jail time and substantial fines for harming children in this way.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said: ”Direct participation and competition for a beauty prize where infants and girls are objectified and judged against sexualised ideals can have significant mental health and developmental consequences that impact detrimentally on identity, self-esteem, and body perception.”
A 2005 study in The Journal of Treatment and Prevention reported ”a significant association between childhood beauty pageant participation and increased body dissatisfaction, difficulty trusting interpersonal relationships, and greater impulsive behaviours”.
Teaching little girls to preen and to strut, to look sexy for the judges, to emphasise sexualised behaviours is totally inappropriate for children. We want better for our girls and call on Megan Mitchell, the National Children’s Commissioner, to publicly condemn and take action to stop the Universal Royalty pageant from coming to Melbourne on August 2nd 2014.
This year I’ve had the privilege of addressing a few thousand medical professionals at one-day seminars run by Health Ed around the country, most recently in Brisbane. My subject: ‘Is pornography becoming a public health issue?’ I’m finding it interesting that where it seemed only a few of us were once saying this, now there are eminent bodies coming to the same conclusion. This is encouraging – if significant medical bodies are recognising the problem, perhaps it will be taken seriously and more resources provided to address it. The British Medical Journal has just reported on a UK conference on the issue. And there’s also a piece in the Edmonton Journal by a Canadian psychologist of the harms of online pornography and the destructive impact of the sex industry.
Internet Pornography is an urgent public health issue, conference hears
…[Pamela Luna, a governing councillor of the American Public Health Association] who co-chairs the American Public Health Association’s film festival, said that girls who were being systematically recruited by the hard core pornography industry all over the world were discarded and left “mentally and emotionally wrecked,” as highlighted in one of the films, Hot Girls Wanted. She said that public health professionals should do more to prevent this happening, by using the media to exert a positive influence on young people’s behaviour, strengthen resilience, and deter young people from risky behaviours.
“We have to look at the media, we have to understand it, we have to use it in a way that’s powerful, we have to have our voices heard, we need to be advising on films, we need to be there—we can’t sit back,” she said.
Peter Donnelly, professor of public health medicine at St Andrew’s University, Scotland, said that the “very violent and denigrating” nature of much internet pornography was a deep concern. He said, “All males need to think very carefully about their use of pornography, because if there’s no market, you begin to change this. What you hear in the films and from other young men you speak to is they’re not sure what it is to be a young man these days, and they need help in expressing their masculinity in a way that feels constructive and comfortable.” Read full article.
‘Pornification of Culture a Threat’
…The commercialization of human sexuality is pervasive, and I believe the primary force driving this is online pornography, which shapes child and adolescent sexual identity and attitudes toward female and male sexual roles.
In a recent longitudinal study of American youth aged 10 to 15, 19 to 27 per cent reported exposure to X-rated material in the past 12 months. A recent review of the research observed that “consistent findings have emerged linking adolescent use of pornography that depicts violence with increased degrees of sexually aggressive behaviour” and that “research suggests that adolescents who use pornography, especially that found on the Internet, have lower degrees of social integration, increases in conduct problems, higher levels of delinquent behaviour, higher incidence of depressive symptoms and decreased emotional bonding with caregivers.”
This “pornification of culture” — the seepage of pornographic images, language, behaviours and attitudes into popular cultural forms such as advertising, music and films — is rolling through our society like a tsunami. Unless we openly acknowledge, understand and resist this disturbing trend, the issue of where, how and when men pay for sex will simply be an afterthought.
As a psychotherapist, I specialize in supporting women and men as they recover from working on the streets, in body rub parlours, brothels and as escorts. In the 12 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve found the vast majority grow up in desperation and deprivation, and become ensnared as adolescents within an exploitative machine that deepens their degradation and stigmatization. I have yet to meet anyone who truly and freely chose selling sex services as a preferred way of life.” Read full article.
Profound experiences with W.A students on my last roadtrip.
Last month I spoke 27 times in three and a half weeks in the ACT, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. I spoke on the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media and popular culture, the sexual world of the 21st century adolescent, pornography and young people, and the online life of girls to students, staff and parents at five schools, the Heads of Independent Co-Educational Schools conference, women’s events, a medical conference of 1000 medical professionals and at tour’s end a quick trip to the country to address the Upper Gwydir Landcare Association! (Was great to be out in the bush again, farmer’s daughter as I am).
There were many highlights – the privilege of delivering my message to thousands of people of course, along with runs along rugged coastlines and catching up with friends and colleagues – including Co-editor of Big Porn Inc, Abigail Bray who I hadn’t seen for two years. Every time I do these long trips, I’m reminded again what an honour it is to do this work and engage with so many people, especially young people. I wonder how I got so lucky. A 14-year-old just emailed me to say how much she was impacted by the message and that now she knew the career path she wanted to follow to make a difference in the lives of other girls. And this from a Deputy Head of School in NSW: “I just wanted to say what a profound effect you have had on me today… I intend to return in term three with a renewed determination to build the voice and the rights of our girls and deliver a consistent message to the boys that the values of respect and understanding are not lost.” Messages like these make it all worthwhile.
Possibly the most affecting experience was with students in W.A. I was moved by how openly they shared their struggles. Girls revealing mistreatment and pressure to adopt pornified roles and behaviours. The issue of girls being threatened with blackmail to send sexual images was raised with me a number of times. At one co-ed private school, girls didn’t want to leave the session, and continued to talk through recess and even the next period, insisting they needed longer to discuss the issues concerning them. (Thank you teachers to allowing them to do so). A group of 30 Yr 12 boys chose to skip lunch to talk longer – I’ve never seen boys voluntarily choose to do this before! They disclosed some of the pressures they felt in a culture that judges them for their appearance and trains them in callous behavior early on. One boy stood and cried as he shared his experience of being bullied and said he had no friends. It was difficult to keep a grip on my emotions when another boy moved from the front row to the back to comfort him. To see that boy put his arms around the one who was in pain…something else I rarely see, given how this world knocks the empathy out of boys from their earliest days.
When addressing co-ed schools where I’m talking with the girls, then boys separately (which is my preference), I often ask female students what messages they’d like me to pass onto boys. My colleague, W.A Collective Shout co-ordinator, Caitlin Roper, recorded the following messages from the W.A girls in Yrs 9-12 to their male peers. I’m hoping these might become discussion points to kick start conversations in other schools. I found them moving, some even plaintive and sad. What emerged for me overall was that while girls are distressed by the treatment of many (not all) boys, they really wanted to have good relations with them. Many lamented that in a sexualized world, everything had come to have a sexual meaning: they feared healthy friendships with boys might be lost if something didn’t change soon. Here’s what they asked:
• If we reject your request to send a sexual image, please don’t stop talking to us.
• If we are hanging out, don’t expect it is sexual.
• If we say no, accept it, don’t try to persuade us.
• Catcalling/ yelling out of cars/street harassment is not a compliment.
• If we are angry, don’t assume we are on our period.
• Stop commenting on our appearance. Value us for something else.
• Rape jokes are never funny.
• Porn and sex are not the same.
• Feminism is not female domination.
• If we cut our hair short, it doesn’t mean we are lesbians.
• If we have a close female friend, it doesn’t mean we are lesbians.
• We don’t all have the perfect body.
• We weren’t put on the earth for your entertainment.
• Think with your head, not what’s in your pants.
• Respect us more.
• Treat us like humans.
• Stop stereotyping us.
• Be a gentleman.
• Respect our boundaries.
• Don’t call us prudes for saying ‘no’/sluts for saying ‘yes’.
• It is never the victim’s fault.
• Just because we don’t say no doesn’t mean we are saying yes.
• Girls weren’t born to be decorative objects.
• Sex before the age of consent is illegal.
• Don’t make sexual advances based on how we are dressed- sometimes it is hot and we want to wear shorts.
• Stop making ‘kitchen’ jokes.
• We understand the boys are under pressure too.
Briefing on sexualisation, harms of porn with W.A MPs
While in the West, I was invited by the Hon Nick Goiran, W.A Legislative Council Member for South Metropolitan, to address a briefing of interested colleagues on sexualisation and the harms of pornography, and what they as legislators could do about the issue. Also with me were Collective Shout’s W.A coordinator Caitlin Roper and Victorian board member Coralie Pittman. I asked the reason for the hold up in the release of the W.A Children Commissioner’s report into the sexualisation of children, completed 18 months earlier. A week after my visit, it was finally released and tabled. (we are still analyzing the document and will report soon).
In a speech to parliament, Hon Nick Goiran said:
“I feel confident in speaking on behalf of all those who attended to say that we were all impacted by what we were told…We have to recognize that none of us has done enough in this space, and I feel somewhat energized by the briefing today to redouble our efforts. I hope that members who attended this briefing will join in this effort because if we cannot get things right in respect of the children of this state, frankly, I suggest that we should all pack up and go home. There is no more vulnerable group in our society than our children, and they are being continually bombarded with this imagery, which so much research has confirmed is harmful to them. I cannot think of an issue more important.”
Inscribing Violence: murder and sexual abuse so banal it’s art
WARNING. Graphic image/content
The end of this week has left me reeling. How to even describe the latest violence against women horror exhibits? How to name the casual everyday way these mementos from the frontline of the war on women have become normalised in our culture?
First, the tattoo (slightly censored below). This atrocity is the production of local Brisbane tattoo artist Ryan Parsons, who works at Black Throne Tattoo. To design this image of a woman bound, naked, dumped in a wheelie bin for birds to feast on and then to inscribe the violence permanently into a human body – how do you actually do that? And then to laugh about it, to abuse your critics and to claim you care for women because you have a girlfriend and a daughter….like that then absolves you?
The murder and sexual assault of women is so banal it’s to be treated as body decoration now.
So proud was Parsons of his design, he thought it deserved a wider audience. He uploaded a photo of the tattoo to Instagram with the hash-tagged ‘fuck women’s rights’ and ‘bash women’.
Instantly criticised on social media, he responded:
Sheena who blogs at ‘She The Warrior’ received this reply to her complaint:
Black Throne Tattoo in no way supports Misogyny or violence of any kind.
The posts put up by Ryan were his own doing on his own social media.
Parsons removed the image, but was hardly contrite. He claimed the image was taken down after a complaint by a ‘homo’ and then uploaded this ‘community service’ announcement (which makes no sense, unless by ‘homo’ he means another lesbian, unless gay men have particular uses for vagisil that I don’t know about).
And here’s Parson’s ‘apology’ on Tuesday July 1. Note it did not appear on his business page or on Black Throne’s website or social media pages. Given that Black Throne claim not to support what he did and asked him to remove the image, surely a more visible apology is warranted?
I am not sure we should take Parson’s word for it on the origins of the tattoo being the design of a woman abused in same-sex relationships. The woman is apparently a lesbian. Parson’s condemns one of the complainants who pressured him remove it as a ‘homo’, which seems odd given his same-sex client. Then above he describes the image as a ‘hooker in a wheelie bin’. So, the alleged client requested an image of a dead hooker whose genitals are fed on by birds to be tattooed on her body. I’m not saying it’s not possible that a woman could make such a request (and even if she did, it is ethical to do whatever a paying customer requests, especially when the artists claims to be against violence against women?). I would just like to see some evidence
I emailed Parsons early yesterday afternoon and asked to be put in touch with his client, to ask her some questions about why she got the tattoo, where it appeared on her body, the comments she may have received for it, and if she had any regrets (I said I would protect her identity, which I would). No reply so far.
Evidence that Parson’s has encouraged more violent attitudes against women is not hard to find. Note the comment of ell_madness in response to another Parson image posted after the apology: #needsmoredeadhookers.
(Images courtesy: She The Warrior)
Decapitated female bodies: for your golfing pleasure
Of course ‘art’ isn’t the only beneficiary of rampant and endemic women hatred.
Have a look at this latest golf accessory from Dunlop. The ball becomes the ‘head’ which you can smash off during a great day out with your golfing buds.
The golf accessory manufactured to resemble naked, armless and decapitated female bodies.
The “Nudie Tee” (get it – nudity – hilarious yes?) is the golfing tee for the male golfer with a great sense of humour, on sale for a song just 2.99 pounds from Amazon and Ebay (shame on those companies too from profiting from violence against women).
Anti violence against women worker and advisor to the UK Government Joanne Sharpen has launched a Change.org petition. Please add your name now.
Dunlop are currently selling a golf tee in the shape of a decapitated naked woman’s body.
I work in the violence against women and girls sector and I am so frustrated about these sorts of products as they help to produce a context and a society that normalises abuse of women. I work with victims of abuse and this really can have a huge impact.
In the UK two women a week are murdered by current or former partners andone in four women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes. The mainstreaming of women as sexual objects in popular culture contributes to creating a conducive context in which violence against women and girls (VAWG) is normalised and accepted.
The Sexualisation of Young People Review found there is ‘a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm’. The devaluing of women in the way they are represented in society is an important factor perpetuating VAWG. ‘Turning to mainstream media, experimental studies among young adults find that males and females exposed to sexualised or objectifying content are more accepting of rape myths, violence-supportive and adversarial beliefs.
By developing this awful product featuring decapitated naked women’s bodies, Dunlop are helping to perpetuate violence against women and girls. Of the two women a week murdered in the UK this year, two were decapitated. Every time a golfer hits a ball from one of these tees, they are effectively condoning abuse and making a mockery of the women who are assaulted on a daily basis as well as those who do not survive.
‘It is likely much easier to harm a women when she is perceived as more animalistic and less human’
The UN Commission on the Status of Women Expert panel made the following relevant recommendation:
Strengthen regulatory frameworks with regard to media, advertising imagery, texts, games and other popular culture mediums which portray women or girls in a discriminatory, degrading or stereotypical way.
We cannot understand the reasoning behind this product and call on Dunlop Sport to recognise the devastating impact of such items, to remove the product from sale immediately and to donate profits from this awful item to a domestic violence charity.
Another take-no-prisoners piece from Collective Shout’s W.A director Caitlin Roper. This piece originally appeared at Everyday Victim Blaming.
If only ‘staying out of harms way’ was even possible
A few days ago I stumbled on this piece from Mercatornet: “Why taekwondo won’t save girls from date rape”, with the subheading, “What they really need is to stay out of harm’s way.”
Sadly, it is not unusual to see the burden placed on women to not get raped rather than on men to refrain from raping, the whole premise that women even have the ability to stay out of harm’s way is grossly ignorant at best. Mercatornet advises girls:
‘The basic rule of self-protection for young women should be don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That includes a man’s room, his apartment, an alcohol-laden fraternity party, or even a well-known “party school.”‘
Leaving aside the fact that the author just advised women to avoid entire college campuses so as not to get raped, I refer to The Crime and Safety Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In 58% of the cases, the offender was known to the victim. (RAINN’s statistics suggest this number is two thirds, or up to 73%, but at any rate, it is a significant majority.)
One of the most frequently recorded locations for sexual assault was the victim’s or another’s home (40%). While women can be raped by a stranger on a dark street, the far more likely scenario involves women being raped or sexually assaulted by someone they know- an intimate partner, a family member, a friend, co-worker or acquaintance. In their home. Tom Meagher, husband of murdered Jill Meagher, wrote a powerful piece illustrating this very fact.
What good is advising victims to avoid dangerous places when almost half are sexually assaulted in their own home, a supposedly safe place, by someone they know, who is supposedly trustworthy? Given this, what hope do women have of avoiding sexual violence?
Last year #SafetyTipsForLadies was trending on twitter. It was a brilliant and enlightening hash tag where women shared advice they had been given since they were young on avoiding sexual assault, highlighting how women’s lives are dictated by even the threat of men’s violence. As women pointed out often pointless and even contradictory advice that was impossible to carry out while functioning in the real world, it became increasingly clear that women have no real power to prevent men’s violence against them. The distinct message was that teaching women ‘don’t get raped’ does not prevent rape- that in order to see any meaningful change we must go to the source, and teach boys and men not to rape. We need to teach them to regard us as human beings rather than conquests or sexual objects whose bodies they are entitled to access as they please.
Mercatornet went on to suggest parents enroll their daughters in a religious school in order to avoid rape. Like religious institutions have the best track records when it comes to sexual abuse. Like men who go to religious schools don’t rape women.
I was seventeen when I met Jay at church. He was twenty-four. We hit it off quickly and became best friends. He was a guy from church, so I thought he was safe. The first time he sexually assaulted me it was at his house. His parents were home. There was no alcohol, I wasn’t enrolled in a party school, I was just at my friend’s house. I could not have conceived that my friend from church could have been a threat to me.
“Staying far out of harm’s way is the best form of self-defense,” says Mercatornet. If only ‘staying out of harm’s way’ was even possible.
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