An article was published in The Guardian today about the campaign calling for Snoop Dogg’s visa to be revoked. Titled ‘White singers deserve the same scrutiny for sexism as Snoop Dogg‘, it implied that Collective Shout’s motivation for the campaign was race, not misogyny, sexism or violence against women. The Guardian declined to publish Dr Caroline Norma’s response. So we did.
Dr Caroline Norma
So often, when women speak against sexism, misogyny and women hating in general, they are accused of having a hidden and secret agenda. They’re ‘anti-sex’, they ‘hate’ men,’ they have other secret agendas. We’ve just witnessed a classic example of this in the framing of Collective Shout’s campaign led by 24-year-old activist Talitha Stone, calling on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to recall the visa issued to well-know U.S rap artist Snoop Dogg, who is about to land on our shores.
Francis Lockie, writing in The Guardian today, fits within this camp. Collective Shout activists couldn’t possibly believe that women and girls are intrinsically worth enough that they would selflessly spend time, money and energy in their service. Other false claims have been made about this grassroots movement in the past – why not add ‘racist’ to the mix?
In Frances Lockie’s view the female activists of Collective Shout have another agenda – and it’s racist. They find the energy to launch campaigns against sexist male singers not out of a desire to stop hate speech against women, but because deep down they are racists, whether they realise it or not. Their racist impulses allow them to work together. In the absence of agendas like racism, why else would they bother?
Criticising feminists as ‘racists’ is easy, because no-one believes women’s activists are genuine in what they believe or do anyway. Everyone is ready and willing to hear an alternative explanation for why women are getting together to do things on their own behalf. Lockie need cite just a sample size of three campaigns–one against Kanye West, one against Tyler the Creator and one against Snoop Dogg– to successfully persuade every one of the ‘real’ agenda driving the tireless work of Collective Shout supporters. Inevitably there is another agenda, so a little evidence goes a long way. (As an aside, there’s no mention of the success of the Tyler campaign in forcing Twitter to establish a ‘report abuse’ button as a result of rape and death threats against Talitha Stone, no mention that the campaign against Kanye West was global and supported by a coalition of international women’s groups, not just Collective Shout).
Lockie spent hours painstakingly gathering up evidence of white men singing sexist things and brutalising women to show how Collective Shout members had given them a ‘free pass’. She wanted to make the point that racism acts as a decoy in diverting attention away from the sexism of white men, and how Collective Shout members had fallen into this trap. So, whether they realise it or not, the women in Collective Shout are actually working on behalf of the world’s most powerful men–this is the real agenda of the group. Through forming a group that sticks up for white men they probably think they can get themselves a better deal in life, and rise above the downtrodden masses of women.
When feminists and their organisations are imagined to have ‘another agenda’, sexism does not just cause us to doubt their loyalty to other women. It also leads us to think women are incapable of acting in anyone’s interests other than men’s, and especially white ruling class men. Even when women tell themselves they’re trying to get a better deal for women, they’re actually trying to protect men, or push down other women so men can rule more easily with more perks.
Lockie probably thinks she’s done Collective Shout members a favour in pointing out their folly. Without Lockie’s good instruction, these women could have carried on their whole lives running campaigns, lobbying and working together on behalf of women–totally oblivious of the fact they were inadvertently protecting white men and covering up their abuses. Collective Shout has said nothing about Axl Rose! Or John Lennon! Our younger members have no idea who Rose is. And the fact John Lennon is dead seems to have escaped her. She ignores our campaigns against Robin Thicke and Brian McFadden for their rape apologist lyrics.
Luckily, Lockie stands apart from women working hard in feminist organisations, so she can objectively assess their agenda and intentions, and deliver pronouncements to the benefit of all. Her aloof impartiality would have been compromised if she’d joined Collective Shout, and donated the research she did on the sexism of white male singers. Lockie might have found herself leading a campaign on behalf of members to stop one of them coming to spread hate speech in Australia. Perhaps she will join us in our efforts against rapper Eminem who brings his special brand of women hatred to Australia next month?
If Collective Shout isn’t prepared to launch official campaigns against every artist who profits from misogyny does that mean we shouldn’t campaign against any?
This debate on violence against women, as glamourised by the music industry, isn’t about colour. Collective Shout (in the face of limited resources and its volunteer nature) addresses this where it can. Two high profile rap artists have toured recently. That they were black was irrelevant. Eminem will receive the same welcome from us when he lands next month. To turn this into a debate about race and not misogyny is to wilfully miss the point and, in a rape culture in which all women and girls have to live, this is something we cannot allow to happen.
Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University
“The attempt to dress this up as black v white issue is beneath contempt”
Here are a selection of comments on The Guardian site which condemn attempts to turn our campaign into an issue of race.
OneManIsAnIsland: The objection to Snoop Dogg, presumably, is that ALL of his songs seem to be extensions of his own persona, and ALL seems to include a casual misogyny which is not contextualised. And finally, before you make it a race thing, remember that Robin Thicke is very, very white.
Jahlion: The attempt to dress this up as black v white issue is beneath contempt.
SidusVitae: Many rap songs that feature violence and misogyny are not figurative – that’s the problem, isn’t it? People have politely tried to point out above, under the guise of ‘context’. Snoop Dogg/Lion actually does have a history of problematic dealings with women.
WinstonThatcher: Have you ever listened to the lyrics on ‘Doggystyle’, Frances? I suggest you do so. They’re astoundingly disgusting (on a whole other level of disgusting), and Collective Shout, if anything, should be admired for not letting the big bad wolf that is accusations of racism cloud their judgement.
SamBeckett2: Are Cave, Dylan, Pink Floyd et al ex-pimps who’ve made porn videos? The vast majority of lyrics you quote are clearly telling stories representing misogyny rather than promoting it.
Timcw: So if a black singer refers to a woman as a ‘ho’ or a ‘bitch’ then anyone who complains at the content of the song is being racist if they don’t research every past instance of a white singer using misogynist lyrics and complain about that at the same time? This article is nonsense even in its own terms. Look at the criticism Robin Thicke rightly attracted recently. More seriously, it reflects a type of thinking that implies any criticism of men who aren’t white over the way they treat women is racist.
StVitusGerulaitis: What an utterly absurd article. This is not a race issue, and trying to make it so is disingenuous and rather desperate.
Sexism is more common, widespread and aceptable in modern hip hop….If anything, people give hip hop more of a free pass.”
NewsfromNowhere: I think that this is the problem. Hip hop is used to play by its own rules and black hip hop artists can always play the race card to get a free pass. White hip hop-ers) have to retract and apologize or lose their gigs. I am seriously concerned about this perspective that white feminists (if Collective Shout are white) can’t protest against misogyny from black men or they are racists.
Robthablob: The Prodigy “Smack my bitch up” and Eminem (many early tracks are both misogynistic and homophobic).
However, I remember both of these being heavily criticized at the time, which kind of goes against the author’s contention.
Luxrothchop: A colleague tells me he’s also a pornographer. Is that also true of any of the performers in the author’s list, and don’t you think that makes something of a difference? Seems to me one can’t do right for doing wrong on this question. When I and other posters criticised Robin Thicke on another thread earlier this week those who leapt to Thicke’s defence retorted that “you wouldn’t say that about a black artist for fear of being called a racist”.
ID2099454: Violence against women is an important issue, and this article makes it sound ridiculous. So thanks a bunch for undermining the hard work of lots of people trying to make a difference
DoctorPeppa: I can’t help but wonder if the author actually bothered to get in touch with Collective Shout with her concerns before publicly insinuating that their feminism is a smokescreen for racism. Why does it have to be their job to police the music industry for hate speech against women – if you have noticed other artists contributing to public misogyny, why not pick up your bat and have a swing for yourself? Other women doing feminist work are not an enemy who deserve to be shot down like this.
‘We showed companies all over the world that rewarding rape is not just wrong, it’s a bad marketing strategy’
So happy to report some good news.
U.S based women’s protest movement UltraViolet led a massive protest against rapper Rick Ross and his endorsement deal with Reebok, prompted by his lyrics in the Rocco song ‘U.O.E.N.O’., about drugging a woman and having sex with her without her knowledge.
Ross’s segment on the song featured spiking a woman’s drink with the drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or molly:
Put molly all in her Champagne
She ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that
She ain’t even know it.
Only 13-months-old, UltraViolet harnessed a groundswell of protests that forced Reebok to end its relationship with the rapper. Much of the action took place through social media, resulting in a mammoth 90,000 signature petitions, 10,000 phone calls and 2000 tweets.
Protest outside the Reebok store in Manhattan (NYT)
Here’s an email I just received about the campaign’s success.
YOU just dealt a big blow to rape culture.
Thanks to 100,000 UltraViolet members and our allies who spoke out, Reebok just ended their endorsement deal with Rick Ross, the rapper who brags about raping a woman on his recent single. The 90,000 petition signatures, 10,000 phone calls, 2,000 tweets, the letter signed by 500 rape survivors, and the nearly 100 people who rallied at Reebok’s New York City flagship store sent a clear message: we won’t stand for a company that rewards rape.
And Reebok listened. In fact they issued a strong statement, saying “We are very disappointed [Ross] has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”1
When a company does the right thing, it’s important that we thank them–so we’re going to send them a thank you card, signed by thousands of UltraViolet members. We’ll also send the card to the press to help Reebok get good publicity for taking a stand against rape. Can you sign the card?
This isn’t just a blow to Rick Ross–it’s going to have an impact on how companies like Reebok choose their spokespeople in the future. We showed companies all over the US–and all over the world–that rewarding rape is not just wrong, it’s a bad marketing strategy.
After Todd Akin, Rick Ross, Steubenville, and far too many similar stories, it’s clear we have a lot of work to do together to end rape culture. But right now, we need to take a moment to thank Reebok, and show companies everywhere that if they stand up for women, it will pay off. Can you sign the thank you card?
Thanks for speaking out,
Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Malinda, and Karin, the UltraViolet team
Ross part of another video eroticising violence against women
Remember Rick Ross’s part in a behind-the-scenes clip for the Kanye West Monster video which showed him eating a plate of meat between the spread legs of a dead woman? Collective Shout, Adios Barbie and others joined together in a global campaign against the Monster video which was described as a rape scenario set to a soundtrack – and won. MTV refused to screen it.
Our campaign a success: thanks for speaking out against eroticised violence against women
Time for some good news. This week my colleague Sharon Haywood of Adios Barbie received news from MTV that it would not air Kanye West’s Monster video. Collective Shout and I had teamed up with Adios Barbie and other global women’s groups to try to stop release of the video and screening by MTV. I wrote a number of pieces against this ‘rape scenario set to a sound track’ (here, here and here), we launched a petition through Care2 and Change.org and momentum gathered, attracting international media coverage. Now MTV has responded. I’ll allow Sharon to take up the story, with a reprint of her blog post here.
A Monster Success
By Sharon Haywood, Co-Editor
It’s official folks, and you heard it here first: MTV and VH1 will not air Kanye West’s “Monster” video. Jeannie Kedas of MTV Networks, which also controls VH1, has recently confirmed that neither channel “has plans to air the video.” Kedas cited MTV’s voluntary standards department as a guiding force in their choice, but you can bet that our collective online movement against the official release of “Monster” also had something to do with MTV’s principled decision.
When I first watched the leaked clips of “Monster” I was so infuriated and disturbed that I couldn’t just say, “That’s an incredibly offensive and misogynistic music video. Wow, artists are really pushing the limits, aren’t they?” and get on with my day. In the past, there have been countless media messages that have riled me up, but never have I been so affected than after watching those unofficial clips for the first time. My stomach literally turned as I took in images of nearly naked dead women hanging from chains, a contorted dead woman splayed on a couch wearing nothing but red stilettos, and two dead woman propped up in bed being maneuvered like playthings by Kanye himself. Oh yeah, don’t forget Kanye gripping the hair of a woman’s severed head. I couldn’t just sit by and tweet how P O’ed I was. I’m so glad I didn’t.
“The video was submitted to MTV, but it wasn’t banned; rather, edits were requested based on the channel’s decency standards.
MTV has not banned Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ video,” the network said in a statement to MTV News. “We have been in constant communication with the label regarding this matter. However, we are still awaiting the edits we requested in order for the video to be suitable for broadcast.”
So, we waited and continued to speak out against the use of eroticized violence as mainstream viewing. On June 5th, the official release of the long-awaited version of “Monster” appeared online. The only thing that was strikingly different from the leaked clips was the disclaimer at the beginning of the video: “The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and shall be taken as such.” It might as well have read: “Warning: The following content may cause physical and emotional upset such as nausea and seething anger” because the final cut still contained the same sexually violent images that sparked our activism in the first place. It’s obvious that the inclusion of a disclaimer tells us that someone at Def Jam, UMG, or even West himself is paying attention to our protest. Note to artists and producers: A disclaimer does not erase nor excuse misogynistic content.
We want to publicly acknowledge and applaud MTV Networks for choosing not to air “Monster.” We congratulate MTV for reinforcing the fact that violence against women, even if couched in a horror-film format, should never be used as a way to engage and entertain viewers, many of who are under the age of 18. We need you to let others know that MTV is acting as a leader by recognizing that eroticized violence in no way, shape, or form, is entertainment. (Here’s their Facebook page. Like ‘em.)
And what about UMG, the other target of our petitions? Despite my many attempts to procure an official statement, UMG has nothing to say on the record. Some may argue that UMG shouldn’t be held accountable, as the company is not responsible for the creation of West’s content; the artist’s own record company Def Jam assumes that role. Instead, UMG focuses solely on distribution (as is indicated in the copyright at the end of “Monster”). Thanks to MTV, there aren’t many distribution options left for the video. (Here’s MTV’s Twitter handle. Thank them personally. I have.)
It’s high time that media big guns, like UMG follow MTV’s lead and recognize that profits can still be gained by taking a socially responsible stand—not in spite of doing so, but because of it. As your support has shown, there are a growing number of consumers who give more than a damn about what choices are offered to them as entertainment. Corporate bigwigs need to also realize that our work is not yet done. Far from it. Our petitions did not target the music industry as a whole but instead we focused on a single video as taking one step toward positive change. As Change.org says,
“We believe that building momentum for social change globally means empowering citizen activists locally — and that the influence of a local victory is always much larger than the change it immediately achieves.”
The sum of many small victories means notable social change. We know that the video’s lack of distribution will not eliminate the presence of misogyny in the music industry. But at least we know we’re moving in the right direction. We’ve been heard. And we’re fairly sure that the music industry will continue to listen.
And another sexual assault survivor who isn’t laughing
Late yesterday afternoon Brian McFadden sent these tweets:
So, it seems he’s upset his song is “getting attention for the wrong reasons”. Lyrics about doing damage to an inebriated women were just meant as a bit of fun. And anyway that woman was his fiance Delta Goodrem, so it doesn’t matter anyway. And even though he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, he’ll give all the profits to a charity that works with rape victims.
The analogy comes to mind of a man who makes light of robbing and beating a blind person then so kindly sends money to a charity for the blind.
McFadden says it’s not a PR stunt but it’s hard to see it as anything else. And look at how the controversy is portrayed on his website – which, by the way, is accessed by clicking on a full screen image of the McFadden police mug shot cover of the new single.
Looks to me like McFadden and his record company are cashing in on the controversy with wording like ”You be the judge, buy Brian’s new single here”.
And what’s with the “Controversial new video?” Will the music video clip be a visual illustration of the lyrics? Is McFadden going to show us what ‘take advantage’ and ‘do some damage’ really means?
Given that Universal - the target of our petition against Kanye West’s Monster which has just cracked 15,000 signatures - is McFadden’s label as well, perhaps we need to brace ourselves for something truly horrible.
If McFadden is really concerned his song is being interpreted as promoting date rape, why say he doesn’t want it played on radio? What’s so special about radio? If it is causing this much angst – and triggering sexual assault survivors – why not just withdraw the whole thing? And can the video?
It’s difficult to see McFadden’s gesture as sincere when he blames all those who have criticised Just as you are (Drunk at the Bar) (including me here and here) . It’s our fault, see, because we don’t have a sense of humour. And he doesn’t want to give “haters” the pleasure of backing down. But it is his lyrics that are hateful. He just doesn’t see that. He won’t back down, even when more sexual assault survivors are speaking out about what this song is doing to them.
I’m a survivor of sexual assault and I’m not laughing: your song diminishes the trauma of my experience and belittles my feelings
Nicole obviously doesn’t have a sense of humour either. Following ‘anon’ on my blog Tuesday, Nicole is another woman who has come forward to describe the impact of this song on her, posting this comment:
This brings up so much for me. I don’t really know where to begin. It was such a long time ago, but it still hurts and humiliates me, some 20 years later.
I was about 16. I went to a party hoping to see a boy that I really liked. I got way too drunk and my friends tucked me into a bed at the house to recover. The boy I really liked then came into the room and tried his luck, but seemed to realise nothing was going to happen. Maybe 10 minutes later, his friend came in and he too tried his luck, however he was more determined. I have no doubt that if my friends hadn’t come back to check on me when they did, he would have raped me. He already had my clothes undone and had his hand inside me.
Later that night, after I had sobered up, we went to another friends house and I told my friends what had happened. They confronted the guy involved and he outright denied it. I never reported it and I never spoke of it again to anybody. The guy on the other hand ran around telling everybody that I was a liar and a bitch and that I was just pissed off because he wouldn’t have sex with me. I was humiliated.
So, Brian McFadden, do you think this is something to poke fun at? Does my story deserve it’ own catchy tune and rounds of laughter and applause because you were so clever to come up with something witty that ultimately diminishes the trauma of my experience and belittles my feelings about it?
I’m really ever so glad that we live in a society where cretins like you can influence a whole new generation of young boys and men to sexually assault women and girls and then have a big old laugh about it later on… not to mention make yourself rich at our expense. (That was sarcasm, in case you hadn’t quite picked up on it, and yes, I’m more than a little angry over your stupid song)
Maybe, Brian, you should consider that you have little girls growing up. I hope to God that they are never sexually assaulted by boys who have listened to your song and think it’s hilarious to ‘take advantage’ of your daughters while drunk, so they can ‘do some damage’ to them.
Where does Delta stand?
Delta Goodrem is one of a number of celebrity spokeswomen supporting Avon Voices, which raises money to address violence against women. She is also Brian McFadden’s fiancé. Shame she didn’t have a word to him before he released the new song. Or are violent lyrics – and the violence of a rape enabling culture – just so passé now,they weren’t noticed? Remember, this isn’t McFadden on his own. There’s an entire production chain involved in getting a single like this out. Did no one think to say ‘maybe this isn’t such a great idea’?
Help answer McFadden’s request
McFadden wants recommendations for charities working to help rape survivors. You can tweet him at @BrianMcFadden with your suggestions or contact him throug his website or feel free to post your suggestions here and I’ll make sure he gets them. Then let’s see him if he means it. But you know, there are some charities which may not want to accept his tainted money.
And even if he sends truckloads of money, he is not absolved. Nice of him to help out a charity and all, but what we really need is a genuine show of sorrow and regret. For that we are still waiting.
I’m really not all that interested in Royal Weddings. I’m actually not all that interested in royal things in general (I do like the horses though. And I confess I can remember where I was when Lady Di got killed in the car crash).
But finding out who and who isn’t on the guest list for the April 29 marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton has got me interested.
For example, the President of the United States of America, Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are not among the 1,900 invitees. But it appears rapper Kanye West is. Yes, the same Kanye West holding a woman’s decapitated head. The same Kanye West who sings lines like “She just wants a swallowship” has apparently received an invitation from the Palace seeking the pleasure of his company.
As readers of this blog know, I have been involved in a global protest against Kanye West’s Monster video. You can read about it here and the petition is here (approaching 15,000 signatures).
But last night I saw a Kanye West tweet which promoted me to take matters a bit higher and ask the Queen (through @britishmonarchy – who’d have thought the monarchy was into twitter, but there you go. Thanks @fittoprint) whether Kanye West was the kind of guest you wanted at the celebration of your grandson’s nuptials. I thought she needed to see this:
Now there’s a ‘post modern critique of female sexuality’. Perhaps, as is my habit, I’m missing all the irony and satire.
Fortunately British pop star Lily Allen understood full well what West meant. She tweeted:
I’m hoping it will put Her Majesty the Queen in a bad mood too, and she’ll take another look at that invite list.
It’s rare to see a man talk so honestly about how frequent on-line porn use impacts real world relationships. While of course the author appears to be writing from a purely selfish perspective: this is how porn screws with my sexual relationships and why I gave it up for four days – rather than a realisation of its mass industrialised dehumanisation of women – at least it may give other men cause to examine their own compulsive habits. And, hopefully, for women to seek men who want something more than porn sex.
David Rothbart relays how porn re-shaped the desires of a number of men – men who previously had happy, loving relationships with their partners. Here’s what some of them told him.
Perry, 41, lawyer:
“I used to race home to have sex with my wife… Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn…Not to be mean, but they’re younger, hotter, and wilder in the sack than my wife…Me and her, we still ‘do it’ and everything, but instead of every day, it’s maybe once a week. It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”
Stefan, 43-year, composer:
“I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”
Ron, 27, architecture student:
“I guess I’ve been fading from her. It’s like all that time with these porn stars was subduing any physical desire for my girlfriend. And, in some weird way, my emotional need for her, too.”
And here’s what one woman had to say.
Sadie, 29 real-estate agent:
“There is no glory in trying to make love to men who only know how to f**k—man after man after man after man raised on porn…A lot of guys have come to expect P.S.E. [the ‘Porn-Star Experience’] as a common thing… A few [women] might enjoy it, but for most it’s harrowing. I think there’s a fear that if they can’t make it happen, their boyfriend will retreat online.”
Porn’s socialising effect on boys: girls pressured to provide naked images
In a piece titled ‘They Know What Boys Wants’ by Alex Morris, the New York Magazine also gave us an inside look at how porn is shaping the attitudes of boys towards the girls in their lives. Rarely is there the slow-burn of a relationship developing: girls are treated as living sexual performances from younger and younger ages. Porn conditions boys to becoming sexually demanding. Girls have to pay for relationships with sexual tokens. In an account relayed to me last year, a schoolgirl was told by a boy: “If you give me [oral sex] I’ll give you a kiss.”
This extract from the New York Magazine piece:
“I wouldn’t mind if they said, ‘Send me a picture of you,’ just a regular picture, with everything on,” says Samantha…“But it’s like the way they ask for it? Naked?”
Tricey nods. “It affects them, the Internet. The guys expect to just chat girls up online, but when y’all see each other and y’all go out or whatever, the only thing that they want to do is get in the bed.”
Star, who’s 14, rolls her eyes. “Yeah, that’s the only thing they talk about.”
“I think they’re pressured by the Internet,” says Tricey. “When you see some of those things, you actually get a negative mind.”
Samantha frowns. “They see a pretty girl on the computer, big boobs or whatever, so they’ll be like, ‘Okay, I want a girl like that.’ ”
Do you relate to any of these accounts? Willing to tell me about it? You can post as a blog comment or contact me through the form at the top of this page.
Kanye West petition update
Well wasn’t that fun. After being attacked and ridiculed in The Punch on Wednesday, I woke yesterday morning to find 2000 additional signatures on our Care2 petition protesting Kanye West’s horror porn music video Monster. Another 3000 were added during the day, which meant we had surpassed our goal of 10,000. There are now 13,500 signatures.
Buddy Franklin and Nena&Pasadena and their porn inspired tees update
The AFL has had nothing to say to my question asking how Hawks star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s porn-inspired t.shirts fit in with the League’s ‘Respect and Responsibility policy. See my piece from ABC The Drum Unleashed here . Hello AFL, we’re waiting! Or don’t you think it matters that your players are flogging t.shirts which reduce women to sex objects?
Dull, derivative, repetitive
While we’re waiting for a response from the AFL, you must read this from a fashion industry insider, posted in comments to my ABC piece:
Fashion Merchandise Planner, 16 Feb 2011 9:07:28pm
You are seriously deluded if you think what you produce is fashion. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years for some of Australia’s leading retailers and fashion houses (both high end and mass market) I can tell you that what you produce is barely a blip on the Australian fashion scene and you wouldn’t rate a mention anywhere it counts… ‘edgy’ give me a break… bogan streetwear more like it. Maybe a Design Degree would give your ‘designers’ a richer troff to plunder from. The t-shirts are dull, derivative, repetitive and would do well in the markets. I don’t normally get personal but to sell your two bit company as an Australian success story is really stretching it. You produce unimaginative dull T-shirts for 20 somethings who think that a naked woman on a T-shirt is an artistic statement.
I am neither a Christian nor a prude just a highly successful and respected retail professional who has seen people like you come and go in droves. Believe your own marketing spin at your peril.
Lets have this conversation in two years time… or will you like the hundreds of other ‘talented designers’ crying into your beer and complaining that no one understands how you suffer for your art.
You produce unimaginative cheap T-shirts lets just call it what it is. You know sex sells and you are too dull to come up with anything better that tits and arse… congratulations you just discovered sex… like no one has ever done that before…
How convenient to caricature someone whose work you oppose by reducing them to a cartoon parody. Like I haven’t had enough Helen Lovejoy clichés to last a lifetime? Oh, and look, another media studies academic watching The Simpsons. Are we impressed yet?
Where Stephen Harrington sees “a graphic critique of post-feminist female sexuality”, I see Kanye West holding a woman’s decapitated head. Where those like Harrington see ambiguous, complicated narrative and linear narrative fantasy, I see semi-naked dead women swinging from ropes around their necks.
When I see Rick Ross in the ‘Behind the scenes’ You Tube clip tucking into a plate of raw meat before a spreadeagled dead woman on the table, I see the brutalization and degradation of female sexuality. I don’t think ‘Oh, check out that satire’.
King Kanye has produced a carnage of female corpses, brutality and eroticized violence: torture porn. I agree with Zerlina Maxwell who described it as ‘a rape scenario set to a soundtrack’.
And Ta-Nehisi Coates has asked, what if John Mayer decided to cut a video with dead black women strewn about?
But of course my readings are to be dismissed. Because Harrington is a MEDIA AUTHORITY and he knows best.
Harrington’s dismissal of media interpretations other than his own as invalid, wrong, or hysterical is to buy into a predictable stereotype designed to dismiss women and their readings of culture. Only those like himself can coolly and rationally respond to culture. The rest are to be condescendingly dismissed.
Telling women who read oppression and offense into cultural representations that “they are reading it wrong” is to delegitimize their cultural interactions and ignore their perspectives.
Sharon Haywood from Argentina and I started a petition sponsored by Collective Shout, Adios Barbie, the Coalition Against Trafficking Australia and CATWA International, and Media Watch (U.S) calling on Universal Music Group to withdraw the video. That petition is hosted on two well respect global sites for activists: Care2 and Change.org. So far 10,000 have signed.
We believe that the mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. They are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even when dead. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women.
We hoped to challenge the view that women’s pain and suffering is perfect fodder for entertainment.
…I teach [in the ‘hood’] in a very rough zip code. This crap is the ONLY music these kids listen to, so it has everything to do with violence against women because it forms their opinions.
… I have to hear the high school boy say “b–ches are only good for three things, f—ing, cooking, and cleaning.” I have to hear the high school girls…explain how you know a boy really loves you if he hits you.
Rappers…promote the ideas that the measure of a man is how many b–ches he can f—, or how much violence he can do, and that women’s only value is what’s between their legs, and as a punching bag. And that harms women and men.
Those kids just don’t seem to understand that misogynist rap videos are just graphic critiques of post-feminist [read anti-feminist] culture.
While not specifically naming West, international recording artist Moby may as well have in this article from 2005. Moby asks why racism is seen as bad but misogyny seen as cool. To those creating music which glamourises misogyny he writes: “you have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create”.
Sex is a ‘source of negativity and fear’ for so many women and girls. Yes. But it’s not the fault of my colleagues and I. West’s video is one great big dog whistle to all the women and girls who’ve had to put up with abusive sexuality that their pain is just good fun and entertainment. And it’s a dog whistle to men who choose to be perpetrators as well.
I talk to a lot of girls every year. They tell meabout being dis-empowered by pornified imagery which conveys their power lies in their ability to pleasure men on demand. They say boys are acting in more sexually aggressive ways towards them. They share stories of coerced sex, unwanted hookups, pressure to provide oral sex at parties and to send naked images. These stories come from girls as young as 11 and 12.
The sexualisation of murdered women on CSI doesn’t make West’s video any better. Just because we haven’t listed every last example of media sexualisation of female destruction, doesn’t mean we don’t see it elsewhere. We just choose our battles, and we’ve identified West’s video as a significant watershed in the de-humanisation of women.
Harrington can keep watching The Simpsons and I’ll keep working with my friends around the world to try to make things better for real women.
Why won’t Kanye West repond to outrage against Monster video?
Mass desensitisation to abuse and exploitation
I’m not interested at all in going after Kanye West for the sake of it. That would be very boring. It specifically relates to the carnival of carnage he has created, the ‘rape scenario set to a soundtrack’, the idea that torture porn is sexy. We are targeting what he has created and the message it sends and the harm this causes – MTR
Sarah Parker at Change.org has blogged again with an update on our petition against Kanye West’s Monster video. She asks why Kanye West or his management have not responded given the level of concern globally.
Care2 and Change.org are both hosting our petitions which have so far secured a combined signature count of more than 8000. We’ve passed our original goal of 5000 so have now revised the target to 10,000.
When did promoting violence against women become an acceptable form of art? Hundreds of years ago, actually. But the question is, does that make it okay today? Over 7,000 activists all over the world say “no” and have put their collective foot down over Kanye West’s music video, “Monster.”
I recently reported on a petition started by Melinda Tankard Reist and Sharon Haywood that asks Universal Music Group, distributor of the video, to stop it’s official release, MTV to declare it will not promote the video, and Kanye to officially apologize for eroticizing violence against women. If you haven’t seen the leaked clips, the video contains beautiful, lingerie-clad women, possibly zombies or vampires, now dead. Kanye, Jay Z, and Rick Ross kill them and enjoy the spoils of victory – kissing the dead bodies, hanging practically naked bodies from the neck by chains, and eating a plate of raw meat between the legs of another scantily clad dead girl, to name a few. Nikki Minaj gets in on the act as a fanged dominatrix “interrogating” her pink-haired alter-ego, also played by Minaj. Read more>>
Kanye West, seems to have Swift-ly moved on from the Taylor-saga to the next level of drama in his new ‘Monster’ Vid. Facebook status updates have begun to take up the cause. As a social networker, have you voiced your objection in between your updates of being hung over and sleeping outdoors?
There’s a vulture in our popular culture that feeds on the ritual humiliation and exploitation of the female population. ‘Freedom of expression’ is the cry of opposition that would seek to hypocritically enforce oppression in the name of libertion.
But Kanye’s new video steps over the vultures line by perpetrating the lyrical crime of ‘rape and pillage a village’ in graphic detail on the unresponsive females in his pimp-flick
So let’s talk about the ideologies we spin to the masses through the music franchises. Rape and exploitation is a sexist expression of the mass oppression that flows from TV screens to our streets, from police stations to limited-rape-justice for the female nation. Only a monster would find arousal from sights of women being incapacitated to their eyeballs. Monsters should never become mainstream.
Will you make a contribution to the Twitter revolution? First things first, join the word on the street and sign the petition that denounces ‘Kan-ye for being a fan of raping dead women’. Spread the word, so that your message is heard loud and clear by Universal Music Group and MTV before they release ‘the Monster.’
What’s entertaining about women in lingerie hanging by their necks on chains? What’s artful about images of drugged, unconscious women about to be sexually assaulted?
It’s misogyny, graphic and simple.
Instead of artistic expression, political and social commentator Zerlina Maxwell described Kanye West’s music video for Monster as “a rape scenario set to a soundtrack.”
Yet that’s not what many commentators are saying about the gruesome and degrading images in the rapper’s video, which has yet to be officially released even though it’s all over the Internet either in full or in part.
West has suggested that the video’s necrophilia and brutality are aimed at generating controversy and sales. Still, there’s a profusion of intellectualizing and rationalizing about the video.
Much of that commentary includes attempts to absolve African-American men from criticism of their misogynist lyrics and the grotesque images of violence perpetrated on white women because of the history of slavery and colonialism.
Among the most inflated and convoluted praise for depravity as art comes from progressives. Salon.com’s Tracy Clark-Flory deliberately set aside the question of misogyny and wrote that the video “offers a fascinating Rorschach test of our current sexual culture.”
Writing on The Atlantic’s blog, Chris Jackson deflected the question of misogyny saying he couldn’t answer it given all the other examples in popular culture.
Instead he fatuously wrote: “Kanye is like [French Renaissance writer] Montaigne, who said of himself that he doesn’t record being, but passing … The most difficult and most intriguing aspect of Kanye as a rapper is that you never know whether he’s celebrating or satirizing an idea or doing both at the same time.”
However, it’s worth noting that Jackson’s Atlantic colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates disagrees.
Coates described the video as “boring racism, boring sexism that hearkens back to the black power macho of Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver at their worst … the work of a failed provocateur boorishly brandishing his ancient affects.”
…Far from breaking new ground, West’s video only sinks to a deeper level of depravity, bringing the mainstream closer to what’s come to be known as torture porn.
It’s part of a growing social tolerance or numbness to violence against women. Kathleen Lahey describes it as “the remapping of male primacy onto contemporary culture.”
Lahey, a Queen’s University professor and expert in law and sexuality, has no doubt West’s video fits the definition of hate speech under Canadian criminal law, which makes it illegal to incite public hatred or advocate genocide of an identifiable group.
I’ll take mine dead, thanks. Horror porn is not ironic.
[Trigger warning for victims of violence]
When you look at this image, what do you see? An ambigious, complicated narrative? A post-modern analysis of culture? A man who loves his mothers and sistas?
And what about this one? Do you see poetic form? Linear narrative fantasy?
How about this? Satire? Irony? A work of art?
These are the kinds of descriptions being employed to justify Kanye West’s Monster video clip, lyrics and general body of work. (You can find some of this analysis here and here).
When I see these images, I see violence against women. I see glamourised misogyny and eroticised violence. I don’t see Kanye’s carnival of carnage as an art form or as post-modern cultural commentary.
These images and more are available on-line (leaked version, no, I’m not providing the link) and coming to a TV screen near you when Kanye West’s almost 18-minute Monster video clip is officially released at any time.
Here’s another image.
That last one is from a ‘Behind the scenes’ You Tube clip. That’s Rick Ross by the way, tucking into a plate of raw meat while taking in the view of a spreadeagled dead woman on the table. Looks like those rappers had a blast making the Monster vid. I tried hard to see the satire but couldn’t find it.
Monster is a track on Kanye’s new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy which went platinum yesterday. His fans are calling him the best rap artist in history and a “genius.”
King Kanye has produced a carnage of female corpses, brutality, death. It is horror porn.
The Monster video depicts scenes of a murderous rampage with most of the dead being women. Dead women in lingerie swing from chains around their necks. Naked female corpses adorn the furniture. Two other female bodies are joined by West in bed. He kisses one. There are overtones of necrophilia.
Having viewed the preview and the behind the scenes clip, (which I first wrote on ABC The Drum/Unleashed) , I had wondered whether the full length version could possibly be more chilling. It is. There is the decapitated woman’s head scene (above). Nicki Minaj is a sword wielding dominatrix, terrorising her (at times) hooded female tulle-attired victim (Minaj doubles as both). Nothing like a bit of women-on-women violence to liven things up.
One exception to the dead-bitches-are-the-best theme is what appears to be a young boy being devoured by two female-like creatures. Of course this is to be condemned also.
The album’s one million sales will no doubt drive even more interest in the Monster video. Which makes the petition we have going against it even more important.
Universal Shame: Act to prevent the release of this monstrous video
Sharon Haywood and I started a petition sponsored by Adios Barbie, Collective Shout, and the Coalition Against Trafficking Australia, (since also sponsored by Coalition Against Trafficking International and Media Watch) calling on Universal Music Group to withdraw the video.
The petition is directed to CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group Doug Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) and CEO of MTV Judy McGrath. (email@example.com). It can be found here . (You can also read an interview with Sharon Haywood about the campaign, at this link ).
We believe that the mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women. Young people are seeing images and absorbing harmful messages which glamorise misogyny and brutalise women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. The Monster video conveys a message that women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even when they are dead. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment.
We decided to run this campaign because we wanted to challenge the status quo – the increasingly common view that women’s pain and suffering is perfect for entertainment.
We believe West’s work will contribute to a culture that is already dangerous for women and girls. West just paid $200,000 for a custom- made watch made with his face on it . Think what that could do to address violence against women. Violence against women we believe his work is contributing to.
Bitches are only good for three things
Violent lyrics, combined with brutal visuals, are socialising young people and helping form their view on relationships and sexuality. Monica R, commenting on the Care2 petition site, wrote on the weekend:
…I am in the hood Monday through Friday. I teach there, in a very rough zip code. This crap is the ONLY music these kids listen to, so it has everything to do with violence against women because it forms their opinions.
OK, it’s just a video to you. But I have to hear the high school boy say “b–ches are only good for three things, f—ing, cooking, and cleaning.” I have to hear the high school girls refer to each other (their FRIENDS) as “b–ch” and “ho”, and hear them explain how you know a boy really loves you if he hits you.
I’d love it if rappers would come clean about their college degrees, but instead they pretend to be “hood” while living a wealthy lifestyle. They promote the ideas that the measure of a man is how many b–ches he can f—, or how much violence he can do, and that women’s only value is what’s between their legs, and as a punching bag. And that harms women and men.
You have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create.
While not specifically naming West, international recording artist Moby may as well have in this article from 2005.
In it, Moby asks why is racism seen as bad but misogyny seen as cool? He says anyone creating or promoting music which glamourises misogyny should be ashamed: “you have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create”.
i’d like to write about misogyny. a few years ago when the prodigy released ‘smack my bitch up’ i spoke up and criticised the song for being overtly misogynystic and irresponsible. i was in turn criticised on radio for ‘being too uptight’ and not being relaxed enough to appreciate the ‘humor’ in misogyny.
then 5 years ago i spoke up about the pernicious and pervasive spread of misogyny in popular culture, and again i was crticised for making a big issue out of something that no one else seemed to care about.
i respect the prodigy and i respect eminem as talented and relevant musicians, but i spoke up because i found the misogynystic content of their lyrics(among many others) to be deeply offensive. even if they themselves are not misogynysts
i found it irresponsible that they, and many others, would release music that glamourized misogyny.
2 months after ‘smack my bitch up’ was released i went to visit a friend of mine who was in hospital after being beaten by her boyfriend. she had brain damage and multiple fractures due to his pushing her down a flight of concrete stairs.
misogyny is not funny. it is not a joke. and it should not be treated lightly.
and now we find out that a british man who is obsessed with eminem killed a woman with a metal baseball bat
and stuffed her body into a suitcase.
am i being ‘too uptight’ for not seeing the humor in this?
Bob Herbert in an article titled ‘Women at Risk’ in the New York Times in 2009, made this point:
We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.
We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment. Read full article here
Let Universal and MTV know that the victimization of women as a valid form of entertainment is never acceptable and the video needs to be withdrawn. Kanye West and his management should also apologise.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
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