At an event in Amsterdam recently, I was ordered by a woman on the stage to take the hand of the woman next to me, who happened to be 76-year-old Hedy d’Ancona, and tell her she was beautiful. This would be more conducive to her self-esteem, apparently, than reminding her that, having served as a minister under two Dutch governments, as a member of the European Parliament, and as chairman of Dutch Oxfam, she was immensely distinguished and I was honoured to be sitting next to her.
Read full article here (including her take-down of the Dove ‘real beauty’ marketing campaign. Greer could have added Dove parent company Unilever’s diet products, cellulite creams and skin whitening creams and its sexist Lynx brand also!)
See also my piece in the Sunday Herald Sun a couple of weeks ago where I argued it was time to replace ‘Love your Body’ campaigns with a ‘Love your Mind’ campaign.
Dolly’s Model Search has torpedoed a government attempt to set up industry self-regulation on body image.
We give talks at schools about body image and there are always girls in tears. They come up to us afterwards and confide that they compete to see who can eat the least number of calories at lunch. Even those who present as confident reveal they can feel ”like a pig” for eating an apple when their peers are on a severe calorie restriction diet.
Many report eating almost nothing during the day, then finding themselves uncontrollably overeating in the afternoon in private.
Some are distressed when they see pop-up diet ads on the internet while trying to do homework. Others report going on a media ban for a month to try to break the anxiety about not being perfect. Into this troubled environment enters Dolly magazine and its resurrected Model Search, pitting girls against each other in a contest which should have remained banned. The 13-year-old winner, Kirsty Thatcher, was announced this week in Sydney.
Kirsty and state finalists appear bright, beaming, lithe and without obvious body fat. They fit the stereotype. (An indigenous girl is the only divergence.) They will now be presented to teen and tween girls as “role models” and “inspirational”. But what are they modelling?
A meta-analysis of 77 studies involving 15,000 participants, undertaken by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showed that ”exposure to media depicting ultra-thin actresses and models significantly increased women’s concerns about their bodies, including how dissatisfied they felt and their likelihood of engaging in unhealthy eating behaviours, such as excessive dieting”.
Jess Hart – Dolly’s 1998 model search winner – posed with Jennifer Hawkins on a 2010 Grazia cover headed: “Jen & Jess: how to get their $5M bodies!” Hart told Grazia she gets “super strict about her diet” before a photoshoot.
Despite all the body image initiatives and education, the bombardment of images ultimately has more effect.
“We didn’t want to betray our readers and teenage girls,” says editor Tiffany Dunk. So why only choose girls who fit an idealised norm?
Dunk says they didn’t ask girls their weight or their size. But this was hardly necessary. Readers were asked to ”rank” a photo of 14-year-old Geelong entrant Elodie Russell. What for – personality?
If Dolly wants to justify the contest by saying peers should model to peers, then they should model a diverse range of shapes and sizes to reflect what the readers look like.
It is troubling to thrust any girl into an industry where they are taught what matters most is to fit some cookie-cutter mould of what women should look like.
And what of the girls who don’t make it? How many are damaged by the message that their value lies in how others view and judge their bodies?
One ex-Dolly model entrant has written: “I was never as happy or as sure of myself after that. It was just too big of a let-down, because … it was a rejection from ‘the experts’, from people with professional opinion, and it was a closing of doors in my face from a glamorous and revered industry.”
And now Dolly has won a prize of its own, in the federal government’s inaugural positive body image awards, the centrepiece of the Australian government’s National Body Image Advisory Group set up in 2009.
Giving Dolly the positive body image award is like awarding KFC a healthy food award because it started selling salads.
As other countries such as France and Spain look to change the law (for example, by banning ads for plastic surgery and dieting until after 10pm), our government has introduced a toothless voluntary code and rewarded a magazine that upholds the body ideals of the global beauty industry.
The Minister for Youth and Sport, Kate Ellis, said at the launch she was ”calling on industry professionals to move beyond the ‘business as usual’ approach and take real action to promote positive body image”.
Unfortunately industry didn’t give a damn. Besides Dolly, the Dove Body Think Program was highly commended. Dove is owned by Unilever, known among other things for its skin-whitening creams, seeking models who meet a long list of beauty criteria, photoshopping women in its ”real beauty” campaign, and the notorious Lynx/Axe brand of male deodorant, which has been advertised as “washing away the skank” of an unwanted sexual encounter, and using the more recent “Clean your balls” campaign.
Even Mia Freedman, a former Dolly editor and chair of the advisory group, admits she was “wrong” to think the voluntary code of conduct would work. “NOTHING HAS CHANGED. The Body Image Code of Conduct has been given the fashionable middle finger by those it was aimed at,” she wrote.
That’s a lot of money and energy down the drain.
When will we get regulation that actually works, and which doesn’t reward a girls mag for bringing back the archaic practice of pitting girls against one another based primarily on their looks.
Lydia Jade Turner is a psychotherapist and managing director at BodyMatters Australasia. Melinda Tankard Reist is a commentator and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Both were co-founders of Collective Shout, which entered the body positive awards.
‘Corporate paedophilia’ is a worrying global trend on the rise.
For those who might have missed it, Witchery has just launched a new clothing range for eight- to 14-year-old girls called “8fourteen”. In a brilliant stroke of imagination, the launch occurred on Valentine’s Day – because, of course, girls from the age of eight need to understand that male romantic approval, and attracting it through your physical appearance (euphemistically termed “personal style”), is what really matters in life.
The advertising campaign presents two girls from Sydney, aged 11 and 12, as “little sisters” to Australia’s Next Top Model Montana Cox, aged 18. Leaving aside some leopard print, the clothing range itself appears to be mainly age-appropriate (although, curiously, this isn’t well indicated in the campaign). The list of “facts” presented about each girl appears unobjectionable enough (about which, more later). The accompanying films of the girls, however, artistically shot in black and white with acoustic music, made us gasp. Read more>
“What happened to us was a nightmare. We worked from 11am to 3 or 4am the next morning, and slept only three or four hours. They treated us like animals. We were sexually abused, we were dragged, we were hit.”- Former sex slave
On Monday night ABC Four Corners exposed the stark reality of the trafficking of women into Australia as fodder for Australia’s sex industry. The trade in the bodies of women and girls is growing around the world, and Australia’s role as a destination country is now well established. Anti-trafficking activist Kathleen Maltzahn believes the Federal Police is uncovering only a fraction of the overall problem. “No one’s really looking, no one’s really counting in Australia,” she told Sally Neighbour.
Caroline Norma is an expert on trafficking globally, especially from South Korea, which is close to overtaking Thailand as the largest source country for women trafficked into Australia’s sex industry. A Lecturer in the School of Global Studies, Social Science, and Planning at RMIT University, and a member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA), Caroline comments here on the Four Corners program and why Australia’s sex industry is attractive to traffickers bringing women in from Asia. She also makes a case for the Swedish model, which criminalises male buyers of women. And in a second piece, Caroline argues Australia’s position on prostitution is hampering South Korean efforts to tackle the problem of sex trafficking. Kelly Hinton from Project Respect in Melbourne also had a compelling piece in The National Times today which you can read below.
Each week in Victoria, more than 60,000 men buy women in prostitution. (Mark Forbes, ‘Sex city,’ The Age, 1 March 1999, p. 11). Thanks to investigations like those carried out by journalists at The Age and Four Corners in recent months, we know that some of the women they buy have been trafficked.
Sex-trafficking in Australia should not come as a surprise. Sex industry businesses find a burgeoning market here. According to the business research company IBISWorld, the Australian sex industry has ballooned over the last decade. High growth has forced pimps to forge international supply routes to source their ‘product’ which, in the case of the sex industry, is mostly women and children. Asian women in particular are a consumer favourite.
‘Customer review’ websites set up for buyers of women in prostitution reveal just how popular Asian women are in the Victorian sex industry. One forum dedicated to reviews of women in legal brothels contains hundreds of comments about Asian ‘working ladies’ or ‘WLs’. Users complain that these women speak ‘barely intelligible English’. One contributor notes that ‘Korean WLs never look happy’, and another encourages readers to check out the ‘Korean chicks’ at one particular brothel because they are ‘very young’, and ‘work for a matter of months before disappearing’.
Website discussants are mostly unconcerned about the possibility the women they use might be trafficked. The token measure taken by Consumer Affairs Victoria last year to get these men to report trafficking—by putting up warning signs in brothel waiting rooms—doesn’t seem to be working.
Consumer Affairs licenses brothel and escort agency businesses. Prostitution was legalised in Victoria in 1994 to tackle three problems: illegal prostitution and police corruption, harm to women, and street prostitution. More than fifteen years later, these problems have grown worse, not better.
Estimates from the police and the legal brothel industry put the number of illegal brothels at 400 in Victoria, four times the number of legal ones. Nick McKenzie’s reports earlier this year showed that licensed brothels are being used as fronts for illegal operators and criminal activity. Brothel owners have been caught bribing local government officials to warn them of license checks.
Legalised prostitution has not made women safer. A 1998 study found 40 per cent of clients use women without wearing condoms. A woman in a Blackburn brothel this year was threatened by a client with a gun after she refused sex acts without a condom. Three NSW academics who interviewed women in legal brothels in 2011 found that ‘physical safety’ was one of their biggest concerns. One interviewee told researchers she was fearful of drunken and ‘sneaky’ clients locking brothel room doors.
Violence in street prostitution is just as bad, and the author of a 2011 report commissioned by Inner South Health wrote that he collected ’25 pages of short excerpts from interviews’ where 89 people in prostitution in St Kilda described their experiences of ‘violence and rape’. The Attorney-General’s Street Prostitution Advisory Group in 2002 estimated 300-350 people were in prostitution in St Kilda over the twelve-month period. At least two have been murdered—one in 2003 and one in 2004.
If legalising prostitution hasn’t eliminated the problems of the sex industry, what will? We need to look to Sweden for the answer. The Swedish government criticises countries like Australia that allow legal prostitution on the basis they generate demand for the criminal activity of traffickers and organised crime. Swedish bureaucrats have come to understand that prostitution and trafficking are two sides of the same coin. In 1999 they made pimps, traffickers, and prostitution ‘clients’ liable for criminal prosecution.
A detective inspector with Sweden’s National Police Board notes that, since 1999, the country has become an ‘unattractive market’ for traffickers, because they can no longer ‘earn as much money as they want to’. Traffickers themselves no longer want to send women to Sweden because the risk is too great. In a phone-tap recorded by Swedish police, a trafficker tells a pimp he wants to bring 15 young Estonian women to Stockholm for a couple of weeks to make money. The pimp replies: ‘Don’t do that. It’s too expensive for you. Bring the women to…Denmark or even better, Germany or Holland’. Germany and Holland, of course, are (in)famous for their systems of legalised prostitution.
Since 1999, the percentage of Swedish men buying women has dropped from 12.7 to 7.6 per cent. The Swedish government runs public education campaigns against prostitution on the basis that it is a cause of trafficking and a form of violence against women. An officer with the Stockholm Police Trafficking Group has spoken publicly of his view that ‘it’s important for the buyer of sexual services to see the link that he is a sponsor of a huge criminal organisation’.
Sweden has managed to cut the number of women in street-based prostitution by at least half. These women are eligible for state-subsidised housing, legal and medical assistance, counselling, education, and job training. In Victoria, the only agency funded by the government to offer help to prostituted women, RhED, runs brothel ads in its quarterly magazine.
State and federal governments in Australia make a lot of noise about their opposition to trafficking, but continue to provide the sex industry with a very hospitable operating environment. The Victorian government should, at the very least, send its staff on a study tour of Sweden, Norway, South Korea and Iceland to see what serious public policy against the crime of sex trafficking really looks like.
The Koreanisation of Australia’s sex industry
The trafficking of Korean women into Australia’s sex industry has been recognised as a problem by both the Australian Federal Police as well as the Federal Government for more than five years. Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor, last year stated that South Korea was close to overtaking Thailand as the largest source country for women trafficked into Australia’s sex industry. The Australian Federal Police first acknowledged the problem of trafficking from Korea in 2006, though a number of incidents had brought the problem to public attention before this.
In 2004, two people were charged with trafficking offences in relation to five South Korean women; in March 2008, three people were arrested in Sydney for sexually enslaving ten Korean women and in December that year, a Korean woman thought to have been in Sydney’s sex industry was found dead in an apartment. A government report on non-Australian citizens caught working in the sex industry in 2004-2005 showed the top nationality in the category was South Korean.
Australian policymakers tend to place blame on the Korean side for the trafficking problem, and resist seeing the issue as a legislative and policy challenge for Australia. They are generally unaware that Korea now takes a human rights approach to the problems of prostitution and trafficking; in fact, they demonstrate little understanding of Korean society and social policy at all. Read full article here
Sex traffickers exploiting women, and law, as state fails to act
THE sex industry in Victoria has been legal (in some forms) for about 25 years, by legislation brought in to address issues arising in the 1980s. Yet, as The Age has uncovered this year, legalisation has not ended crime in the sex industry. Discussions continue, with the same issues being raised again and again – trafficking, illegal brothels, organised crime, and violence.
Project Respect has worked with women in the sex industry, including women trafficked into the sex industry, since 1998. Trafficking methods have changed somewhat in that time, as awareness about these crimes has increased. However, this abhorrent violation of human rights continues.
We continue to meet women who have been trafficked into the sex industry in Australia, and forced to perform sexual services against their will, for little or no money, and for hours every day. Traffickers continue to profit from those purchasing sexual services from exploited women – who are here on legal visas, often in legal brothels.
The federal government has taken important steps to begin to address trafficking. Now it is time for the state government to step up. Read full article here
While I’m not sure why the petition is limited to ending sex slavery in only two Australian cities (and not all of them – trafficking has been documented in Canberra and the Gold Coast for example) it’s still worthwhile adding your support.
President of the Toowoomba Rugby League, Greg McIntyre, thought the parents, grandparents, children and sundry friends of the town’s rugby players would enjoy his little ‘joke’ in the grand final newsletter handed out to them as they walked through the gate. The same man happened to be an acting Magistrate.
Yes, a public figure, paid from the public purse to make sound judgements, shared this sexist and demeaning joke without seemingly a second thought.
Lots of people didn’t find it funny. One of them was Nina Funnell who wrote on it for the National Times yesterday.
Nothing funny about lawyer jokes like this one
What passes for a family-friendly joke these days? According to Greg McIntyre, a magistrate from Toowoomba, it’s something from that age-old genre that makes fun of the smell of a woman’s bodily parts, and on this occasion, a young ‘‘rednecks’’ inability to distinguish between them…
Apparently, McIntyre found this joke so amusing that not only did he decide to repeat it but to publish it in a program that was distributed to children and their families at the Toowoomba rugby league grand final. The president of the Toowoomba Rugby League, who brags that he is ‘‘next in line to be the chief redneck’’ of Toowoomba, was surprised to learn that not everyone shared his sense of humour. Parents and members of the football community have complained that the joke is crude and sexist, and should not have been included in a publication read by children. Read full article here.
McIntyre’s current status with the club is unclear. Is he still the club’s president? If so why? And has he retained his position as acting Magistrate? Shouldn’t the legal establishment be upholding the highest standards? If he is not disciplined that will be the real joke.
Footballers, dancing girls, pole dancers, simulated sex: all on the Footy Show
Did you happen to catch this on Channel 9’s Footy Show the night before the grand final? I’m sure lots of aspiring young footballers did.
It was the ‘Player Revue’, featuring foot ballers from various teams, ‘performing’ for the popular Nine program (which has attracted criticism in the past for its attitude towards women, you may recall the matter of Sam Newman and the mannequin dressed as a female sports journalist ).
Most of the revue conveys a message that women are playthings for male entertainment and gratification. We see women scantily dressed and spread legged, footballers with their hands down their pants simulating masturbation or running their hands over women’s bodies. The St Kilda scene probably contains the most overt sexual content in the pole dancing scene, where the player rips of the woman’s jacket, and she performs for him.
It seemed to me as though the club was deliberately sending an ‘F-you’ to its critics. It also seemed to be saying we will continue to do whatever we want to women: we have an inviolable right and entitlement to women’s bodies and nothing will stop us. You would have thought they may have been a little more sensitive about portraying themselves this way, given recent events.
Was this the Club’s idea or did Channel 9 encourage it? Is there anyone left at the Club who still possesses brains?
MTR’s ‘rubbish’ interview on MTR
So I was asked my views on the ‘Gownlows’, where the partners, dates, one night stands, whatever, of AFL players are paraded like models and assessed for their dress and appearance (for appearance read cleavage). My comments were run a few places including here.
I was contacted by MTR Radio ( I knew I should have trademarked the initials) asking me to appear on the Andrew Bolt and Steve Price show. It turned out to be possibly the most condescending and dismissive interview I’ve ever done. You can listen to it here - it starts around 35:00 – though my friends say they found more pleasure in stabbing their eyes with forks. At the end of the interview, when I’m off air, Price scoffs at my views, describing them as “rubbish”.
It rakes in billions, exploits women, and leaves men disgusted with themselves.
A few years ago at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, the biggest porn convention in the United States, Abbywinters.com, an Australian porn company, had one of the largest booths. It bills itself as offering “real, passionate, unscripted” sexual activity by “happy, healthy, regular girls in their normal environments”. The company markets its female masturbation and girl/girl videos as featuring women with “no make-up, no fake boobs, no airbrushing”.
The Abbywinters.com women did stand out from the other porn performers in the room, but their girl/girl action (the industry’s term for lesbian sex tailored to a male audience) didn’t look much different from the industry norm.
With all varieties of cameras, men surrounded the booth, vying for the best angles to record images of women being sexual.
That moment provides an important reminder: pornography, at its core, is a market transaction in which women’s bodies and sexuality are offered to male consumers in the interests of maximising profit. In the end, it’s about attracting the most “wankers” possible. Read full article.
Gail Dines speaks on porn harms at NSW event
In a powerful and unflinching address, Gail spoke to more than 100 people in the Jubilee Room of NSW Parliament House on Tuesday.
PETA deserves contempt for exploiting women, writes MELINDA TANKARD REIST
PETA needs to be renamed.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would more accurately be described as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals But Not Women.
While the group calling itself the world’s largest animal-rights lobby protests loudly and sometimes violently against the use of animals as meat, it has no hesitation in treating women that way.
The pro-animal lobby’s latest stunt is to offer a free picture of model Vida Guerra naked for each donation over $5.
That’s right, give us five measly bucks and we’ll pimp you a “full new naked ad!” PETA is now acting as a distributor of soft-porn images.
PETA has a long history of using porn-like images of women to promote its anti-animal-cruelty work. This raises questions about the organisation’s understanding of the words “ethical treatment”.
While its manifesto opposes the use of “living creatures” for entertainment, it’s apparently OK if the living creature is a woman in a lettuce bikini. Or if she is a naked cover girl or “video vixen” such as Vida Guerra.
A recent campaign showed models getting up close and personal with vegetables.
“Why don’t you pick a vegetable and show us how much you love it,” the casting director instructed a swimsuit model.
This was is just one of many of PETA’s creations that denigrate women and reduce them to objects for sexual fetish fantasy.
In 2006 PETA portrayed women as party animals with udders instead of breasts. In the Milk Gone Wild clip – a play on the “Girls Gone Wild” genre in which women are encouraged to flash their breasts for the camera, women are shown as eager to rip off their tops and expose themselves to a large male crowd who urged them on, chanting at them to reveal their breast/udders.
The “udder babes” then squirt milk on the faces of the enthusiastic men.
Women are reduced to milk-producing cows flashing grotesque milk-spurting udders – all in the name of animal liberation.
Other campaigns have featured topless Sydney women in cages protesting KFC, women in flesh-coloured bikinis covered in fake blood wrapped in cellophane with the label “flesh” on the wrapping, like meat in a butcher’s shop, a dead naked woman as a stole and various naked and stripping images of a range of celebrities recruited for the cause, including Pamela Anderson and a Playboy Playmate.
An anti-rodeo advertisement depicted a young topless woman rolling in the hay with the slogan “Nobody likes an 8 second ride”.
Other sexualised images show naked women in shackles in a campaign against circuses.
Big Brother housemate Brigitte Stavaruk was approached by PETA to strip because of her “big assets” and Australian pop star and actress Sophie Monk was filmed naked on a bed of red chillies for the cause. It seems women have to take their clothes off to prove they really care about animals.
Fortunately, vegans and other animal-rights activists have spoken out against PETA’s sexist approach.
Vegansaurus!, a vegan eating-living guide based in the San Francisco Bay area, described the vegetables-as-phallic-symbols ad as “softcore porn masquerading as an anti-animal-cruelty video”.
Another well-known vegan blogger asked: “Are there exceptions in the vegan manifesto about how living creatures aren’t to be exploited for our entertainment?”
PETA’s behaviour harms the animal-rights cause. It also undermines campaigns against objectifying and exploiting women.
Those who care about both animals and equality for women should send their five dollars – or more – elsewhere.
Treating women like meat is a poor way to promote vegetarianism
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is in trouble again. This time a furore has erupted over a controversial campaign where people who donate $5 or more to the organisation are sent a nude picture of Cuban-born model Vida Guerra. It’s the latest in a long line of PETA stunts that use nude women to sell vegetarianism.
Last year a PETA ad was banned from being played during the American Super Bowl. The NBC listed a number of concerns with the sexual explicitness of the ads, but PETA’s website boasts that the ad was simply “too hot for the Super Bowl”, stating it featured “a bevy of beauties who are powerless to resist the temptation of veggie love”. And then there’s the range of “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” PETA ads, which feature various naked female celebrities. Read more>>
Nina Funnell, who I’m happy to say is become a regular contributor here on the MTR blog, has written a thoughtful analysis of the dead-women-are-sexy Monster video clip soon to be officially released by rapper Kanye West. It has been encouraging to see the issue attracting global coverage. Here’s Nina’s piece.
Sex, death and Kanye West: music clips need to get real
Supposedly “sexy” music videos are usually not, writes Nina Funnell.
What do you think of music video clips these days? Too sexy? Too raunchy? Too smutty? Not me. I’m going to go out on a limb and say today’s video clips are not sexy enough. In fact, they are not sexy at all. And they never have been.
Watching heavily made-up women squeeze into too tight clothes and ridiculously high heels before grinding back and forth on an imaginary phallus, all while trying to maintain their contrived ‘come-hither’ look and big hair, does not make me think about sexual intimacy, true sensuality or deep and satisfying physical pleasure. It just looks like hard work.
Video clips said to be too sexual rarely offer anything other than a contrived, heavily choreographed and deliberately manufactured version of a hollow and artificial sexuality. It’s all so sad and so predictable.
Advertisement: Story continues below While many commentators argue that video clips over-sexualise women, the real problem is they actually deny the sexuality of women all together. Instead of analysing the clothes and dance moves within these clips, we should look at how desire functions.
As so often in popular culture, women are expected to appear desirable, but to be completely lacking in all desire of their own. The best example of this is Britney Spears in her Hit me baby days and Jessica Simpson circa 2002. Both Spears and Simpson stated they were virgins and intended to remain so until marriage. Meanwhile, they would grind back and forth wearing tiny outfits all designed to titillate. In other words their sexuality was to be consumed and enjoyed by everyone except themselves.
The “sexually rapacious virgin” is just one paradox of our sexualised pop culture. But a while back I began to wonder where our sexualised pop culture is really heading. At some point all the bouncy hair, big boobs and tiny skirts just gets old. These days humping a pole is not so much risqué as passé.
So once sex (or rather, the limited and stereotypical representations of pop-culture sex) gets tired, what becomes the new frontier in risqué representation?
Well, if the new Kanye West clip for his single Monster is anything to go by, sexualised death might just be the answer. In the teaser to the clip, two dead women in lingerie and high heels swing back and forth from a metal chain, hanging from the ceiling. Another two young women are slumped on a bed, like lifeless mannequins. A man advances on them. His intentions are clear. The whole clip is littered with eroticised female corpses.
It’s not surprising really. If sexualising live women has become boring, why not sexualise dead ones?
Of course many people will defend the clip in the name of art. Others will say viewers have the capacity to differentiate between dark fantasy and reality.
But others will disagree. Recently commentator Melinda Tankard-Reist criticised the blatant erotization of female death. In it she writes: “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.”
“The clip is not only interested in fetishizing female bodies – it revels in fetishizing female pain, female passivity, female suffering and female silence. The ultimate female is the quiet, passive female – a mannequin – who accepts violence, abuse and suffering while remaining hot and sexy.”
Since then a petition has been set up against the full clip being released.
So what are we to make of it? Is this just another articulation of our Twilight and True Blood inspired preoccupation with death and the eroticization of lifeless flesh? Or is there something unusually twisted, grotesque and misogynistic about depicting and sexualising dead looking women in this context?
Perhaps Kanye West is merely trying to be controversial and daring in an industry where sex (at least sex with living women) has become passe and predictable.
If so, he’s a bit behind the times. After all, the fashion industry has been depicting and sexualising passive, pale, expressionless and lifeless looking women for eons. Models with skeletal bodies and vacant stares have been the standard in high-end fashion advertisements for some time now.
The irony is that if we’re talking about what most red-blooded heterosexual men actually find attractive, it is rarely a sickly looking corpse. Most men I know are attracted to women who are active and confident in exploring their own sexual pleasure.
Maybe one day, video-clips will get truly radical and start offering representations of actual, three-dimensional females complete with realistic sexual agency.
Nina Funnell is a researcher in the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of NSW. Read the piece online here.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
Heather Douglas – Parent – Pembroke School
“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
Paul Teys – Principal – Hunter Valley Grammar
“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
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Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.