Recommendations from Collective Shout in this submission include:
The objectification of women be made central to government policy makers in understanding the connection between gender inequality and domestic violence.
Prostitution and pornography be officially recognised by the Government as forms of violence against women and as factors both caused by, and contributing to, gender inequality.
The objectification and sexualisation of women and girls be a central consideration in the regulation of advertising, marketing, and the media.
The prevalence of sexualised images of women and girls in Australian society be recognised as a significant underlying contributor to violence against women and girls.
The role of the Advertising Standards Bureau be reviewed, and a new code of ethics on objectification form part of the ASB’s criteria for complaints.
Restructure the current regulatory environment to bring the regulation of all media and marketing together under one encompassing independent federal regulator, including a division with the primary responsibility of protecting the interests of children and young people.
The Nordic Model be adopted as Australia’s legislative approach to prostitution.
Brooke, 21, survived a year of abuse at the hands of her porn-fuelled boyfriend who bashed her if she resisted the porn inspired acts he demanded. Last Tuesday Brooke and I shared a platform at a breakfast gathering of civic leaders, teachers, police domestic violence & social welfare workers in Toowoomba, to discuss the relationship between pornography and violence. Bravely sharing her story for the first time, Brooke moved the room to tears. She is a living expression of the direct suffering women endure at the hands of men living on a diet of pornography. Here’s what she said at the event (slightly edited).
MTR with Brooke at City Women community breakfast
My name is Brooke, I’ve lived in Toowoomba for two years. I have been involved in a domestic violence relationship and this morning I’m going to share more about this so called relationship. I first met John when I was 18 years old we both lived close together and soon became great friends.
It wasn’t long after becoming friends with John that we both started dating, I was overjoyed that I finally had someone who loved me for me but I soon came to realise that this wasn’t the case. A month into the relationship he had beaten me twice, mentally abused me about my weight and looks. He couldn’t go anywhere with me as I was too ugly and didn’t fit into the size of clothing that he wanted me to.
So I was left at home stuck with his abusive step father who loved John and would do anything to stop me from being happy. Soon before I knew it, I couldn’t eat. I was allowed coffee and smokes, that was all. I developed an eating disorder.
No longer allowed around my friends, I couldn’t call anyone if I wanted to see anyone it had to be with John and when he wanted to leave we had to leave then and there. I soon lost my friends my personal trainer had started to notice the bruise and cuts but I couldn’t say anything in fear she would be hurt. I was alone scared and lost.
John was addicted to porn. He would watch porn on TV, his phone and had videos saved to his iPod. It didn’t matter where he was, if he wanted to jerk off he would pull out his mobile and go for it. If I refused to have sex with him, he would sit there doing his business while telling me what I was missing out on, how pretty these girls were, if only he knew them I real life. His mind had been filled with this image of what pretty woman had to look like and I was supposed to look and act like them.
One night I refused to have sex with him. I was hit, kicked in the gut and nearly lost my life all because he couldn’t get internet, his phoned had gone flat and I refused. His girlfriend wouldn’t give him sex but my best friend did. We were at his auntie’s house for a birthday party the weekend before my 19th birthday.
My 19th birthday wasn’t a birthday I want to remember, but I do. I was told I wasn’t allowed a small cake as it would make me even fatter and he couldn’t have that. As a present I was beaten three times that day and punched 20 times by midnight. I was too sore to fight him anymore. I wanted my life to end then and there but I couldn’t do anything so I asked him to kill me instead.
The police had been called for a domestic between John and his mum not long after and I was hidden in the bedroom too scared to come out. I could have been free that night but I stayed in fear. He was fine, he watched porn again that night like nothing happened.
I don’t know why but I asked a friend to meet with me knowing the risk. I had I told John I was going to the gym but instead packed a bag of clothes taking nothing but one bag with me to this friend.
After meeting my friend we went to her friend’s house where the next day I was taken to Goodna Youth Service and put on to D.V connect. I was moved that day to Brisbane where he found me, then moved to the Gold Coast where he once again found me. I was so desperate for him to just leave me alone that I tried to kill myself but survived. Why, I’m still working that out. After being released from hospital I was transferred to Toowoomba.
Since moving to Toowoomba, John has found me but I have decided not to run anymore. I can’t keep doing it as I have a life here. I now live in a safe supportive family, I’m currently studying and looking for part-time work and volunteering at The Base soup kitchen.
If porn was not in John’s life, I believe I would have been treated correctly as a woman who had feelings not an object to be tossed away like it didn’t matter.
If you know anyone in any sort of bad relationship or come across someone wanting help I beg you to help them. You don’t know their story but you can be the one to save them.
Inciting Violence Against Women Isn’t ‘Art’, and Tyler the Creator Shouldn’t Be Granted Entry
By Caitlin Roper
“It’s just irony” seems to be the go-to defence for misogyny these days.
As a female activist for grassroots organisation Collective Shout, I hear it all the time.
After the global backlash to Kanye West’s sexually violent Monster music video – which featured lingerie clad female corpses hanging from the ceilings, West in bed with two dead women and holding the decapitated head of another – West’s team was quick to issue a disclaimer that is was “an art piece, and to be taken as such.” This exempted the video from critical analysis, apparently.
When we campaigned against Redfoo for his misogynistic Literally I Can’t video, in which women were mocked, abused and told to “shut the f*ck up” for refusing the sexual advances of men at a party, Redfoo played the victim, claiming his “art” – there’s that word again – was misunderstood.
When so-called “ute art” in Townsville depicted a chilling life-sized sticker image of an unconscious woman bound in the back of a ute next to a shovel, women who spoke out were accused of just not getting the joke.
Art. Satire. Irony. A joke. The premise is we just don’t get it and are therefore not permitted to comment.
So it should come as no surprise that our campaign calling on the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to revoke U.S. rapper Tyler the Creator’s visa should attract the same predictable response. The real issue is uptight women who can’t take a joke and who “need a good dick,” rather than hate speech and incitement to violence against women.
Tyler fans argue his earlier work is satirical, that he is simply misunderstood, defamed, in fact, by feminists. His cult-like followers not only deny their idol’s problematic real life treatment of women who dare to openly disagree with him, but even fuel it.
In 2011, Canadian recording artists Tegan and Sara published an open letter on their website, accusing Tyler of misogyny for his extremely sexually violent lyrics detailing rape, strangling, mutilating and chopping up women, stuffing their bodies into car boots, trapping them in his basement and raping their corpses. Tyler responded in a tweet:
In less than 140 characters, Tyler sent a clear message about women who dared challenge his authority.
The notion that women who speak out against male violence against women just need some “hard dick” is not new. It’s a common way of deflecting from and trivializing our abuse. This method also intimidates many women into silent compliance. It’s all the more sinister in this case, given the fact that Tegan and Sara are lesbian women, and the historical significance of so-called “corrective rape” – a horrific hate crime against lesbian women based on the belief that they can be “cured” of their sexual orientation through rape.
Tyler the Creator also responded to the Kanye West campaign on Twitter by naming two of the women involved, Sharon Haywood of Adios Barbie and Melinda Tankard Reist, Collective Shout co-founder, calling them “f*cking bitches” and inviting them to “suck [his] d*ck.”
In 2013, Collective Shout ran a campaign calling on then Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor to revoke Tyler the Creator’s visa, arguing he was a controversial visa applicant who posed a danger to women. One of our young activists, Talitha Stone, wrote a tweet accusing Tyler of misogyny. Tyler shared the tweet with his 1.7 million followers, who took the bait and turned on her with an onslaught of abuse and rape threats. One Tyler fan threatened to “cut her tits off” and another – a 16 year old Melbourne private school boy – posted what he believed was her home address for the mob to do with what they would. (He was one street off). We were up half the night liaising with police trying to ensure Talitha’s safety.
Talitha bravely attended Tyler’s Sydney concert to report on it for us. She had no idea he would launch a vicious tirade of abuse against her, unaware she was in the audience filming. The crowd cheered as he called her a bitch, a whore, and a c**t, and dedicated his song “Bitch Suck D*ck” to her.
While our own Minister failed to act, we were heartened to learn the following year that New Zealand had denied Tyler entry, with his incitement of violence against Talitha being instrumental in its decision.
Two years on, Tyler is set to return to Australia for a series of all-ages (no age limits) concerts. We have called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to revoke his visa, arguing that Tyler meets the Department’s definition of a Controversial Visa Applicant. This is a person:
“whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.”
Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Australia; women are being murdered by men at a rate of two per week. The groundswell is growing, with increasing pressure on the Government to take action to save women’s lives. And yet, at the same time as extolling its National Plan of Action to Address Violence Against Women, the same Government rolls out the red carpet to recording artists who rap about raping and mutilating them for entertainment, and who have personal histories of inciting violence against women.
Why are we so quick to condemn men’s violence against women yet so hesitant to acknowledge the drivers of this violence – the attitudes towards women, the ingrained sexism, a culture where women are routinely reduced to mere sexual objects for men’s use and entertainment?
Tyler’s own fans are helping us prove our point. We are being targeted with threats of violence and abuse from fans demonstrating a cult-like loyalty to their idol. These same fans claim that music that glorifies extreme violence has no impact on their attitudes towards women, and they remind us of this between threats of rape and calling us bitches, whores and worse.
Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist was tweeted a picture of herself with a pro-gang rape slogan, one of Tyler’s lyrics, alongside the words, “What you gonna do now bitch you surrounded” (sic):
Our National Operations Manager, Coralie Alison, was similarly targeted by U.S. Talk Radio host Shane Powers, who called her a “feminazi,” offered her “dick pics” and went on to make lewd comments about Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s wife. He seemed to enjoy intimidating a woman in this way, taking pleasure, with his male guests, from the thought of her violation and humiliation.
What are these men really saying when they tell us we need some d*ck? It sounds very close to “you need to be raped.”
We predicted that Tyler’s presence would incite discord into our community and pose a danger to women. It’s already happening and he hasn’t even stepped onto our shores. We need our Government to act on its promises to address violence against women and send a clear signal by not letting him.
I wonder if men like Jackson Katz and Jonah Mix and Chris Hedges (mentioned in this piece by Meghan Murphy and by me in this post on ABC Lateline and ‘sex work’ know what it means to women to have them speak so strongly and unequivocally – and often condemned for doing so- on issues such as sexual violence, equality and the human rights of women? My colleagues and I share articles by these men and others with much enthusiasm. Perhaps it makes us feel a little less lonely? Men like this refuse to stand by and watch as women are trashed physically and emotionally around the world. (They also happen to write really well – of course not as vital a point to make, but it does have special appeal to those of us who live by putting words together). Today I’m reprinting Jackson Katz in a Huffington Post piece on 50 Shades of Grey and how it sets back relationships education with boys, and Jonah Mix twice because he’s so good, once wasn’t enough.
Fifty Shades of Grey and the Miseducation of Boys
Much of the commentary about the film’s release has focused on women’s reactions to it, including the message that its mainstream acceptance sends to girls about their sexuality and the lengths of degradation and self-negation that women are sometimes pressured to endure in relations with men to achieve intimacy or great sex.
But my primary concern for now has to do not with girls, but with boys like my son and other young men, who are trying to navigate the rocky shores of heterosexual desire themselves, in a culture that routinely offers them up sexually subordinate, compliant and sometimes self-loathing women at the click of a mouse or the price of a movie ticket.
What do parents of sons say to them about the draw this story has for women? How can we help them make sense of the mixed messages our society sends to them about what women want? That women want men to treat them as equals, even as millions embrace a story that countless battered women’s advocates say more closely resembles an abusive relationship than it does some sort of kinky sex fantasy?…
One of the most important goals of gender violence prevention work is to teach boys and young men that violence is not manly, and abuse is not sexy. To the extent that this movie complicates our efforts, it harms not just women. It also does damage to young heterosexual men, who in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey’s commercial triumph are left scratching their heads and trying to figure out responsible and healthy ways to relate sexually to women, and themselves.
Not rape just rough sex: consent and victim blaming
Rapists hiding behind the smokescreen of “rough sex” is nothing new. Jian Ghomeshi tried the same approach last year when his pattern of sexual brutality was revealed. It’s not hard to see why so many abusers utilize this defense; a simple mention of the word “consent” and the question shifts from exactly why a man enjoys punching a woman in the face to whether or not the women enjoyed being punched in the face. It’s a classic abuser tactic in which the spotlight of inquiry is shifted onto the victim so the perpetrator can remain unexamined in the dark.
Once you adopt the consent-as-sole-moral-consideration ideology, a man like Dominique Strauss-Kahn restraining a woman, choking her, and then violently penetrating her becomes immoral simply because she didn’t find it sexy – not because fucking someone with your hands closed tight around their neck just might, you know, not be a good way to relate to another human being. When you say that a man punching, slapping, choking, and bruising a woman is wrong only because she doesn’t “consent,” you’re saying that the only thing wrong with men’s violence is that women haven’t learned to enjoy it yet.
There was a time where rapists insisting their victims “wanted it” was considered the lowest insult one could possibly aim at a victim of sexual violence – thanks to BDSM ideologues, it’s become a meaningful defense.
To those who have publicly attested to their enjoyment of [violent pornography], I ask them to consider the lives of those who have endured the same treatment but without the magic word of consent. Are those women expected to watch and understand as their torture is reenacted as a legitimized means of entertainment? What the popularization of violent pornography is telling these women is that they could and maybe should have enjoyed their rapes. After all, if some women have, why don’t they all?
And I wonder: If male sexual violence becomes immoral only when it fails to arouse a woman, why should we attempt to stop predatory men from cultivating the woman-hating sadism that leads to rape when we could just teach women to find it sexy? Why are our anti-rape campaigns aimed at stopping men from violating women when we could just try encouraging women to develop submissive sexual desires? I can imagine the slogan of an anti-rape organization run by male kinksters: Stop rape – turn it into sex! Read full article
When Paternalism is worse than commercial rape: state of extraction and the new manarchist
Accusations of “moralizing” are by definition vacuous. Considering that morality refers simply to a set of standards we have for what ought and ought not be done, literally any political position is in some way moralistic unless it makes absolutely no demands on behavior. Opposition to police brutality or pipeline construction, for instance, are all acts of moralizing, in that they all make universalized prescriptions – that cops ought not enact violence on citizens, that indigenous land rights ought to be protected, et cetera. Chris Hedges’ condemnation of prostitution as abusive, depraved, and unjust is no more tethered to a moralistic outlook than the anarchist dude who rambles on about the evil of cops and CEOs. Both have beliefs about what behavior is permissible and both hold the belief that certain actions are justified to correct impermissible behavior.
The only reason that condemnations of sexual abuse and exploitation are stuck with the condescending label of “moralizing” while other political stances are not is, of course, because the concerns of women are systematically barred from consideration as political concerns. While the oppression of men is seen as an issue befitting the high ideals of politics and justice, the oppression of women is relegated to “morality” – a category most leftists, stuck as they are in the navel-gazing solipsism of post-modernism, see as contemptibly passé.
But accusations of “moralizing” are but one half of the Inane Leftist Dude Objection Power Duo, joined quickly by even more inscrutable accusations of “paternalism” – which, in this case, means the terrible sin of saying that we should have laws that protect women.
At a time when many of us are working flat out to help young women avoid controlling, manipulative, emotionally and physically violent relationships, comes a film which presents these behaviours as romantic.
Fifty Shades of Grey, based on E.L James blockbuster book, hits the cinemas today for Valentine’s Day.
Sex shops report a roaring trade, hardware stores are stocking up on cable ties and rope, and everyone’s getting in on the act. Anti-violence men’s group White Ribbon was to be the beneficiary of a Fifty Shades screening until we pressured them enough to scrap it (unfortunately we haven’t yet had the same success getting Dr Ahmed Tanveer removed as an Ambassador for his Australian piece this week contradicting and undermining the White Ribbon cause, but watch this space). A Uniting Care pre-school was to benefit also from a fundraising screenings but Uniting Care was persuaded that that wasn’t such a good idea either and that idea was pulled.
But the juggernaut rolls on. The film is being advertised on bus shelters outside high schools and even in respite care centres for children.
Why say “I love you” with chocolate when you can say it with blood and bruises?
Christian Grey, 28, in reality a sexual sociopath worthy of a restraining order, is depicted as handsome, alluring and exceedingly wealthy. Playboy Grey targets and grooms Anastasia (Ana) Steele, a virginal, klutzy, 21-year-old college student.
His obsessive and controlling behavior towards the naïve Ana is read as a sign of love and devotion. He loves her like no other.
In the advertising overdrive, the dangerous messages propagated by the Fifty Shades phenomenon should not be missed: stalking, aggression, sexual violence, threats, intimidation, manipulation and control are sexy.
If he stalks you he must really love you. If you say ‘no’, that’s just a come-on. And if you love a sadistic abuser he’ll change and you’ll live happily ever after in a really big house.
None of these behaviours are marketed as problematic but promoted as romantic. That’s why domestic violence groups internationally have launched a campaign called ’50 dollars not 50 shades’ calling for a boycott of the film and asking for donations to women’s shelters instead. They have seen too many real-life Anastasias.
But rather than walk away from the Christian Greys of the world, the genre tells women that if you love him and cop enough of his shit, eventually he’ll magically morph into the man you wanted.
Melbourne mental health profession Geoff Ahern agrees. “It’s fiction that glorifies fear, intimidation, stalking and violence against women. When I read extracts from the book I hear my clients telling the same stories and that is most certainly not fiction”.
Natalie Collins set up the campaign group, Fifty Shades Is Domestic Abuse. The Independent reports:
When Collins’ co-campaigner first read the books, she said she was “deeply disturbed by how it mirrored the abuse that she had experienced from an ex-partner…women are coming to us and saying, ‘We feel exploited, we feel that our stories and the abuse and trauma that we have suffered are being capitalised upon.’ We’re concerned especially how that’s reflecting and impacting young people.”
Men learn to be turned on by women in pain.
Grey calls Ana his ‘submissive’ and expects her to sign a contract outlining the ways he intends to control her.
“I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele… Hard.” And then he “rips through” her virginity, making her cry out. He then tells her he wants her to be “sore.”
Young women are growing up in a culture which grooms and socialises them to be subordinate. Fifty Shades reinforces that – with the expectation they should also find aggression sexy and desirable.
An analysis by Michigan State and Ohio State universities determined that Grey is a perpetrator who uses an ‘interlocking pattern’ of emotional abuse strategies to manipulate Ana and control the relationship, including, stalking, intimidation, isolation and humiliation. Physical and sexual violence are prevalent and Christian uses alcohol to impair Anastasia’s consent.
“Sexual violence is pervasive,” said the authors, citing Christian using alcohol to compromise Ana’s consent, intimidation, initiating sexual encounters when angry, dismissing Ana’s requests for boundaries, threatening her and humiliating her.
The authors noted Ana experiences reactions typical of abused women such as constant perceived threat, altered identity, stressful managing, engaging in behaviours to ‘keep the peace’ like withholding information to avoid Christian’s anger.
Researchers believed the popular book series had the power to influence attitudes and beliefs surrounding intimate partner violence, arguing “individuals regularly alter their real world beliefs and attitudes in response to fictional communication.”
The impact on Anastasia is consistent with that of other victims of intimate partner violence –constant perceived threat, managing and altering her behaviors to keep peace, lost identity, disempowerment and entrapment.
A 2013 Vic Health survey found a sizeable number of people believe there are circumstances in which violence can be excused.
We don’t need more myths about intimate partner violence being a reflection of true love. The last thing we need is the romanticisation of domestic abuse.
We can’t ignore the implications of depicting a man worthy of criminal charges as hot, sexy and desirable. The packaging of a story about an abusive relationship as ‘Romance’ perpetuates violence against women and undermines efforts to promote equal, respectful relationships.
Collective Shout responds to common pro-Fifty Shades arguments
Over the last few weeks, the campaign calling on supporters to boycott Fifty Shades of Grey and donate to a domestic violence shelter has escalated – and so too has the backlash from fans of the book series arguing that it was all just a bit of harmless, sexy fun.
We’ve prepared responses to some of the most common arguments we heard in support of the book series and film.
“It’s just fiction!”
Many Fifty Shades fans argue that it is just a book/film, a work of fiction, and as such the eroticized representations of violence against women have no power to influence thinking, attitudes or beliefs.
However, an analysis of the novel found sexual violence and emotional abuse were pervasive and the popular book series had the power to influence attitudes and beliefs surrounding intimate partner violence. The authors argued that “individuals regularly alter their real world beliefs and attitudes in response to fictional communication” and “stories are especially influential when readers become drawn into them and cognitive resources, emotions, and mental imagery faculties are engaged.”
The authors noted in their conclusion “our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.” Read more
“It’s so popular!”
Fifty Shades of Grey is popular in large part because of the misleading way the the trilogy has been promoted. It has been marketed as “romance” and “porn for women” and defended as “playful fantasy encouraging women to become more daring in their sexuality.” If the story was promoted for what it is – a powerful sadistic man grooming a naive young woman for sexual violence and abuse – we doubt it would achieve the same success.
The popularity of Fifty Shades’ means it has even greater potential to perpetuate and reinforce damaging attitudes about abusive relationships.
Throughout history many there are many examples of oppression, violence and injustice that were popular or socially accepted in their time, but are now strongly rejected. Read more
“But he loves her so much!”
To accept this argument would be to believe that stalking, possessiveness, manipulation, jealousy, control and other elements of intimate partner violence are based in love – that abusive men hurt their female partners because they ‘love them so much’.
Perpetrators themselves like to say they acted out of love. This is false. Read more
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
When murderer John Coombes was convicted for a second murder, what did the Adult Parole Board do? Let him out of prison in 2007 to murder his friend, foster mother Raechel Betts, and throw her body parts into the sea.
When violent offender William Watkins was convicted of raping a neighbour in 2000, what did the board do? Let him out of prison to rape and murder Laura and Colleen Irwin, two sisters living next door.
When drug trafficker David Clifford was convicted for physical assault and harassment offences, what did the board do? Let him out in 2008 to bash and murder hairdresser Elsa Corp.
When Steven Hunter was convicted of assault, false imprisonment and drug trafficking, what did the board do? Gave him parole in 2009, meaning he was free to murder Sarah Cafferkey three years later (just after parole ended) and dump her body in a wheelie bin.
When Francis McCullagh was convicted for burning, kicking and bashing the mother of his three children with blocks of wood in 1997, what did the board do? It let him out of prison to bash his girlfriend Melanie Harnden to death.
When Jason Dinsley committed a drug-fuelled rape at knife point, the board overlooked his 100 prior convictions and released him. He then battered Sharon Siermans to death in April with a cricket bat while her son hid in a bedroom.
And when convicted rapist Adrian Bayley was given his leave pass, he raped and murdered Jill Meagher last September.
This prompted the commissioning of the just-delivered report of former High Court judge Ian Callinan on the board’s catastrophic failures.
All these women might still be alive but for the board’s decisions.
In 1991, Bayley was given a five-year sentence for raping three women. He served only three years. In 2002, he was convicted of 16 counts of rape against five prostituted women, and received just under half the maximum sentence. In the year before he killed Meagher, the board was warned five times about his behaviour.
”There was no single documentation containing a straightforward complete chronology of his criminal history or analytical material relating to it on the files,” Justice Callinan said.
While violent sexual offenders and serious sexual offenders including paedophiles ”constituted an obvious and greater threat to society than most other offenders”, victims’ rights came second to the rights of offenders. Victims were often not even given notice of the release of sex offenders.
”I have no doubt that many of the victims of serious violent and sexual crimes do not believe that their concerns are fully taken into account by the ‘authorities’,” Justice Callinan wrote.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has said that a number of the 23 recommendations, including tougher criteria for release, will be adopted ”swiftly”. Why not all of them? Why not immediately? Delay could be lethal. (There have been 401 arrests for breaches of parole just this year).
Of course Victoria isn’t the only state where the criminal justice system fails women. Terrence Leary allegedly assaulted a woman in June after being out on parole for the 1990 murder of a 17-year-old girl.
In 2001, Sean Lee King, 27, beat his girlfriend Jazmin-Jean Ajbschitz, 18, to death in a ferocious, drug-fuelled murder. He was on parole for drugs and firearms offences and was facing separate assault charges.
The NSW State Parole Authority has been criticised for deciding to release murderers, sex offenders and other serious criminals based on deliberations lasting often only five minutes.
Former authority member Noel Beddoe told NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith that the ”safety of the community wasn’t always uppermost” in the parole process and that it was increasingly difficult to give complex cases the attention they deserved. Smith had asked Corrective Services NSW for a review of the handling of serious sex offenders on parole.
State governments should also take another look at sentencing. Alison Grundy, a NSW clinical psychologist in the field of sexual assault for more than 20 years, recalls a case in which a man convicted of sexually assaulting her client received a suspended sentence. But for stealing a caravan he was sent to prison for three years.
”I thought at the time – yep that about sums it up – women’s safety is not an issue and women’s lives are pretty cheap,” Grundy says. ”The right to freedom for men is infinitely more important under the law than the safety and lives of women.”
A Change.org petition calling on federal and state attorneys-general to enact stronger rape sentencing has more than 27,000 signatures.
Sentencing and release issues have become too much about the rights of offenders. More attention needs to be given to the rights of women, to value our rights to live a decent life. Or simply to be allowed to live.
‘Help out by staying in, demonstrates a lack of understanding of some of the fundamental issues relating to family violence, and men’s violence against women’
Danny Blay is Executive Officer at the ‘No To Violence Male Family Violence Prevention Association (NTV) Inc’ Incorporating the Men’s Referral Service in Melbourne, Victoria.
I’m impressed with Danny’s work to address violence against women. If we had more men like him we might get somewhere. I published a piece he wrote for me ‘Men: It’s Time to Change’ here in December 2011 (a while ago but still sadly so relevant).
Danny and his organisation have bravely questioned the rationale behind the White Ribbon Foundation’s latest fundraising campaign. Below their recent press release in full. White Ribbon has responded here).
The latest White Ribbon Foundation fundraising campaign, Help out by staying in, demonstrates a lack of understanding of some of the fundamental issues relating to family violence, and men’s violence against women.
While we fully support the Foundation’s intent in preventing men’s violence against women, and the need to have a sustainable funding basis to conduct this work, we are significantly concerned with this campaign on two levels.
Devaluing women and women’s efforts
First, in a recent email the Foundation positioned the event as raising funds for “Australia’s Campaign to stop men’s violence against women.” This wording positions the Foundation’s work as the campaign in Australia attempting to prevent men’s violence against women. The statement dismisses, and makes invisible, the many existing campaigns by a range of community-based agencies, involving both women and men, to prevent men’s violence against women. It privileges the Foundation’s campaign above all others, thereby devaluing other efforts, particularly those of women who continue to do the bulk of the work in responding to and preventing violence.
NTV assumes this isn’t intentional. However, the effect is to reproduce the devaluing of women and women’s efforts, and processes that make women invisible, through the way in which this fundraising event is framed. The use of entitlement and privilege to dismiss and render invisible women’s voices and efforts is at the heart of men’s violence against women.
Links to the alcohol industry
Second, we are dismayed that the event is associated with the alcohol industry. While alcohol is not a cause of men’s violence against women, there is substantial and conclusive research that it can intensify the severity of violence that women and children experience. There is also considerable clinical evidence that alcohol abuse can make it more difficult for men to do the work necessary to change their behaviour through a men’s behaviour change program. Given the strong association between alcohol and violence, obtaining the support of the alcohol industry is as analogous to as a fast food corporation sponsoring a fun run.
Belittling the issues
Furthermore, while the intent is to provide activities while men spend the night in, the association with alcohol retail outlets will implicitly, and directly, link the night with alcohol consumption. This belittles the issues, and can be seen as encouraging men to ‘crack open a can’ while raising funds for the Foundation.
The email distributed to promote this event provides online links to major alcohol retail outlets, thereby promoting the consumption of alcohol.
We also question the invitation to men to have a ‘movie marathon’ without recommendations about ensuring selected movies are appropriate within the context of preventing violence against women.
Numerous studies have shown an overt prevalence of the objectification and sexualisation of women in the film industry, and sexist references that are in the name of entertainment or humour. We would be most concerned that such movies would be watched in the context of raising money for the Foundation, or, worse, that some men use the opportunity to make fun of the campaign.
Understanding men’s violence against women
We understand the need for a social marketing approach that involves social media, ‘real-life’ opportunities for men to gather, and symbols and analogies that help men to start identifying with the issues. However, the framing of the event, and its connection with the alcohol industry, demonstrates that the Foundation is not achieving an appropriate balance between marketability/accessibility and a sufficient understanding of men’s violence against women.
For the Foundation’s credibility in the violence against women and family violence sectors, we’d strongly encourage steps towards increasing this understanding. We wonder, for example, what processes the Foundation uses to test fundraising and marketing concepts with family violence professionals as part of striving for the above-mentioned balance.
Reflect on the issues
We strongly encourage Foundation staff and Board members to read the Superman? Really? article, to encourage reflection on how violence against women campaigns, conducted by men’s organisations, can inadvertently reproduce patriarchy and reduce the space available for the voices of women and women’s organisations who conduct this work.
This latest event demonstrates that despite obvious goodwill and positive intent, the Foundation does not yet have a sufficient understanding of the issues that underpin men’s violence against women, and is at continuing risk of reproducing the conditions that feed this massive social problem.
The Foundation’s email promoting the campaign is reproduced below.
For questions or further comments, contact NTV Policy and Practice Coordinator, Rodney Vlais.
Alert White Ribbon to your concerns about this fundraising campaign:
Kirsty Jagger is the White Ribbon National
Communications and Marketing Officer
phone: 02 9045 8419
mobile: 0406 757 568.
See also: ‘An Open Letter to White Ribbon Ambassadors’, MTR blog.
‘AFL supports White Ribbon Day while ignoring Buddy Franklin degrading porn tees and company’s jokes about raping women’. MTR blog.
When disgraced AFL player manager Ricky Nixon attacked his then fiancée Tegan Gould, he grabbed her by the throat, pushed her against a wall, hit her in the head then fled police custody. In her victim impact statement, Gould said the assault left her suffering headaches, bruises, nightmares, panic attacks, and that she was intimidated, paranoid, introverted. She said she lived in fear of him hurting her again. With five serious offences against him – along with a pattern of inappropriate behaviour towards women over time – what sentence was applied to Nixon? A grand total of 200 hours community service. Domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women 15-45 years in Australia. It costs this country $8.1 billion a year, estimated to rise to $9.9 billion by 2012 if appropriate action isn’t taken. But even where guilty verdicts are achieved – which is rarely – the consequences seem minimal. When will these crimes against women be taken seriously? Here’s what I had to say on the subject on Channel 10’s The Project last night (starts at 3.46).
Ricky Nixon pleaded guilty to beating ex-fiancee Tegan Gould to ‘protect’ his and her family
But women’s advocate Melinda Tankard Reist said domestic violence was too serious an offence for perpetrators to be let off lightly.
“My fear is that this will send a message to other victims that domestic violence isn’t that serious – that if someone beats you, they will just get a community service,” she said yesterday.
“This is a vulnerable woman being attacked by an older man in a position of power and authority. It’s a concern when he gets off so lightly.” Full story here.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
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Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
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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
“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
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Whether it is problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – these books are written especially for you – to help you in your journey. Purchase all four together and save $18.50 on postage! Author: Sharon Witt
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
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Do you read women’s lifestyle magazines? Have you thought about how magazines might affect you when you read them? Faking It reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media, and the sexual objectification of women.
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.