Many girls and young women look to girl’s magazines for advice on life, relationships, bodies, health and sexuality. But too often they receive conflicting advice and mixed messages and even, sometimes, outright contradiction.
Take for example, information provided in the sealed section of Girlfriend this month, where, within four pages of each other, two medicos give different information about age of consent laws. A 15-year-old, in a relationship with a boy the same age, enquires about age of consent laws because the two want to have sex. Dr Philip Goldstone replies “generally, if you are both under the legal age of consent, it is still illegal for you to have sex.” However Dr Sally Cockburn, under the heading ‘What if you’re both under the age of consent?’ writes: “If two people are both under the age of consent, but are the same or similar age, and both decide to engage in sexual activities, it’s not a legal issue – as long as there’s no coercion, violence or power imbalance involved. Basically, as long as you’re both in control and making informed decisions, there are no legal problems.” So who is the reader to believe? Isn’t this important enough to get right? How does the editing process work at Girlfriend for a contradiction like this not to be noticed? Girls don’t need confusing advice about where they stand under the law.
Not a matter of legal confusion, but something that is consistent is that I have to comment on the ‘Project You Reality Check’ again like I have to on the equivalent in Dolly. The logo is used so inconsistently I have little choice. On the front cover the ‘Reality Check’ provides the vital information that a tag was removed from fashion girl Kylie’s top and that the water in the background was darkened. Seriously, why bother? Then inside, ‘Style School’ features four girls with the ‘Reality Check’ telling us “We haven’t retouched any of these images – we didn’t need to! All the girls look great just the way they are”. So if that’s the case, does it mean that when girls are airbrushed they didn’t look ‘fine the way they were’? Do some need to be airbrushed while others don’t? Also confusing is that the young women featured are specifically clothed to highlight and play down certain parts of their bodies. For example Alex, 15, is dressed to give “the illusion of longer legs” and a mix of large and small prints “also disguises any unwanted bumps”. Eloieese, 14, is lanky, so given curves and a defined waist and “fuller figured” Gemma, 18, is put “in a peplum top, as it draws attention to the slimmest part of her body – her waist”. No airbrushing – but they are still dressed to give the illusion of something other than what they are, and to hide unwanted bumps. I’m all for the disclosure…but it needs to be consistently applied and align with what else is in the magazine as a whole. Otherwise it loses all meaning. Read article here.
This issue contains an explanation of the ‘Retouch Free Zone’. “DOLLY is all about healthy body image – that’s why we only feature photos of girls that haven’t been altered or ‘perfected’ in any way. Whenever you see this stamp, you know the girls pictured are real and unretouched!”
Wonderful. But if only.
“Whenever you see this stamp”? What if you don’t see it? What does that mean? The declaration does not appear on every image of every female in the magazine. It occurs inconsistently, which raises doubt. Why ‘retouch’ free’ on this one and not this one? And what about the ads? They are never ‘re-touch free’.
Selena Gomes is on the cover. Not a ‘re-touch free’ logo in sight and Selena’s skin is as flawless as the day she was born. Was she re-touched? Don’t readers have a right to know that? A consistent approach would be helpful.
More helpful (though somewhat lightweight) is ‘The 7 deadly sins of facebook’, on online etiquette – how to avoid looking like a stalker, keep control of your online image by setting your privacy settings high (the context is avoid being tagged in ugly pictures of yourself posted by others prior to approval…not so helpful), taking it easy with the ‘like’ button and avoiding angry outbursts.
‘The downside of YOLO’ – the motto ‘You Only Live Once’ and LWWY, ‘Live While We’re Young’ discusses the risks to young people of living by these codes. Dolly asks: “Do these cute shorthand mantras really warrant their sometimes long-term effects?” Psychologist Gemma Cribb says these mottos attempt to justify crazy behaviour regardless of consequences. “When somebody tweets ‘Oh well, YOLO’ it means they’re already aware that their decision might not be sensible.” Another psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack, says YOLO can be used as an excuse to deal with peer pressure or embarrassment. “Girls might be pushed into situations that they don’t want to face and instead of saying no, they think ‘What do I have to lose?’”. Rapper Ervin McKinness and four friends were driving in a speeding car when the 21-year-old tweeted: “Drunk…going 120 drifting corners…#YOLO.” Minutes later all were dead. Brain development is discussed. The frontal lobe – responsible for impulse control, problem solving and considering consequences – isn’t properly developed until 25. Girls are advised to think smart rather than by the YOLO mantra. Read more here
28000 – That’s the number of boys aged 14-17 estimated to read Zoo magazine each week. Despite its pornographic nature Zoo magazine is classified as ‘men’s lifestyle’ and therefore unrestricted – anyone can buy it. Zoo is conveniently positioned and priced for young readers to purchase in convenience stores, service stations and Coles and Woolworths. Zoo boasts that it is the largest selling ‘men’s magazine’ in Australia.
Another way Zoo magazine promotes itself is through Facebook. Zoo’s Facebook posts consist mainly of images of semi naked women and women’s body parts. Some of the images are from it’s ‘strip search’ promotion. This is where a Zoo representative approaches women on the street and invites them to strip down and be photographed for Zoo. “We hit the streets and somehow convince girls to get their kit off.”
Zoo features a full page advertisement for its Facebook page in the magazine – a photo of breasts in a bikini top and the text “Two reasons to like our Facebook page.” (image here – caution when opening) The ad promises “heaps more” for those who go ahead and ‘like’ the page using their smart phone. Zoo regularly posts images of women – or their body parts – on its Facebook page, asking the reader to choose which one they prefer. “Left or Right” is a regular feature on its Facebook page and Website.
“This week, Zoo magazine posted the following image on its Facebook page, asking the question “Left or right, but you’ve got to tell us how you got to that decision.”
The comments came rolling in, here are some (warning – highly offensive comments):
You can’t get much more sexually objectifying than to dissect women’s bodies and discuss which parts you would like to use or abuse. However, after Zoo magazine’s ‘hottest asylum seeker’ competition, in which refugees were invited to submit photos and explain why they have exchanged ‘persecution for sexiness’ not much surprises us anymore.
A scan through Zoo’s Facebook page shows that along with its ‘strip search’ promotion, Zoo also uses its Facebook page to solicit semi naked photos from women. Zoo invites Facebook fans to “Send hot pics of you and a Zoo” and provides an email address. These images are then shared with their Facebook fans which Zoo says reaches men from ‘teens all the way to their forties.’
With so much print and online material to choose from, you’d think readers would be satisfied. But Zoo knows that their readers want more, and are only too happy to point the way. Among their advertising, in each edition Zoo also promotes ‘unrestricted’ ‘explicit’ ‘hardcore’ ‘xxx’ telephone sex lines (for example “Misbehaving Girls Home Alone”, alongside a picture of a young looking woman with her hair in pigtails) along with other products of the sex industry products such as “oriental hardcore shows.” (Image of ads here and here, caution when opening)
Zoo magazine is sold at BP, Spar, Coles, Woolies. In fact it is sold in most major and independent grocery stores. Why do these stores allow themselves to be used to promote such obvious sexism and objectification? Guy Sigley from The World Tells Measked both Coles and Woolworths that question. He received responses from both, dodging the question and defending the magazine’s placement in stores.
Perhaps it is time for us all to ask Coles and Woolworths that question too.
Make a complaint to the Ad Standards Board about the way Zoo magazine advertises on its Facebook page (The Ad Standards Board now considers the content of Facebook pages, including comments from “fans”, to be a form of advertising and therefore subject to the Advertising Code of Ethics). Read more about that here.
‘There was no discussion of the pressure girls like Amanda experience to measure their worth through their sexual desirability’
By Meghan Murphy
The tragic story of Amanda Todd has been covered widely by the media and has impacted people across the continent. Todd was only fifteen years old when she killed herself last Wednesday after having been subjected to three years of sexual harassment and abuse both online and at school. After a man convinced her to show her breasts to him on a webcam, images of her were circulated online, which led to her being tormented, stalked, harassed, and beat up at school. Her story got both the public and the media talking about the issue of bullying, but does ‘bullying’ really describe what happened to Todd? In a culture that places an inordinate amount of value on women’s bodies and appearances, wherein younger and younger girls are being taught that they should aspire to be ‘sexy’, when pornographic imagery is mainstreamed and easily accessible, there is more to this story than simple ‘bullying’ or ‘cyberbullying’. It’s been noted that the connected issues of sexualization, misogyny and violence against women have been left out of much of the media coverage.
When will QUT take action against James Silverwood and Dominic Terry?
A petition was recently launched to pressure Facebook to remove a page called ’12 year old slut memes.’
The page, used to bully, humiliate, expose and shame young girls had attracted over 200,000 ‘likers.’
Thousands of complaints have been submitted to Facebook via the page’s reporting system and a petition directed to Facebook. Facebook has refused to remove the page, defending it on the grounds of free speech and tagging it as ‘controversial humor.’
It has now emerged that the creators of the page are two 19 year old QUT students from Brisbane. James Silverwood and Dominic Terry are immensely proud of their creation and have continued to defend it.
Due to the amount of legal strife that we have been running into about the group, and the fact that we are just two 19 year old guys that obviously can’t afford a law suit to their name, we have regrettably decided to close the page, permanently.
I know we have lots of devoted fans that come on here to see the countless arguments and dumb sluts trying to justify themselves, sometimes it’s just too personally detrimental to have something like this group and it has to die.
We’ll miss you guys. Thanks for everything guys.
Dom & James.
Nahhhhhh, just gammin’.
As long as there are sluts, we will put them in their place. Keep the submissions coming guys.
We’re not going anywhere. x
How Dominic Terry and James Silverwood bully young girls in front of over 200,000 people. We’ve removed the young girl’s image
One wonders what QUT thinks of their students bullying, harassing and shaming little girls to ‘put them in their place.’ QUT has said they are investigating the issue. Since this has come to light James Silverwood’s personal Facebook page has disappeared and references to QUT have been removed from Dominic Terry’s page. A number of photographs have been removed from the offending page although the “12 year old slut memes” Facebook page is still there.
Of course, this is not enough. The creators of the page – 19 year old men – need to be held accountable and the page removed. It is never acceptable to target, bully, harass and shame little girls.
QUT responds with Facebook statement
“QUT does not condone exploitative, discriminatory or sexist behaviour. Our policies show clearly that we are committed to the strongest principles of equity and it is disappointing that the university has been associated with such content.
I am sure you would appreciate that QUT has no jurisdiction over the behaviour of its student population independently of their relationship with us, but the university has convenyed its views on these activities to the students.
We are unable to comment further on this situation in social media.”
The 12 Year old Slut Meme and Facebook’s misogyny problem
One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime
Millions of girls and women are murdered in “domestic violence” situations
Millions are sold, scarred, tortured, sexually abused and more
For being born female on a planet that tolerates unconscionable levels of violence against half of the humans that live on it.
So? What does this have to do with Facebook? Turns out a whole lot, because there is no being neutral in this situation. You either help change it or you actively tolerate it and encourage the perpetrators of violence by doing so.
Earlier this week I wrote about how the use of photography (especially without the subject’s consent) intensifies harassment, abuse and violence against women. Quicker than I could type “Feministe” this Change.org petition appeared in my inbox: “Please sign to remove 12 Year Old Slut Memes from Facebook.” One of the offending page’s profile photos is of a pink-lipped and pouty child (she looks a lot younger than 12) wearing a tank top that reads “I love COCK.” Now, anyone can create a page in Facebook (published at Facebook’s discretion) and this page doesn’t openly advocate violence against 12-year-old sluts. It is, however, the virtual equivalent of street harassment and, as such, demonstrates the way the photography serves to exponentially magnify the effects of subtle and real violence along a broad spectrum. Read entire article here.
Sign the petition calling on Facebook to remove ’12 year old slut memes’
Morons or crusaders? The two Brisbane university students behind a controversial Facebook account that was shut down yesterday have vowed to return to “uncover other problems in society”.
Created under the names of Queensland University of Technology students James Silverwood and Dom Terry, the page published photos of young girls posing in pictures that had been already posted on the social media site on their own pages.
These pictures were then branded with lewd tags and posted on the crudely named “12-year-old sluts” page.
Australian Communications and Media Authority response
One of our supporters made a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and received this response:
The internet content specified in your complaint has been found to be hosted outside Australia. The ACMA is therefore required to take action in accordance with Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA).
Further, following investigation of your complaint, the ACMA:
· Found that the content was potential prohibited content, in accordance with the definitions under clause 21 to Schedule 7 of the BSA.
· Referred the content to the makers of Internet Industry Association (IIA) approved filters.
· Referred the content to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Despite media reports suggesting that Facebook had banned the page, this is not the case. It is clear that it was the two men who opted to close the page, not Facebook. Prior to closing the page the two men had posted a message stating their intention to close it along with a pathetic attempt at justifying their behaviour. We believe it was the increased media attention, reports of an investigation from the Australian Federal Police, their University and parents being notified of their behaviour that ultimately caused the two men to close the page.
Since this page was closed, several other identical pages have been created by ‘anonymous’ users. Facebook refuses to take these pages down, instead tagging them with [Controversial Humor]. According to Facebook, a page set up to facilitate bullying and harassment of little girls does not violate its policy:
Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
It’s not the first time Facebook has come under fire for inappropriate or illegal content. Last year pages such as “You know she’s playing hard to get when you’re chasing her down an alleyway” were criticized for being “hateful, threatening [and] inciting violence”. Following global protests, Facebook finally responded, ruling that potentially offensive pages may remain if tagged as comedy or satire.
Since then, Facebook content has only become more graphic. Facebook is now being used to advertise escort services selling people for sex, as well as various pages promoting pornographic imagery and even pages like ‘Jail Bait’ promoting illicit sexual behavior in regards to minors.
Lily Munroe, Justin Morgan, Linda Coffey and Tracey-Renee Crum or Porn Free Culture decided they had had enough. Lily shared her experience on www.womensviewsonnews.org
“I found this [escort service] advert totally unacceptable – it seems we can’t avoid pornography in our daily routines – not only on Facebook but also advertising in the general media.
“I explored further and realised Facebook allows pages which contain pornographic content – including nudity, derogatory language about women, sex ads, illicit pages and child porn. Not only this, the amount of such pages seems to be growing everyday.
“I then checked out Facebook’s policies which seem to proscribe against such pages, but when we reported them, Facebook said that these pages didn’t violate their policies.
“This response made me want to do something – I just couldn’t sit back any longer. It is not just adults using Facebook, the network is billed as a family platform and I have two children who both use it.” Read more here.
Lily, Justin, Linda and Tracey-Renee have partnered with Porn Harms and are petitioning the CEO of Facebook to uphold Facebook’s existing policies.
One suicide is a tragedy. But what happens when a community is rocked by a series of suicides, one after another, all of them young people? Do the families mourn in private, fearful that expressing their grief publicly could result in more deaths? Or does the community come together, so that individual families can tell their stories and in turn do something to combat the insidious face of depression and its consequences?
Until now the accepted wisdom has been to publicly downplay suicide but in speaking to families who’ve lost children, reporter Liz Jackson found that young people are in fact talking about suicide all the time on facebook. Social media has the potential to influence behaviour, for better or worse, and it’s now accepted that suicide prevention strategies need to deal with this. As one parent explains, it was only after the death of her child that she realised her daughter had been discussing her depression and suicidal thoughts on facebook…
I watched this exceptionally powerful and moving program last night. It is a must-see for anyone with young people in their family - and for anyone who cares for their mental health and how apparently easy it is for teens to fall through the cracks in the mental health system.
It should also be watched by struggling young people, in the hope they might seek help before it is too late. Perhaps the program would help them see how much they are loved and needed and to see the cavernous yawning hole of pain and anguish left in their absence.
I watched it with my 16-year-old daughter and her friend. One of the strong messages to come through was that there is no changing your mind, you can’t come back, it’s final, over, and your friends and family can’t call you: there is no 3G in heaven…
To the family and friends of those who took their lives, you are so brave. You have offered your suffering in a desperately needed act of community service. I hope improved suicide prevention methods will be developed and lives will be saved as a result.
‘How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved?’
The articles last week in New Matilda (Trixie Wellington), Crikey (Helen Razer) and ABC Unleashed (Lauren Rosewarne) were so nasty and hurtful to mothers who are legitimately doing their best to make sure their daughters don’t come to any harm from men.
What about mothers who are survivors who might feel like they worry too much about child sexualisation stuff? (which I don’t think is possible). It’s just feeding into their self-doubt, and disempowering them from taking proper action to try and protect their kids better than they were protected.
I think there’s an implicit message in Wellington’s article that mothers are looking at their daughters sexually, which she should be called out on. This is an outrageous claim – Australian courts are currently chock full of, not women, but men who have decided to extend their violent pornography consumption to children. The statistics are huge and getting worse by the year.
Of course we would all love men to come to their senses and begin to lead decent lives like women have managed to for hundreds of years, but at this point in history there’s no indication they’re collectively deciding to do that. So, in the meantime, we have to let mothers feel as empowered as possible to protect their kids, without feeling like they’re weird or being told, (with no evidence) their agenda is puritanical: to ‘shame’ girls and put them in burqas?
How dare the elite media and privileged individuals who think themselves superior to the average mother, deride mothers and imply they’re not eligible for a view on how society should be improved? It smacks of classism. Why are mothers not eligible to speak on behalf of other women? Why can’t they lead the women’s movement (however that’s defined)?
Why can’t we have a women’s movement that’s influenced by our concern for children? Do we have to hide the fact we’re mothers if we want to speak out? And what’s with ‘feminists’ siding with corporations over an individual mother? How could that happen?
More than ever, we need to stand together across the class divide to protect children against trends like sexualisation. Disparaging and belittling mothers, who are most qualified to speak on behalf of children, is just a good way to let the corporations win.
The pornification of culture occurs because not enough of us have children’s rights foremost in our minds. On a daily basis mothers are going about their lives with children’s wellbeing and welfare as their top priority, so we could learn from their example.
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global Urban and, Social Studies at RMIT University and a contributor to Big Porn Inc: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry.
Target has drawn fire from campaigners against the sexualisation of children for selling clothes considered sexually inappropriate for young girls
Click on image to watch interview on ABC’s Lateline
(just as an aside, I don’t ‘run’ Collective Shout. I am part of a founding board which takes responsibility for the organisation. The day to day running of the movement is managed by Melinda Liszewski in Brisbane supported by volunteer activists around the country).
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“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
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 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 Getting Real, Faking It and Ruby Who? DVD in one bundle for $60 and save 12% 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.