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.
Woman’s Health Magazine editor Felicity Harley had said in response to the furore: “It is disappointing that this has become the focus rather than the phenomenal sporting talents of our Australian female athletes.”
And why do you think that was Felicity? It’s you and Women’s Health who caused this to be the case by sending spectacularly conflicting messages about what you valued in women. If it’s ‘phenomenal sporting talent’ you’re interested in, why pay four topless women to turn up? Were we supposed to overlook these almost-naked painted models parading at a signature event supposedly celebrating the sporting achievements of female athletes?
Since then, as the social media condemnation grew and Danielle Warby, a board director of the Australian Women Sport and Recreation Association, ramped things up with this piece, Women’s Health was forced into an apology.
The fact that at least one man admitted on Women’s Health Facebook page to getting off on the images shows how wrong they got it.
Initial reports left out the image of the model representing Cathy Freeman, painted in her designer one-piece Olympic running suit and she was not referred to. Perhaps this was to protect her dignity, I’m not sure. However, this insult to Freeman must be named. Of the four, her replica is the most recognisable.
I have some questions for Women’s Health. Where did you find the models? Who was the agency? Did Women’s Health make deliberate specifications regarding women’s breast size, for example? Who was hired to painted their bodies (including the logos just above one of the model’s nipples)? Who were the models hired to entertain exactly?
It’s one thing when men do this to women (most of the time). But when women facilitate the objectification of women and do so under a banner of celebrating sporting achievement, it’s even more depressing. Have sexualised representations of women, including women who have achieved greatly, become so normal and mainstream that even women editors of a popular women’s health magazine didn’t see a problem?
The Women’s Health Australia “I support women in sport awards” was held this week to recognise the achievements of Australia’s female athletes.
Women’s Health editor Felicity Harley said the night was “all about giving recognition and telling the stories of Australian sportswomen, who don’t get enough coverage for their efforts and talents.”
A worthy goal indeed. Harley is right – sportswomen don’t get enough coverage for their talents and efforts. The sexual objectification of female athletes is a long-standing problem in our culture which continues to have a negative impact on the health and well-being of women and girls and limits their participation in sport.
This makes the decision to hire topless women for the event – wearing only underpants and body paint -even more bizarre.
Female athletes and advocates for women in sport were quick to call out Women’s Health Magazine for reinforcing the sexual objectification of women in sport:
Danielle Warby, a board director of the Australian Womensport and Recreation Association asked Women’s Health editor Felicity Harley for an explanation. Harley responded by dodging responsibility and blaming the media.
Harley also hasn’t explained why Women’s Health Australia hired naked models.
Speaking to the SMH, Warby said “The sexualisation of women in sport is a massive issue,”…”These women are not athletes, they are naked and I don’t know why they are there.”
Here’s why this is important:
Sexual objectification undermines women and girls equal participation in sport.
Focusing on an athlete’s physical attributes in an overtly sexual manner can create anxiety and embarrassment for the individual. This may be compounded by a heightened body awareness already present in many female athletes. If the athlete does not feel she ‘measures up’ to an external judgment of her physique, her self-esteem may suffer.
A potential consequence of lowered self-esteem is compromised athletic performance. The athlete becomes distracted both on and off the arena of sport, and may be tempted into unhealthy eating habits. In younger athletes, where self-confidence may be less secure, the increased focus on the body because of sexploitation can lead to a poor body image. There is a wealth of research linking poor body image with increased risk of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours.
(source: Jan Borrie, Shaping up to the image makers, Panorama, The Canberra Times, 27 May 2000)
A Magazine titled “Women’s Health” should know better than to pull a stunt like this. Our elite female athletes – and the young aspiring athletes looking to follow their example – deserve better.
Take Action! Make your voice heard – Tweet, Facebook or email
Tweet Womens Health Magazine @womenshealthaus
Tweet Australian Government is included amoung the sponsors of the event. Contact the Minister for Health and Sport Peter Dutton. @PeterDutton_MP
Mainstreaming and normalising the abuse and exploitation of women
The Sex Factor is a new reality TV program where contestants compete for the chance to become a porn star. It will be shown exclusively online. The Sex Factor is setting to profit from the mainstreaming of pornography and legitimising it as an attractive career choice for young women. It is also normalising violence against women, given what we know porn ‘performers’ suffer in the industry.
While discussions of the harms of pornography often focus on the damage to children, to the healthy sexuality of porn consumers and the damage to women as a whole, it is important to also acknowledge the harms to those (particularly women) in the industry. While the porn industry works hard to portray pornography as a glamorous and liberating career choice, many of the female performers speak of violence, exploitation and abuse.
A common misconception about pornography is that it is just people having sex on camera. However, in mainstream pornography violence is now the norm, with men inflicting violence and abuse against women who are forced to submit to body-punishing and humiliating sex acts. A 2010 study of the fifty most popular pornographic DVD titles found that 88% of scenes included violence. Of these, 95% depicted violence against women by men.
One need look no further than the industry’s own Adult Video News website to see the best-selling pornographic films to see sexualized violence against women, misogyny, incest and pseudo-child pornography in titles like the following: (Warning, graphic)
Deep Ass f*cking with young girls Gape Me 2 Daughter Does Daddy I wanna buttf*ck your daughter 16
The plot synopsis for each of these films lists the body punishing, humiliating sex acts inflicted on women including anal sex, cumshots (men ejaculating on women’s faces), multiple penetrations and ATM (Ass To Mouth, anal sex immediately followed by fellatio). These acts are designed do maximum physical damage to the woman. The damage to the female performers is often the drawcard, with descriptive phrases such as “red, glistening anal prolapse”, “gaping buttholes”, “prolapsing rectum”, “with her ass impaled on his boner”.
One of the judges on The Sex Factor is Miriam Weeks (aka Belle Knox, the Duke Porn Star.) Despite claims of empowerment, behind-the-scenes footage shows Weeks being choked, slapped and abused during filming. You can view a slightly censored version here- Warning, distressing content.
Activist Shelley Lubben, who exited the porn industry, exposed the abuse of women in the porn industry in this secret footage taken on a porn set. You can view a slightly censored video here- Warning, distressing content.
Many women who have exited the pornography industry have opened up and shared their experiences of body punishing sex acts, brutal physical abuse and injuries so severe they required surgery.
Female Performers recount incidents of physical violence against them in pornography.
”My first movie I was treated very rough by 3 guys. They pounded on me, gagged me with their penises, and tossed me around like I was a ball! I was sore, hurting and could barely walk. My insides burned and hurt so badly. I could barely pee and to try to have a bowel movement was out of the question. I was hurting so bad from the physical abuse from these 3 male porn stars.” -Alexa Milano Read more here.
”Guys punching you in the face. You have semen from many guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.” -Jersey Jaxin Read more here.
(After being whipped and caned for 35 minutes) “I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life. I have permanent scars up and down the backs of my thighs. It was all things that I had consented to, but I didn’t know quite the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.”- Alexander Read more here.
“I was crying and crying, which was not against their shooting rules. There was a male dominant and a male videographer and a female photographer. I kept looking to her to save me.”-Princess Donna Read more here.
“I got the shit kicked out of me. I was told before the video – and they said this very proudly, mind you – that in this line most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad . . . I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the f*cking camera off’, and they kept going.”-Regan Starr Read more here.
If you are still not convinced, you can read more stories of physical abuse to female porn performers here.
Many more performers also report rampant drug use, depression, trauma and suicide attempts.
“It was torture for seven years. I was miserable, I was lonely. I eventually turned to drugs and alcohol…to numb my pain and get me through…and attempted suicide. I knew I wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out.” -Jenna Presley Read more here.
“I’m not happy… I don’t like myself at all… My whole entire body feels it when I’m doing it and… I feel so — so gross. I hung out with a lot of people in the Adult industry, everybody from contract girls to gonzo actresses. Everybody has the same problems. Everybody is on drugs. It’s an empty lifestyle trying to fill up a void.” – Belladonna Read more here.
“I became horribly addicted to heroin and crack. I overdosed at least 3 times, had tricks pull knives on me, have been beaten half to death.” -Becca Brat Read more here.
”I honestly felt that if I had to have another strange man in my face, his hands (God knows where they’ve been all over me) him calling me his baby and having to exude some sort of forged passion for the world to see, I probably would have exploded. And what would have been stuck to the walls would have probably been nothing, just pieces of skin, bone, the brain of a robot, and what would have been left of what would have existed once as a huge and warm heart.”-Ashlyn Brooke Read more here.
Others still reported catching incurable STIs.
”After only 30 movies I caught two sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes, a non-curable disease and HPV, which led to cervical cancer where I had to have half of my cervix removed. Porn destroyed my life.”- Roxy Read more here.
”As for myself, I ended up paying the price from working in the porn industry. In 2006, not even 9 months in, I caught a moderate form of dysplasia of the cervix (which is a form of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease) and later that day, I also found out I was pregnant. I had only 1 choice which was to abort the baby during my first month. It was extremely painful emotionally and physically. When it was all over, I cried my eyes out.”-Tamra Toryn Read more here.
Given the horrific, abusive and even criminal treatment of female performers, why would entry into the pornography industry be a prize? Who is really winning here?
Did you even know Australia had a Federal Children’s Commissioner? We don’t hear that much from her – so thought we would try to get her attention and involvement on this. Let her know you want her to act by signing the petition today!
Condemn & Take Action to Stop Exploitative Universal Royalty Child Beauty Pageant from coming to Australia
Universal Royalty’s Child Beauty Pageant is coming to Melbourne, Australia, despite clear evidence from experts that the practise is detrimental to the normal and healthy development of children.
Child beauty pageants are exploitation. Little girls are made to undergo unnecessary and painful beauty treatments such as waxing, tanning and even botox. They are adorned with make up, high heels, false eyelashes, acrylic nails, flippers (false teeth) and hairpieces. They are primped and styled to look and act like mini-adults, to flirt with the judges and to be sexy and alluring.
The pageants teach girls from a very early age that their worth is based on their appearance. Research shows that reinforcing an emphasis on looks and attractiveness leads to negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. There are now over a hundred global reports on the issue of sexualisation of children. This research has shown that sexualisation is harmful to children’s cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and beliefs.
A parliamentary report recently released in Western Australia by WA’s Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People called for child beauty pageants to be scrutinised as one of several ways to tackle the sexualisation of children.
Last year France outlawed child beauty pageants for children under 16 to protect them from being prematurely sexualised. Pageant organisers face jail time and substantial fines for harming children in this way.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said: ”Direct participation and competition for a beauty prize where infants and girls are objectified and judged against sexualised ideals can have significant mental health and developmental consequences that impact detrimentally on identity, self-esteem, and body perception.”
A 2005 study in The Journal of Treatment and Prevention reported ”a significant association between childhood beauty pageant participation and increased body dissatisfaction, difficulty trusting interpersonal relationships, and greater impulsive behaviours”.
Teaching little girls to preen and to strut, to look sexy for the judges, to emphasise sexualised behaviours is totally inappropriate for children. We want better for our girls and call on Megan Mitchell, the National Children’s Commissioner, to publicly condemn and take action to stop the Universal Royalty pageant from coming to Melbourne on August 2nd 2014.
Profound experiences with W.A students on my last roadtrip.
Last month I spoke 27 times in three and a half weeks in the ACT, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. I spoke on the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media and popular culture, the sexual world of the 21st century adolescent, pornography and young people, and the online life of girls to students, staff and parents at five schools, the Heads of Independent Co-Educational Schools conference, women’s events, a medical conference of 1000 medical professionals and at tour’s end a quick trip to the country to address the Upper Gwydir Landcare Association! (Was great to be out in the bush again, farmer’s daughter as I am).
There were many highlights – the privilege of delivering my message to thousands of people of course, along with runs along rugged coastlines and catching up with friends and colleagues – including Co-editor of Big Porn Inc, Abigail Bray who I hadn’t seen for two years. Every time I do these long trips, I’m reminded again what an honour it is to do this work and engage with so many people, especially young people. I wonder how I got so lucky. A 14-year-old just emailed me to say how much she was impacted by the message and that now she knew the career path she wanted to follow to make a difference in the lives of other girls. And this from a Deputy Head of School in NSW: “I just wanted to say what a profound effect you have had on me today… I intend to return in term three with a renewed determination to build the voice and the rights of our girls and deliver a consistent message to the boys that the values of respect and understanding are not lost.” Messages like these make it all worthwhile.
Possibly the most affecting experience was with students in W.A. I was moved by how openly they shared their struggles. Girls revealing mistreatment and pressure to adopt pornified roles and behaviours. The issue of girls being threatened with blackmail to send sexual images was raised with me a number of times. At one co-ed private school, girls didn’t want to leave the session, and continued to talk through recess and even the next period, insisting they needed longer to discuss the issues concerning them. (Thank you teachers to allowing them to do so). A group of 30 Yr 12 boys chose to skip lunch to talk longer – I’ve never seen boys voluntarily choose to do this before! They disclosed some of the pressures they felt in a culture that judges them for their appearance and trains them in callous behavior early on. One boy stood and cried as he shared his experience of being bullied and said he had no friends. It was difficult to keep a grip on my emotions when another boy moved from the front row to the back to comfort him. To see that boy put his arms around the one who was in pain…something else I rarely see, given how this world knocks the empathy out of boys from their earliest days.
When addressing co-ed schools where I’m talking with the girls, then boys separately (which is my preference), I often ask female students what messages they’d like me to pass onto boys. My colleague, W.A Collective Shout co-ordinator, Caitlin Roper, recorded the following messages from the W.A girls in Yrs 9-12 to their male peers. I’m hoping these might become discussion points to kick start conversations in other schools. I found them moving, some even plaintive and sad. What emerged for me overall was that while girls are distressed by the treatment of many (not all) boys, they really wanted to have good relations with them. Many lamented that in a sexualized world, everything had come to have a sexual meaning: they feared healthy friendships with boys might be lost if something didn’t change soon. Here’s what they asked:
• If we reject your request to send a sexual image, please don’t stop talking to us.
• If we are hanging out, don’t expect it is sexual.
• If we say no, accept it, don’t try to persuade us.
• Catcalling/ yelling out of cars/street harassment is not a compliment.
• If we are angry, don’t assume we are on our period.
• Stop commenting on our appearance. Value us for something else.
• Rape jokes are never funny.
• Porn and sex are not the same.
• Feminism is not female domination.
• If we cut our hair short, it doesn’t mean we are lesbians.
• If we have a close female friend, it doesn’t mean we are lesbians.
• We don’t all have the perfect body.
• We weren’t put on the earth for your entertainment.
• Think with your head, not what’s in your pants.
• Respect us more.
• Treat us like humans.
• Stop stereotyping us.
• Be a gentleman.
• Respect our boundaries.
• Don’t call us prudes for saying ‘no’/sluts for saying ‘yes’.
• It is never the victim’s fault.
• Just because we don’t say no doesn’t mean we are saying yes.
• Girls weren’t born to be decorative objects.
• Sex before the age of consent is illegal.
• Don’t make sexual advances based on how we are dressed- sometimes it is hot and we want to wear shorts.
• Stop making ‘kitchen’ jokes.
• We understand the boys are under pressure too.
Briefing on sexualisation, harms of porn with W.A MPs
While in the West, I was invited by the Hon Nick Goiran, W.A Legislative Council Member for South Metropolitan, to address a briefing of interested colleagues on sexualisation and the harms of pornography, and what they as legislators could do about the issue. Also with me were Collective Shout’s W.A coordinator Caitlin Roper and Victorian board member Coralie Pittman. I asked the reason for the hold up in the release of the W.A Children Commissioner’s report into the sexualisation of children, completed 18 months earlier. A week after my visit, it was finally released and tabled. (we are still analyzing the document and will report soon).
In a speech to parliament, Hon Nick Goiran said:
“I feel confident in speaking on behalf of all those who attended to say that we were all impacted by what we were told…We have to recognize that none of us has done enough in this space, and I feel somewhat energized by the briefing today to redouble our efforts. I hope that members who attended this briefing will join in this effort because if we cannot get things right in respect of the children of this state, frankly, I suggest that we should all pack up and go home. There is no more vulnerable group in our society than our children, and they are being continually bombarded with this imagery, which so much research has confirmed is harmful to them. I cannot think of an issue more important.”
An anti-violence activist who stood up to superstar rappers Tyler the Creator and Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg) has revealed that she was terrified to leave her house and lived in fear of attack after receiving thousands of messages of vile abuse from fans of the rappers.
Talitha Stone, 25, has told MailOnline about the heavy toll her work has taken on her saying she wanted to ‘hide away and never do anything like this again’ after her attempts to have the rappers banned from entering Australia led to threats of rape and death from rap fans.
The abuse, which mainly took place on Twitter, included ‘death threats and saying things like they’re going to grab me in the alleyway, that I need a good f***, that they’re going to go for my family first. One said that they would hire someone to cut my t**s off,’ she said.
Talitha Stone, 25, is an anti-violence campaigner who received thousands of messages of abuse on Twitter after she protested Snoop Lion and Tyler the Creator being allowed in the country
Talitha Stone, 25, is an anti-violence campaigner who received thousands of messages of abuse on Twitter after she protested Snoop Lion and Tyler the Creator being allowed in the country
A high school student in Melbourne even posted what he thought was Talitha’s address online. The address was wrong, but it was only a street away from where Talitha was sharing a house with another girl.
‘Who knows what could have happened. It was not a fun time, I didn’t sleep much and jumped at noises. Every time I was alone I was panicked, I was so afraid, but at the same time I was so angry that this was my reality,’ she said.
The abuse started after Talitha created a petition to have Tyler the Creator denied a visa to enter Australia last year, on the grounds that his lyrics incited violence against women.
His songs include lines like: ‘You call this s*** rape but I think that rape’s fun, I just got one request, stop breathing’ and ‘I wanna tie her body up and throw her in my basement, Keep her there, so nobody can wonder where her face went.’
Talitha came to the attention of Tyler the Creator when she tweeted that he would be at a signing event in Sydney and suggested that the event organisers needed a lesson in what misogyny was.
Tyler the Creator retweeted her comment to his 1.7 million fans and suddenly her phone went crazy.
‘It was instant, oh my gosh, the barrage of threats, I couldn’t believe it. I was just sitting there looking at my phone, I was like: “Holy crap, what is happening? What have I done?”‘
When Talitha went to the police about the thousands of messages she had received, she said they laughed at her.
‘They were like: “Do you think we’re going to do anything about this? Do you know how often people come in here about threats of abuse and death on Twitter?” They just laughed at me like I was so stupid, they gave me a cyber safe brochure and sent me out.’
Talitha ended up going to Tyler the Creator’s Sydney show to film evidence of misogyny and she stood in horror as the rapper mentioned her during his set, dedicating his song, B**** Suck D***, to her.
Video of the concert shows Tyler the Creator, who seemed unaware that Talitha was in the audience, call out to the ‘f***ing w****’ who tried to get him kicked out of the country.
‘F***ing b****, I wish she could hear me call her a b****, too, f***ing w****. Yeah, I got a sold-out show right now b****. Hey this f***ing song is dedicated to you, you f***ing c***.’
He also said he hoped Talitha’s children ‘get some messed up STDs’.
Talitha said she was petrified that someone in the crowd would recognise her. ‘I honestly didn’t believe what I was hearing when he called me out. I was terrified.’
She reported him to the police, but they said there was nothing they could do.
The abuse continued for months after the concert and led to Talitha meeting with two executives from Twitter, which led to the introduction of the ‘Report Abuse’ button on the site.
‘I was like: this is ridiculous, where’s the protection for women? I got told to delete my account, that was my option. They were like, “Why are you fuelling this?” Me fuelling this? Are you kidding me? I’m speaking out against rape and I’m getting rape threats in return, yeah that makes sense,’ she said.
‘So much in me wanted to hide away and never do anything like this again, but at the same time it also fuelled me to keep doing this, I was like: There’s no way they’re going to silence me. It made me more determined,’ she said.
This determination gave her the energy to try to get Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg)’s visa revoked when he came to Australia in January.
Her main objection to Snoop Lion was that he had admitted to pimping out girls in a Rolling Stone article in 2013, saying he had a bus follow him on his 2003 tour with ten women on it.
‘I could fire a b****, f*** a b****, get a new ho: It was my program. City to city, titty to titty, hotel room to hotel room, athlete to athlete, entertainer to entertainer,’ he said.
Again Talitha petitioned (unsuccessfully) to have Snoop Lion denied access to the country, again she was hit with an onslaught of abuse from the rapper’s fans.
She said that this time she received less abuse and Snoop Lion did not engage with her directly, but the impact of the abuse was a lot worse.
‘I didn’t have anything left in me, I couldn’t do it. I was completely drained. It’s just so exhausting and you just feel like, what’s the point sometimes, when is there ever going to be change?’
The Snoop Lion campaign was the third campaign the young activist has headed up, the first involved her trying out for the Lingerie Football League in 2012.
Talitha said she wanted to see what the experience was like and whether the League’s insistence that the women would be treated as athletes was true. She found that it wasn’t.
She said that walking into try-outs ‘was like walking up to a nightclub. We got told we had to have a dress code at the try outs – sports bra and short shorts. I had to take my top off so I had my sports bra on.
‘If we lost they would scream at us and call us a pussy and make a ‘pussy symbol’ above our heads. It was a huge joke.’
The reaction to Talitha’s exposé was her first experience of serious online abuse, with people taking to Twitter to threaten and attack her.
‘They were trying to scare me, with rape or death,’ she said.
Talitha is speaking out as she is about to return to work with women’s advocacy group Collective Shout after a six-month hiatus.
The Sydney woman became involved in advocacy work for women and girls after ‘frequent unwanted sexual experiences’ as a child and teenager.
‘It’s so sickening, I hate that this is a reality for women and it’s becoming more and more common,’ she said.
She began researching different organisations and read news articles before she stumbled on Collective Shout, a grassroots Australian advocacy group headed up by Melinda Tankard-Reist.
After the draining experience of her campaigns against the two rappers, Talitha took some time out – travelling to Europe, working a series of odd jobs and spending time with family and friends.
It is only in the last few weeks, almost six months after Snoop Lion was in the country, that she has felt able to pick up her advocacy work again.
‘I took a lot of time out. I had to put in boundaries. I’ve only just in the last month slowly, slowly got back into it,’ she said.
The next step for the young activist is a new role at Collective Shout speaking at schools around the country about issues to do with violence, pornography, eating disorders and the sexualisation of children.
She has been visiting schools for years alongside Melinda Tankard-Reist and can’t get over the fact that many of the students recognise her.
‘The young people at schools I’m going to, they’ve heard of me. I have young kids come up to me and say: “It is an honour, can I please shake your hand? You’re my hero.” It makes no sense to me. It is just overwhelming.
‘I’m doing this because I have to. I need to do this for them.’
A Voice for Men: harassing and abusing those who defend women
Last week I published a piece on Online Opinion about the epidemic of men’s violence against women. I argued that news outlets tend to obscure the gendered nature of domestic violence and urged media to clearly state the sex of perpetrators of violence against women. We cannot fight what we cannot name.
This week, Online Opinion published a response by Adam Blanch, who describes himself as “a passionate advocate for men’s rights and men’s empowerment” (he’s also, apparently, a “spiritual counsellor”), His arguments, which were consistent with the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) anti-woman agenda, can be summed up below:
• It is prejudiced to state it is primarily men who are perpetrators of violence against women.
• Violence against women is not particularly prevalent.
• Gender is not a relevant contributing factor to violence, and women are more violent than men anyway.
• Feminists profit from domestic violence programs [“feminism’s river of gold”] that “fund feminism”.
These standard arguments from the MRM are in direct opposition to statistics from the World Health Organisation, that cite violence against women as a “major public health problem”, with 35% of women worldwide experiencing either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
White Ribbon Foundation statistics similarly state that one in three Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Violence is also the biggest cause of injury or death for women between 18 and 45.
Women activists know it is no surprise to see Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) denying the frequency of men’s violence against women, inflating rates of false allegations and claiming to be oppressed victims.
A Facebook group with links to MRA group ‘A Voice For Men’ has been formed for the purpose of harassing and abusing Collective Shout members in Townsville. These are a couple of comments from their hate page directed against women who led a protest against Hooters restaurant chain opening in their city.
The harassment and abuse has become so unrelenting and virulent -even male supporters are mocked as ‘manginas’ – our Collective Shout team in Townsville was forced this week to change their Facebook page to ‘private’.
MRA groups are open about their contempt for women. ‘A Voice For Men’ founder, Paul Elam, had this to say about why women get raped:
“I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks, playing on their sexual desires … And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m.. Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.
But are these women asking to get raped?
In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.
They are freaking begging for it.
Damn near demanding it.
And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”
Paul Elam also encouraged his followers to “bash a bitch”.
“In the name of equality and fairness, I am proclaiming October to be Bash a Violent Bitch Month.
I’d like to make it the objective for the remainder of this month, and all the Octobers that follow, for men who are being attacked and physically abused by women – to beat the living shit out of them. I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.
And then make them clean up the mess. …
Now, am I serious about this?
No. Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong. Every one should have the right to defend themselves…
But it isn’t worth the time behind bars or the abuse of anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.”
Paul Elam further revealed his hatred for women when he said:
“Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.”
Greg Canning, representative of ‘A Voice For Men’ in Australia, received media attention after he resigned from his position at James Cook University in 2012. Canning had accused Adjunct Associate Professor Betty McLellan of “publically sexually vilifying men” for her critical analysis of men’s violence against women. When the university refused to act on his complaint, he quit.
The Herald Sun article included a response from Professor McLellan. ‘Dr McLellan said it was ridiculous to suggest she supported violence against men, or vilified them. “I don’t support violence from anybody to anybody: men, women, anybody,” she said. “How am I vilifying anybody, really?” She believed Dr Canning was going over the top by resigning from his teaching position.
‘”It speaks of a man, really, who is fairly desperate because he’s not getting his own way,” she said. “He’s not able to silence a woman who has an opinion.”’
As prominent US feminist Andrea Dworkin (now departed) famously stated, “Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.”
One of the commenters has provided some more information about AVfM and their habit of cyber-bullying and stalking women who publically critique men’s violence.
When a certain feminist blogger wrote about receiving rape and death threats, Paul Elam responded:
“No matter what you do, you are going to see a lot more of the things you don’t like in the future. I don’t mean that in the way of violent threats and continued fixation on your rectum, but in much more organized, high impact consequences for those of your ilk, courtesy of the men’s movement. Simply put, we are coming for you. All of you. And by the time we are done you will wax nostalgic over the days when all you had to deal with was someone expressing a desire to fuck you up your shopworn ass.”
Paul Elam offers $1000 cash rewards for men to cyberstalk anonymous feminist activists and find their real identities to post online. Dr Greg Canning has also offered to donate money for this purpose.
The following are comments taken from an AVfM forum detailing their plans to punish women who speak about men’s violence:
“The FBI has been contacted, and your publisher has been contacted. Get ready to live a life of misery, you worthless Irish slut.”
“We will NEVER let you escape. You are now on THE LIST.”
STU: “We should limit our activism in regards to them, to advertising their misandry for all to see, recording it….and outing as many as we can so they are forced to answer for it to their employers, any male relatives….and even the local shopkeeper. In other words, don’t bother trying to change them…….just make them pay.”
MANFROMMAN: “At any rate, I submit my pledge herein to support the attempt to expose these tart-brain bitches. Let us all FTSU!”
ALEKNOVY: “If it turns out she has children, she should also be reported to CPS.”
PAUL ELAM: “She is a disease that must be extirpated…Nothing she can do will help her now. It’s too late for forgiveness or mercy. The grinding wheels are in motion.”
ZENCO: “We’re coming for you honey. We will march forward on a road of your bones to victory.”
Australia is in the midst of a public health crisis. Men’s violence against women and children has reached epidemic proportions. It manifests in rape, battering, abuse and even murder.
White Ribbon statistics indicate that up to one in three women will be a victim of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. In 2012 Victoria Police Commissioner Ken Lay revealed that officers respond to domestic violence calls every ten minutes.
A woman is murdered by a current or former partner in Australia every week. Domestic Violence NSW has made an impassioned plea via a petition to Prime Minister Tony Abbott “to recognise domestic and family violence as a national emergency” and take action.
Despite the prevalence of men’s violence against women, there is little if any discussion about why some men beat, rape, abuse and murder them. Instead, the national dialogue surrounding the issue shifts attention from male perpetrators and onto female victims.
We ask, ‘Why don’t they leave?’ instead of ‘Why do some men kill women?’ In focusing on the behavior of victims rather than male perpetrators, the burden of responsibility for men’s violence- and for stopping it- is placed on women.
The language commonly used to describe male violence is itself watered down- named domestic violence, family violence- terms that fail to identify the gendered nature of this violence. This glosses over the reality that perpetrators are overwhelmingly men and victims primarily women and children. Read more
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.
(90 min feature followed by panel discussion with Melinda Tankard Reist, Calvin Taylor and others)
Where: Crossway Centre Main Auditorium
2 Vision Drive,
Burwood East, 3151
Cost: Gold coin donation at the door (all proceeds go to Collective Shout)
Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (87 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.
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
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It, Men of Honour, Sexts Texts & Selfies, Raising Girls, Raising Boys, MTR DVD, Ruby Who? DVD & book, Girl Wise guide to friends and Girl Wise guide to being you, for the combined discounted price of $215.
‘The foremost authority in Australia cyber safety lays it on the line and challenges parents to find their digital spine.’ – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
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, Ruby Who? book and DVD plus Too sexy too soon MTR DVD in one bundle for $120 saving 22% on the individual price.
In this easy-to-read updated book, Steve Biddulph shares powerful stories and give practical advice about every aspect of boyhood.
“Overflowing with incisive understandings…a comprehensive and in-depth guide.” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Men of Honour -written by Glen Gerreyn- encourages and inspires young men to take up the challenge to be honourable. Whether at school, in sport, at work or in relationships, we must develp our character to achieve success and experience the thrills life has on offer.
A guide to being you! Whether that be problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – this book is written especially for you – to help you in your journey!
A guide to friends! Whether that be problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – this book is written especially for you – to help you in your journey!
Buy both of these Girl Wise books and save $8 in postage!
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 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.