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.
While there has been significant attention given to his suspected terrorist activities, his conviction and jail term for threatening to kill an ASIO officer and his angry claims that Parliamentary Secretary Steve Ciobo was inciting Australian Muslims to travel to Syria to join ISIS, less has been said about his threats to Australian women.
In January, shortly after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, Mallah threatened women columnists Miranda Devine and Rita Panihi in a twitter post:
I’ve always held the view that women who express opinions and are then subjected to violent threats and vilification should be defended, regardless of whatever political or ideological side of a fence they are on. I wondered, when some in the audience clapped in support of Mallah, if they were aware of his rape threats against Australian women or whether this didn’t matter enough to them to refrain from applauding?
And why don’t threats of sexual terrorism against women attract the same condemnation as other terrorist related threats? Mallah may have distanced himself from some of his earlier views, but his gang-rape tweet is only five months old.
Political scientist and commentator Dr Jennifer Oriel had been invited to be part of this week’s Q&A panel. She refused because of Mallah’s threats of sexual violence. She wrote this about her decision.
Last month, I was invited to appear as a panelist on the ABC’s political talk show Q&A.
Last night, Q&A featured a self-described “Muslim activist” who tweeted about gang-raping female columnists in January and pled guilty to threatening to kill an ASIO officer.
Why would I want to appear on Q&A following such an outrage against freethinking women and our nation’s protective forces?
The man who tweeted the idea of gang-raping female journalists also has expressed support for an Islamic caliphate.
I consider him such an inferior example of manhood that I would prefer not to stain the page with his name, but here it is for the record: Zaky Mallah.
After deploying the standard Islamist narrative on the ABC – i.e. Islamists are victims and anti-terrorism is unfair – Q&A’s audience applauded Mallah.
That tells us a lot about the state of Left-wing politics today.
In the 21st century, the hard Left goes soft on men who attack liberal democracy and promote violence against women as long as such men belong to a Left-anointed minority.
Q&A host Tony Jones upbraided Mallah, but only after he had blamed the government for jihadism.
Today’s limp corrective by the ABC falls well short of the explanation we need and the apology Australians deserve.
The terms of reference for the investigation into the ABC’s indulgence of Mallah must include why a man who threatened to kill an ASIO official was cast as a victim while offending our liberal democratic government’s anti-terrorism policy.
And why a man who promoted the gang-rape of female columnists was welcomed into the ABC studio and given the privilege of being a selected speaker from the audience.
What might have happened if either of the two female columnists Mallah proposed should be gang-raped in January were on the Q&A panel last night?
Unlike those female columnists, I was actually invited to be on a Q&A panel this month.
I have written extensively on Islamist terrorism and have been threatened for doing so.
The thought that a man such as Mallah might have been sitting a few feet away from me unrestrained is, quite frankly, horrifying.
There are serious questions which must be answered about the contemporary Left, and its continued indulgence of Islamist terrorism and misogyny.
We might begin by asking why the taxpayer-funded ABC indulged a man who promoted the idea of gang-raping female columnists.
Is it because the targeted columnists, Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi, are politically conservative and therefore considered deserving victims by Islamists and their Left-wing allies in the West?
Are we seeing a new form of politically correctness in Australia – politically correct misogyny?
Perhaps misogyny is permissible to the Left when the victim is a conservative woman.
As a female political commentator who leans conservative, my right to free speech and bodily security may not mean much to the ABC.
But I did not spend my formative years in the 20th century fighting for women’s rights only to surrender to an Islamist-Left alliance of misogyny in the 21st.
I expect a public apology from the ABC for its outrage against freethinking women, freedom of speech and the basic security of Australians.
Until such an apology is given, I will not consent to appear on Q&A.
Update: Mallah and some others have argued that he used the phrase ‘gang bang’ not ‘gang rape’. A man who calls two female journalists whores, and argues they need to be gang-banged on popular morning television, is not inviting them to join him in a mutually pleasurable experience. Note he has continued to tweet misogynist messages about and to them, in which he upholds his use of the term ‘whore’ to describe them.
The Hon. Mr Peter Dutton MP
Parliament House Ministerial Office
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
We are writing to you regarding visa applicant Tyler Gregory Okonma -stage name ‘Tyler the Creator’- who is due to arrive in Australia for a national music tour September 3.
Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 78 on Controversial Visa Applicants refers to “people 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.”
We believe the application by Tyler the Creator meets the Department’s definition of ‘Controversial Visa Applicant’. Our views are based on the content of his song lyrics and his behavior during his July 2013 tour.
Tyler the Creator seeks to enter Australia in order to profit from the broadcasting and selling of these lyrics. While his activities are therefore commercial, the content of the product he sells propagates discriminatory ideas about women and other groups, and represent a danger to a segment of the Australian community on the potential basis of incitement to acts of hatred.
Tyler the Creator has received widespread media attention over the span of his career for misogynistic hate speech against women, as well as homophobia. He is renowned for his songs advocating rape and extreme violence against women, including murder, genital mutilation, stuffing them into car boots, trapping them in his basement, raping their corpses and burying their bodies.
A characteristic feature of his songs is retribution against women who he perceives have wronged him. For example, he sings about strangling and chopping up women who reject his sexual advances and raping their corpses.
“Raquel treat me like my father like a f*ckin’ stranger, She still don’t know I made Sarah to strangle her, Not put her in danger and chop her up in the back of a Wrangler, All because she said no to homecoming.’”
“You’ll be down in earth quicker if you diss me tonight, I just wanna drag your lifeless body to the forest, And fornicate with it but that’s because I’m in love with you…c*nt.”
Other lyrics include:
“F*ck Mary in her ass.. ha-ha.. yo, I tell her it’s my house, give her a tour, In my basement, and keep that bitch locked up in my storage, Rape her and record it, then edit it with more sh*t”
“You already know you’re dead, Ironic cause your lipstick is red, of course, I stuff you in the trunk”
“You call this sh*t rape but I think that rape’s fun, I just got one request, stop breathin”
“I wanna tie her body up and throw her in my basement, Keep her there, so nobody can wonder where her face went, (Tyler, what you doin’?) Shut the f*ck up, You gon’ f*ckin’ love me bitch, Sh*t, I don’t give a f*ck, your family lookin’ for you, wish ‘em good luck, Bitch, you tried to play me like a dummy, Now you stuck up in my motherf*ckin’ basement all bloody, And I’m f*ckin’ your dead body, your coochie all cummy, Lookin’ in your dead eyes, what the f*ck you want from me?”
The messages propogated in these lyrics pose particular risk to the Australian community by conveying the message that interpersonal conflict might be legitimately resolved through violence. Unfortunately this message still enjoys resonance in significant parts of our society which heightens the risk posed to women and children of his entry.
We draw your attention to a previous Collective Shout campaign in June 2013 calling on the former Minister to revoke Tyler’s visa. As a result of our actions, Talitha Stone, a young activist who led our campaign, was subjected to multiple rape and death threats from Tyler’s fans, with the artist himself inciting violence against her on twitter and at his Sydney (all-ages) concert, where a young woman was also raped.
The footage can be viewed on You Tube:
The abuse continues and police have been involved. The incident attracted widespread international media attention and resulted in Twitter implementing a ‘Report Abuse’ button so it could address more quickly online abuse and threats made through its platform.
In January 2014, New Zealand Immigration denied Tyler entry to the country, citing his incitement of violence to Ms Stone at his 2013 Sydney concert as well as inciting crowd to riot at a 2011 concert which left a police officer hospitalized.
Tyler the Creator is a Controversial Visa Applicant also because of specific conditions that continue to prevail in Australian society. In Australia today, two women are killed each week by an intimate partner. Victoria Police respond to domestic violence calls every ten minutes. In this social context, Tyler’s lyrics pose a particular risk for incitement to violence against women. The manner of the propagation of these lyrics in highly energised, crowded, loud, and technologically staged produced environments makes their threat greater. The fact that concert audiences will be dominated by young men exacerbates the risks.
The Commonwealth Government’s National Plan of Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 notes that violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy around $13.6 billion a year. If prevailing social conditions continue, “an estimated three-quarters of a million Australian women will experience and report violence in the period of 2021-22, costing the Australian economy an estimated $15.6 billion”.
There are therefore economic grounds to examine Tyler the Creator’s application on the basis of conditions recognised by the Commonwealth Government to cost more in their aggravation.
The National Plan also states that, “While living safe and free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility”. There is further grounds to consider Tyler’s application on the basis of this assertion.
As a society which claims to be serious about eradicating violence against women, there should be no place for singers who glorify misogyny and degrade women for entertainment. Welcoming artist like Tyler sends a message that our leaders don’t really care about stopping the promotion and glorification of violence against women, and that the National Plan exists in word only.
The artist’s presence here would contradict the Plan, in that his commercial product and behavior undermines the human rights of women and girls and respectful relationships, and impedes attitudinal and behavioural change especially in young people.
It is our view that your Department has failed to conduct due diligence prior to advising you to grant this visa.
On behalf of women and girls, and all who care about them, we ask that you place the safety of our female citizens before a recording artist with a criminal history, who wants to exploit women for profit and who will contribute to a harmful cultural environment for them.
We request that you act urgently to revoke Tyler the Creator’s visa so that he cannot promote his misogynistic attitudes here. Please demonstrate that your Government is serious about addressing the scourge of violence against women by taking this action as a matter of urgency.
Collective Shout’s Coralie Alison and Sydney activist and educator Paula Orbea asked Lonely Planet to stop promoting misogynist camper van hire company. Lonely Planet responded:
“thanks for flagging this important matter, Coralie. Listing was removed from our Australian 18 guide (produced last year; hitting shelves in Nov)…the listing still on the site has been raised with the online editorial team.”
Paula launched a petition against Wicked Campers last year after her daughter was confronted with a disturbing misogynist slogan on a Wicked Camper van. Collective Shout wrote about the campaign here.
The campaign achieved widespread media attention. As the petition approached 130,000 signatures Wicked Campers agreed to remove the slogans over a period of 6 months. They lied. Here’s the latest update at Paula’s site.
As Paula pointed out in her article, it is worth continuing to speak out.
Contact camp sites and caravan grounds, ask if their policy is to turn away Wicked Camper vans with sexist or explicit slogans and imagery.
If you see a tourism, travel guide site or publication promoting Wicked Campers, let them know why Lonely Planet has stopped promoting the company and ask them to do the same.
Let us know about any action you take and especially if you receive a response via comments section below.
Here’s the exchange with Lonely Planet
UPDATE: Violence against women just a joke says Wicked
This would have to be the most condescending media statement I’ve ever read. Those who object to Wicked’s women hating slogans lack a sense of humour.
But see how things are suddenly not so funny when protestors took the company up on its recent offer to anyone who doesn’t like their slogans to paint over them?
Re-facing of their vans is more serious than the degradation of women.
Protestors, let this fire you up for further action.
A new wave of indignation
Since publishing the last update on this petition, I have continued to work toward attaining what was asked for of Wicked Campers in the first place – to eliminate degrading and misogynistic slogans and images from their vans.
Obviously, Wicked Campers themselves have made it abundantly clear that they will not be upholding their promise as evidenced by my ‘Literally Wicked’ post that I keep updating with images as they’re sent to me. Sign petition now
How are we expected to laugh at the epidemic of violence against women?
Collective Shout wrote this response to a man who described us as ‘feminazis’ who lacked a sense of humour, and chose to ‘take offense’, on our Facebook page. He has since deleted his comments – because he’s now ashamed of them, we can only hope.
Feminazi: ‘A deeply offensive misogynstic slur’
Do the men who use these terms again us think about the meaning? Is the mass slaughter of Jews (and others) to be reduced to a swear-word against feminist activists? (in a similar way ‘lynch mob’ is bandied around by certain men who get called out by women, as powerfully highlighted here by Dr Helen Pringle). My Collective Shout colleague Caitlin Roper– who has received more than her fair share of slurs – emailed this to me this afternoon on the use of the term ‘Feminazi’.
The fact is it is men as a class who oppress women as a class and we can see manifestations of this everywhere we look, ranging from sexual harassment and sexist jokes to rape and femicide. To suggest that women are the oppressors and the oppressors our victims is just horrible. And while we are drawing comparisons, it’s not men who are being exterminated by women. I always feel the need to point out that it is a deeply offensive misogynistic slur, and men who use this language to silence women who speak against the oppression and abuse they endure are absolutely part of the problem.
American activist Ed Drain also expressed his contempt for the term, on my (personal) Facebook page.
Ed Drain The ONLY connections to Nazis are the wanton destruction of a huge group of people — with Hitler’s Germany, it was Jews and homosexuals, today, it is women of all kinds and colors. The comparison is apt only for the ones supporting rape culture.
Stand-up Comedian Jim Jefferies misogynist jokes fall flat
In his opening sequence he claimed that when a man put his fingers inside the vagina of an unconscious woman it was not really rape. He said women should be flattered to have their drinks spiked and be sexually violated. He criticised the women who challenge his misogyny, callingthem “uptight (insert expletive word for female genitalia here) who can’t take a joke”.
Jefferies then joked about fat women, lying women, ugly women, beautiful but boring women, dumb women, and made plenty of references to the different types of women he had had sex with. He also admitted that he’d like to have sex with a 16-year-old.
During his misogynistic sermon, he asked the audience if anyone knew the opposite of misogyny, and took delight that only one person responded. This lone voice supported his argument that misandry is generally unknown because men have no qualms with being sexually objectified by women. According to Jefferies, men are totally open to the idea of being drugged and sexually violated, and if only women could mirror this relaxed attitude and regard the prospect of being raped as a form of flattery.
Violence against women exists on a spectrum: at one end there are misogynist attitudes, which Jefferies champions. His jokes against women were delivered with passion and conviction, and sections of the crowd consumed them like hungry wolves. These jokes made me feel uncomfortable and angry because they are being told against the backdrop of a society that systematically denigrates women.
Misogynistic attitudes are the building blocks for more extreme forms of violence against women that are endemic in Australia, including: forced sex, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, revenge porn, physical violence, stalking, rape, and murder. Read full article
Let these venues know what you think of them profiting from women hatred
In Grand Theft Auto V, an R-rated video game that allows players to attack and kill women in the sex trade, I would have been the character who gets left by the sidewalk, bleeding and unconscious. Or hit with bats, run down, set alight still screaming and graphically murdered – for game points, or maybe just ‘for fun.’
I was in the sex industry in my early 20s. But instead of the virtual world of GTA V – the abuse I suffered, while not as extreme as those in the game, was terrifyingly real.
It has taken me almost ten years to get my life back on track and to recover from the sexual violence and abuse I faced. I still live with flashbacks, nightmares, and crippling depression and anxiety.
Last week, together with two other women, I started a change.org petition requesting Target to pull GTA V from its shelves. The reason behind the campaign is simple: that a game exists which makes ‘enjoyment’ out of the kind of abuse I lived through in real life is sickening. For survivors of abuse, it adds insult to injury to think someone could get a thrill out of violence against women, even if it was in a ‘virtual world’.
In GTA V, a new ‘first-person player mode’ feels more realistic than ever. This includes a more realistic depiction of sex acts with women (who are largely represented as prostitutes) – and the options that follow of being able to kill them with machetes, guns or bats to get their virtual money back.
Making it all the more disturbing was having a retailer I shop at which sells and promotes this kind of game. As recently as last week, Target was advertising Grand Theft Auto next to Peppa Pig. This was being marketed at parents buying Christmas toys.
It sent a terrifying message. This is a game that has ingrained misogyny and graphic violence against women. It breeds an acceptance of abuse in our world; abuse from which I’ve been trying desperately to recover – and by stocking this game, major retailers are lending their credibility to it.
Despite potential backlash, I couldn’t stay silent about this. The fact that over 40,000 parents, customers, and advocates got behind our change.org petition showed we weren’t the only ones. The response to our campaign exceeded our wildest expectations – and forced Target to listen to their customers.
Since then, gamers have launched vicious and violent attack on myself and other women who dared to speak up. We’ve had threats of rape and torture. To mutilate us and set us on fire.
One gamer has threatened to locate us and publicise where we live. Another has superimposed the face of a friend onto the body of a murdered woman lying in blood, in a scene from the game.
“I’m going on GTA V right now and pretending every ugly c—t is you”, tweeted another hater to her.
Ironically, these abusers claim this game does not perpetuate violence, and yet they continue to send women horrific violent threats online.
Gamers also argue that games like GTA V have no impact on real life violence, despite research published earlier this year showing violent video games increases aggression, aggression-related variables and decreases pro-social outcomes.
Sadly, many women don’t need studies to tell us that. We know because we’ve lived it. We know how violence can start with ‘playful’ remarks and turn into dangerous, controlling behaviour. We’ve seen the violence implicitly condoned in these games play out in real life.
The ‘thrill and pleasure’ that gamers get off violence against women in GTA V makes the world less safe. Not because every gamer turns into the abuser – but because it breeds a casual acceptance of violence against women.
Stripping GTA V from the shelves of retailers like Target and Kmart won’t change that culture overnight. It’s one step among many — like the recent #takedownjulienblanc campaign – that will help dismantle the culture of violence against women in years to come.
It may not be a popular debate, but it’s one that Australia desperately needs.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732): 24 hour, National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Lifeline: 131 114
Grand Theft Auto: lesson learned the hard way
By Brendan Keogh
…there is no denying the deeply rooted misogyny and sexism of the series.
Of Grand Theft Auto V’s three playable characters, all are men. The vast majority of the women depicted by the game’s narrative are either passive victims to be killed or rescued, or sex workers to be killed or used. While the series’ supporters have long used the excuse of “satire” to justify the story lines, there is no critique of the social attitudes depicted; it simply perpetuates them…
The petition signers are completely right: Grand Theft Auto V’s treatment of women is terrible. That they would want to complain about this, and that Target and now K-Mart might listen to them is neither shocking nor outrageous.
… it is not a case of censorship, and it is not a case of an ignorant mainstream being paranoid about a medium they do not understand. Rather, it is a group of people with legitimate concerns about an incredibly popular cultural work perpetuating toxic politics, and taking the reasonable approach of directing their valid concerns to retailers who often explicitly market such adult products directly to children. If videogames want cultural relevancy, they need to deal with cultural responsibility… Videogames no longer exist on the margins of popular culture, and if they are going to uncritically present problematic material, they need to be ready to face the consequences. Read full article
The Video Game Industry Has Only itself to Blame for Misogyny and Harassment
The thing is, it’s not just a vocal minority. It’s a vocal minority that actually participates in the cruelest harassment, but we’re kidding ourselves to think they are somehow separate from a culture characterized by video games. Just play a match of more or less any competitive online game and listen to the number of times you hear the word “rape:” despite what we may think, this is not normal or inevitable. What it is, however, is a natural byproduct of the games we play.
We all know, at least on some level, that games have a massive problem with depictions of women…
It’s not a tremendous leap to assume that a community of consumers and producers is going to develop some intensely dysfunctional aggression and misogyny when this is the cultural background that we’re interacting with… It all comes from somewhere. If the “gamer” community is defined by playing certain games, then it will inevitably be colored by the content of those games. This recent virulent hatred directed towards women in the industry should serve as some proof. Read full article
The petition win is all over the media right now: on ABC News, news.com.au, Sunrise, Guardian Australia, Herald Sun, even reaching international outlets like AP, Forbes, UK’s Telegraph newspaper and others!
This is a huge win. For years, games like Grand Theft Auto have got away with this in-game misogyny and sexual violence.
It’s games like this that normalise rape and sexual violence. You’ve helped send a message to family retailers and brands that their consumers have had enough, and they’ve started listening.
We’re now asking outlets like Big W and Woolworths whether they’re going to stand up against Grand Theft Auto’s violence against women as well.
Yesterday on its Facebook page, White Ribbon wrote: “Target & Kmart have taken Grand Theft Auto V off the shelves. What are your thoughts?” With the question they posted a negative piece from a gaming site about the response of these corporates to our campaign (they posted no neutral or positive pieces). This was my response late last night:
Melinda Tankard Reist: What are OUR thoughts? Like you can’t actually take a stand on this yourselves? And you post a negative piece about the Change.org petition written by three women survivors of violence? You have nothing to say about the mainstreaming and normalising of violence against women, about treating the abuse of women as a game and as entertainment, about the importance of corporate social responsibility and ethical business leadership? We have often asked your support on campaigns and get nothing. Why are you in this for? What do you actually represent? Many of us – including women survivors of violence – are asking this question.
This morning White Ribbon has posted this:
White Ribbon believes that all forms of violence are wrong and we do not condone any form of entertainment that features violence against women. Thank you for sharing your opinions with us about Grand Theft Auto V – open conversation is the first step to raising awareness of men’s violence against women and changing people’s attitudes and behaviours.
We are in discussion with leaders in the games industry about this issue, and the broader issues of violence against women and the representation of women, as we have with the sports industry. This is an ongoing and long-term discussion that we have been engaged in for a while now. Achieving change is a long process and is most effective when we work together.
GTAV ‘discourages violence against women’ claims SMH journalist on The Drum.
Very disappointed with the coverage of GTAV, Change.org petition of 45,000 signatures and Target and Kmart response on ABC The Drum last night. (view from 18:00).
Did you see it? SMH journalist Kate McClymont quoting gamers against actual survivors of violence against women who wrote the petition. She said of the game “It’s actually discouraging violence against women.” And Paul Bongiorno saying it may have been a “stunt” and commenting on the“amazing graphics”. Couldn’t the producers find someone who actually knew what they were talking about? I expected more than this poor quality coverage.
This is how GTAV discourages violence against women
‘They referred to their abuse as a game’
Anita Sarkeesian speaks about her experience of online harassment and cyber mobs. It’s two years old but a must see.
Women survivors of violence are calling on Target to withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale, a “sickening” video game that encourages players to brutally murder women for entertainment.
In a change.org petition that has attracted 30, 000 signatures so far, Nicole describes the various ways players can enact their fantasies of committing extreme violence against women, including punching women to the point of unconsciousness, killing them with a bat, gun or machete, running them down with a car and setting them on fire as they continue screaming.
“Please Target – we appeal to you as women survivors of violence, including women who experienced violence in the sex industry, to immediately withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale,” writes Nicole.
“We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence. It haunts us, and we’ve been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure – to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm.”
The petition encourages Target as a so-called ‘family friendly’ retailer to follow the example of New Zealand’s largest retailer, NZ Warehouse group, who chose to put ethics before profits and refused to stock the misogynistic game.
Domestic violence organisations and survivor organisations have supported the call to Target to withdraw GTA V. Brigitte McLennan, manager of SCOPE Domestic and Family Violence Service said as levels of domestic violence were rising the whole community needed to embrace the message that male violence against women was not okay.
Our campaign against GTA V has attracted a lot of attention and comments, particularly from male gamers. There were men who defended their ‘rights’ to live out fantasies of enacting extreme violence against women in the game. They argued playing these games had no bearing on their attitudes towards women. These same men flooded the thread with abuse to women, sexist slurs, hateful language and jokes about violence against women. Apparently the irony is lost on them.
We stand with survivors in calling Target to exercise corporate social responsibility and show they value the lives and dignity of women more than profits.
Target Australia has pulled video game Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) off shelves over controversy about the game’s depiction of violence against women.
A Change.org petition calling on the retailer to withdraw the game from sale gained more than 38,000 signatures.
The women behind the petition, named on the site as Nicole, Claire and Kat, said as survivors of sexual violence they felt the game sent a dangerous message.
“It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking,” the petition said.
“This misogynistic GTA V literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women.”
The R-rated game has been available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for more than a year.
Last month is was re-released on the new consoles, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Target general manager of corporate affairs Jim Cooper said the decision to stop selling the game was made following extensive community and customer concern.
“We’ve been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game’s content,” Mr Cooper said in a statement.
“We’ve also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue.
“However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA V is in line with the majority view of our customers.”
Target: Withdraw Grand Theft Auto 5 – this sickening game encourages players to commit sexual violence and kill women
Nicole Survivor - Australia
It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.
This is Grand Theft Auto 5. This game means that after various sex acts, players are given options to kill women by punching her unconscious, killing with a machete, bat or guns to get their money returned.
Please Target – we appeal to you as women survivors of violence, including women who experienced violence in the sex industry, to immediately withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale.
We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence. It haunts us, and we’ve been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure – to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm.
This game spreads the idea that certain women exist as scapegoats for male violence. It shows hatred and contempt for women in the sex industry and puts them at greater risk. Women in the industry are 40 times more likely to be murdered by a man than any other group of women.
Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fuelling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia – and globally.
Target, you pride yourself on being a family company, caring for local communities, and have a strong ethical sourcing policy. How can you do this while contributing to hostile and callous attitudes toward victims of violence and, more broadly, to all women?
We urge you to follow the example set by the New Zealand’s largest retailer, NZ Warehouse Group, in upholding Corporate Social Responsibility and ethical corporate leadership, by removing these games.
This would also set an example to other stockists of GTA V.
Please put ethics before profits and make a strong statement that you do not condone sexual violence, sexual exploitation or the abuse of women as ‘entertainment’.
You can also leave a comment on Target’s Facebook. Let them know you don’t think GTAV helps ‘spread Christmas cheer’.
‘How evil should a video game allow you to be’, The New Yorker
Last month, a user on a Grand Theft Auto V forum asked whether players would be able to rape women in the game. In the post, which was widely shared on social media, he wrote, “I want to have the opportunity to kidnap a woman, hostage her, put her in my basement and rape her everyday, listen to her crying, watching her tears.”
My piece on Herald Sun website here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/julien-blancs-sexist-abusive-pickup-methods-should-be-rejected-by-aussie-venues-says-melinda-tankard-reist/story-fni0ffsx-1227112652542
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