Governments and regulatory bodies continue to ignore the culture drivers fueling sexist attitudes and behaviours
This week we’ve had big name global clothing companies General Pants, Calvin Klein and Queensland fast food eatery, Burger Urge, in our sights. GP and CK are repeat offenders. It’s the first time this slimy burger chain has come to our attention. The only urge we now have is to expose the lot of you for your sexism and women hatred.
This time they have released a video and poster campaign called “Fit in” to advertise their new denim range.
What is most obvious from the in-store posters and the accompanying video is the way the women in particular are sexualised (one is even topless) while the men appear mostly fully clothed.
What makes matters more unbelievable is that General Pants recently partnered with White Ribbon selling ribbons and wristbands in-store and online to raise funds for the anti-violence campaign. This is ironic considering objectification of women, sexist jokes and language are all contributing factors to violence against women… Read full article and take action here
General Pants seems to think it can white wash its sexism by flogging a few white ribbons
I’ve seen some pathetic responses from corporates in my time. This would have to be in the top five.
This doesn’t even make sense. It won’t happen in future by you stand by it? Have you thought of taking up a course in ‘Logic for Dummies’?
If you want to be inclusive why not stop objectifying half of humanity?
Trying to capitalize on its relationship with White Ribbon, General Sexism, sorry, General Pants, issued another statement Friday. Nice try, but you’re still not excused. And this is hardly a ‘singular’ example. You have an entire culture of sexism shown through repeated sexual exploitation of women which we’ve been documenting since our formation.
White Ribbon needs to take a strong stand and dump General Pants as a partner. As my colleague and Collective Shout’s director of operations Coralie Alison pointed out, the anti-violence organisation expressed concern about General Pants late last year.
General Pants can’t white wash its sexism by flogging a few white ribbons.
Calvin Klein’s Sexist Billboard – Men Make Money, Women Seduce
It’s 2016. Yet companies all over the world continue to push the toxic message that women are only valued for their sex appeal. We’ve spoken out about Calvin Klein before for their ‘gang rape’ billboards which thankfully at the time were ordered to be removed after complaints to the Advertising Standards Board.
Now they have come out with this:
The text accompanying the image of the woman says “I seduce in #mycalvins” and the text accompanying the man says “I make money in #mycalvins” suggesting that while men can be successful in business women are only there for their sex appeal. There is an obvious contrast between the way the two images are styled and posed.
One successful businesswoman, Heidi Zak, who is a CEO of ThirdLove, the company she founded, saw the Billboard and decided she was going to do something about it….Read full article and take action here.
Burger Urge Delivers Sexism
Brisbane-based restaurant chain Burger Urge says “We Deliver!” It sure does – delivering sexism with this new ad campaign. A woman, spread legged and reclining as though giving birth, delivers a big juicy hamburger into the hands of a waiting man. Mocking the profound act of birthing a child, the woman is treated as a piece of meat delivering meat.
This is one of the most sexist burger ads we’ve ever seen. And unfortunately there have been a few…
Collective Shout founder Melinda Tankard Reist says that this is just one more example of the “sexist, backward, misogynist advertising” that we are being confronted with every day.
“You wonder if these companies realise it’s the 21st century,” she says.
“We’ve all had enough of this, we’re not buying it, we think women should be treated as women not as objects.”
Tankard Reist notes that the Burger Urge ad is just one of a barrage of sexist ads that have become the wallpaper of our society.
“The cumulative effect of this sort of sexism creates and contributes to sexist and misogynist attitudes which in turn create sexist behaviour that ultimately hurts women and girls,” she says. Read full article here.
Let Burger Urge know what you think of them on their FB page. And urge your friends to do the same.
Or call their QLD outlets: (07) 3254 1655, (07) 3844 8777, (07) 3839 2187 and ask to speak to management.
Thousands of people have joined a group calling for the boycott of Wicked Campers after a Byron Bay man was threatened with prosecution because he sprayed over an obscene slogan on the back of one of the company’s vehicles.
The company’s vans with their lurid spraypainted slogans, some even promoting, if not inciting rape, are popular with young tourists travelling around the northern rivers.
Byron shire grandfather Paul McCarthy told media he had a ‘brain snap’ when he saw the slogan ‘A b..w job a day beats an apple’ on the back of a Wicked Camper vehicle recently and spray-painted over the offending word (blow).
There’s a new petition calling on the QLD Attorney-General to take action. Please support it.
Jingle bells, Christmas is here. Well, it was here around October according to most retailers! But that’s another blog entirely. So it’s time for you to fill the Christmas stocking, Christmas hamper or car boot with goodies again.
Throughout the past year, Collective Shout has taken action to create a world free of sexploitation. Now it’s your turn to create a shopping bag free of sexploitation this Christmas.
Below is a list of products, brands, people and companies who have been ‘naughty’ and not nice this year. Actually they’ve been exploitative, degrading and disturbing.
Here is a list of corporate offenders we have crossed off our shopping list this year. We encourage you all to do the same.
Thousands of people spoke out against Roger David shirts featuring objectifying images of gagged and half naked women. Roger David have never addressed concerns about these shirts and continue to stock them. Shop somewhere else for men’s clothing this Christmas.
Degrading images usually reserved for the centre pages of fhm or Ralph magazine, have now found their way onto t-shirts marketed primarily towards teenagers, via the T.I.T.S brand stocked by City Beach. If you don’t see these items in City Beach, you will see them wherever a person chooses to wear them. City Beach is contributing to the pornification of culture! Don’t buy from City Beach this holiday season.
Amazon came under fire recently for selling a book titled The pedophile’s guide to love and pleasure: a code of conduct for child lovers.Since then more disturbing material has been found such as Understanding loved boys and boy lovers. Did Amazon act swiftly to remove these child abuse manuals when challenged? No, it defended it’s right to sell the child abuse instruction guide as free speech until they could no longer ignore the threat of global boycott. A company that supports child abuse does not deserve your money. Don’t shop at Amazon.com
‘High Beams’… ‘Pussy Power’ … ‘Santa’s Bitch’ … ‘North Pole Dancer’ … All slogans on t-shirts at Supre, a retailer hugely popular with 11 and 12 year old girls. After loads of complaints sparked by an article on Melinda Tankard Reist’s blog in December 2009, Supre said they would remove the shirts. They lied, the shirts were seen on the clearance rack selling for $5. Don’t shop at a store that treats little girls this way.
Where to begin with Lynx? The Lynx Lodge dubbed a ‘virtual brothel’ by the media. The ‘pop up spa’ in Sydney’s Martin Place, providing passers by with the sexual titillation usually reserved for a strip club. Lynx have been combining deodorant with porn themes and marketing them to a teenage audience for years. They call this the Lynx Effect. The Lynx Effect is that men treat women as objects of sexual recreation. Do not support them this holiday season. Put their stinky, over-priced gift packs back on the shelf, because Lynx Stynx! Lynx have defended their campaign saying it is designed to give men ‘confidence.’ Having looked at Lynx’s facebook page, many men are now quite confident in treating women like pieces of meat.
To add insult to injury, Lynx is owned by Unilever. Do you know what else Unilever owns? Dove. You know, the campaign for real beauty, where women are encouraged to be themselves, to love who they are, no matter what size, colour or age? Contrast the ‘campaign for real beauty’ with Lynx’s advertising and you will see why many are keen to ditch Unilever altogether. It’s easy to do, just look for the ‘U’ logo on the back of the label, then put it back on the shelf! Check out the full list of Unilever brands here.
Lovable are using their affiliation with a leading Eating Disorders charity to further their reputation and profits, while undermining their work in every way. You cannot use a former ‘Miss Universe,’ a woman known for her ‘flawless’ physical attributes in a pornified campaign and claim to be helping to promote positive body image. Eating Disorders are serious mental health issues affecting a growing number of girls and women each year. Not something to be taken advantage of to increase your profits. Lovable? As one commentator has put it, their behaviour is ‘hatable.’
Calvin Klein has a long record of pornified, degrading advertising. Recently we alerted our supporters to this billboard dubbed the ‘gang rape’ billboard. The Ad Standards Board received a large volume of complaints about this ad, sparked by articles on Collective Shout and Melinda Tankard Reist’s blog. An Ad Standards Board representative even wrote to us asking us to advise supporters to use the online facility instead of fax or post – apparently the number of complaints was impacting their workload and online is easier for them to process. The Ad Standards Board upheld the complaints and the billboards were taken down. Read the outcome here. If you see the Calvin Klein logo on jeans, underwear or perfume, put it back on the shelf. This company does not deserve your money.
Diesel has a history of sexualised and degrading ad campaigns. ‘Be stupid’ is one of these campaigns with the accompanying slogan: ‘smart may have the brains but stupid has the balls.’ Melinda Tankard Reist has written about that campaign here.
Diesel came to our attention again this year when images of their ‘sex sells’ campaign were plastered on the front of shop windows. This resulted in a flood of complaints from our supporters with at least one retail store agreeing to remove the posters.
Diesel again hit the media just recently. A US law school rented out their Library to Diesel for what they were told would be a tasteful photo shoot for jeans. The resulting images of models in their underwear crawling over the facilities and each other, were an embarrassment for the law school who said they were duped into allowing Diesel to use their facilities.
“It’s gross. I work on those computers every day!” fumed a female student, referring to a shot showing two women wearing just bras and panties climbing over the machines toward an older man.
Now it’s over to you!
As well as boycotting those which objectify and sexualise in their advertising, we want to support those who are doing the right thing.
Tell us what you will choose not to buy this holiday season.
Can you share with us any positive alternatives to some of these brands?
Objecting to objectification: Collective Shout celebrates a year of wins
Collective Shout, a dynamic grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls, celebrates its first birthday in Brisbane this weekend.
Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, was founded to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services. The movement has established itself as a serious agent for change.
In its first 12 months, the movement has achieved a number of significant wins. These include:
• Getting Bonds to withdraw bras for 6-year-old girls
• Getting supermarket chain Woolworths to disassociate itself with a sexist Lynx promotion
• Getting Calvin Klein billboards suggestive of sexual assault removed
Collective Shout co-founder and spokesperson, Melinda Tankard Reist, said the campaign had helped remind companies of the importance of corporate social responsibility.
“What Collective Shout has achieved in its first year is extraordinary,” she said.
“We have seen inappropriate clothing, toys and games removed from sale, billboards taken down, sexist ad campaigns stopped.
“We have helped people recognise they have a right to object and equipped and empowered them to take action. We have put corporations on notice that if they do the wrong thing, they will be exposed and boycotted. The bodies of women and girls should not be seen as fodder for companies to exploit for profit.”
Collective Shout’s achievements will be celebrated this weekend at an event featuring Melinda Tankard Reist, Julie Gale, comedian and founder of ‘Kids Free to be Kids’, Erica Bartle, ‘Girl with a Satchel’ blogger and local musos and artists.
Date: Saturday November 20, 2010
Place: SPOON, 6/33 Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, QLD
Media enquiries: Melinda Tankard Reist, ph: 0414305738
The backlash against corporate exploitation of women
“Women are frequently positioned very differently to men in media. Often shown as passive, vulnerable, scantily clad, headless, and sometimes dead…”
Today a guest post from eating disorder prevention specialist and member of Collective Shout’s core team, Lydia Turner. It’s reprinted from theFierce, Freethinking Fatties blog.
In recent years there has been a growing backlash against the prescription of a rigid beauty ideal. The bombardment of images of ultra-slim models, across a range of mediums, is increasingly gaining recognition as having a harmful effect on girls and women. Late last year, 45 international eating disorder experts released a statement, reporting that after reviewing over 100 international studies, the evidence was “overwhelming” that these images contributed to increasing rates of anxiety, depression, sexual dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, unhealthy weight loss behaviours, and eating disorders [http://bit.ly/cUwZSJ].
Rather than seeing eating disorders as ‘extreme’ responses to a culture that actively discriminates against those labelled fat, the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement recognises unhealthy weight loss practices have become culturally normative as a consequence. When fat people – especially fat women – are depicted in the media, they are usually held up as objects of ridicule, with a barrage of negative characteristics attacking their intellect, integrity, self-worth, and sexuality. For this reason, allowing ‘plus-size’ or fat women to be depicted as ‘sexy mynx’ may seem liberating, giving permission and visibility to women who are systematically denied sexual identity. Yet the need to prove sexual acceptance reveals that participation in a discourse of oppression is required – for women of all sizes – in order to achieve visibility.
We need to discuss the wider problem of the hyper-sexualisation of girls and women in media everywhere. It is not any one particular image that is problematic; but rather the reiteration of the same sexualised images that create a harmful cultural narrative of what it means to be a girl or woman in industrialised nations today. When corporations are given unfettered power, abuse of the consumer is a result. We have already seen this demonstrated in the massive conflicts of interest in obesity research and unethical practices promising thinness. It is now time to recognise that global brands are contributing to illness by cashing in on the narrow way in which women and girls are being depicted in media – even when the ideal is expanded to include fatter women.
While the beauty ideal for decades had already required women to be (usually) white and ultra-slim, pornographic themes are rapidly creeping into mainstream media, showing women in ways that suggest they are nothing more than sexual service stations for men. Consider Australian brand Lovable’s latest campaign. Employing Miss Universe, it shows Jennifer Hawkins in bra and undies, suggestively licking an ice cream with white liquid running down her arms, in reference to male ejaculation.
Then there are Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana ads, known for ‘pushing boundaries,’ with many of their ads alluding to gang rape and violence against women, used in outdoor advertising. One Dolce & Gabbana ad has now been withdrawn in Italy.
In Argentina, Unilever’s child company Axe has launched ads that encourage boys to sexually harass women .
Unilever’s other child company claims it will open a lodge in Sydney later this year, promoting female servitude as “the ultimate male fantasy,” with scantily clad young staff obeying men’s orders in adherence to the lodge’s central theme of “tell her what to do” .
Women are frequently positioned very differently to men in media. Often shown as passive, vulnerable, scantily clad, headless, and sometimes dead such as in these ads:
These images inform women over and over that their body primarily exists for the purpose of evoking male desire, as though their bodies are merely sex aids. Robbing them of their humanity, women are often referred to as “it” or “that”, for example on Facebook’s Lynx Effect UK site fans say things like “you no [sic] you would ruin that all night long” commenting on photos of young women in bikinis. Axe, also a child-company of Unilever, has ads recommending men use its shower gel to “scrub away the skank” the morning after a regretted sexual encounter (including women who are disabled, ill, or elderly).
These images and language choice have a very dehumanising effect, which is dangerous on many levels. They help create a climate which increases violence against women, or at least, puts women in danger of violence. As we see on Lynx Effect Ireland’s page, fans discuss types of women they dislike: “She’s a bitch,” says one commentator. Others advocate violence against them, saying things like “spray Lynx in her face.” Lynx Effect Ireland insists this is all just ‘tongue-in-cheek.’ Lynx are not alone in portraying violence against women as sexy.
It is not just women that are affected. Given these many of these images are displayed in public areas, children can’t be protected from seeing them. Yet if such images were shown to a child by a paedophile in a private area, we would call this “grooming.” Images such as these are also not allowed in the workplace, as they are considered a form of sexual harassment. Yet they pollute our public landscape.
What message do these images send boys about how women should be treated? What message do they send girls about their own bodies and self-worth? Academic psychologist Cordelia Fine revealed numerous studies confirming that environments that cue gender stereotypes negatively affect how men interact with women, even when women are fully clothed. With advertisements positioning women as sex objects, such as in this banned Toyota Yaris ad, this “drip drip effect” has a detrimental impact on women, and on the way men relate to them.
Children are further affected when corporations try to out-sell competitors by pushing boundaries by ‘adultifying’ and sexualising them. Up until two weeks ago, corporate giant BONDS was selling bras for girls as young as six. They weren’t the only ones. Retail chain Best & Less, and even Kmart was stocking ‘bralettes’ for little girls. Another company went as far as selling padded bras – with lace – for six year olds.
These messages go against the spirit of the Health At Every Size and Fat Acceptance movements, as they erode body trust while inducing bodily anxieties, for girls of all sizes. Retail chain Supre whose target market are ‘tweens’ ages 6-12 has sold t-shirts stating “Pussy Power” and “Santa’s Bitch.” In rap/hip hop culture this means the girl is ‘owned’ by Santa as he is her ‘pimp.’
Another retail chain, Witchery was just this week exposed for their latest catalogue showing little girls wearing mini-adult clothing and striking adult poses.
While these are not sexualised images, adultifying girls blurs the line between girls and women, where girls feel increasing pressure to achieve the same beauty ideals traditionally applied only to their mothers. The cultural messaging teaches them that their worth depends primarily on whether they are ‘hot-or-not,’ instead of fostering real values, talent, and intellect. It is predictable these days that when a young female celebrity reaches the age of 16, she must “prove” she is “all grown up” by stripping down, such as in the example of pop singer Gabriella Cilmi and Miley Cyrus. Funny how young male celebrities are never required to do the same.
When a ‘plus-size’ woman is allowed to be ‘sexy,’ she is still positioned as a sexual object rather than one who ‘owns’ her own sexuality and personhood. Take former Australian Idol contestant Ricky-Lee Coulter for example. It was considered a victory posing her on the cover of lads mag Ralph because she was not waif-like.
Yet she was required to be scantily clad, donning a dominatrix-style outfit with whip. ‘Bigger’ women are often positioned in this way. We are still attaching unhealthy messages to women of all sizes – being ‘plus-size’ or fat does not provide immunity against the damaging effects of objectification.
While the Health At Every Size and fat acceptance movements actively speak out against the harms of promoting thinness as the only acceptable body type, I urge all supporters to consider also supporting movements that send other harmful messages to girls and women about their bodies. Messages that tell women all they are ‘good for.’ While some argue that the increasing sexualisation of girls and women is sexually liberating, I say these corporate messages are actually sexually prescriptive.
As Gail Dines argues in her latest book Pornland, it’s time we stopped allowing corporations to hijack our sexuality. Accepting one’s body does not include feeling that everyone must have big breasts or obligatory fattened lips to feel good about themselves, nor that their stripping is necessary to prove their newfound body-love. Just as fat is not “evidence” of poor health, neither is aging- yet we are told on shows like Oprah that aging is somehow linked to not taking good care of oneself. It’s imperative these movements collaborate with others that challenge other notions that also affect body image.
In Australia, a new grassroots advocacy group has already achieved a raft of successes against advertisers, corporations and marketers which promote body shame through their hyper sexualised products and marketing practices. Headed by author and social commentator Melinda Tankard Reist, ‘Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation,’ has managed to stop the sale of bras and bra-like products to girls under age 10, block a rape-simulation game console from being accessed in Australia, successfully pressured Woolworths to cancel its support of the Lynx Lodge, amongst many other wins. Collective Shout is less than a year old already with over 1500 members worldwide. If you would like to show your support, please sign up here .
The Advertising Standards Board has upheld complaints against Calvin Klein for billboards suggestive of sexual violence against a woman. The Board received 50 complaints against the ad.
I first mentioned the billboards in ‘Sexism: alive and well in Australia’, published on ABC The Drum Unleashed September 29. Last week I ran a guest post by sexual assault counsellor Alison Grundy who asked why Calvin Klein thought it acceptable to use sexual violence as a marketing tool.
Collective Shout led the charge against the ads. The issue was then picked up in the Herald Sun today. This afternoon Collective Shout supporter Patrice Daly – who first alerted us to the billboard she’d seen in Kings Cross – received the ruling of the Advertising Standards Board, upholding the complaints. Nine MSN reported the decision here. The Herald Sun updated its original piece here.
This is a significant ruling. I have reprinted it in full (it doesn’t appear to be on the ASB’s site yet). I love the ending.
One more thing: The boycott against Calvin Klein should continue. The company was made to act in this case and they are not exactly known as an objectification-free zone when it comes to their advertising.
“I cannot escape one simple fact: that if we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualized and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse.”
Alison Grundy is a Clinical Psychologist with 20 years experience working with victims of sexual and interpersonal violence. We got to know each other when she asked me to address sexual assault counsellors on the sexualisation of girls, at a seminar in Sydney last year. Alison posted a comment on my piece Sexism: alive and well in Australia (reprinted here from The Drum Unleashed)which I thought deserved expansion as a guest post.
As a therapist in the field of sexual violence for 20 years now, I always thought things would get better over time. As more people became aware of the pain and suffering, the utter devastation, the long-standing and often severe psychological problems, the drug and alcohol addictions, the relationship and parenting difficulties, society would change and we would protect women and children from abuse, especially sexual abuse. In short, we would become more civilized.
But as I look at the Calvin Klein poster clearly intimating the gang rape of a woman to advertise the brand, the inescapable conclusion is that we have somehow gone badly backwards. All kinds of questions occur to me.
How can it be OK to use sexual violence as a marketing tool? When did gang rape stop being abhorrent and become “sexy”? When did gang rape get minimized to “group sex”? Why does it seem so easy for the average person to believe that a woman (often a very young woman) would really consent to having sex with large groups of drunken, abusive men?
Of course there are many complex socio-political and psychological issues involved in sexual violence in all its forms. Given that orgasm is a powerful reinforcer of behaviour -and I would argue, attitudes – if our boys and men are watching and masturbating to endless scenes of women being sexually tortured by groups of men while breathlessly claiming they want more (through gritted teeth), we can hardly be surprised that our daughters are less safe from this type of sexual crime now than ever before.
Unfortunately, as this advertisement shows, the mainstreaming of pornography and violent sexualised imagery is ubiquitous. Boys and men no longer need to be ashamed of accessing demeaning and debasing images of women. They are everywhere, condoned by society, reflecting its values and therefore proudly shared on computers and phones, billboards and catalogues.
Meanwhile the sex industry is now seen as just that, an industry as like any other in the market place. But instead of selling the newest type of skateboards to our young men it sells the degradation of women. In doing so, it reduces their humanity to what they offer sexually, and contributes to making the world a very dangerous place – especially for women and children.
We now have 30 years of research demonstrating that what we watch on TV, play in interactive games and see in pornography, does affect us, does change us and does influence our choices of behaviour.
I am still surprised that most people think sexual violence is relatively uncommon. I think this is because the victims are so blamed, shamed and persecuted they rarely speak up – and because the perpetrators of this type of violence rarely face any consequences.
There are many studies showing that interpersonal violence is so common. As a clinical psychologist it is the foundation of most of the issues I will ever encounter no matter where I work. And one of the most damaging forms of interpersonal violence is of course, sexual abuse.
In its 2006 report, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research tells us there were more than 7000 reports to police of sexual and indecent assault in NSW in 2004. However, it is widely recognised that reports to police represent only a fraction of the assaults that are actually happening, perhaps only ten to fifteen percent.
So the Bureau’s statistics roughly translate, in the real world, to 50-70,000 crimes of this type against mostly women and children in 2004 in NSW. (The year 2004, by the way, did not differ much from the previous 10-year data and is probably reflective of the years since).
Most people would be staggered to know that only about one in ten of these reported incidents resulted in someone being found guilty in court and about half of those who were found guilty did not receive a prison sentence.
So, to summarise, a rough (and probably conservative) estimate of 50- 70,000 acts of sexual violence in one year in NSW and only 251 people receiving a full time prison sentence as a consequence of these actions. This sobering reality perhaps explains some of the high recidivist rates.
These are very complex issues, and there are very many reasons why sexual violence is so endemic in Australia. We need a much more concerted effort to bring these crimes into the light.
We need to believe victims and help them to heal with compassion and justice. We need to treat offenders with programs that accept no excuses and help them to recognise the immense damage their behaviour has caused.
But this will only happen in the context of the society we live in and the kind of world we allow. In this world, the horrifying crime of gang rape is being increasingly reported to professionals such as myself.
And this crime is being carried out on the bodies of young and younger girls. A phenomena my colleagues and I are seeing is younger and younger girls presenting – often 13 and 14 years of age – after gang rape.
I have sat in counseling with many women – often very young – and therefore just beginning to define what they would like their lives to be – who have experienced the terror and unrelenting horror of rape and gang rape. It’s a struggle that goes on and on through years of rebuilding a sense of self, a world view and working out a way of being part of a society again that not only allows the vast majority of rapes to never be punished but allows constant in your face debasement and trivialization of their trauma in billboards like this.
Where are the regulators? Where are the minds and hearts of the people who get paid to make these offensive campaigns? Maybe they can spend just an hour or two in my office any day of the week.
I cannot escape one simple fact: that if we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualised and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse.
We should be striving to be more, not less civilized. But Calvin Klein just makes this goal less attainable.
Virginia Haussegger is right to lament the status of women in other countries and the brutalities and indignities they suffer daily.
But attitudes towards women in our own so-called liberated western democracy desperately need an overhaul as well.
While I frequently write about the objectification of women and girls, this issue has been unrelenting of late. Sexism is alive and well. Is it really the 21st century?
Lynx sexual performance in Martin Place
Last Thursday global brand Unilever staged a ‘Pop-up spadate’ in Sydney’s Martin Place to promote its ‘man-cation’ travel destination, the Lynx Lodge. Young bikini-clad women splashed about in a hot tub. The amply breasted models had shower gel splattered across their chests (a reference to ejaculation, for those unfamiliar with the porn genre).
Nina Funnell described the scene in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday:
“… Martin Place was transformed into something resembling a cheap porn filmset…The hot tub was placed on a raised platform, blocked off by rails. Male suits pulled out iPhones to take photos through the rails…Other Lynx models pranced around in tiny French maid outfits. Another had set up a masseuse table and was busy giving a semi-naked man a massage. Unsurprisingly men ogled the women, slapping each other on the back, while making comments like “she’s a bit of all right” or “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that”. I felt like I’d walked into a middle aged man’s seedy buck’s night. It was 9am on a Thursday morning.”
Did Sydney City Council and its female Lord Mayor approve this sexual display in the middle of Sydney city? No qualms about sending men off to work all aroused? No second thoughts about the message to boys that they are entitled to ogle women in public places?
The Lynx Lodge appears to be parent company Unilever’s foray into the sex industry, with all the trappings of a brothel without identifying it as such. “Lynx Lodge – Get Laid Back” declares the website:
“The ultimate man-cation destination to get you back to your primal roots”
“Get laid back, as lodge staff pamper you with breakfast in bed and on-the-spot massages”
“Golf range: Grab your wood”
“Pool hall: Scared of being beaten by a girl? Some of our guests quite enjoy it.”
“Ball Games: Teamwork is everything, so be sure to focus on your partner’s backside to make out her block signals.”
Women are advertised as ready to do a man’s bidding and to entertain and excite him.
A video ad shows young women lonely and desperate for men to arrive at the lodge. Helpless and passive, they need a man to serve and give them attention. One girl wades naked into the lake waiting for him to arrive.
You can see just how mainstream sexism has become. Woolworths is in bed with Lynx, co-branding in the promotion of borderline prostitution at the Lodge.
Yet Woolies claims a “high level of social responsibility”.
How is supporting a view of women as subservient sexual slaves acting responsibly? Woolies, the women-as-fresh-meat-people?
Does this look like one of your fresh food mums, Mr Michael Luscombe, Managing Director and CEO?
Evidence of the Lynx Effect can be found on its Facebook page.
“DO I WIN A BLONDE , NICE ASS , LARGE NATURAL BREASTS,NICE EYES ” asks one man. About the spa girls:
“you no [sic] that you would ruin that all night long”
The Gold Cost Turf Club: Parading women like animals
The Gold Coast Turf Club is planning a special summer carnival in which women in bikinis take the place of horses. Herded into horse barrier stalls, they will be released to sprint down the straight for a prize.
The entry form calls entrants “mares and fillies”. The club takes no responsibility for “injury or death”. Women must wear a bikini and “acceptable running shoes”. Of course, her feet must be supported but her breasts need be free to bounce around for the entertainment of male punters.
The responses from Women in Racing and the Brisbane Women’s Club were lamentably weak. Women in Racing Director Jennifer Bartels said: ”We love anyone who will promote racing, but perhaps this isn’t quite racing. Good luck to them though.” Good luck to them?
Turf Club CEO Andrew Eggleston wants to see elite sportswomen take part. Just not in their usual sportswear.
Calvin Klein violent billboards
Then I was sent this billboard image from a woman in Sydney. Another example of violence against women being promoted as sexy, with intimations of the gang rape of an inanimate young woman. Where the hell is the Advertising Standards Board on this and others like it?
Yesterday my sister contacted me from Byron Bay about the three Wicked Campers she’d just seen with slogans: “Jugs” “Random Breast Testing” and “Shaved Pussy” across their vans. Sexism on wheels.
Everywhere they look, women and girls get the message that they exist for male gratification and pleasure. Their reason for being is to serve men and meet their every need. They should enjoy sexual harassment.
Fortunately there is a grassroots uprising against this. You can find it at www.collectiveshout.org. We’ve had enough. Vive la revolution.
Plus: Grand Theft auto gamer’s instruction video for best way to murder prostituted women
And Calvin Klein’s new men’s underwear ad: No, we don’t want to see your d—k.
Elizabeth at My Milk Spilt, whose piece on Facebook and violence against women I published here the other day, has now written about an experience she had in the Melbourne school where she is a teacher. The discussion with her students revealed just how de-sensitized young people have become about violence – and their lack of empathy. One girl is “shocked” that Bowling for Columbine attracted so much attention. Why? Because only 15 people died. The murder of a mother and her two young daughters wasn’t that brutal, because “they were only shot in the head” said another girl.
This is what a daily diet of depictions of violence, torture and brutality is doing to kids. Where will it take us?
How to kill prostitutes
On her site, Elizabeth has also posted a Grand Theft Auto clip. It features a male gamer describing his preferred method for killing prostituted women and instructing fellow gamers on the best strategies and methods for doing so. GTA is played by young boys around the globe. Given that it incites violence against women, why is this game and this clip allowed?
We Don’t Buy It
Calvin Klein has come up with a nasty add to promote its new underwear line for men. The language is aggressive and threatening. “Do you want to see my dick?”, “Do you want some f—ing more?” I like Happy Bodies take on it. Don’t buy Calvin Klein.
Nastier by the minute
A friend and colleague emailed me yesterday. She said: “All this is getting harder, faster, nastier by the minute. Maybe it’s me. But it does feel like this culture is growing exponentially.” No, it’s not just you T. Violence against women is colonising every available space.
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