The Para Hills West Soccer Club in Adelaide seems to have missed the memo.
By Coralie Alison
With a new focus on objectification of women, abuse, violence, sexism and misogyny, Para Hills West decides not only to host a ‘Men’s Night’ fundraiser – but advertise it at the club for all the junior boys to see.
Para Hills West is making sure boys learn early about what women are good for. It seems to have ignored amateur soccer’s own code of conduct.
Boys may wonder if their dads and coaches who they look up to, will take up the invite. (it’s just lads banding together to show their support for the club right?)
Not only does its display contribute to a culture that treats women as objects but it also normalises a behaviour that contributes to violence against women.
Sporting clubs have to work hard to turn the tide in sexist attitudes towards women. The culture of sexism in men’s sport is deeply entrenched. For this reason the AFL players association has partnered with The Line, an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022, delivered by Our Watch to combat sexism and promote respectful relationships.
Our Watch explain in their submission to the Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality that:
“Sexist and stereotypical ideas about masculinity and femininity may increase the probability of violence against women because they… can cast women as targets for exploitation, based on the idea that women are ‘naturally’ passive and submissive, combined with objectified and sexualised identities….”
Make the link, a Gippsland Women’s Health initiative, states on their website that:
“Violence against women is based upon a foundation of unequal power between men and women, something that has been embedded historically in our society and in our relationships. We see this imbalance acted out in many ways, even today. It is in the jokes we tell, the language we use and in the way that men and women are represented in all types of media. ”
We no longer subscribe to the old phrase ‘boys will be boys’. Our boys deserve better than that. Schools across the country are rolling out respectful relationship programs to help young people to have healthy, respectful and equitable relationships and address gender based violence. The actions of this club undermine these efforts.
It also makes women and girls feel excluded. What message does this event send to the women and girls involved in the club? We know that hyper-sexualised representations of women in advertising are directly associated with a range of consequences for girls, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, eating disorders, and even self harm. These factors will not lead girls to participate in sport themselves but rather avoid it.
“Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person, regardless of their gender, ability, cultural background or religion”
Women already face sexism in sport. This culture of sexism breeds in clubs that facilitate events such as this. How can we create an environment that is welcoming for all when sexually objectifying posters are plastered around the venue?
The sexualisation and objectification of women is the wallpaper of society, from billboards, to magazines, to music videos. This fundraiser means the club is endorsing this treatment of women. The club has an opportunity now to send a strong message to the community that this type of treatment of women is not okay.
Surely there are alternative avenues for sporting clubs to fundraise in ways that are respectful to all people in the community. The Para Hills West Soccer Club has a long history. Does the club now want to add sexism to that history?
Rape victim Katrina Keshishian says she ‘couldn’t believe my eyes’ when she read about a ‘simulated’ rape project
MTR comments on Melbourne artist who filmed her ‘rape’ for art installation
Australian writer and advocate for women, Melinda Tankard Reist, told news.com.au the project is “commendable” but “misguided”.
“She humanises this appalling human rights violation by turning some impersonal statistic into a real human face — it’s hard not to humanise her when you are staring into her face for three minutes,” she said.
“But I have some concerns and feel the project was misguided. Rape survivors may well ask: ‘What woman orchestrates and choreographs her own rape for an art installation? Is any art project really worth physical and emotional injury and life-long trauma?’”
She said the fact that she orchestrated and planned it also is not realistic.
“As a side question, if she had a camera that was visible could the man have considered it ‘consensual’ and acting out a fantasy? Also how would this be perceived if she ever wanted to press charges? It’s hard enough already for women who were raped not only to report but to see justice.”
She said the project has the “potential to reinforce the myth” of stranger rape.
“This kind of rape plays into rape myth that rape is when a stranger attacks you. By setting it up this way, inviting a stranger into her home, it plays into myths that women fantasise about being raped.”
If you are an artist and you abuse a child, never fear: the art world has your back, writes Melinda Tankard Reist.
Artists who commit sexual violations are too often considered above the law and deserving of special treatment.
Their brilliance is given deferential treatment: they exist in another moral universe where the rules governing everyone else don’t apply. Oddly, this deference does not apply to parking tickets.
Whether the art objects are photographs, films, pieces of pottery or woven tapestries, their makers are often bestowed with godlike qualities. Queensland art gallery owner Andrew Baker describes Torres Strait Islander printmaker and sculptor Dennis Nona, for example, as having ‘invented the visual language of his people’. Simon Wright, author of Dennis Nona: Time After Time, marvels about Nona’s ‘reckoning of the universal lay fertile”.
When Nona, 42, was jailed for multiple child rapes in 2014 – he challenged the conviction, but lost his appeal in July – members of the art world rushed to prop up their idol. Art history professor Sasha Grishin, for example, wrote that he was “not in any way disputing the seriousness of the crimes” for which Nona was convicted, but insisted that he was “the most important artist to emerge from the Torres Strait in the past 50 years”.
Cairns Regional Gallery director Andrea May Churcher stated that art, over time, has a life beyond its creators, and that Nona’s objects should still be seen as “an important part of our cultural heritage and works”.
With so many accolades, the sexual torture of children is rendered almost subordinate.
Art historian and valuer Frances Cummings said he was “very supportive” of Nona: “He is a genius of an artist and the things he committed were when he was a very young man.”
Nona’s former arts manager, Michael Kershaw, told the ACT Supreme Court that Nona was a ‘role model’. With so many accolades, the sexual torture of children is rendered almost subordinate. Perhaps we need to be reminded of what Nona did.
In 1995, Nona moved in with a mother and two teenage daughters while attending a Canberra art school. He raped one of the girls over the course of a year until she became pregnant at the age of 13 and was reported to child protection services. (The pregnancy was terminated at 23 weeks. In the words of the judge, the girl “underwent a late stage termination, which was not a straightforward procedure”).
Court records indicate that harm to the girl has been long lasting in the terrible damage it has done to her. She has suffered suicidal thoughts.
In 2004 and again in 2006, Nona was arrested on a domestic violence offence as well as an assault against a woman who refused to have sex with him. A domestic violence order was served on him in 2006.
Nona has not just been propped up by bigwigs of the Australian art world. A 2012 court judgment records that “senior officers of the AFP… for reasons of convenience or, most likely, expense” did not charge Nona with child rape offences in 1998, despite their having “evidence that the applicant had the opportunity to commit the offences”, and “extremely strong DNA evidence” of his responsibility for the pregnancy.
In the judgment, the presiding judge acknowledged that many people would find this decision by the AFP “inappropriate, if not shocking”. Shocking or not, the Australian art world was the beneficiary of the AFP decision, because Nona’s exhibitions continued in Australia and overseas.
The Australian painter Donald Friend was a self-confessed paedophile.
Even when police finally charged Nona, he pleaded not guilty, made an application for a permanent stay of proceedings under the Human Rights Act, and failed to show remorse.
Other artists have played the art card throughout a life of the sexual abuse of others, without any such call to justice. For example, the Australian painter Donald Friend was a self-confessed paedophile. A documentary produced by Kerry Negara reported Friend’s boast, in his own diaries, of frequent sex with boys as young as nine and 10 while living in Bali.
A prominent curator, Barry Pearce, responded that paedophilia was not black and white – that Friend’s paedophilia was “on the light side of penumbra” and Friend was merely interested in notions of youth and the ideal of the beauty of the body.
In contrast, the Balinese boys – now grown – said that they felt exploited and harmed by the experience of being “appreciated” for their beauty by Friend. But Pearce said to call Friend a paedophile would be “shocking”.
At the same time, the Australian art world is backed by public institutions that promulgate their sexual values.
The “roll-over” feature of the National Gallery of Victoria website allows viewers to zoom in on the naked body of an underage girl, without any cautions or caveats about the digitalised collection, the identities of the children pictured, or any indication of the controversy around the photographs displayed.
The roll-over pictures are part of the 1985 “TCM” series that Bill Henson gave to the gallery in 2007, before it auctioned off some works in the series in 2008 (another earlier auctioned image was of an underage girl lying on her back naked, with legs spread).
The Australian art world staunchly defends Henson’s activities in producing and disseminating these pictures. Tolarno Galleries refused to reveal the age of the youngest naked girl in its exhibition.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski raped and sodomised a 13-year-old – whom he had lured to a photoshoot – after giving her alcohol and a quaalude, while she begged to be released. He faced charges and fled to Europe because a judge suggested he might put Polanski in prison.
Polanski’s defenders described him as a persecuted victim: he was such a wonderful person and how tawdry was it that he should be subjected to the law, and what a nightmare for the poor genius. He continues to be a celebrated director.
Gore Vidal was quoted in The Atlantic as saying: “I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?”
No amount of whitewashing by the art establishment should be allowed to disguise the reality of the suffering of real victims.
I haven’t seen the latest photographs by artist Bill Henson to go on show at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne.
But I have seen these.
So I know what Henson is capable of and how he likes to depicts and shoot young girls.
The girl (image to the right) who featured naked on the invite to the Roslyn Oxley gallery was 13. While that photo was widely circulated, an even more graphic one of another girl (image to the left) was not. She is ‘Untitled 1985/86’, quietly auctioned by Menzies Art Brands, Lot 214, for $3800, only weeks after the original Henson controversy.
And when Tolarno Galleries refuses to reveal the age of the youngest naked girl in the new exhibition, you have to suspect there is a problem. Why the secrecy? Was she at an age where she could consent? As respected teen psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg put it when I asked his view, would she “have sufficient cognitive or emotional maturity to fully comprehend the potential ramifications of what she is doing?”
Where will her photo end up? Where did the photos of the other two girls above end up?
Why does calling it “art” make sexualised depictions of young girls OK?
It is right to question Henson’s sexual depictions of vulnerable naked young girls – and other overtly sexualised imagery of children – a point I made on Channel 7’s Morning Show last Thursday. Media academic and researcher Nina Funnell also reveals here that Henson’s images have been found in the collections of paedophilies.
Anorexia Nervosa is the third most common chronic illness for adolescent girls in Australia.
The overall mortality rate for anorexia is 5 times that of the same aged population in general.
The average duration is 7 years. Those who recover are unlikely to return to normal health.
Many sufferers develop chronic social problems, which can escalate to the extent experienced by schizophrenic patients.
Morbidity includes osteoporosis, anovulation, dysthymia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social isolation.
Although 70% of patients regain weight within 6 months of onset of treatment, 15-25% of these relapse, usually within 2 years.
The estimated mortality rate is 12 times that of similar aged women in the community and double that of women suffering other psychiatric disorders. Risk of suicide is high, being 1.5 times higher than for people with major depression.
These stats don’t fit easily on a t.shirt.
‘I heart anorexia’ does.
Artist Alexsandro Palombos has created a line of t.shirts featuring the ‘I heart anorexia’ slogan and ultra-thin celebrities. In claiming he wants to break down the ‘taboo’ on anorexia so that young women are not attracted to it, he shows a complete lack of understanding of this life-threatening condition.
In making fun of thin celebrities, depicting them as skeletal with apples or skeletal on the toilet, Palombos seems to think he can turn others off going down the same path.
According to my friend and colleague Lydia Turner from BodyMatters Australasia, Anorexia Nervosa is increasingly being seen as a brain disorder by leading eating disorder experts. So much so they are now looking at studies on schizophrenia to understand the neurological/cognitive impairment. Lydia says:
People don’t choose to have anorexia, so his statement. “Every day just eat a nice apple for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make sure it’s always a glamorous red one, it gives the idea of substance. Don’t drink water, an apple contains enough liquid. Replace it with champagne and lots of coke” only serves to mock anorexics and hold them up as objects of ridicule. His statement reflects how many genuinely think – it’s like mocking a person with schizophrenia whose thinking patterns are also distorted.
So what’s next? ‘I heart schizophrenia’, ‘I heart manic depression’ or ‘I heart bipolar’?
Messages like this make it harder for sufferers to acknowledge they have a problem. In the distorted thinking of some sufferers, it could glamourise their condition by giving them permission to advertise their love for anorexia.
These are the sufferers who congregate on on-line ‘pro-ana’ sites to urge each other on to continue their ‘lifestyle’. The ones who see themselves as the ultimate symbols of discipline, willpower and self-control in their quest for ultra-thinness. ‘I heart anorexia’ could become popular like ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ in the ‘thinspiration’ club.
‘I have fought 3 long years to reclaim my life from this monster’: Jackie
Here’s the thoughts of a young woman with the condition. Jacqueline reacted this way on my Facebook page:
…i am so sick of this bullshit…
I have lost the past 3 years to this illness – it cost me a university degree, it cost me my ability to work, it cost me friendships & a relationship, it cost me my freedom, instead filling every moment of my days & nights with rules & regulations & a never-ending screaming torment if i didn’t follow them.
It has cost me time that i can never get back, it has cost me tears of grief & terror. And it very nearly cost me my very life more than once. Do you know how humiliating it is to have an ambulance called to your place of work, because your entire body has seized up & you can literally cannot move a muscle? Or how terrifying it is to lie in the back of that ambulance & have seizures which they tell you may cause a stroke in you at your young age of just 23?
Glamorising such an incredibly serious illness such as anorexia – which holds the devastating honour of highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – is disgusting & incredibly dangerous. This glamourisation causes even professionals to look upon this hideous illness as something they “wouldn’t mind a little of” – at the height of my illness i have been asked by such people for tips on how to starve themselves! It means that a sufferer’s pain is often not taken seriously, as we seem to have something everyone else wants. Well guess what – i DON’T want this, & i have fought 3 long years so far in treatment to reclaim my life from this monster.
If i wore a tshirt that said “i ♥ cancer” or “i ♥ AIDS”, there would be an absolute uproar over my cruel insensitivity – why is it acceptable to glorify & in turn diminish the pain & suffering of those with a different form of illness; anorexia nervosa?
Here’s myself and Dr Naomi Craft from the Eating Disorder Foundation of Victoria, commenting on the t.shirts on Channel 7’s Morning Show yesterday:
Clive Hamilton has written a commendable piece about the way artistic men who commit sexual crimes are considered above the law and deserving of special treatment. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since a piece in The Australian last week defending Roman Polanski who was just so clever and such a wonderful person and how tawdry it was that he should be subjected to the law. What I found especially troubling was the depiction of Polanski’s assault of a girl as ‘sexual intercourse with a minor’, with no mention of the fact that he drugged and raped her (vaginally and anally). ‘Sexual intercourse with a minor’ disguises what really happened to the girl, who was only 13 at the time.
To explore the whole issue in more depth see ‘The Gaze that Dare Not Speak Its Name: Bill Henson and Child Sexual Abuse Moral Panics’, by Dr Abigail Bray,in Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls.
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