Last Friday night I headed to Chadstone Shopping Centre to catch up with some of my colleagues from Collective Shout. I was there a little early and decided to browse the stores while I waited for the others to arrive.
I expected to see the odd front window or billboard using the same old tired exploitation of women, but the proliferation of sexualised and objectifying images right throughout the centre was quite overwhelming.
It started with Bras’N’Things. Normalising the Playboy brand once again, we’ve written about this before. While many associate Playboy simply with its branded items or magazine, Playboy Enterprises own various adult TV channels and websites, broadcasting brutal, hardcore pornography. Retailers that stock Playboy branded products are helping Playboy to produce and distribute content that objectifies and degrades women.
In a 30 minute period I found close to 50 images that to varying degrees objectified and sexualised women. Some of the images were on massive billboards in major department stores including one by Tom Ford featuring a fully naked woman to sell perfume.
There were schoolgirls in their uniforms shopping with their mum’s, casually browsing the items nearby. As I took photos, no one noticed, staff stood around in clusters engrossed in their own conversations. These images have become the wallpaper of society.
Women and girls receive the toxic message that their main value and worth comes from their sex appeal. The global research tells us that the proliferation of these images is linked to common mental health problems such as low self esteem, poor body image, eating disorders, depression, self harm and even suicide. We are making our girls sick. And we need to do something about it.
Some may say “But the women chose to be in the ad, it makes them feel empowered”.
We don’t experience life in a vacuum. From the earliest of ages women have been socialised into believing that our value and worth come from our physical appearance, desirability, and ability to attract male attention.
We are growing up in a pornified culture that gives women two options; to be invisible or to be f*ckable (to quote Gail Dines). So it is no surprise that for some women they feel empowered when they express themselves in a sexualised way as a model, however we cannot ignore the broader damage that this type of advertising does to women globally.
Sexist jokes, objectifying women, gender inequality are the root cause of violence against women. In her award winning documentary “Killing her softly” Jean Kilbourne said “turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step in justifying violence against that person.” If we truly want equality for women we need to think about how our individual choices affect women as a class.
Some may say “Well men are portrayed in sexualised ways too”. Most of the images I saw of men as I walked through the shopping centre showed them in business suits, in a position of power and control. Some even had their arm quite forcefully around a scantily clad women’s neck.
The overall message showed a clear power imbalance. What are we teaching our men and boys? And we wonder why young boys display a sense of entitlement in relationships.
So what can we do?
Speak out: Try and have a friendly conversation with the staff in the store when you see these types of images. Don’t ever think that the salesperson has no influence in the company. Shannen spoke out at Coles about having to handle Zoo and it was instrumental in helping them decide to cease stocking the magazine.
Write a letter to the manager or CEO. Let them know the harms of such advertising and that you will not be shopping with them until they change their ways. I wrote a letter to the local pub about their lingerie waitresses. It took 5 minutes to pull it together and they responded in less than 48 hrs saying the promotion was cancelled.
Lodge a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board. We have a handy ‘Lodge a complaint’ page here to guide you in the right direction for different types of billboard, radio and TV advertising.
Learn from it: Use these types of advertising as a teachable moment in the lives of young people that you influence. Ask the question “Why is that lady naked to sell a handbag?” Media literacy skills are crucial for young people to dissect the toxic messages that popular culture is teaching them.
Take a photo and send it in to us at Collective Shout. As a grassroots movement we rely on the collective action of our supporters to pressure these companies to change their ways.
Recruit pledge partners: Encourage business owners to sign our Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge. There are many clever ways to advertise a product without objectifying women or sexualising girls. If their product was any good they wouldn’t need sexism to sell it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a long list of businesses that signed our pledge that we could shop with with confidence?
We hope this inquiry won’t go the way of all the others before it – doing nothing to rein in the vested interests of marketers, advertisers and the media and allowing business as usual, despite the growing body of global evidence of the harms to young people due to the proliferation of hypersexual images and messages inundating them daily.
Children and young people are growing up in a high-tech culture steeped in relentlessly sexualised, sexualising and sexist messaging from media, advertising and popular culture which conditions them from a young age to view themselves and others in terms of their appearance and sexual currency. While women and girls are primarily the subjects of hyper-sexualised media representation, these messages also play a crucial part in socialising men and boys to see the sexual objectification of women and girls as normal.
Many adults are overwhelmed by the task of protecting and equipping children as they navigate the contemporary media and social landscape. The current legislative and regulatory environment is piecemeal, confusing for the community to navigate, and tends to serve the commercial advantage of corporate and marketing interests to the detriment of the community – children and young people in particular. Despite a number of state and federal inquiries demonstrating the need for systemic reform, media classification and self-regulatory schemes have failed to halt or even slow the proliferation of imagery and messaging through electronic, print and social media and marketing that demeans women, reduces them to sexual objects, fosters a culture which condones sexual violence, and pressures young girls to act in prematurely sexual ways.
Collective Shout is critical of the self-regulatory system currently favoured in media and advertising, which allows free rein to marketers while placing the burden of action on those most at risk of exploitation and harm. In particular, we are concerned about the lack of effective incentive or enforcement to deter those who are making a profit from the sexualisation of children and young people. Media and advertising interests have had ample opportunity to hear and act on community concerns but have instead have chosen to protect their vested interests. It is time for government to step in and act on behalf of children and young people
Recognition of the harms of sexualisation as a public health crisis requiring swift and decisive action on behalf of children and young people.
The restructuring of the current regulatory environment to bring the regulation of all media and marketing together under one encompassing independent federal regulator, including a division with the primary responsibility of protecting the interests of children and young people, addressing both the direct and indirect sexualisation of children in all media modes from a child-rights basis.
Equipping parents and carers with the appropriate media literacy tool and institutional supports, to raise children who have the ability to be critical consumers and creators of media.
The evaluation and implementation of appropriate school-based education programs to educate children and young people about the harms of sexualisation, and funding to help schools secure these resources.
For a child-rights based approach to addressing the harms of media hypersexualisation, including respect for the voices and points of view of children and young people.
That the prevalence of sexualised images of women in our society be recognised as a significant underlying contributor to violence against women and girls.
The commissioning of comprehensive research to establish the extent of the exposure of children and young people in NSW to sexualising media content. However, this research should not preclude swift government action on the basis of the evidence that already exists.
*Full submission will be made available when it appears in submission listings on the NSW Parliament website.
But the male CEO of the fashion label suggests the ads are sexist towards men – we’re #notbuyingit
Fashion label Suit Supply has a history of using sexist and objectifying images of women to promotes its menswear range. In an article published at the Huffington Post, CEO of Suit Supply, Fokke de Jong, denied that the ads are sexist towards women stating “if you want to read any form of sexism in here than it has to be towards men.”
Images for the ad campaign depict “doll sized” men wedged between breasts and lips, pulling down bikini bottoms, tugging at zips and directing a stream of water from a hose into a woman’s mouth. Scroll down to view campaign ad images.
Collective Shout’s Caitlin Roper disputed the idea that using larger than life images of women’s bodies as props to be manipulated or back drops for men’s recreation gives women “the upper hand.”
“The notion that this ad could be an example of ‘reverse sexism’ or sexism against men, as they’ve alleged, is naive at best,” she told HuffPost UK.
“Sexism – social, political and economic inequality on a structural level – isn’t something that can be counteracted by superimposing tiny men onto women’s semi-naked bodies to sell menswear.
“It’s no accident the women are hyper sexualised and posed in subordinate and ridiculous poses while the men are fully clothed, posed with dignity and strength.”
Roper added that she’s disappointed by the campaign, but not surprised by it, as Suit Supply has a “history of sexually exploitative advertising”.
“They think they are being edgy and subversive but they are merely upholding the (sexist) status quo depicting women as passive sexual objects to sell clothing for men,” she said.
“When companies feel the need to resort to such blatant sexism to flog their products you have to really question how little confidence they have in the quality of their products.”
Ja feel men’s fashion label: corporate sexual predator promoting non-consensual sex acts
Ja feel men’s fashion label: corporate sexual predator promoting non-consensual sex acts.
Australian company, Ja feel, promotes the sexual abuse and degradation of women and girls (as well as pornographic imagery and racist stereotypes) all in the name of marketing their “lifestyle brand.”
The Perth-based retail company, which promotes itself as a clubbing and music festival label and ships its misogyny worldwide, is, in reality, a corporate sexual predator.
You can see how committed they are to promoting rape culture based on images from their social media accounts. Read more
We feel you need to be shut down
Just when you think it can’t get worse…
How is this Australian company allowed to promote the sexual abuse and degradation of women and girls in this way? Perth-based Ja feel, which promotes itself as a clubbing and music festival label and ships its misogyny worldwide, is, in reality, a corporate sexual predator.
Here are some images from their social media accounts.
See how committed they are to promoting rape culture (if the meaning is unclear, the reference below is to a man shifting from vaginal to anal penetration without consent then pretending to be sorry about it).
See how they love giving women the pornified treatment and teaching boys they are entitled to women’s bodies. (#TittyTuesday and #ThongThursday are among their popular hashtags).
See how they feature even a young girl in a sexually suggestive way, with the elephant’s trunk as phallic symbol (there’s a popular porn- themed racist stereotype in this one too).
And, here are stickers, complete with instructions on sticking them on a woman’s breasts.
Echoing rape culture slogans, migrating porn images into every day advertising, grooming a whole generation of boys to prey upon women because that’s what ‘men’s lifestyle’ means now, Ja feel is building the scaffolding which reinforces sexist attitudes creating an environment where violence against women is flourishing. We feel your hate.
More comedy gold from the ASB: except we’re not laughing
It’s no secret that the advertising industry’s preferred model of regulation, self-regulation, has failed. Despite various government inquiries exploring the many flaws in the current system, as well as condemnation from child health professionals and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) the advertising industry has been given free reign to regulate themselves to the detriment of the community, in particular, children.
In 2012, AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton called for a new government inquiry into the sexualisation of children in advertising to protect the health and development of children. He said,
“These are highly sexualised ads that target children, and the advertising industry is getting away with it.
“There is strong evidence that premature sexualisation is likely to be detrimental to child health and development, particularly in the areas of body image and sexual health.
“The current self regulatory approach through the Advertising Standards Bureau is failing to protect children from sexualised advertising.”
We encourage supporters to utilise the complaints process when they come across hyper-sexualised advertising they suspect could be in breach of advertising codes. Many feel understandably frustrated as the ASB continues to dismiss valid complaints while simultaneously claiming that self-regulation is working well and this is evidenced by the fact they rarely uphold complaints! We’ve highlighted some of our previous complaints below to illustrate the great lengths the ASB goes to in order to excuse sexualising and adult sexual content in advertising.
Love and Rockets, Billboard
The photo of this billboard was taken from a Brisbane boy’s school. The ASB noted that it is not illegal for the sex industry to advertise outside schools and ruled that this billboard advertising a strip club to children treated sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience (school children) as it did “not show include explicit nudity”.
Schick for Men, Social Media video
In response to Schick’s commercial featuring a woman stripping off her clothes to sell men’s razors, the ASB said,”The Board noted that although the woman does remove her clothing…her breasts are covered by text on the screen. It was not sexualised.”
Supre Jeggings, TV commercial
The clothing store popular with teens and pre-teens released this ad to promote their new range of Jeggings. The ASB responded, “The woman was not posed in a sexualised manner.”
Lee Jeans, Billboard
It may come as no surprise that this image is part of a larger collection of photos by photographer and accused rapist Terry Richardson, with a reputation for porn-themed photo shoots and for sexually exploiting young models. The ASB said,
“There is no nudity [and] the woman’s pose was not inappropriately sexual.”
“Consumption of this style of lollipop is now common amongst people over 18.”
River ‘Get Excited’, Catalogue
An image of a woman who appeared to be nude aside from thigh high stockings, with her legs apart and her arms covering her private parts was “not overtly sexualised”, said the ASB.
The Firm Gentleman’s Club, Poster
We couldn’t locate a photo of the original poster, however it is the same (life-size) image as shown here on their website.
This life size poster was located on a busy Adelaide street. The ASB ruled this outdoor advertising was not in breach of industry codes and standards because “the image is relevant to the advertised product”. The product was women, for men’s sexual use.
Target Fifty Shades Lingerie, Billboard
The ASB said the billboard of a faceless woman reclining in lingerie complete with suspenders “[did] not present strongly sexualised imagery and is not inappropriate for viewing by a broad audience including children.”
Xotica Strip Club, Billboard
A supporter shared her frustration on encountering this large billboard while taking her children aged four through seven out for lunch. The ASB dismissed complaints about the billboard because the ad “[did] not show any private parts of the woman.” They went on to say:
“In the context of an advertisement for an adult venue the images of the women are not exploitative and degrading.”
“The building which is located in an area which contains a high proportion of adult venues…based on the location of the building, the audience likely to be frequenting the area are generally customers of the venues.”
UltraTune, TV Commercial
UltraTune used two dominatrix women brandishing whips and feigning arousal at the sight of tyres and car accessories for the enjoyment of a male staff member to promote their car service centres and accessories. The ASB dismissed complaints, ruling the dominatrix women were “relevant to the product” being advertised.
“Fresh One” coffee
Perth coffee brand “Fresh One” unleashed a series of porn inspired advertisements on its Facebook page earlier this year. The board upheld complaints against some of the ads, but dismissed complaints against others.
The Ad Standards Board dismissed complaints against this ad featuring a woman pouring milk over her chest.
“The Board noted that the woman is voluntarily pouring the milk over herself.”
“…the image is not exploitative or degrading, with references to ‘bathing in milk’ often associated with luxury (Cleopatra for example) rather than any demeaning activity.”
And this just in!
ASB dismisses complaints against General Pants Pornified “Wet Dreams” ad campaign. Read more here.
This is what industry self-regulation looks like.
The argument that adult, sex industry advertising can be justified in public spaces raises several questions. Do children and young people no longer have a right to be in a public space? Is it permissible for billboards to include sexually explicit content if they are promoting the purchase of women for sex? Do the rights of the sex industry to market itself to the masses take precedence over children’s rights to healthy development?
The Advertising Standards Bureau is a joke. As best-selling author and psychologist Steve Biddulph said, “The UK has an advertising watchdog that actually takes action. Australia has a watch tortoise that might have died.”
It takes a village to raise a child. We often hear from parents who feel overwhelmed and powerless to raise healthy children when the wider culture is undermining their attempts at every turn. Parents need the government and regulatory bodies to do their part in providing a safe environment for children.
Objectification of women should be recognised as discriminatory practice
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Review of the National Classification Scheme: achieving the right balance (June 2011) recommended that “community concerns about the sexualisation of society, and the objectification of women” be taken into account as a key principle in every classification decision (Recommendation 2). This reflects the core message of Collective Shout that women must never be depicted as mere objects for the sexual satisfaction of men.
We were particularly supportive of recommendations 4 and 8, which related to issues of objectification of women as forms of discriminatory practice. It is remarkable that in the ASB’s view, as cited in the report, objectification of women was not seen as contrary to the prohibitions on discrimination and vilification.
Clearly the self-regulatory system has been found lacking!
Industry has been warned, has had its chance to voluntarily self-regulate, and has conspicuously failed to act at the level required. The evidence of the past years of minimal response by industry shows that the market culture around this issue will not shift without stronger government initiative.
Have you seen the recent bus “gang rape-inspired” photo shoot in India? Or Vogue Italia’s video showing a woman killed by an intruder in her house? Or the Bulgarian makeup ad showing bruised women with the tagline “Victim of Beauty”?
There appears to be a theme of fashion advertising increasingly using images of women being killed or tortured or violated in some way, usually by men.
What’s this all about?
In response to our petition Isuzu has agreed to remove its “x rated” sex tourism competition.
More than 1000 people signed the petition in the first 24 hours. In the end we received a total of 3608 supporters. It was great see see so many men like me express outrage about this too!
Isuzu announced the campaign would be pulled in a statement posted to Facebook:
It has been brought to our attention that recent advertising promoting The X-Runner has caused concern and offence to some viewers. We chose Thailand as the destination of the X-Runner competition prize as it is the ‘home’ of the D-MAX and for no other reason. We understand the associated imagery and language in the campaign may have confused some viewers as to the intent of this prize. On behalf of Isuzu UTE Australia, we sincerely apologise. As such, we have removed this advertising from our campaign and will implement a new creative direction.
While we were glad to see Isuzu’s announcement that they would withdraw the campaign, we found it hard to believe that the suggestion of sex tourism was unintended and certainly didn’t agree that there was any “confusion” on our part. Red light district imagery, flashing neon signs saying “girls girls” and wording such as “so hot its almost illegal” made the nature of this competition very clear. Further to that, those entering the competition had to “decode” a pixelated image and submit a guess about what was underneath. The correct answer was “SOI Cowboy” a red light district in Bangkok.
The only thing confusing about this ad campaign was that it was created and approved!
We sought further clarification from Isuzu. Isuzu admits the campaign was short sighted and harmful. Isuzu says the petition has had a huge impact on all involved and is making sure the Isuzu team both here and internationally are more informed about the issues surrounding sex tourism and trafficking. Isuzu informs us that this is very important to them as they have been supporters of anti trafficking and child protection charities. We are reassured by Isuzu that it will never produce an ad campaign like this again.
This is a fantastic result and we are pleased to hear Isuzu’s commitment to avoid exploitative marketing in future.
Thank you to all who signed this petition. Your participation in this campaign has sent a strong message not only to Isuzu, but to the broader community that sexual exploitation and sex tourism is completely unacceptable. With sex trafficking continuing to be a huge problem worldwide, it is more important than ever that we keep talking about this.
Positive Aussie Image
Dave began Positive Aussie Image in order to start an ongoing conversation about sex tourism, trafficking and why Australian men need to take a stand against sexual exploitation. Click here to visit Positive Aussie Image.
Isuzu Ute Australia is holding an “X rated” competition to promote a new model Ute. Displaying the the text “The New “XRated D-Max” Isuzu is offering “5 hot nights”for “you and three mates” as the prize. Advertising imagery and associated text makes it clear that this prize amounts to sex tourism.
(click image to enlarge)
“Welcome to the Home of the new isuzu x-runner, the ute that’s so good looking we’ve had to give it an x rating. Go on, have a perve.”
Thailand is widely known to be a hot spot for human trafficking and child prostitution. It hosts Asia’s largest sex industry and it is common to see white men walking the streets with young asian girls.
According to humantrafficking.org , Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. Bangkok is a hub of sexual exploitation of women and children in the Greater Mekong sub-region.
And yet Isuzu describes this prize as ”the trip-of-a-lifetime…taking in all the Thai capital has to offer.”
It is estimated that 250,000 Western male tourists visit Thailand every year for the purposes of sex tourism. We should be absolutely ashamed that 32,500 of these are Australian men.
This is worth repeating – despite widespread community outrage about child sex abuse, and condemnation for those who commit such abuse, an estimated 32,500 Australian men visit Thailand every year to purchase women and girls for sex,many of whom are in conditions of sexual slavery. Many of these girls entered the sex industry unwillingly and were trafficked as children.
Unless we eliminate men’s demand for the bodies of women and children, we will never see an end to human sex trafficking. It is not acceptable for Isuzu to encourage such demand among its customers.
Men and Women we invite you to take a stand against sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Isuzu must cancel the competition and withdraw its “X rated” themed advertising immediately.
Wicked Campers has once again violated Advertising Standards with its latest slogan “fat girls are harder to kidnap.” The vehicle hire company is a repeat offender, well known for printing vile and degrading slogans on its vans.
The Ad Standards Board has upheld many complaints against this company, but as reported by Mumbrella, Wicked Campers no longer bother to respond to such rulings.
Why would they? There’s money to be made – sexist, pornified messages are apparently a big hit – and there are no penalties for violating advertising standards. According to Wicked Campers, even violating the law is worth it. Here’s Wicked Campers on Facebook, mocking Queensland Police and gloating about the cheap fines!
Here’s a sample of some of the other misogynist messages Wicked Campers broadcast in the public space.
The Qld Government recently held an inquiry to determine whether the current system of advertising industry self-regulation is sufficient to prevent sexualised, objectifying or otherwise inappropriate content being broadcast in the public space.
Collective Shout participated in the inquiry and argued that self-regulation does not work. Wicked Campers is just one example of a repeat offender continually defying the advertising industry code of ethics.
The Parliamentary Committee Report was released in January 2014 with a list of recommendations which if acted on, would stop companies like Wicked Campers in their tracks.
Recommendations include significant and ever increasing fines for repeat offenders and a requirement for recalcitrant advertisers to submit to pre-vetting of future ad campaigns. We are calling on the Attorney General, the Minister for communities and child safety and the Qld Premier to act on these recommendations and make them law.
Violence against women is no joke and Wicked Campers have gotten away with this behaviour for too long. Your voice will make a difference!
Attorney General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie: email@example.com
Minister for Communities, Child Safety, Tracy Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Premier Campbell Newman: email@example.com
You might like to make the following points in your email:
I/We support the recommendations in the Parliamentary Committee Report for the Inquiry into sexually explicit outdoor advertising especially those that discuss financial penalties for advertisers that repeatedly violate the code of ethics
Companies like Wicked Campers should not be allowed to use slogans that degrade women and make light of violence against them for profit
Please take action on these recommendations and make them law.
Your voice DOES make a difference! If you have any questions, let us know in comments below. If you leave a valid email address (we will not publish your email address online) we can respond to your enquiry via email.
In 147 pages of beauty and fashion shopping, advice and advertising , along with tips on catching your “crush” this summer, there are, fortunately, a few articles that will actually help girls.
As you know, I always search for the personal stories which convey the reality of girls’ lives as well as inspiring resilience and hope. Not all girls are as carefree as the slim, sun-kissed, smooth bum-cheeked, glowing girls in the full page Rip Curl ads (as noted in the past, the re-touch free zone and claims to want to represent a diversity of bodies in young girl mag pages, has never incorporated advertising).
I commend Dolly’s editors for the piece ‘Life as a young carer’. Most of us have no idea of the reality of so many young people who care for physically and mentally ill parents or siblings. There are 347,700 young carers in Australia – about two teen carers in every classroom. 56% of young primary carers are not employed or at school. Jazelle, 18, has been primary carer for her mum since she was 10. Her mother broke her back in a motorbike accident as a teen however needed more help when she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease five years ago. She is in and out of hospital and because she requires so much care, Jazelle does distance education. A timeline of an average day for Jazelle shows the extent of her caring role. Carers have the lowest level of wellbeing of any Australian group, with over half reporting some level of depression and need more support. Support can be found through your local Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre on 1800 242 636 or youngcarers.net.au for services in your local area. Dolly has initiated Young Carers Week (November 25 – December 1) – not much time for readers to act given this is the December issue, however hopefully the week will be more developed for next year. Readers are encouraged to reach out to any young carers at school, offer help and to send messages through Dolly to young carers. I really hope they do. Read more here.
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“As you read, be prepared to feel both grief and rage.” Robert Jensen
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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.