When the Lingerie Football League (LFL) announced that it was starting the year with some big changes, I wondered whether they were finally going to do something really radical. Perhaps like paying their players. Or could it be that they were going to stop making the women sign ‘accidental nudity’ clauses?
But no, apparently not.
Last month LFL Founder Mitch Mortaza announced a name change: from the ‘Lingerie Football Club – True Fantasy Football’ to ‘Legends Football Club – Women of the Gridiron’.
On the LFL website Mortaza claimed that all ‘sexy’ branding had been removed from their logos and the player’s lingerie had been replaced with ‘performance wear.’
“While the Lingerie Football League name has drawn great media attention allowing us to show case the sport to millions, we have now reached a crossroad of gaining credibility as a sport or continuing to be viewed as a gimmick. In the coming years we will further establish this sport in the US, Australia, Europe and Asia as the most known form of American football globally. In order to reach the next milestone, we feel the focus has to be the sport and our amazing athletes.”
Now before we go throwing our hands in the air to cheer for Mortaza, let’s have a look at exactly what these ‘modifications’ look like.
Does Mortaza expect us to believe that a few less ruffles and fringing really change what the LFL stands for? Looking at the old and new outfits side by side, there appears very little difference. Gone are the garters and lingerie, but only to be replaced with what appears to be the same outfit – minus the bows – leaving the players still mostly unprotected and at risk of injury. The new official LFL video shows that the ogling the women is still their main tactic, as the camera operator slowly pans up the player’s bodies, from their feet to their crotch and breasts.
Here is what we know of the LFL so far:
Mortaza exploits college-aged women for little or no pay and refuses to provide protective uniforms.
Since 2009 the LFL has drawn much controversy for its treatment of the female players. As discussed in my article ‘The Lingerie Football League – Let’s not pretend it’s about sport’, I revealed how the LFL requires their players to sign accidental nudity clauses, doesn’t pay its players, refuses to provide injury compensation and fines the women if they put any protective gear under their lingerie.
LFL Chairman Mitch Mortaza has admitted to choosing image over athleticism.
Mortaza and his team have admitted on several occasions that image is central to his selection of players, and the majority of the women are college level athletes who would have no hope of playing on a national level without the LFL – a card which Mortaza plays expertly. I believe that Mortaza chooses these women with the express intentions of exploiting their desperation to be a recognised athlete.
“The women who play for the league are former college-level athletes that have few other alternatives if they want to continue to compete at a high level in women’s sport… These are competitive college-level athletes looking to tap back into a national stage”.(see here)
Despite Mortaza’s promise in 2011 that his players would be paid once the LFL became “financially stable”, we are still yet to hear any credible news of this happening. It would seem that even with all their success as the ‘Nation’s fastest growing sports league’ and airplay in over 85 countries, the only one that profits is Mortaza.
Some of the LFL’s biggest players have themselves revealed that they recognize the inequality within the league, but feel they have little choice if they want the chance to play on a national level. In an interview with CBC radio in 2012 Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman expressed her frustrations.
CBC: “You don’t get paid?
Gorman: “No…it does get frustrating.”
CBC: “It sounds like you’re doing it because you love to play football and you want to play, and you accept the other sacrifices that come with it.”
Gorman: “Yeah…(silent for some time)…Sex sells. It’s a business. We don’t get the same media as men… so it’s obviously not the players that are choosing this.”
Evidence of harassment towards women, physical violence, nudity, verbal abuse and the use of blow up dolls were all witnessed during LFL events.
Attending the Sydney event last year, Collective Shout’s Deborah Malcolm witnessed a contest named ‘chase and tackle the girl’ where men were invited onto the field to chase and grope the players; the humiliation of a female player who lost her bikini bottoms during a touchdown and then had the image replayed on a large screen for the viewing pleasure of the male audience; and the use of a blow up doll which was passed around the bleachers while men simulated oral sex on it.
Mortaza’s disrespectful treatment of the women was exposed firsthand when 23 year old student and athlete Tal Stone tried out for the games. Stone described how she and the other women were screamed at and abused by Mortaza, told to ‘pancake the shit’ out of each other, to ‘stop wasting his fucking time’ and repeatedly called ‘pussies’; all while the LFL players ran alongside the girls making ‘vagina’ signs over their heads. As Stone explained, this wasn’t a game built to showcase talent or athleticism. It was a gimmick that encouraged violence and humiliation towards the players, whilst making money from them.
I fail to understand how a few less bows and ruffles on the players uniforms and the addition of thicker shoulder pads changes any of the behaviour we have seen so far from the LFL. So forgive me if I do not throw my hands in the air and applaud them for their supposed renewed focus on sports women’s performance.
In light of their poor sales at the 2012 Australian games and the storm of controversy surrounding the league, it is not surprising that Mortaza is scraping to find a way to rehash the LFL in Australia. However, the Legends Football League is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to make advertisers feel less uncomfortable. Nothing really has changed.
There is a positive alternative – Gridiron team the Western Foxes
I am affected today by the final paragraph in this piece by former UK Prime Minister now UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. It echoes, I think, the mood of myself and my colleagues in Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation. The time for politeness is over. We are tired of Zoo magazine (read by 28,000 14-19 year old boys each week) cutting women in half and asking men to comment on which dismembered half they prefer and calling it ‘Men’s Lifestyle’. (See here and here). We are tired of companies like Condom Kingdom being allowed to sell Lolita virgin vibrating sex rings (promoted as just like having sex with a young virgin every time), with government departments and so-called regulators passing the buck (“not our responsibility” is a common refrain). We’re fed up with illegal porn in corner stores and milkbars promoting sex with little girls, rape and incest. And countless other women and girl-hating cultural expressions.
Why is it that we have a Royal Commission into responses to child sexual abuse (rightly so) but no inquiry into the permission-giving drivers which encourage and enable men to abuse women and girls? As Jayneen Saunders, author of Some Secrets Should Never be Kept wrote in a blog comment last night: “I continually despair. Here so many of us are fighting tirelessly for sexual abuse prevention education and reducing the statistics of 1 in 4 girls being sexually abused before 18, and business such as this are allowed to sell , market and encourage fantasies of the sexual abuse of young girls. Where is government regulation when you need it!”
There’s a Federal election this year. Don’t expect us to be demure. Those in high places who are supposed to protect the interests of women and girls have failed. Over and over again. There’s little political will to do anything of substance to call advertisers, marketers, Lads Mags, pornographers and other sexploiters to account. But there is a tide of rising anger and we’re going to harness it. Watch this space. Here’s the Brown quote:
I see in recent protests a real shift. Demonstrations that started as cautious, often gentle, admonitions to the powers that be, with respectful requests for change, have now come to encompass a set of defiant, non-negotiable demands in the form of ultimatums — and rightly so. Protests that once were pleas to ‘please stop this’ have become protests that insist ‘no more and never again’.
More sexploitation from a repeat corporate offender
Men’s deodorant brand Lynx – owned by Unilever – has added to it’s ongoing list of degrading ads with the company’s latest promotion, “Lynx, cleans your balls.”
We began hearing from CS supporters about the ad via our Facebook page when it aired on television. We checked out the video on YouTube where it was promoted on the home page. The company’s teenage target market are frequent visitors to the site.
We were asked to comment on the ad for the Herald Sun:
The controversial three-minute Lynx ad titled Cleans Your Balls stars actor and singer [Sophie] Monk in a mock tele-ad showing men how to wash sports balls.
The ad, which is full of double-entendres, has been criticised as crass and oversexualised by lobby group Collective Shout.
Co-founder Melinda Liszewski said up to 10 members had lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Bureau because it was degrading to women and condescending to men.Read entire article.
Melinda Tankard Reist was also asked about the ad on Melbourne radio 3AW:
Co-founder of Collective Shout Melinda Tankard Reist said she was unsurprised by the tact that “repeat corporate offenders” Lynx had taken with their latest campaign.
Number of complaints is reported again in the media, view this as free advertising
When the ASB upholds complaints (if they uphold complaints) act indignant but agree to comply with the ruling even though you can’t do anything about the majority of other sites still hosting your ‘controversial’ ad. This will be perfectly timed with the natural end of the ad campaign anyway.
Slap each other on the back for a job well done and roll around in money, like Scrooge McDuck
Here’s something Lynx may have missed.
Lynx may be advertising deodorant and body wash, but they are also advertising the failure of the ASB to reign in recalcitrant advertisers. Lynx have done this before and they will do it again. They will face no financial penalties for continuing to run ads that are sexist, demeaning and that breach the Advertising Industry code of conduct.
We will keep speaking out because we believe silence has never changed anything and never will. Lynx’s latest ad campaign – like their previous ad campaign – highlights the inadequacies of the ASB and demonstrate why an independent body or authority is needed to replace it. Penalties should be put in place to ensure that advertisers cannot use self regulation to do whatever they want.
So thanks Lynx for helping us to make our case for independent advertising regulation in Australia. We will be sure to ‘advertise’ you at the next government enquiry.
As for Lynx’s claim that their ad is ‘sharp and edgy’ we’ll leave the last word to Allison who wrote:
I sat through that ad on the big screen. You could sense every person in the cinema cringing. No one thought it funny at all. My male companion felt embarrassed to be the target of such purile crap & he grew up watching Benny Hill.
As I read Jennifer Wilson’s article, I couldn’t help thinking that the pro-porn crowd must be producing a list of talking points that they endlessly circulate among themselves. They trot out the same old arguments without a shred of empirical evidence to back them up, and then they suggest that it is the anti-porn feminists who are lacking in rigor and theory.
Let me be more specific. I had the misfortune earlier this month to attend a conference in London called “Pornified: Complicating debates about the ‘sexualisation of culture’,” but it did anything but complicate. On the contrary, the complex, global, maturing porn industry was simplified right down to the point of disappearance: they made the argument that there is in fact no “it” – meaning the porn industry – because there are so many producers of porn and just so many types of much porn on the internet, that it is impossible to locate any actual industry.
It’s like being at a conference on food and the researchers argue that because we have fast food, gourmet food, independently owned restaurants, chain restaurants and even people cooking their own food at home, well there is just so much food that there is no such thing as a food industry.
I want to suggest to those people who make bold statements about what porn people are watching, that they do some basic research on the “it” – the industry, that is. When I was in Australia, the echo chamber from the pro-porners was that because there is just so much amateur porn and free porn, it is a mistake to focus on the hardcore gonzo porn that the industry produces. Read more
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when companies ramp up their advertising in order to compete for your Christmas dollar. There is nowhere you can go without companies placing their product and logo in your face.
Now is the time to recall which companies used sexploitation to sell and promote their products over this past year. You can make a difference by voting with your dollar against sexploitation this holiday season.
Following the positive response to our inaugural ‘Crossed off’ list of 2010, we have compiled an updated list of corporate offenders, who we have selected for specialising in sexism, objectification and sex industry themes in 2011. These companies do not respect women and they have not responded to complaints nor changed their ways, so they do not deserve your patronage.
Beside each logo you’ll find a link to more information about why we encourage you to boycott this company. And don’t forget to let them know why you won’t be buying from them – we’ve included their contact details as well.
For pimping Playboy porno chic to girls and women. Our Change.org petition – currently over 7000 signatures – was recently hand delivered to Diva stores. Some staff refused to accept it, saying they had been instructed not to. Diva is owned by BB Retail Capital, which also owns Adairs and Bras N Things, where the signature brand of the porn industry gets centre spread in linen and underwear, and where women are told to ‘Be a Bunny.’
Contact Diva: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign the petition here.
Bras n Things
Bras n Things sells and proudly advertises the major brand of the porn industry, Playboy. We’ve written about this here and here. Bras n Things also sexualises girls. For example, the Teacher’s Pet ’dress up’ outfit is advertised with the words ‘This school girl needs to be taught a lesson!’
For sexualised ad campaigns aimed at young girls. Supre advertised using an image of a topless young woman on the back of buses and trams and on their website. A television ad featured a young woman gyrating around her bedroom before falling onto a bed. Supre has a long history of sexploitation with their slogan t-shirts including ‘Santa’s Bitch’, ‘Pussy Power’ and ‘High Beams’ to name a few.
Unilever claimed to care about ‘real’ beauty and the worth of women through its Dove label while using demeaning advertising promoting women as sexual recreation through ‘Lynx.’ Lynx’s most recent offering was banned by the ASB. Unilever once again defended its sexist ads. Unilever owns a variety of different brands, but there is no need to try and remember them all. Just look on the back label of personal care, food and cleaning products for this blue ‘U’ logo. If you see the ‘U’ put the item back and choose another one.
General Pants uses objectification and sex industry themes to sell and promote their products. Large posters of topless women – with only tape covering their breasts – were used to advertise a new fashion line called ‘Sex‘ in shop front windows. Young staff at General Pants were required to wear badges that said ‘I love sex.’ Other promotions have featured topless models and live pole dance shows in their shop front windows. Change rooms at General Pants have featured floor to ceiling ads for prostitution and strip club venues.
City Beach continues to sell pornographic themed t-shirts to a young market. Collective Shout supporter Caitlin Roper challenged City Beach directly through the Equal Opportunities Commission. City Beach were uncooperative and continue to sell items like this.
Other logos for stores, which stock ranges of t-shirts depicting women in porn-themed poses and subjected to eroticised violence are shown below. Sixty high-profile people put their names to an open letter calling for removal of these t-shirts for normalising violence against women and exposing children to sexualised images. Click on each logo for contact details of each store.
Rivers began objectifying women on the front cover of their catalogues. They then used an image of a dead woman on the front cover of their catalogue ’10 Deadly deals’, which attracted complaints and significant media attention. Rivers remains unrepentant.
Contact Rivers by emailing them at email@example.com
In a clear reference to the sex industry Nando’s used a burlesque/stripper model in the ‘Little Hotties’ campaign. Nando’s marketing director Kim Russell described the ad as “sassy not sleazy”. We disagreed. Stop off somewhere else for take away these holidays.
Not the place for your holiday fuel stop, selling extreme porn titles promoting rape, incest and sex with young girls. While BP, Shell/Coles Express and Mobil withdrew these titles after a campaign led by Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids, McDonalds/Fuelzone and Caltex have remained intransigent.
Contact Mcdonalds here (regarding Mcdonalds co-brand with Fuelzone).
Now it’s over to you. Are there any other brands that should be included on this list? Are there alternatives to these brands that others might like to know about? Please share your suggestions below.
Crossed Off in the media
SEX SELLS AND ASB CAN’T STOP IT CAMPAIGNERS WARN
By Madeleine Ross on 15 November
Grassroots campaigners Collective Shout have lashed out at a fistful of brands for sexploitation in advertising and lamented the lateness of the standards watchdog in dealing with demeaning material .
The advocacy group, which encourages individuals to boycott brands which sexualise females in advertising, yesterday released a list of offending brands which included Lynx, Diva and Nandos.
The collective has called on consumers to boycott the brands this Christmas and accused them of using sexism, objectification and sex industry themes to sell products. Read more
Porn identity puts Diva on top of list of shops to drop
November 16, 2011
TWEEN jewellery store Diva tops the list of brands targeted by a campaign calling on shoppers to boycott brands that use sexual exploitation in their marketing.
Lobby group Collective Shout says that as brands step up their advertising in the lead-up to Christmas, consumers should vote with their wallets by avoiding those brands that use ”sexism, objectification and sex industry themes” Read more
Collective Shout reveals list of ‘sexploitative’ brands to boycott this Christmas
An Australian organisation has called on the public to boycott brands this Christmas that it believes sexualise and objectify women and girls.
According to Collective Shout, the companies on its list have been the worst at objectifying and sexualising women and girls through advertising and marketing in 2011. Read more.
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