Maccas wants to be seen as a family-friendly restaurant and claims to care about the communities in which its global restaurant chains do business. But is that true when these are among some of the images playing on a music video loop in stores throughout Australia? Why do our kids have to see these images? Why do any of us? Help us help Maccas to pay attention and stop serving up objectification with its burgers.
According to their website Maccas claims their values are:
We place the customer experience at the core of all we do
We are committed to our people
We believe in the McDonald’s System
We operate our business ethically
We give back to our communities
We grow our business profitably
We strive continually to improve
We’re #NotBuyingIt – We call on Maccas to exercise corporate social responsibility and immediately remove all soft porn from Australian in-store screens. Implement national guidelines on what content can be shown on in-store screens.
This week our petition calling on McDonald’s to ditch the soft porn gained media attention, forcing them to respond. After being contacted by a journalist a McDonald’s spokesperson said each fast food restaurant selected its own entertainment content and apologised to families who were exposed to the video.
The article stated:
“A McDonald’s spokesperson said it would take measures to avoid a repeat of the incidents. “We are proud of our reputation as a family-friendly restaurant and aim to create a welcoming, safe and respectful environment,” the spokesperson said. “Each restaurant commonly selects television programs for viewing that are readily available on commercial television. In this case we apologise to anyone that was offended.”
But do we buy it? What exactly are the measures that McDonald’s will take to avoid a repeat of the incidents? Since starting the petition we have been contacted by parents from all around Australia claiming that their local McDonald’s also screens sexualised content. Many of these parents have complained to McDonald’s before.
Rotating ads at Albany Creek Mcdonald’s Qld, June 2015 included advertisements for breast implant surgery
Here are just a handful of comments from our petition:
“I’ve experienced this at McDonald’s on Springvale Rd and Maroondah Hwy Melbourne where a woman’s breasts were exposed on a music video large t.v screen for all to see and I made an official complaint via McDonald’s but never had a reply. It’s inappropriate for a public place! Wake up to yourselves, your staff are young, your clients are often children and could be porn addicts for all you know you are feeding them more than food!” – Ian Watkinson
“Several years ago, my sister-in-law complained about highly sexualised content on a Maccas TV whilst at a kids’ birthday party.” -Tim Rushbrook
“I’ve seen this in store & complained & nothing was done!” – Colleen Miller
“Dad of 6. Seen full frontal nudity on TV screens in Maccas before. Couldn’t believe it! Was not alone with other parents in Maccas with a general sentiment of what are they thinking… Kind of like, A Happy meal and would you like boobs with that. Spoke to person at counter and they just said the channel was set and they couldn’t do anything. Got the vibe I was making a fuss about nothing. Complained twice at different Maccas. Not impressed.” – Mike Wilson
For a company the size of McDonald’s it would be quite easy to implement a national policy around what content can and cannot be played within their franchises. McDonald’s needs to come clean about what their plan is to keep their establishments porn free across the country.
Sexualised Violence isn’t Alright, Just because a Woman is the Perpetrator
BBHMM revels in the eroticization of total power, control and domination over another woman. But we are expected to see it as empowering, because Rihanna and her henchwomen are the agents of this control
By Melinda Tankard Reist
A frame from Rihanna’s new video for Bitch Better Have My Money (BBHMM) zooms in on Rihanna’s bikinied bottom. Floating horizontally beside her is Rih’s half-drowned victim.
The singer’s “hot bum” is more significant than the woman floating beneath Rihanna’s lilo. Men are enjoying it. They love her blood soaked “titties” too.
BBHMM revels in the eroticization of total power, control and domination over another woman. But we are expected to see it as empowering, because Rihanna and her henchwomen are the agents of this control.
And because Rihanna is black, and because the victim is white and because so many black women have suffered because of white privilege, the rest of us should shut up.
But if we are going to call out other expressions of physical, sexual and emotional brutality men enact on women (Tyler the Creator, Snoop Dog, Eminem, to name a few) and the kind of white girl cruelty led by Lady Gaga (in Telephone), we can’t quarantine the mega star’s video because of her colour.
The clip has been acclaimed as: badass feminism, subversive, sassy, funny, bossy, ballsy, edgy, unapologetic. Call it what you like. What you’re left with is the 7 minute sadistic abuse of a woman for entertainment (garnering more than 16 million views so far).
The story line: Rihanna is mad because her accountant ripped her off (which happened in real life). So Rih and her girlfriends kidnap the accountant’s pearly white, filthy rich, Pomeranian-toting wife and hit the road for some ritualised torture and pornified abuse.
The hostage is stripped, assaulted, hung upside down and swung by a hook in an abandoned barn, plied with drugs and alcohol, made a plaything for a party and knocked unconscious with a bottle to the head when she calls out for help.
When torturing rich-white-lady-who-had-it-coming doesn’t get her money back, greedy dude is quickly dispatched. He keeps his clothes on, there is no drawn out persecution, no sado-suffering at the hands of our rubber suited vixen. His death doesn’t even get that much airtime, really. Five seconds later, Rih is smeared in blood, her naked body adorned with dollar bills in the trunk which once held her victim (who is dead or alive, we’re not sure; there’s more concern over what became of her dog).
To put it bluntly, it is the woman whose humiliation we’re expected to enjoy. A Huffington Post reviewer writes that the line, “Your wife’s in the backseat of my brand new foreign car” was “brought to life” at a live rendition of the song on Saturday Night Live in March, with a “crying, bound and gagged woman utilized as part of the performance”.
Of course, there’s a risk in calling out women’s violence against women. It gives entitled men who don’t like their violence named an excuse to say, “Women are just as bad!” But while the global statistics on violence show it is mostly men who are the perpetrators, we can’t gloss over such brutality when it is women normalising and embedding it in the culture. Though Cosmopolitan – a magazine which has supported campaigns against violence against women – manages to do just that: “She throws her phone into the ocean and shoots it. Plus NSFW nudity!”
BBHMM sends a message that female power comes from inflicting pain on other women while still being sexually appealing to men. Through the bloodied rampage, Rihanna is represented as a badass, cool and confident, while her powerless captive flails. At the BDSM-themed party, we are led to believe the inebriated victim is enjoying her torture. The viewer also learns that this is how black women get power: by punishing white women who are portrayed as a privileged pampered bitches.
It has been posited that Rihanna is a grand philosopher making some elaborate comment on race, or gender or class, and that the video represents some kind of proletarian uprising of poor black women. (The fact Rihanna is a brand seems to be forgotten). “I see a black woman putting her own well-being above the well-being of a white woman,” writes Mia McKenzie. Poor black women have to put themselves first if they are to pay the rent and such like.
There is no denying the hardship faced by black women in cultures where they suffer the double indignities of race and being female. But Rihanna’s character is hardly symbolic of oppressed black women. Her victim, remember, is in the back of a new car p a car our heroine sets on fire a short time later because, well, there’s plenty more where that came from. She can afford to hurl her phone into the sea and can lay out wads of cash for Louis Vuitton chests (perfect for storing hostages in). And how many black women – indeed, any women – can afford Rihanna’s wardrobe? (her BBHMM outfits are listed in the “definitive ranking” on one fashion site: “Kidnapping, nudity, murder: the video of the year is here, and it’s got the style to prove it”).
How many black women have the kind of power and fame Rihanna possesses – and why is that power being used to promote sexual torture of women? And how does her personal power help other women who are oppressed by race, gender and class? One woman’s popularity does not equal the freedom of many.
Can’t we start from the basis that no woman deserve to be hurt? It is problematic that, as a survivor of violence herself, Rhianna would make a video sending cultural signifiers which imply that violence is a way of solving problems. In so doing, she has contributed to a hostile environment for women everywhere.
Rihanna has 81 million Facebook, 42 million Twitter and 16 million Instagram followers. Many will be young women, and many of those young black women. They observe a script loaded with eroticised violence, themes inspired by the sex industry and pimp culture, lyrics celebrating the debasement of women. For many young women imprisoned in America’s juvenile justice system, violence was not a pathway to empowerment and success. The enculturation of violence as a normalised pattern of behaviour has been identified as a key factor in their criminal behaviour.
Girls looking to Rihanna as an icon of success, wealth and power deserve better than brutal, pornified snuff which plays into harmful cultural, racist and misogynist stereotypes in which all women lose.
Is this Willow expressing herself? Or the coming-of-age fantasy invented for her by adults?
Willow Smith is 12. In her latest release, Summer Fling, she sings about a summer romance. She gives an older boy she has just met her phone number. It was only a few months, but they “do it anyway… “and say ”I love you.”
She is shown holding hands, hugging, cuddling and flirting with the older looking boy. Lyrics include:
“You tell me that I’m the one / I tell you it’s just for fun / Don’t really care what we do tonight / Good night kiss ’til the mood is right.”
“Laying by the beach with you / Wishing it would never end.”
The issue isn’t that it is impossible for girls this age to have crushes. But it is the outworking of this in the video. It appears to be a more mature and ‘adult’ expression, not appropriate for a pre teen girl.
The summer romance appears to be with a boy who looks significantly older than her. In fact everyone in the video looks older than her. At least one of the guys in the video is old enough to have a tattoo on his chest. She’s the little kid jumping on the trampoline. She looks tiny in over-sized clothes as she parties with the big kids – and has a ‘fling’ with one of them after willingly giving him her phone number.
It looks more like a graduation party for 17 year-olds at which a 12-year-old girl has tagged along.
Is this Willow’s adolescent dream? Is it her coming of age fantasy? Or is it the fantasy of male producers and music marketers? Will other 12 year-olds think they should have the same dreams and desires?
Teaching little girls that make up rituals should start early
“Make-up is for everyone!” declares 5-year-old Madison, who has become a You Tube sensation for her video sessions on make-up application, recorded and uploaded by her mother.
A child doesn’t make this statement in a vacuum. As documented over and over on the MTR blog, little girls are imbibing a dominant, all-consuming message about physical appearance equating with worth. This has become much more than a child messing around with mum’s makeup, but is now more a reflection of cultural conditioning and the commercialisation of childhood (so perfectly captured in the book title This Little Kiddie Went to Market). What we are witnessing here is just part of continuum which includes child beauty parlours and toxic child beauty pageants. The beauty rituals which adult women are expected to engage in daily are now being transported to little girls.
Madison’s DIY make-up tutorials have been seized upon by cosmetic companies who appear to be sending her products to spruik. The product placement is now overt and there are links back to cosmetic sites. Madison appears to be becoming a tool of the global beauty industry. Her You Tube videos have titles like ‘Sibu Review’and ‘MAC Lipglosses’. It would be good to see Madison’s bubbly personality and creativity directed in other ways.
Parenting blogger Yvette Vignando and I were asked our thoughts on Channel 7’s Morning Show Friday.
More on the pornification of female artists: MTR on Channel 10
Music industry producer Mike Stock recently came out against the increasingly pornified performances of female artists, an issue I blogged on a couple of weeks ago. In a piece titled Why this pop-porn will damage a generation of children, Stock wrote in the Daily Mail:
Now, however, an entire generation of young girls, some as young as eight or nine, is growing up transfixed by the writhings and thrustings of performers such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, singing along to lines such as ‘Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it’…
Just as worrying is the impact the same material must be having on young boys. What is happening now doesn’t just undo all the good work done by the feminists of the 70s, it drags us almost back to the Stone Age. Women, as seen through the eyes of the music industry, have become little more than sex objects again. Read full article here.
With Miley Cyrus having toured Australia, and attracting media interest for her clothing and performance in an audience dominated by very young girls, Channel 10 asked me to comment. Here’s what I said:
Sign petition – say no to eroticised violence against women
On December 10, I wrote an opinion piece titled ‘Who says female corpses aren’t sexy?’ for ABC The Drum Unleashed, reprinted here the same day. The piece has so far received 1086 comments (many helpfully informing me I am mentally ill and hung up about sex).
Here’s an extract from the article:
Two dead women in lingerie swing back and forth from the ceiling from a chain around their necks.
Two young women are slumped on a silk-sheeted bed, like corseted lifeless mannequins. A man advances on them. His intentions are clear.
Another woman in fetishized clothing lies spread-eagled on a table in front of a man eating a huge plate of raw meat.
Have I been exploring the far reaches of online torture pornography and snuff movies? Was I checking out necrophilia genre?
No. I was watching rapper Kanye West’s new video teaser for the single Monster, from his new chart-topping album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
With contributions from Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z, the Monster preview is a mini horror movie – with all the horror suffered by women. The men don’t seem horrified at all by the female corpses littered through the haunted mansion, the apparent victims of a serial killing. In fact, they seem to quite like it. It seems to turn them on…
Prevent Official Release of Kanye West’s Woman-Hating “Monster” Video
HipHopConnection.com has leaked a video teaser for the Kanye West hit song “Monster” and what we’ve seen is beyond disturbing. In just 30 seconds, viewers take in image after image of eroticized violence against women:
• Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks
• West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed
• A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa
If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.
The victims in this video are clearly women. Only women. And the men, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z are far from bothered by the female corpses. They seem to quite like being surrounded by lifeless female bodies, apparent victims of a serial killing.
The official release date of the full-length video has not yet been announced. Let’s make it clear to Universal Music Group, the controlling company of West’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and MTV that the music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.
We call on Universal Music Group and MTV to combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s “Monster” video. Please add your name to support this letter.
To: CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group (Doug Morris) and CEO of MTV (Judy McGrath)
Dear Mr. Morris and Ms. McGrath,
We the undersigned write in response to the leaked video teaser of Kanye West’s video “Monster,” released by HipHipConnection.com. The shocking and demeaning images of slain women, fetishized and eroticized in the video clip, suggest that violence against women is sexy. The 30-second clip sends the message that women as lifeless and passive objects are sexually appealing.
As one critic has written, “Women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even in death. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment. The female body is to be devoured, reduced to the same status as meat. Female bodies should be displayed before men as a great feast for their consumption.”
The mainstreaming of videos of this nature, combined with accessible and repeated exposure contributes to desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women, which is a scourge around the world. Becoming numb to violent images make violent acts easier to commit and condone.
We ask you to consider the fact that much of West’s fan base is comprised of young people in the formative stages of their development. Possibly millions of them globally will absorb and potentially internalize the unhealthy and harmful messages that women are playthings and objects of male pleasure – even if dead or drugged – and that they do not deserve basic human rights.
We hope you will agree with us that music industry portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.
An official release date of the full-length video has yet to be announced. We respectfully request that you take a stand against the official release of “Monster” by refusing to promote, support, and/or give it airtime.
We await your response.
Please add your name and distribute the petition through your networks. We need to demonstrate the widespread global outrage at this monstrous video clip and demand action against it.
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