And now, just in time for Christmas, a t.shirt for girls announcing their sexual subservience, domination and ownership.
Bought to you by clothing store Supre the $18 red and white t.shirt features the slogan: “Santa’s Bitch”. Ten-year-olds are among the target market. The t.shirts are displayed on mannequins at the front of the store.
The elves have been shelved and replaced with subservient bitches who just love to be degraded.
Let’s look at common understanding of the word bitch. Among the definitions in urban dictionary we find:
“Modern-day servant; A person who performs tasks for another, usually degrading in status.”
“The subservient person in a sexual relationship (or a term for a servant).”
“Woman who for one reason or another deserves a good bitch-slap.”
Melissa Farley, a contributor to Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, was spot on when she wrote:
“Trained by popular western culture, girls learn to present a hypersexualised, prostitute-like version of themselves to the world”.
Danielle, who complained at a Westfield store in Victoria, gave a revealing depiction of the way consumer complaints are treated:
“I spoke to the store manager, who said she couldn’t remove them from sale…I spoke with the Centre Management of Westfield Geelong, who said all complaints about a store and their products are taken seriously, filed and referred to when looking to renew the lease of the retailer”
“Taken seriously and filed”. That would make a great book title. Then dusted off sometime down the track when the lease comes up for renewal – what, in a year? Two years? If that’s serious, how do management respond when they don’t care?
Call Marketing Manager of Supre, Brooke Ravey and let her know what you think of the t.shirts (and tell her you won’t be shopping at Supre and neither will your friends.)
Five days later, I’m still troubled by some paragraphs on the front page of The Australian on Monday. I haven’t noticed anyone drawing attention to them, even though they are deeply concerning.
The article is about historian Keith Windschuttle’s questioning of the authenticity of the film Rabbit-Proof Fence (‘Rabbit-Proof Fence grossly inaccurate; Windschuttle’, The Australian, Monday, December 14, p 1).
Windschuttle claims that sisters Molly Craig, 14, Daisy Kadibill, 8, and their cousin Gracie Fields, 10, were not removed from their families to “breed out the colour” but because of their “sexual activity with white men working in the area”. The girls had been accused of “running wild”. The article continues:
“’Running wild’ was said to be a contemporary euphemism for promiscuity, which meant the girls were having sex with the white males in the area”, Windschuttle writes in the preface of his new work.
…They didn’t say these girls were screwing boys, they said they were running wild…anyone from that era knows the meaning of the term.”
Now let’s just have another look at the ages of these girls – they are 14, 8 and 10.
Girls this age are not “having sex”. They are not at an age where they can consent to “have sex”. They are being sexually assaulted.
Did eight-year-old Daisy decide she wanted to “run wild” with “white men working in the area”? Why is all the emphasis on the supposed behaviour of very young girls – who were in need of protection – and not on what must have been predatory white males preying on vulnerable indigenous children?
This sort of wording is dangerous to all little girls. It suggests they desire sex with older men and lends permission to those men who see even very young girls as up for grabs and ‘asking for’ what they get.
When it comes to the degradation of women, this was an ad with the lot.
Using lashings of sexual innuendo, the ad features a story line about a ‘horny’ boy’s quest to relieve a girl of her virginity in his new Toyota Yaris. He shares the details of his planned exploits …with the girl’s father.
The nudge-nudge wink-wink content includes references to protection, lubrication, premature ejaculation, oral sex, orgasm and airbags for breasts. The chummy sexual jokes between the boy and the girl’s father about her ability to “take a pounding in any direction” are the creepiest part of the clip.
The matey conversation about her sexual prowess ends with the boy promising to “have her on her back by 11” and the dad leaping into the air in the manner of other Toyota ads.
‘Oh what a feeling’ – my daughter is about to be given a sexual three way pounding in the back of a Toyota Yaris.
The ad, titled “Clean Getaway”, was the winning entry in the Toyota-sponsored Australian Clever Film Competition. It was removed this week after a raft of complaints about its sexist and offensive nature, despite Toyota Australia direct marketing and social media manager Todd Connolly telling media website Mumbrella: “We wouldn’t distance ourselves from it by any means.”
Maybe not. But I know carloads of women who will be distancing themselves from the Toyota brand when they buy their next car.
The Government announced this week plans to introduce legislation for mandatory filtering of the internet at Internet Service Provider (ISP level).
This of course brought out all those who want no restrictions to the internet, arguing that the plans will mean we’ll end up living in a place like North Korea and controlled by the Taliban.
The plan is for ISPs to block blacklisted material rated Refused Classification. This is material that is already not allowed in other mediums because it is so graphic. It includes child porn, rape porn and bestiality.
The government will also provide incentives to ISPs to offer optional ISP level filtering of X and R-rated pornography.
The UN Save the Children Fund made the ridiculous claim that it would mean parents would relax about their children’s internet use. Save the Children should be welcoming anything which might lessen the multi-billion dollar trade in children’s bodies.
Any material which depicts sexual violence against women and children or which incites crimes of violence against women and children should not be allowed. Anyone justifying it should not be called a civil libertarian but a sexual assault libertarian.
For some compelling articles in favour of filtering, see:
Is any toy, game or even foodstuff safe from the stereotyped, homogenised, pinkified treatment of companies wanting to expand their markets to girls? Apparently not.
Think monopoly is too masculine? Never fear, the game now comes in a “boutique edition” with “cute” illustrations and a “beautiful keepsake box”. Instead of buying boring male-centric hotels, our little princesses can “go on a shopping spree” and buy “boutiques and malls”!
But wait, there’s more! The playing pieces include a handbag, mobile phone, sunglasses and Paris Hilton style pooch.
Pink, pastel, pearlescent scrabble. I’m not making this up:
“A timeless classic with a modern makeover, this pink SCRABBLE Deluxe Designer’s Edition has style, taste and elegant accessories like a pastel rotating gameboard, pearlescent letter tiles and embroidered fabric pouch. All the fashionable game pieces are designed with a woman in mind”
Because how can a young woman be expected to use her brains and create real words using real letters without the aid of pastel? As a further enticement, the maker’s have helpfully spelt out the word “Fashion” on the game’s box lid.
All that boutique buying and pearlescent letter word making will be making a girl well hungry by now. What to feed her?
Look no further than Fairy Hearts Ham: “Delicious slices of cooked sausage made from reformed Turkey and Pork” (anyone seen my pink vomit bucket?). Those gobblers and piggies with their bad pasts obviously were not re-formed enough – they still ended up as sausage – even more insulting, as pink love heart sausage.
Now she’s refreshed, our little fairy now has the energy to take a trip to the spirit world thanks to a Ouija board just for girls. Yes, the forces of darkness have had a stylish pink makeover so that a girl can conjure up the spirits of the dead to seek answers to the meaning of life, such as how popular she is, whether she will be famous one day and who wants to be just like her.
“It has always been mysterious. It has always been mystifying. And now the OUIJA Board is just for you, girl. With 72 fun questions included, you’ll never run out of things to ask. Who will call/text me next? Will I be a famous actor someday? Who wishes they could trade places with me?”
Perhaps a better question would be: will I be allowed just to enjoy being a girl free from the agendas of marketers?
Tired of being lectured on the liberating effects of the Australian Sex Party, which fielded candidates in the recent by-elections in Bradfield and Higgins, I sent this to the Courier Mail yesterday.
Re Paul Syvret’s sycophantic puff piece for the Australian Sex Party (December 8). The party should employ him to handle their PR.
The Australian Sex Party continues to spin the line that pornography is a harmless pursuit, despite growing research linking porn consumption with sexually callous attitudes towards women and girls, contributing to violence against them.
The sex industry body, the EROS foundation, launched the sex party. At the same time, its secretary David Watt was importing adult sex magazines that glorify sex with young girls, rape and incest.
The titles imported by Watt’s companies, Namda and Windsor Wholesale, are supplied to milkbars, supermarkets and petrol stations. The publishers claim the girls are 18+ years but the content and images deliberately make them appear younger, and more akin to child porn.
The girls are posed in pigtails, wearing braces, school uniforms and surrounded by soft toys. They are depicted as desperate for sex with older men.
One young girl is shown exposing her sexual parts, with the words “I’m ready for my first time”. She is holding a pink hand puppet. Other headings read: “Virgin Violations, forced entries”. Some issues advertise : “Disobedient daughter XXX DVD’s…Don’t tell mom!” and “All in the family”.
All these examples are from magazines imported by companies linked to an office bearer of the Eros Association. Does the Australian Sex Party think this content is harmless and worthy of protection?
A Crikey contributor was also singing the praises of the party this week. “The party also aims to prosecute child p-rnography rings globally…” the article says.
Really? Then why doesn’t it do something about what is essentially child porn which the creators get away with by using young women posed as children?
Maybe Eros should prosecute its secretary for bringing this stuff into Australia?
Gail Dines, in a soon to be published book chapter titled Childified Women: How the mainstream Porn Industry Sells Child Pornography to Men, writes:
“…More men than ever now have the opportunity to masturbate to pseudo child pornography (PCP) images of ‘girls’”. Dines points out that what pseudo child pornography and actual child pornography have in common is their aim to “sexually arouse men to images of sexualized ‘children’”.
And in another powerful paper Thinking through the unthinkable: ‘legal child pornography’ and the commodification of sexually abused children’, Dr Abigail Bray (who has an outstanding analysis of the Bill Henson issue in Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls), writes that pseudo child pornography eroticizes incest, rape and sexual assault.
That pro-rape pseudo child pornography websites…are able to avoid child pornography censorship laws merely by making an unsubstantiated claim that their ‘models’ are 18 or over suggests that legal child pornography is a more accurate description than the term ‘pseudo child pornography’. But normalizing child sexual assault as merely another ‘tidbit’ on the expanding online pornography menu, legal child pornography also intensifies the normalization of the paedophilic-centered sexualisation of children within mainstream culture.
The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (Censorship) is supposed to be examining the issue of this kind of pornography in corner stores, milkbars, 7-Elevens and petrol stations (including McDonald’s and their co-branded petrol stations) in April next year (a delay of six months – it was originally to have been looked at in November).
Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kidshas written a damning submission to SCAG about the stacks of titles she found in Melbourne stores, extolling the delights of sex with children, rape and incest. The secretariat has taken weeks to consider if it can even distribute the submission to the Attorneys-General censorship working party because of the images Gale included which were taken from teen porn titles.
Which is kind of ironic when the magazines are sold at kid’s eye level in the same places they go to get ice-cream. If the images area too graphic to show those responsible for the laws on these magazines, why should they be out in the public domain and so easily accessible?
Remember, these are images which normalise sexual abuse, rape, incest and child porn. They also serve to trivialise women and children who have been and are sexually abused by pedophiles.
You have to wonder whether some magazines and advertisers have heard of the Federal Government’s National Advisory Group on Body Image and its recommendations as part of the National Strategy on Body Image.
Or maybe, given that it’s all about self-regulation and there are no penalties for ignoring the code, they know it doesn’t really matter what they do?
The fashion industry, media and advertisers have been encouraged to present a range of body shapes and sizes in the new voluntary industry guidelines, part of a report on body image launched recently in Canberra.
The report, which aims to counter the “unhealthy epidemic” of negative body image, asks magazines and advertisers to use realistic images of models and reveal when images have been digitally manipulated. It also urges the use of models over 16.
Soon after, this appeared in Frankie
This in Portman’s
And this in a surf magazine
[note, deliberately cropped]
The Frankie image was especially disappointing, as the funky indie magazine has been seen as an alternative to mainstream girls’ magazines.
Sydney psychologist Sarah McMahon wrote to Frankie expressing concern about the impact of the image in a magazine read by clients suffering, or at risk of developing, eating disorders. In her November 29 letter, she drew attention to the possibility that the girl in the image might have anorexia, as depicted by her slim frame, disproportionately large hands, blotchy skin and dysthymic presentation.
Editor Jo Walker replied November 30 citing time constraints, budget and how it was ‘almost impossible’ to find regular bodied models. Here is Sarah’s response:
Thanks for replying so promptly - I agree that you need to do better. However I am otherwise shocked by your response.
In relation to not having enough time to do a reshoot, I would hazard a guess that the model in question would look unhealthy in any photos.
Moreover, the issue we are talking about is larger than one photo shoot. There were many other models in this edition that were unusually thin. So long as there is a homogenised and unrealistic beauty ideal, models will never be “regular sized”. As an indie magazine- ie independent to mainstream culture and, specifically, mainstream magazines- why do you need to use models? What is stopping you from using real women?
Further, I understand a core feature of the indie movement is social responsibility. Rather than blame society and the availability of “regular sized” models, why not take some interest and responsibility that Frankie can play in shaping culture?
Frankie promotes itself as an “Australian magazine that’s as smart, funny, sarcastic, friendly, cute, rude, arty, curious and caring as you are” . I believe that you need to be looking for models that actually possess these qualities and a bit of a personality – rather than ones that look mentally and physically sick. You cannot possibly maintain and empower an audience (ie “as you are”) with these qualities if you are not exhibiting them consistently yourself.”
Just after seeing this ode to thinness, I came across the latest Portman’s advertising images. Here, in the (limited amount of) flesh, are airbrushed, freakishly skinny images, which again send a message: real women need not apply.
The gaunt faced model is 16-year-old Cassie Van Den Dungen, a contestant on this year’s Australia’s Next Top model. She became famous for being in a sexual relationship with a 25- year-old man and for being a chain smoker. Cassie was first runner up behind token ‘curvy’ size 10 model Tahnee Atkinson.
Cassie is reported to be 175 cm and 53 kilos, giving her a BMI of 17.3 – this puts her in the ‘underweight’ category (minimum healthy BMI is 18.5).
It would be good if Sarah Murdoch, who was host and judge of Australia’s Next Top Model, season 5, 2009 – spoke out against the underweight models in the show she is part of, given her commitment to tackling body image problems and given she helped launched the Government’s body image report.
And then, to top it all off, here’s another 16-year-old – this one posed naked on the cover of surf magazine, Stab. Ella Rose Corby’s is not even surfing, of course, because she is merely decorative adornment for male readers.
Ella Rose’s body is plastered with sexually suggestive graffiti. The cover headings include “She’s only 16” and “How to get a woman to yes”. She is seen as advertising herself for male masturbatory fantasies.
Stab writer Mike Jennings said that a girl this age means danger to the adult male.
“They’re moving into womanhood and they know it.
They dress older, sneak into clubs and are easily mistaken as adults.
And as girls in their early twenties try and hang onto their teenage beauty, lines are blurred and we’re left confused.
“You can leer at the 16-year-old as you would an adult woman, so long as you’re ignorant.
Once you become aware of their age you must look away.”
Er, so that’s why her image is on the front cover – so male readers can look away?
Over-protected? If that is over-protection I wonder how Marc Brennan sees under -protection?
Brennan continues: “I mean, the only person who should be leering at a 16-year-old, as far as I’m concerned, is another 16-year-old and maybe that’s something else we need to consider here.”
That’s right, encourage boys to start leering early. That’s just what girls need.
We’re going to need a hell of a lot more than a voluntary code of softly-softly recommendations if homogenised, objectified and sexualised images of women are not going to continue to be exploited to sell products, services and magazines.
Speaking of objectification, an update to my first blog post about Dr John Ashfield who makes a case for the objectification of women in an article posted on the Men’s Health Australia emagazine.
Previously the Men’s Health Project Officer with the Lower Eyre Peninsula Health Service in SA, Dr Ashfield is now employed as a psychotherapist by the Commonwealth Government funded Mid North Division of General Practice in South Australia.
Let Health Minister Nicola Roxon know that you think funding should go only to services employing medical professionals who respect women and girls.
I am writing to express my concern and distress about an article published online by Men’s Health Australia and written by the Men’s Health Project Officer in the Lower Eyre Health Service, Dr John Ashfield. The article can be found here.
In his opinion piece under the heading ‘Men’s Health and Issues’, Dr Ashfield argues that it is natural for men to objectify women and to visualize them in sexual ways.
Dr Ashfield mocks advances in the workplace which recognise that the display of naked or semi-naked images of women is a form of sexual harassment. He writes: “Fact is, men sexually objectify women with or without all their clothes; they always have and always will. It’s well known that the production of alluring sexual images is a predominantly male industry.”
As the editor of a new book, Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, which was launched in Adelaide October 22 at an event hosted by the YWCA Adelaide, I am deeply concerned at the attitudes expressed by Dr Ashfield.
These attitudes put women and girls in danger. As demonstrated in significant research in the book, objectification of women and sexualisation of girls results in a multiplicity of negative physical and mental health outcomes and contribute to sexist attitudes and violence.
That a doctor could perpetuate demeaning and degrading views of women, under the auspices of ‘men’s health’ is especially disturbing. Is objectifying women part of what makes men healthy?
You will note at the end of the article, Dr Ashfield provides his S.A Government email address.
This could suggest that his harmful views are in some way endorsed or approved by your Government. It certainly gives them a status they do not deserve.
If Dr Ashfield is engaged in counselling through the Lower Eyre Health Service, this is even more troubling, as it is likely he is passing on his publicly expressed views about women to men seeking assistance from the service.
Minister, could you please confirm that Dr Ashfield is indeed employed by the South Australian Government? If so, I would be grateful if you could advise what action you will take to redress this situation.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
The Age reports today a ‘pro-rape’ Facebook page set up by past and present University of Sydney students.
The link was set up by students from an all male elite college at the University. It appeared in the ‘sports and recreation section’ of Facebook. The ‘anti-consent’ link was only shut down last month. According to The Age, “The students, mostly from an elite, all-male college, initially ensured the ”Define Statutory” group had an open and public profile, and proudly displayed their membership on their personal Facebook pages”. For men like this, rape is just part of sport and recreation. (I’ve written about these attitudes before – see Not rape – just boys acting up, On Line Opinion, February 28, 2008.)
I’m reminded of a (pink) t.shirt I came across, proudly made and designed in Australia. It’s slogan read: “It’s not rape, it’s surprise sex.” It is men like this, too often supported by cultural messages that promote a view that women are merely objects for their gratification and pleasure, who believe women are just there for the taking. The Facebook site helps groom and prepare boys to desire – and be proud of – coercive sexual exploits in which ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no, but ‘of course I want to be violated by you.’ The Facebook page acts as an incitement to crimes of violence against women. Today’s report lists a number of sexual assaults and attempted assaults on campus.
Where are Facebook’s moderators? Why did they take so long to act? Why was the site allowed in the first place? It seems the internet is now a deregulated conduit for the promotion of sexual violence against women and girls (I’ll have more to say on this in the future). So far there has been no disciplinary action against the male students who created, joined and promoted the site. St Paul’s, we’re waiting. For the sake of female students at the University – and for women and girls outside it – the strongest possible action must be taken. Otherwise, rape will continue to be seen as just a bit of fun for the boys.
November 9th, 2009
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