‘We showed companies all over the world that rewarding rape is not just wrong, it’s a bad marketing strategy’
So happy to report some good news.
U.S based women’s protest movement UltraViolet led a massive protest against rapper Rick Ross and his endorsement deal with Reebok, prompted by his lyrics in the Rocco song ‘U.O.E.N.O’., about drugging a woman and having sex with her without her knowledge.
Ross’s segment on the song featured spiking a woman’s drink with the drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or molly:
Put molly all in her Champagne
She ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that
She ain’t even know it.
Only 13-months-old, UltraViolet harnessed a groundswell of protests that forced Reebok to end its relationship with the rapper. Much of the action took place through social media, resulting in a mammoth 90,000 signature petitions, 10,000 phone calls and 2000 tweets.
Protest outside the Reebok store in Manhattan (NYT)
Here’s an email I just received about the campaign’s success.
YOU just dealt a big blow to rape culture.
Thanks to 100,000 UltraViolet members and our allies who spoke out, Reebok just ended their endorsement deal with Rick Ross, the rapper who brags about raping a woman on his recent single. The 90,000 petition signatures, 10,000 phone calls, 2,000 tweets, the letter signed by 500 rape survivors, and the nearly 100 people who rallied at Reebok’s New York City flagship store sent a clear message: we won’t stand for a company that rewards rape.
And Reebok listened. In fact they issued a strong statement, saying “We are very disappointed [Ross] has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”1
When a company does the right thing, it’s important that we thank them–so we’re going to send them a thank you card, signed by thousands of UltraViolet members. We’ll also send the card to the press to help Reebok get good publicity for taking a stand against rape. Can you sign the card?
This isn’t just a blow to Rick Ross–it’s going to have an impact on how companies like Reebok choose their spokespeople in the future. We showed companies all over the US–and all over the world–that rewarding rape is not just wrong, it’s a bad marketing strategy.
After Todd Akin, Rick Ross, Steubenville, and far too many similar stories, it’s clear we have a lot of work to do together to end rape culture. But right now, we need to take a moment to thank Reebok, and show companies everywhere that if they stand up for women, it will pay off. Can you sign the thank you card?
Thanks for speaking out,
Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Malinda, and Karin, the UltraViolet team
Ross part of another video eroticising violence against women
Remember Rick Ross’s part in a behind-the-scenes clip for the Kanye West Monster video which showed him eating a plate of meat between the spread legs of a dead woman? Collective Shout, Adios Barbie and others joined together in a global campaign against the Monster video which was described as a rape scenario set to a soundtrack – and won. MTV refused to screen it.
How convenient to caricature someone whose work you oppose by reducing them to a cartoon parody. Like I haven’t had enough Helen Lovejoy clichés to last a lifetime? Oh, and look, another media studies academic watching The Simpsons. Are we impressed yet?
Where Stephen Harrington sees “a graphic critique of post-feminist female sexuality”, I see Kanye West holding a woman’s decapitated head. Where those like Harrington see ambiguous, complicated narrative and linear narrative fantasy, I see semi-naked dead women swinging from ropes around their necks.
When I see Rick Ross in the ‘Behind the scenes’ You Tube clip tucking into a plate of raw meat before a spreadeagled dead woman on the table, I see the brutalization and degradation of female sexuality. I don’t think ‘Oh, check out that satire’.
King Kanye has produced a carnage of female corpses, brutality and eroticized violence: torture porn. I agree with Zerlina Maxwell who described it as ‘a rape scenario set to a soundtrack’.
And Ta-Nehisi Coates has asked, what if John Mayer decided to cut a video with dead black women strewn about?
But of course my readings are to be dismissed. Because Harrington is a MEDIA AUTHORITY and he knows best.
Harrington’s dismissal of media interpretations other than his own as invalid, wrong, or hysterical is to buy into a predictable stereotype designed to dismiss women and their readings of culture. Only those like himself can coolly and rationally respond to culture. The rest are to be condescendingly dismissed.
Telling women who read oppression and offense into cultural representations that “they are reading it wrong” is to delegitimize their cultural interactions and ignore their perspectives.
Sharon Haywood from Argentina and I started a petition sponsored by Collective Shout, Adios Barbie, the Coalition Against Trafficking Australia and CATWA International, and Media Watch (U.S) calling on Universal Music Group to withdraw the video. That petition is hosted on two well respect global sites for activists: Care2 and Change.org. So far 10,000 have signed.
We believe that the mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. They are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even when dead. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women.
We hoped to challenge the view that women’s pain and suffering is perfect fodder for entertainment.
…I teach [in the ‘hood’] in a very rough zip code. This crap is the ONLY music these kids listen to, so it has everything to do with violence against women because it forms their opinions.
… I have to hear the high school boy say “b–ches are only good for three things, f—ing, cooking, and cleaning.” I have to hear the high school girls…explain how you know a boy really loves you if he hits you.
Rappers…promote the ideas that the measure of a man is how many b–ches he can f—, or how much violence he can do, and that women’s only value is what’s between their legs, and as a punching bag. And that harms women and men.
Those kids just don’t seem to understand that misogynist rap videos are just graphic critiques of post-feminist [read anti-feminist] culture.
While not specifically naming West, international recording artist Moby may as well have in this article from 2005. Moby asks why racism is seen as bad but misogyny seen as cool. To those creating music which glamourises misogyny he writes: “you have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create”.
Sex is a ‘source of negativity and fear’ for so many women and girls. Yes. But it’s not the fault of my colleagues and I. West’s video is one great big dog whistle to all the women and girls who’ve had to put up with abusive sexuality that their pain is just good fun and entertainment. And it’s a dog whistle to men who choose to be perpetrators as well.
I talk to a lot of girls every year. They tell meabout being dis-empowered by pornified imagery which conveys their power lies in their ability to pleasure men on demand. They say boys are acting in more sexually aggressive ways towards them. They share stories of coerced sex, unwanted hookups, pressure to provide oral sex at parties and to send naked images. These stories come from girls as young as 11 and 12.
The sexualisation of murdered women on CSI doesn’t make West’s video any better. Just because we haven’t listed every last example of media sexualisation of female destruction, doesn’t mean we don’t see it elsewhere. We just choose our battles, and we’ve identified West’s video as a significant watershed in the de-humanisation of women.
Harrington can keep watching The Simpsons and I’ll keep working with my friends around the world to try to make things better for real women.
Why won’t Kanye West repond to outrage against Monster video?
Mass desensitisation to abuse and exploitation
I’m not interested at all in going after Kanye West for the sake of it. That would be very boring. It specifically relates to the carnival of carnage he has created, the ‘rape scenario set to a soundtrack’, the idea that torture porn is sexy. We are targeting what he has created and the message it sends and the harm this causes – MTR
Sarah Parker at Change.org has blogged again with an update on our petition against Kanye West’s Monster video. She asks why Kanye West or his management have not responded given the level of concern globally.
Care2 and Change.org are both hosting our petitions which have so far secured a combined signature count of more than 8000. We’ve passed our original goal of 5000 so have now revised the target to 10,000.
When did promoting violence against women become an acceptable form of art? Hundreds of years ago, actually. But the question is, does that make it okay today? Over 7,000 activists all over the world say “no” and have put their collective foot down over Kanye West’s music video, “Monster.”
I recently reported on a petition started by Melinda Tankard Reist and Sharon Haywood that asks Universal Music Group, distributor of the video, to stop it’s official release, MTV to declare it will not promote the video, and Kanye to officially apologize for eroticizing violence against women. If you haven’t seen the leaked clips, the video contains beautiful, lingerie-clad women, possibly zombies or vampires, now dead. Kanye, Jay Z, and Rick Ross kill them and enjoy the spoils of victory – kissing the dead bodies, hanging practically naked bodies from the neck by chains, and eating a plate of raw meat between the legs of another scantily clad dead girl, to name a few. Nikki Minaj gets in on the act as a fanged dominatrix “interrogating” her pink-haired alter-ego, also played by Minaj. Read more>>
Kanye West, seems to have Swift-ly moved on from the Taylor-saga to the next level of drama in his new ‘Monster’ Vid. Facebook status updates have begun to take up the cause. As a social networker, have you voiced your objection in between your updates of being hung over and sleeping outdoors?
There’s a vulture in our popular culture that feeds on the ritual humiliation and exploitation of the female population. ‘Freedom of expression’ is the cry of opposition that would seek to hypocritically enforce oppression in the name of libertion.
But Kanye’s new video steps over the vultures line by perpetrating the lyrical crime of ‘rape and pillage a village’ in graphic detail on the unresponsive females in his pimp-flick
So let’s talk about the ideologies we spin to the masses through the music franchises. Rape and exploitation is a sexist expression of the mass oppression that flows from TV screens to our streets, from police stations to limited-rape-justice for the female nation. Only a monster would find arousal from sights of women being incapacitated to their eyeballs. Monsters should never become mainstream.
Will you make a contribution to the Twitter revolution? First things first, join the word on the street and sign the petition that denounces ‘Kan-ye for being a fan of raping dead women’. Spread the word, so that your message is heard loud and clear by Universal Music Group and MTV before they release ‘the Monster.’
I’ll take mine dead, thanks. Horror porn is not ironic.
[Trigger warning for victims of violence]
When you look at this image, what do you see? An ambigious, complicated narrative? A post-modern analysis of culture? A man who loves his mothers and sistas?
And what about this one? Do you see poetic form? Linear narrative fantasy?
How about this? Satire? Irony? A work of art?
These are the kinds of descriptions being employed to justify Kanye West’s Monster video clip, lyrics and general body of work. (You can find some of this analysis here and here).
When I see these images, I see violence against women. I see glamourised misogyny and eroticised violence. I don’t see Kanye’s carnival of carnage as an art form or as post-modern cultural commentary.
These images and more are available on-line (leaked version, no, I’m not providing the link) and coming to a TV screen near you when Kanye West’s almost 18-minute Monster video clip is officially released at any time.
Here’s another image.
That last one is from a ‘Behind the scenes’ You Tube clip. That’s Rick Ross by the way, tucking into a plate of raw meat while taking in the view of a spreadeagled dead woman on the table. Looks like those rappers had a blast making the Monster vid. I tried hard to see the satire but couldn’t find it.
Monster is a track on Kanye’s new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy which went platinum yesterday. His fans are calling him the best rap artist in history and a “genius.”
King Kanye has produced a carnage of female corpses, brutality, death. It is horror porn.
The Monster video depicts scenes of a murderous rampage with most of the dead being women. Dead women in lingerie swing from chains around their necks. Naked female corpses adorn the furniture. Two other female bodies are joined by West in bed. He kisses one. There are overtones of necrophilia.
Having viewed the preview and the behind the scenes clip, (which I first wrote on ABC The Drum/Unleashed) , I had wondered whether the full length version could possibly be more chilling. It is. There is the decapitated woman’s head scene (above). Nicki Minaj is a sword wielding dominatrix, terrorising her (at times) hooded female tulle-attired victim (Minaj doubles as both). Nothing like a bit of women-on-women violence to liven things up.
One exception to the dead-bitches-are-the-best theme is what appears to be a young boy being devoured by two female-like creatures. Of course this is to be condemned also.
The album’s one million sales will no doubt drive even more interest in the Monster video. Which makes the petition we have going against it even more important.
Universal Shame: Act to prevent the release of this monstrous video
Sharon Haywood and I started a petition sponsored by Adios Barbie, Collective Shout, and the Coalition Against Trafficking Australia, (since also sponsored by Coalition Against Trafficking International and Media Watch) calling on Universal Music Group to withdraw the video.
The petition is directed to CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group Doug Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) and CEO of MTV Judy McGrath. (email@example.com). It can be found here . (You can also read an interview with Sharon Haywood about the campaign, at this link ).
We believe that the mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women. Young people are seeing images and absorbing harmful messages which glamorise misogyny and brutalise women. Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. The Monster video conveys a message that women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even when they are dead. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment.
We decided to run this campaign because we wanted to challenge the status quo – the increasingly common view that women’s pain and suffering is perfect for entertainment.
We believe West’s work will contribute to a culture that is already dangerous for women and girls. West just paid $200,000 for a custom- made watch made with his face on it . Think what that could do to address violence against women. Violence against women we believe his work is contributing to.
Bitches are only good for three things
Violent lyrics, combined with brutal visuals, are socialising young people and helping form their view on relationships and sexuality. Monica R, commenting on the Care2 petition site, wrote on the weekend:
…I am in the hood Monday through Friday. I teach there, in a very rough zip code. This crap is the ONLY music these kids listen to, so it has everything to do with violence against women because it forms their opinions.
OK, it’s just a video to you. But I have to hear the high school boy say “b–ches are only good for three things, f—ing, cooking, and cleaning.” I have to hear the high school girls refer to each other (their FRIENDS) as “b–ch” and “ho”, and hear them explain how you know a boy really loves you if he hits you.
I’d love it if rappers would come clean about their college degrees, but instead they pretend to be “hood” while living a wealthy lifestyle. They promote the ideas that the measure of a man is how many b–ches he can f—, or how much violence he can do, and that women’s only value is what’s between their legs, and as a punching bag. And that harms women and men.
You have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create.
While not specifically naming West, international recording artist Moby may as well have in this article from 2005.
In it, Moby asks why is racism seen as bad but misogyny seen as cool? He says anyone creating or promoting music which glamourises misogyny should be ashamed: “you have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create”.
i’d like to write about misogyny. a few years ago when the prodigy released ‘smack my bitch up’ i spoke up and criticised the song for being overtly misogynystic and irresponsible. i was in turn criticised on radio for ‘being too uptight’ and not being relaxed enough to appreciate the ‘humor’ in misogyny.
then 5 years ago i spoke up about the pernicious and pervasive spread of misogyny in popular culture, and again i was crticised for making a big issue out of something that no one else seemed to care about.
i respect the prodigy and i respect eminem as talented and relevant musicians, but i spoke up because i found the misogynystic content of their lyrics(among many others) to be deeply offensive. even if they themselves are not misogynysts
i found it irresponsible that they, and many others, would release music that glamourized misogyny.
2 months after ‘smack my bitch up’ was released i went to visit a friend of mine who was in hospital after being beaten by her boyfriend. she had brain damage and multiple fractures due to his pushing her down a flight of concrete stairs.
misogyny is not funny. it is not a joke. and it should not be treated lightly.
and now we find out that a british man who is obsessed with eminem killed a woman with a metal baseball bat
and stuffed her body into a suitcase.
am i being ‘too uptight’ for not seeing the humor in this?
Bob Herbert in an article titled ‘Women at Risk’ in the New York Times in 2009, made this point:
We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.
We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment. Read full article here
Let Universal and MTV know that the victimization of women as a valid form of entertainment is never acceptable and the video needs to be withdrawn. Kanye West and his management should also apologise.
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.
Some of the descriptions of the sneak preview video mention ‘bodies strewn around’. Yes, there are bodies. But they are all women’s bodies. As far as I could tell, there are no dead men, just dead women.
This is gendered violence. It’s not depicting just any old corpse but a clearly female one and then, clearly eroticised.
Dead women a turn off? Not at all. Kanye West, on the bed with the two young white dead women, shows no hesitation. He moves the lifeless arm of one onto the leg of the other, before cupping the porcelain like face of the first woman to kiss her.
Hanging from the rafters in stiletto heels, standing rigid in lingerie, expired on a bed. The white women in these scenes are depicted as subordinated to the black man, reminiscent of the pornographic representation of black men who love to ravish white women, to tarnish and spoil their ‘pure’ bodies.
Limp, floppy, rendered powerless these doll-like bodies retain their seductive, sexual allure. Sure, they might be dead. Sure they can’t consent. Sure they wanted it.
I wonder who thought of this scene?
In the ‘Behind the Scenes’ youtube clip for Monster, another rap artist, Rick Ross, is seated at the head of a table. Before him is a plate laden with large slabs of raw red meat.
Also on the table, a dead woman, in underwear, her stockinged legs spread-eagled on either side of the plate. Perfect viewing for the royal Ross as he tucks into the meat and wine (her flesh and blood?).
In another scene, Ross reclines on a long couch, nonchalantly smoking a cigar while women hang dead and slightly swaying, from chains around their neck.
The only two living women seem to be a maid and the black female rapper (often likened to a black Barbie doll) Nicki Minaj. They may be alive. But they are still subordinated.
The maid genuflects to Ross as she serves him. Minaj is on all fours baring her teeth like an animal about to be attacked. Her backside, swathed in black lace, is in the ‘presenting position’. As one of the youtube preview clips describes it: “This is a 30 second sneak peak of Nicki Minaj’s HUGE ass.”
This representation continues the legacy of the fetishization of black women’s ‘booty’.
As to the lyrics, there’s the usual repetition of ‘muthaf-ucker’ and bitches and the obligatory references to oral sex (‘Head of the class and she just want a swallowship’).
Then there’s these lines: “I put the p-ssy in the sarcophagus” (which, in case you’re wondering, is a flesh eating coffin) and “rape and pillage a village, women and children”.
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.
Expect to hear boys singing along to it soon. This is the message they are imbibing:
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.
And the creators of this feast of violence will probably win a ton of awards and commendations and sponsorship deals from major companies.
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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