The festive season is here. You only need to look at the latest shopping centre catalogues, online stores and even your facebook news feed to see that companies are working hard to compete for your Xmas dollar.
But lets not forget which of these companies have used sexploitation to flog their products in 2013! Before you buy gifts for friends and family, check our list. Vote with your dollar and boycott companies that have sexualised children and objectified women for profit in 2013.
City Beach – looks like a surf shop right? Take another look. City Beach has a long history of selling products with sexist, violent and porn inspired imagery to its youth market.
Images of objectified, naked women can be found on T-shirts, shorts, wallets, thongs and even pencil cases. Read more about City Beach.
Target sexes up violence against women with its ”50 shades of grey” branded Lingerie, based on the “erotic” BDSM novel of the same name.
Porn inspired billboard advertising for the brand included a woman posed submissively in suspender stockings and another woman pictured in lingerie with BDSM wrist restraints. Read more.
Bookworld, the online retailer formerly known as Borders was called out for selling hundreds of incest themed novels, typically eroticising rape of children by a father figure.
Bookworld put the issue down to a computer glitch and promised to resolve the issue. At the time of writing, these titles are still listed for sale online. Details may be distressing, but you can read more here.
Best and Less
Best and Less were selling matching “bra” and underpants sets for girls as young as two.
When asked why they thought a two year old girl needed a “bra” Best and Less agreed to remove the garments, referring to a store policy prohibiting the sale of “bra-like” products for children under 8. But they didn’t keep their word. Read more about Best and Less here.
Roxy released a trailer for the Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013 Women’s surf competition. The promo featured a topless woman writhing around in a bed and no actual surfing.
We supported a petition created by pro-surfer Cori Schumacher who called on Roxy to stop their “all sex no surf” advertising. Roxy responded by complaining about “mischaracterisations” of their brand. Read more here.
Cafepress has been exposed for selling baby “onesies” with slogans such as “SL_T all I need is U” and “No gag reflex”. Despite repeated reassurances by Cafepress that this content would be removed, similar items remain on sale. Read more about Cafepress.
Got Foxtel? Thinking of getting Foxtel? Give it a miss! The network produces the toxic “Australia’s next top model” program and this year it promoted the show with its “Next best selfie” promotion, which involved soliciting images from underage girls on social media.
An outdoor ad campaign for a Foxtel channel featured a man sodomising a pig. No joke. Read more here.
A Bonds “Boobs” outdoor advertising campaign to launch a new range of bras reinforced a dominant cultural message that “Boobs” are what is most important about a woman. Worse still, the ad campaign was justified as marking a renewed partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Breast cancer survivor Rachel Lonergan described the campaign as “peurile.” Read more here.
We’ve challenged Cotton On before for their sexualised baby bodysuits and their pornified t-shirts. The Cotton On group also owns Typo. Read more here.
Typo came under fire for its Back To School sale selling items such as coffee mugs, drink bottles, notebooks and i-phone covers with porn inspired images. Read more here.
Despite their Respect and Responsibility policy, the AFL have continued to remain silent while ex-Hawks player Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin used his status as an AFL player to flog his pornographic Nena and Pasadena clothing line. Read more here.
Lance Franklin owns and promotes Nena and Pasadena pornified fashion brand yet also markets his Buddy Ball to children, presenting himself as a role model for young boys.
Mossimo advertised its range of underwear with a promotion called “Mossimo Peepshow.” The Facebook “peepshow” competition invited entrants to upload images and compete for votes. We decided to submit an entry of our own.
Venues that hosted pro-rape rapper “Tyler the Creator” in 2013
Earlier this year we campaigned against ‘rape-is-fun’ rapper Tyler the Creator. Surely venues hosting the events would cancel once they learned of his violent and degrading lyrics?
We haven’t forgotten about the weak response from these venues. Particularly, the Eatons Hill Hotel which still refused to cancel the final show in Brisbane after reports that a young woman had being raped at Tyler’s Sydney gig the night before.
Do you have anything to add to our list? Let us know what brands you will be boycotting in the lead up to Christmas. Better still, tell us about some positive alternatives. Which brands do you support and why? Post details in the comments below – together we can create a list of positive options!
To get things started, check out these two online sellers.
Toward the Stars
Toward the Stars – a safe haven from the commercialisation and sexualisation of girlhood, from the toxic gender stereotypes that dominate the marketing, media, and products targeted to children and young adults.
Gifted Hands – a not for profit organisation raising awareness and funding to help charities and organisations who support the widow, needy and homeless both here in Australia and overseas. Visit site.
A female teacher at a Tasmanian school where I spoke on the objectification of women could not stay to hear the end of my talk.
The images I showed were too confronting, bringing back traumas suffered two decades ago.
”The very acts that have become part of my trauma were there on display as a part of mainstream culture,” she said.
Do advertisers, editors, fashion, music and video-game producers think about how their violent images traumatise female survivors of sexual abuse and degradation?
T-shirts in surf stores depict women naked, bound and splattered in blood. Mainstream advertising shows women pinned down in simulated gang-rape scenes, tied up in cars boots, buried, chopped into pieces, decapitated. Women are shown as passive, vulnerable, often naked and as sex aids.
These images, among 200 in my presentation, took Genevieve back 20 years.
Once an idealistic young person, Genevieve worked hard to turn her love of acting and performing arts into admission to a prestigious performing arts school.
”It went without saying that you did not get in just on talent, but on marketability,” she says.
”I remember consciously dressing in a low-cut body suit and tight jeans aware that my acting skills were only part of my ticket in. From that moment on, I was a commodity and accepted treatment as such.”
Groomed by a lecturer, she ended up drugged and sexually assaulted for three days by five men. Each played out fantasies that were listed in explicit writing on the walls. Because of their power and status, she didn’t go to the police, fearing retribution.
She also felt that being cross-examined in the courts would retraumatise her. She had seen what had happened to other victims.
What Genevieve suffered came back to her as I spoke. Seeing my images caused her to panic. Her heart beat rapidly, she went into a hot sweat and she felt herself dissociating and losing time.
She says she felt retraumatised. ”I could feel a rising wave of fear. I’ve spent 20 years rebuilding my life. Every day I have to make a wall between me and the world. I’m so busy trying to protect myself. Deviant behaviour is now on public display every day.”
Do those who profit from the images they use to sell things even care about the impact on women like Genevieve? She is worried about the normalising of these images to children. ”What hope do my boys have of knowing where the line is? What hope does a girl who experiences these things have of getting understanding and support when she is confronted by constant exposure to images that say it is OK?” Genevieve asks.
Two years ago, Brian McFadden (his fiancee at the time, Delta Goodrem, was an anti-violence ambassador) released a song titled Just the way you are (Drunk at the Bar), which contains the lines: ”I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can do some damage … I can’t wait to take you home so I can take advantage.”
In response, one survivor wrote in a comment on my blog:
”So, Brian McFadden, do you think this is something to poke fun at? Does my story deserve its own catchy tune and rounds of laughter and applause because you were so clever to come up with something witty that ultimately diminishes the trauma of my experience and belittles my feelings about it?”
Such imagery and words, as used by McFadden, create a harmful cultural narrative about what it means to be a woman today. Media and popular culture reflect values. Any reading of the social landscape tells us women are really only good for one thing: to be used sexually.
Anti-violence campaigner and sexual assault survivor Kate Ravenscroft points out that one in three women is a victim of violence, yet the trauma of their experience is diminished and belittled.
The cultural messages that make violence appear sexy are part of the same culture in which victims of sexual assault have to survive.
”Seeing that violence treated flippantly, carelessly, can be devastating,” she says.
Women like Genevieve battle to control rising panic most days, everywhere they go, because the acts done to them are on display so casually, with the tacit approval of governments who love to repeat a mantra that self-regulation is working. It’s not, and it’s real women who are hurt because of it.
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.
Thanks to our friends at ‘The Illusionist’ for this blog post on Dove. With the deluge of lovey-dovey isn’t Dove wonderful guff all over the social media stratosphere, it was refreshing to read this piece which sums up all that is wrong with the so-called ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. So what if they make cool videos? Does that justify everything else the company does? Collective Shout has had Dove in its sights since our inception four years ago, and its parent company Unilever continues to appear on our annual ‘Cross ‘em off your XMAS list’
This week my inbox was flooded with emails from friends and acquaintances – who had forwarded me the link to the latest Dove “Real Beauty” video, highlighting the disconnect between women’s perceptions of their own attractiveness and how outsiders see them. The point of the video is to show that women are often too critical of their looks. I was glad to see how this video sparked important conversations in the blogosphere and social media. But there’s a dark side to Dove that many people are unaware of.
I had written a blog post about some problematic aspects of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign back in October 2008. Recently, while researching material for my feature-length documentary, I came across more evidence that supported my earlier points. Thing is – I’ve been reluctant to speak up about these issues for several reasons. The key ones:
Dove’s campaigns are the only ones that – at least on the surface – promote positive body image, in an ocean of toxic advertising set to make women feel insecure about their looks
I am acquainted with several people connected to Dove’s Real Beauty campaign – they’re good-intentioned people I deeply respect and admire.
I actually really like Dove’s videos
So, I considered these issues and thought about the latest email I received from my friend S. I wondered, would she feel that same way if she knew the other side of the story? My hunch: probably not. Staying quiet would be the easy thing to do. But is it the right thing to do?
So, without further ado, I am addressing the big elephant in the room. Below you will find my original post about Dove – with some tweaks and updates reflecting new evidence I recently discovered.
About three months ago, upon completing the first phase of research for my film, I held two slideshow presentations in front of an audience of friends, acquaintances, and a few people working in the TV/movie industry in Paris. Very much in the style of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”
At the heart of the presentation is the assertion that the obsession over the pursuit of the perfect female body is one of the integral parts of the capitalist system. If women were suddenly content with their appearance – accepting their body size, skin tone, wrinkles, graying hair, and the size and shape of their breasts, amongst other things – entire industries would collapse. Indeed worldwide revenues for cosmetics, dieting products, and cosmetic surgery totaled almost 500 billion dollars in 2006. Thus the saturation of images in advertising and mass media promoting an idealized, surgically-enhanced beauty that is impossible to achieve.
Well, during my presentations I would invariably get asked about the company Dove and its campaign for “Real Beauty.” Wasn’t that refreshingly positive? People would ask. It is a question that comes up every time I talk about my project. The short answer? Yes and no.
The people at Dove have actually exploited a void in the marketplace. By introducing so-called women with “real” bodies, they distinguished themselves from their competitors. According to the New Yorker, after the introduction of their “Real Beauty” campaign, Dove’s sales shot up 700% in the U.K. Read more here.
And what about this, also brought to you by Unilever?
You know the one thing that’s more insulting than blatantly sexist/misogynistic advertising?
Advertising that touts pseudo-feminism but sends the exact same bigoted message, only cloaking it in women’s liberation to soften the blow.
Take the new ad from Triumph Lingerie Australia, for example. The ad’s tagline reads ‘Welcome to the Republic of Triumph’ and asks women to declare themselves. The associated image is rather epic – featuring lingerie-clad women marching and waving Mao-ish red flags while holding protest signs aloft. One of the signs reads “It’s my right to have a career and a baby” while another declares “It’s my right to smash the glass ceiling.”
Except the ad’s attempt at appealing to our feminist souls is an epic fail, because the women featured are not only perfectly perky and seriously skinny, they’re also airbrushed to the nth degree and look decidedly plastic and flawless. They are entirely, disturbingly unreal.
The Triumph ‘feminist’ message that sits alongside its contradictory content is awful, but by no means is it the first time a company has hidden misogynistic agendas behind pseudo-feminist armour.
Take the Dove real beauty campaign, for example. The toiletries company claims to be about advertising images of women with real bodies, of all ages who are ethnically diverse. An admirable effort.
But their ‘real beauty’ campaign is utterly hollow, when Dove is owned by Unilever who sell such patriarchal products like ‘Fair and Lovely’ skin-lightening cream (which is particularly popular in India where women are made to feel that the lighter their skin, the more beautiful they’ll be).
Or how about everyone’s favourite (insert sarcasm) athletic company, Nike? For a little while there they actually churned out some (surprisingly, begrudgingly) good and powerful ads that portrayed famous sportswomen not as sex symbols, but as the tough athletes they are in the feminist ‘Rock Victorious’ campaign of 2010.
But any ground Nike gained with women has been lost after their EPIC FAIL in releasing a Gold Digging t-shirt to ‘celebrate’ the fact that female athletes bought home 29 of Team USA’s 46 gold medals at the London Olympic Games.
If that t-shirt was Nike’s attempt at showing support for their female athletes, then we’d prefer they Just Not Do It.
But, back to the Triumph Australia ad and its ‘Declare Yourself’ feminist message alongside contradictory models. The height of irony is that one of the models is waving a sign that says “It’s my right to feel good about myself” – so we hope women looking at this ad take a moment to note the wrinkle-free, no-bulge-in-sight, big-breasted (airbrushed) models in their bras and undies and Declare themselves unimpressed with this faux-feminism marketing campaign.
‘How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved?’
The articles last week in New Matilda (Trixie Wellington), Crikey (Helen Razer) and ABC Unleashed (Lauren Rosewarne) were so nasty and hurtful to mothers who are legitimately doing their best to make sure their daughters don’t come to any harm from men.
What about mothers who are survivors who might feel like they worry too much about child sexualisation stuff? (which I don’t think is possible). It’s just feeding into their self-doubt, and disempowering them from taking proper action to try and protect their kids better than they were protected.
I think there’s an implicit message in Wellington’s article that mothers are looking at their daughters sexually, which she should be called out on. This is an outrageous claim – Australian courts are currently chock full of, not women, but men who have decided to extend their violent pornography consumption to children. The statistics are huge and getting worse by the year.
Of course we would all love men to come to their senses and begin to lead decent lives like women have managed to for hundreds of years, but at this point in history there’s no indication they’re collectively deciding to do that. So, in the meantime, we have to let mothers feel as empowered as possible to protect their kids, without feeling like they’re weird or being told, (with no evidence) their agenda is puritanical: to ‘shame’ girls and put them in burqas?
How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved? It smacks of classism. Why are mothers not eligible to speak on behalf of other women? Why can’t they lead the women’s movement (however that’s defined)?
Why can’t we have a women’s movement that’s influenced by our concern for children? Do we have to hide the fact we’re mothers if we want to speak out? And what’s with ‘feminists’ siding with corporations over an individual mother? How could that happen?
More than ever, we need to stand together across the class divide to protect children against trends like sexualisation. Disparaging and belittling mothers, who are most qualified to speak on behalf of children, is just a good way to let the corporations win.
The pornification of culture occurs because not enough of us have children’s rights foremost in our minds. On a daily basis mothers are going about their lives with children’s wellbeing and welfare as their top priority, so we could learn from their example.
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global Urban and, Social Studies at RMIT University and a contributor to Big Porn Inc: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry.
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
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
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It and the Ruby Who? book and DVD in one bundle for $100 and save 20% off the individual price.
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real and Faking It in one bundle for $70 and save 20% off the individual price.
Purchase Getting Real, Faking It and Ruby Who? DVD in one bundle for $60 and save 12% off the individual price.
Purchase the Ruby Who? DVD and book together for only $35 saving 10% off the individual price.
“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
“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.