Spotlight latest addition to anti-sexploitation movement’s blacklist of corporate offenders
Grassroots movement Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation (www.collectiveshout.org) has added Fabric retailer Spotlight to its third annual boycott list exposing companies that objectify women or sexualise girls to sell products and services.
Collective Shout’s ‘Cross ‘em off your Xmas list’ campaign aims to help consumers make ethical Christmas shopping decisions and reject companies that have not demonstrated corporate social responsibility.
Spotlight craft and fabric store has made it onto this year’s boycott list for selling pornographic brand Playboy bed linen. Bedspreads come in various shades of pink with bunnies and are featured on single bed displays at front of store.
Spotlight joins Priceline, Adairs and Bras N Things, already named in the blacklist, in promoting the global porn empire. They are complicit in the mainstreaming of pornography- an industry that degrades and abuses women.
Spotlight’s Facebook page was flooded with messages from disappointed consumers.
“Spotlight supporting the porn industry- I’ll be shopping elsewhere and encouraging my friends to do the same.”
“If you’re going to put Playboy porn empire products on your shelves and in your catalogues, you can take my details off your mailing lists. As a mother and a woman (ie. The majority of your customers are too) I am not impressed.”
“Lincraft here I come.”
Spotlight responded by deleting all comments and removing the option to post.
Collective Shout spokesperson Melinda Liszewski said that sales from Playboy’s licensed merchandise had revived the once struggling pornography business. While many associate Playboy simply with its branded items or magazine, Playboy Enterprises own various adult TV channels and websites, broadcasting brutal, hardcore pornography.
“Retailers that stock Playboy branded products are helping Playboy to produce and distribute content that objectifies and degrades women,” Ms Liszewski said.
Our supporters have alerted us to Spotlight’s latest catalogue. The crafts and fabric store is selling Playboy branded bed linen.
Spotlight joins Priceline, Adairs, Bras n Things, Diva and other retailers in promoting the global porn empire. They are complicit in the mainstreaming of pornography- an industry that degrades and abuses women.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner with his paid ‘girlfriends.’
Playboy has employed a cunning marketing strategy to expand its brand. When magazine sales plummeted, Playboy began selling bunny-branded lingerie and other items. While the soft-porn magazine could only be sold in 21 countries, merchandise could be sold in 150 countries. Now one of the most recognizable logos in the Western world, the bunny is found on lingerie, energy drinks, toiletries, bedding, stationery, hot water bottles and dog beds.
Image from www.binthebunny.com
Playboy’s marketing strategy has been so successful that some claim the logo is “just a cute bunny.” (and therefore we shouldn’t object to it) We are expected to believe that Playboy branded products are somehow separate to Playboy’s core business of pornography. But Playboy merchandise promotes the brand that produces everything from pornographic magazines, reality tv programs documenting Hugh Hefner’s life with his paid “girlfriends,” (thus glamourising prostitution) and owns and operates hardcore porn websites and pornographic tv channels.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has said “I don’t care if a baby holds up a Playboy bunny rattle.” The reason why ‘Hef’ doesn’t care is because he knows that brand awareness from an early age creates future customers willing to buy into his porn empire. Retailers that stock Playboy branded products are helping ‘Hef’ to produce and distribute content that objectifies and degrades women.
So our question is, why is Spotlight, a company encouraging and providing for women’s creativity, promoting Playboy?
Serial offenders Diva quietly restock Playboy jewellery at discounted prices
Last year we learned that retailer Diva was selling Playboy accessories- including Playmate of the month themes- to young girls in stores around the country. In response, we circulated a petition that received over 8000 signatures within weeks and generated substantial media attention. Diva quietly removed Playboy merchandise from shelves and staff advised us they had been returned to Head Office.
A few months later, some supporters alerted us that Playboy jewelry was popping up again in shops. Some stores even kept it behind the counter. One supporter Jo shared the response she received from Diva.So why is Diva once again selling the very same items for $3 each?
It is quite clear to us that Diva is not concerned with entrenching the brand of the global sex industry to young girls, not about grooming them to be consumers of the Playboy brand as they get older. Diva initially defended their decision to stock Playboy , describing it as “fashion chic”. However, the Playboy logo found on their jewellery has very little to do with fashion and much more with the global pornographic industry. Playboy Enterprises owns a large selection of TV channels hosting brutal, hardcore pornography. You can read some of the titles here.
In response to complaints via twitter and on their facebook page, Diva have said:
Take action today!
We have reopened our original petition. Please sign it!
Last month Telstra was exposed for supplying pornography through its BigPond website over video capable mobile phones. Just a few clicks away from ‘Go Diego Go’ and Telstra’s ‘women at work’ page dedicated to women’s equality in the workplace, users could purchase porn videos such as ‘Dirty Housewives’ and ‘Hot Asians Get Wet.’
A Telstra spokeswoman was sent forth to defend the content, stating the ‘glamour content’ was the ‘mildest in the category.’
Melinda Tankard Reist rejected Telstra’s defence and pointed out Playboy’s xxx hardcore productions and the exploitative nature of ‘Girls Gone Wild.’
We have been hearing from Collective Shout supporters for some time about Telstra’s Bigpond site. One Telstra customer contacted us in 2011 saying that she found it disturbing how every time she accessed news or the internet on her prepaid phone, Girls Gone Wild and Playboy was “generally the first thing” she saw.
Another customer was confronted with ‘Hot babes direct to U’ and ‘Naughty Half Naked girls’ every time she used mobile phone banking:
I just recently swapped my mobile phone provider from Vodafone to Telstra. I didn’t realise going back to Telstra would increase my ability to have ‘Hot new babes direct to U’ and enable me to ‘see naughty girls going wild’. I thought Telstra promoted themselves as being a ‘family sensitive’ business. After all isn’t there a cute young boy travelling around Australia with his dad on the tv ads. I guess the promotion of porn sites on their bigpond website on my mobile phone late at night until about 7am in the morning enables that fun loving caring father to access porn from his mobile phone when he is away from his wife travelling with his son. I know the father and son have been travelling around looking at ‘all things big’. Sounds like the dad might be looking at more than just the Big Pineapple.
Others have shared similar frustrations and were told by Telstra that there was no way to opt out of the porn ads. Complaints to Telstra had fallen on deaf ears.
Following negative media and complaints, Telstra has now announced the removal of pornography from their Big Pond Website.
As reported by Ruth Limkin on her website Bread and Justice, Telstra CEO David Thodey had this to say:
“Recently, I received emails from customers about content promoted on our BigPond website. Those customers thought we shouldn’t promote adult-orientated movies or videos that objectify women.
I have to agree. We have therefore decided that we will no longer promote access to adult-orientated content through our websites.
Let me put this decision in context. The content accessible via BigPond is mild compared to what’s available on the Internet. None of it had an ‘R’ rating. In fact, I’m assured you could find more explicit content at your local DVD shop or elsewhere in cyberspace.
However, this is not the real issue! Why, then, have we made this decision?
The simple answer is that promoting content such as this is just not the Telstra thing to do and we cannot support anything that is sexist or that is inconsistent with our values.
We are, in many ways, Australia’s largest family company. We are owned by more than a million Australian families, many of our customers are Australian families and family businesses. And we have – through the Telstra Foundation and our corporate citizenship efforts – dedicated ourselves to promoting Australia’s cultural diversity, including gender diversity, through initiatives such as the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Our decision is consistent with our values of respect and diversity
If our customers want to view adult-orientated content on the Internet, they still can. That’s up to them, not us. This decision is not about censorship, but choice and respecting gender equality.”
Good decision Telstra. We look forward to other Telco’s following your lead.
Well done to all who made their voices heard on this issue. You have made a difference.
Let Telstra know what you think of their decision to no longer profit from the bodies of women and girls. You can submit positive feedback on their website here.
Just the latest example of the mainstreaming of pornography
‘The “Telstra Babes” content is just a few clicks away from the “Women at Telstra” recruitment website, which describes the company’s “inclusive working environment” for women and its culture that “celebrates the success of women at every level”’.
This piece by James Frost in The Australian last week provides further evidence of the encroaching of pornography into the mainstream. Our major telecommunications company is now in the porn business, offering and profiting from Playboy and Girls Gone Wild.
If you are a Telstra shareholder why not let the company know that you didn’t buy shares to invest in the company’s porn-for-profit venture? And if you’re a Telstra customer, let the company know that this isn’t your idea of corporate social responsibility. You can contact Telstra here.
Telstra’s soft-porn site under fire
IN another sign that Telstra is not the boring government-owned phone utility it once was, the company now offers softcore pornography over video-capable mobile phones.
Telstra mobile users can watch videos with titles such as Dirty Housewife and Hot Asian Gets Wet for between $3.50 and $4.95 per viewing.
“We have a range of web pages offering different content for the many niche interest groups that make up our customer base,” a Telstra spokeswoman said.
The “Telstra Babes” content is just a few clicks away from the “Women at Telstra” recruitment website, which describes the company’s “inclusive working environment” for women and its culture that “celebrates the success of women at every level”.
Author and anti-pornography campaigner Melinda Tankard-Reist said Telstra’s attitude was disappointing and raised serious questions.
“This is a mainstream communications company,” she said. “When did they make a decision to go down this path? Was it at a corporate level?”
Telstra won’t reveal whether it pays for the content or whether it is paid for referring any of its 12 million mobile users to material produced by Playboy and Girls Gone Wild. The telco said warnings were displayed and that the content was relatively tame.
“We have stringent guidelines pertaining to all content across our sites and in particular, the ‘glamour’ pages, which are among the mildest in the category among industry providers,” the spokeswoman said.
Ms Tankard-Reist rejected that defence and said the companies supplying content to Telstra had disturbing associations.
“Playboy isn’t just your father’s magazine under the bed any more,” she said. “Playboy hosts a range of hardcore, explicit, triple-X content across a range of cable television channels. You couldn’t even print the names of the titles they show.
“The Girls Gone Wild genre is harmful to women and girls and there have been allegations that girls have been made drunk to coerce them into filming sex acts or simulated sex acts for the camera.
“Shareholders would be surprised to know the company is hosting and distributing pornographic content. It’s a significant issue for its reputation.”
Here’s the announcement Change.org – who we have partnered with in our campaign against Diva – sent out to everyone who supported our petition calling on the fashion company to stop flogging porn-themed bling to little girls. The petition is close to reaching 7000 signatures. On behalf of my Collective Shout colleagues, thanks to all who supported us. We couldn’t do this work without you.
Incredible news. Diva has backed down and have stopped promoting the Playboy brand. Thanks to you a global brand built on the objectification of women has all but disappeared from their stores and will no longer be marketed to children through Diva.
Collective Shout is a small group of women volunteers passionate about fighting against the exploitation and objectification of women. They started this campaign on Change.org just one month ago — taking on a company that sell over 10 million accessories every year, from over 200 stores in 22 countries!
More than 6,800 people came together and signed the petition demanding Diva change. Thousands of people posted all over Diva’s Facebook wall, and there was media coverage of the campaign in the Herald Sun, The Age, the West Australian and all over the radio.
Now the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that “the online campaign appears to have hit home” with “posters coming down” and the products “shipped out” . Sources inside Diva have said they are “de-ranging” Playboy products, which have almost completely disappeared from their website.
You’ve demonstrated the extraordinary power of individuals and groups to start campaigns around issues that matter to them — unifying their communities and winning change. Thousands came together and forced a huge company to respond to community opinion and become more socially responsible.
This is an important victory — not just because Diva is getting rid of Playboy, but also because fashion stores across the country have been watching this situation closely. They’ll be very conscious of the backlash Diva faced when making their own decisions about what to promote to children.
There’s a lot more to do in the fight for women’s and children’s rights. If there’s something you want to change in your community or anywhere else — it’s easy, you can start a petition on Change.org by clicking here.
Thanks for being part of this,
- Suzanne and the Change.org team
P.S. There’s never been a better time to call on companies to be more socially and economically responsible. They’re very conscious of their brands, and they want to be seen responding to community concern. Click here if you want to start a petition calling on a company to change.
Collective Shout activists who hand-delivered our 6000+ signature petition to a number of stores over the weekend, met with a mixed reception from Diva staff.
We had wanted to make sure Diva knew that thousands of people had signed our Change.org petition calling on Diva to stop selling the Playboy brand to little girls through porno fashion chic bling by delivering copies of the petition personally.
When educator and adolescent psychotherapist Collett Smart and founder of 7Wonderlicious Ines Almeida tried to deliver the petition in Diva’s Pitt Street Sydney store, a staffer at first accepted the bulky document, then said she remembered they had been instructed not to accept it, and handed it back.
Melbourne woman Jessy Edmonston attempted to deliver the petition at Diva, central square Ballarat. “The staff member refused to accept it, saying they had been told all enquiries on the playboy range are to go through the service centre. I left it on the counter,” she says.
However it seems some staff hadn’t seen the memo – or chose to ignore it. When Nicole Jamieson when delivered to Diva’s Norwood S., store, the staff person accepted the document and undertook to pass it to head office.
Our favorite non-Playboy bunny ‘Myxi’, also had a positive response Sunday afternoon at Diva’s Wahroonga store, from a staff person who also said she would make sure the document was delivered to head office. Myxi spent most of yesterday spreading her ‘Bin the Bunny’ message around Sydney.
See our very special friend Myxi Matosis run (or should that be hop) amock at Diva’s Sydney headquarters and later at a Diva store. Like us, Myxi reckons it’s just plain wrong to flog the Playboy brand to little girls.
Collective Shout supporters will deliver our 135-page Change.org petition containing 6000-plus signatures in Diva stores in various states this weekend. We will be letting Diva know personally that pimping one of the signature brands of the global sex industry to its key target customer base of 8-13 year old girls takes corporate social irresponsibility to new heights.
The main delivery took place at Diva’s Pitt Street store at 11am this morning.
Here’s a statement issued through Change. I look forward to sharing some photos with you. I believe a Playboy bunny known by her stage name Myximotisis will make a surprise visit to a NSW Diva store on Sunday.
THOUSANDS DEMAND DIVA ACCESSORIES
STOP SELLING PLAYBOY PRODUCTS TO LITTLE GIRLS
Parents & women hand-deliver 6,000 signatures-strong petition to Diva, call on company to stop selling pornography brand Playboy to pre-teens and girls.
SYDNEY, NSW – A group of parents, psychologists, women, and teens delivered more than 6,000 signatures from an online petition campaign on Change.org to Diva Accessories’ Sydney store today. The group is demanding that the fashion jewelery store stop selling and marketing pornography brand Playboy’s products to pre-teens and little girls.
The petition was handed over to the company by child and adolescent psychotherapist Collett Smart.
“Playboy is now a billion dollar global brand profiting from the exploitation and subordination of women,” Smart said. “Now it has craftily adapted products to suit a younger clientele – but the message is the same. ‘Playmate’ pendants and even pencil cases emblazoned with the infamous bunny reinforce the damaging idea that girls are simply sexual objects.”
Collective Shout, a grassroots campaigning movement against the sexualisation and exploitation of young women, launched the campaign against Diva just three weeks ago. Within hours of the campaign’s launch, Collective Shout recruited thousands of supporters on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing platform for social change.
Thousands of people from all over Australia have since registered complaints, called Diva’s head office, and posted thousands of messages on Diva’s Facebook wall protesting against the promotion of a brand they say systematically degrades and objectifies women.
“Diva’s Facebook page says it encourages feedback but they’ve been unable to respond to all the criticism and it has become a real public relations nightmare for them” said Melinda Liszewski from Collective Shout.
“Diva’s target market is 8-13 year-old girl,s and the company has put its head in the sand in response to the calls of mothers, fathers, and daughters, along with concerned individuals from all round Australia,” Liszewski said.
The delivery of the 6,000 signatures from the online campaign on Change.org is set to be mirrored at Diva stores across the country throughout the weekend. Parents, young women, girls, concerned shoppers and even an angry Playboy bunny will visit their local Diva store to deliver the same message: stop selling playboy products to little girls.
“What Collective Shout has accomplished in just a couple of week is remarkable,” said Change.org campaigner Suzanne Culph. “Armed with only their laptops, they have managed to recruit more than 6,000 supporters from all across Australia to call on Diva to think more carefully about its customers. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch Collective Shout’s campaign take off.”
Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services.
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.
0427 375 550
The winner of our Diva caption competition
Collective Shout has announced the winners of our caption competition for this image.
First prize: Rebekah Robinson for ‘Diva: we weren’t porn yesterday.’
Second Prize: Angela Silk Fraser for ‘Diva: mistaking rear ends for fashion trends since 2011’
In an earlier post the same day, Corporate Failings asked ‘Has Diva lost its credibility?’ based on the words of Diva Australia founder Collett Hayman who, having sold the company a few years ago, said in an interview:
“Diva was my creation and a company that I am still very proud of….Nothing would make me sadder than to see it lose its credibility”.
Well, Collett, you should be feeling pretty damn sad about now.
Collective Shout has launched a caption competition for this photograph, taken outside a Sydney Diva store featuring a woman who will remain nameless (‘I’ve never seen her before in my life officer’) who wanted to make clear just what Diva is supporting, lest there be any doubt. There have been 100 entries so far, including ‘Diva: we weren’t porn yesterday’ and ‘Diva: for when your little girl doesn’t look cheap enough’. Entries close Friday and there’s a stack of books on the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls to be won. You can enter through our Facebook page.
Finally a Diva Facebook page you can like
Check out the alternative Diva FB page. It’s a wonder to behold. Please like it and share with you friends.
Tell Diva to stop channeling the pocket money of little girls to Hugh Hefner and cut its ties with the porn industry
In the past few days a number of Collective Shout supporters have reported Playboy posters removed from Diva shop windows, Playboy products either entirely removed or hidden behind counters (just like porn used to be…. “Pssst wanna have a look at some Playmate pendants?”). If you haven’t yet signed our petition, please do so today.
Why is the Playboy empire peddling its bunny logo to the middle-school set?
The Playboy brand has come a long way. Playmates now samba proudly on family friendly fare like “Dancing With the Stars,” and its empire is the subject of a retro-themed fall drama. But are you ready to let your little girl be a bunny-to-be?
The Collective Shout blog points out that the Australian accessories chain Diva — a kind of Claire’s Boutique for the Down Under set — has launched a Playboy line of accessories. What’s your pleasure, kids? A necklace with an iconic rabbit silhouette? A vintage-looking bowtie?
Diva isn’t Toys R Us, and Playboy isn’t trying to peddle Baby’s First Bikini Wax. The merchandise in question includes earrings and pendants, not plush toys. But that doesn’t mean that either Diva or Playboy get a pass for another obvious attempt at sexing up young girls. Diva, with its cute pink heart logos and invitations to “BFF us on Facebook,” aims squarely, unambiguously at the junior set. Most grown women aren’t looking to pick up a K Perry ring or a Pixie Dust Necklace with Tinkerbell charms.
That’s what’s seriously messed up about this product line. As Collective Shout justly asks, “Why is Diva wanting to dress [girls] up in a Pornography brand?” Sadly, because they can. Playboy is a company sells young women cute accoutrements — and sells men those young women’s asses. It’s no coincidence that the ubiquitous little bunny on Diva’s harmless-looking necklace also appears on videos of girls clad only in knee socks, making out with each other. It’s all part of the same, deliberately crafted corporate identity. They’re Playboy. Their entire enterprise is built on giving guys something to spank it to.
You don’t have to some stuffy anti-porn zealot to grok that there’s a reason some thngs are called adult entertainment. And while a girl may not fully understand what the rabbit around her neck represents, rest assured that plenty of grownups get the symbolism. And who in their right minds would be cool with a daughter advertising herself as a mini-Playmate? Wait, don’t answer that. Are they the same kind of people who’d dress a toddler up as a hooker?
Growing up is a natural process for every girl. And the child who was clutching a teddy bear just a short time ago may someday grow into Miss June. But the objectification of younger and younger females – from padded bras to Playboy bunnies — turns girls’ burgeoning sexuality into something that’s not for their pleasure at all. It teaches them instead that they’re playthings, to be displayed and logoed and ogled. Once upon a time, the word “diva” was applied to a female of power, grace and talent. Now, it just means a store where you can trick out your daughter like a centerfold.
Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of “Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream.”
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