Governments and regulatory bodies continue to ignore the culture drivers fueling sexist attitudes and behaviours
This week we’ve had big name global clothing companies General Pants, Calvin Klein and Queensland fast food eatery, Burger Urge, in our sights. GP and CK are repeat offenders. It’s the first time this slimy burger chain has come to our attention. The only urge we now have is to expose the lot of you for your sexism and women hatred.
This time they have released a video and poster campaign called “Fit in” to advertise their new denim range.
What is most obvious from the in-store posters and the accompanying video is the way the women in particular are sexualised (one is even topless) while the men appear mostly fully clothed.
What makes matters more unbelievable is that General Pants recently partnered with White Ribbon selling ribbons and wristbands in-store and online to raise funds for the anti-violence campaign. This is ironic considering objectification of women, sexist jokes and language are all contributing factors to violence against women… Read full article and take action here
General Pants seems to think it can white wash its sexism by flogging a few white ribbons
I’ve seen some pathetic responses from corporates in my time. This would have to be in the top five.
This doesn’t even make sense. It won’t happen in future by you stand by it? Have you thought of taking up a course in ‘Logic for Dummies’?
If you want to be inclusive why not stop objectifying half of humanity?
Trying to capitalize on its relationship with White Ribbon, General Sexism, sorry, General Pants, issued another statement Friday. Nice try, but you’re still not excused. And this is hardly a ‘singular’ example. You have an entire culture of sexism shown through repeated sexual exploitation of women which we’ve been documenting since our formation.
White Ribbon needs to take a strong stand and dump General Pants as a partner. As my colleague and Collective Shout’s director of operations Coralie Alison pointed out, the anti-violence organisation expressed concern about General Pants late last year.
General Pants can’t white wash its sexism by flogging a few white ribbons.
Calvin Klein’s Sexist Billboard – Men Make Money, Women Seduce
It’s 2016. Yet companies all over the world continue to push the toxic message that women are only valued for their sex appeal. We’ve spoken out about Calvin Klein before for their ‘gang rape’ billboards which thankfully at the time were ordered to be removed after complaints to the Advertising Standards Board.
Now they have come out with this:
The text accompanying the image of the woman says “I seduce in #mycalvins” and the text accompanying the man says “I make money in #mycalvins” suggesting that while men can be successful in business women are only there for their sex appeal. There is an obvious contrast between the way the two images are styled and posed.
One successful businesswoman, Heidi Zak, who is a CEO of ThirdLove, the company she founded, saw the Billboard and decided she was going to do something about it….Read full article and take action here.
Burger Urge Delivers Sexism
Brisbane-based restaurant chain Burger Urge says “We Deliver!” It sure does – delivering sexism with this new ad campaign. A woman, spread legged and reclining as though giving birth, delivers a big juicy hamburger into the hands of a waiting man. Mocking the profound act of birthing a child, the woman is treated as a piece of meat delivering meat.
This is one of the most sexist burger ads we’ve ever seen. And unfortunately there have been a few…
Collective Shout founder Melinda Tankard Reist says that this is just one more example of the “sexist, backward, misogynist advertising” that we are being confronted with every day.
“You wonder if these companies realise it’s the 21st century,” she says.
“We’ve all had enough of this, we’re not buying it, we think women should be treated as women not as objects.”
Tankard Reist notes that the Burger Urge ad is just one of a barrage of sexist ads that have become the wallpaper of our society.
“The cumulative effect of this sort of sexism creates and contributes to sexist and misogynist attitudes which in turn create sexist behaviour that ultimately hurts women and girls,” she says. Read full article here.
Let Burger Urge know what you think of them on their FB page. And urge your friends to do the same.
Or call their QLD outlets: (07) 3254 1655, (07) 3844 8777, (07) 3839 2187 and ask to speak to management.
Thousands of people have joined a group calling for the boycott of Wicked Campers after a Byron Bay man was threatened with prosecution because he sprayed over an obscene slogan on the back of one of the company’s vehicles.
The company’s vans with their lurid spraypainted slogans, some even promoting, if not inciting rape, are popular with young tourists travelling around the northern rivers.
Byron shire grandfather Paul McCarthy told media he had a ‘brain snap’ when he saw the slogan ‘A b..w job a day beats an apple’ on the back of a Wicked Camper vehicle recently and spray-painted over the offending word (blow).
There’s a new petition calling on the QLD Attorney-General to take action. Please support it.
Dr Helen Pringle (long time collaborator and contributor to Big Porn Inc) and talented emerging young writer Laura McNally, who I’ve published here a number of times before. Both are contributors to the new Connor Court title Freedom Fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism’ edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler. I had the pleasure of attending the Melbourne launch earlier this week and will run some extracts soon.
Disempowered Men? Tanveer Ahmed and the ‘Feminist Lynch Mob’
Dr Helen Pringle
…In Australia, this month, a man claimed that he too had been lynched. On 14 March, The Spectator even supplied a picture of the lynching to accompany the first-person account of the victim. The Spectator cover cartoon shows a man of colour swinging from a branch, complete with “the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth” of the “strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees” lamented by Billie Holiday. The lynched man is surrounded by foul-mouthed women, with burning torches and a pitchfork. Like the inscription on the back of a lynching postcard, The Spectator cartoon comes with a caption, so that we might not mistake its meaning: “Lynch mob-ette: Feminists did me in, says Tanveer Ahmed.”
Inside The Spectator, Tanveer Ahmed provides an account of his own lynching…Ahmed presents his account of his execution under the sub-heading, “Despite being a pin-up boy for the White Ribbon movement, I made the mistake of attempting to explain male violence.”
Ahmed was an Ambassador for the White Ribbon campaign against violence to women when he published an article in The Australian on 9 February entitled, “Men forgotten in violence debate.” The title almost makes it unnecessary to read further to grasp the striking new “argument” being made: that men are “disempowered,” with the perpetrators being the same “mob-ette” of radical feminist harpies circling the poplar tree.
Unfortunately, Ahmed’s argument in The Australian was by no stretch original – not only was it a tired reiteration of cliches, but those cliches were not even his own cliches, having been lifted in part from the writings of other “disempowered men…
In his Spectator attempt at an apologia, “Lynched by the feminist mob,” Ahmed mixes his metaphors with abandon in order to explain his plight:
“I have been considerably disempowered after writing about male disempowerment. Wading into the treacherous, virulent, oestrogen laden waters of modern feminism I have learnt that the gender wars are seen by many as a zero sum game, much like poker or derivatives trading.”
As he waded, Ahmed says, he was “treated to an orgy of abuse, threats and complete mis-representation.” Nurses at his hospital took him aside to ask him how he was doing, articles and letters were published on the net in support of him, unnamed (because trembling presumably) academics approached him on the sly to share how difficult it is to speak openly about “this issue” and Dr Ahmed was invited to speak at a Toronto conference “all expenses paid.” …
The Spectator editorial (“Lynch mob-ette”) commiserated with Ahmed’s fate at the hands of “an angry, vocal, left-wing group of ‘celebrities’ within the bosom [sic] of the local [feminist] movement.” According to the Spectator editorial writer, Ahmed had been “lynched on social media, to the point of threatening his career” by such “oddities.” Ahmed himself writes that he was so cowed by “the totalitarian character of the entire episode” that he packed his white ribbon away and “resumed writing prescriptions for psychoactive drugs” at his psychiatric practice. Hard times indeed.
This rhetorical escalation by Ahmed and the Spectator on his behalf goes beyond absurdity into the realm of the grotesque. Words like “totalitarian” lose all meaning when applied to criticism made of a rather dull kind of “argument” about modern masculinity (a predicament that certainly deserves a complex and thoughtful analysis). The completely inappropriate use of such words reaches beyond this one little corner of right-wing looniness, however, as the increasing use across the political spectrum of terms like “crucifixion” in response to criticism illustrates.
However, there is a particularly egregious wrong-ness in the use of the word “lynching” as a response to criticism. This wrong-ness comes from the freight that the word carries because of its entanglement in a history of sustained racial terror…
For Ahmed and The Spectator now to present his predicament as a lynching, both in words and in a captioned picture, is shameful. In Ahmed’s case, there is no “blood on the leaves,” there is no “smell of burning flesh,” no torture, no execution, no terror. There is only the hum of the Airbus taking off for Toronto, with a successful doctor onboard, “all expenses paid.”
But words still have meaning, to which they can be recalled. The history of lynching places on us an ethical injunction to precision in our use of the word. And no man was lynched yesterday. Read full article
Gender Neutrality or Enforcement? ‘Safe Schools’ isn’t as Progressive as it Seems
…Those who subscribe to queer theory would argue that this simply represents progress. From this perspective, gender is inherently fluid and exists in multiple permutations. Queer theory has now gone mainstream, ushered in from the fringes of the academic world to the core of the childhood education system.
For example, Safe Schools utilises definitions like this: “sex is your physical aspects (i.e. your wibbly wobbly bits) and gender is how you feel in your mind in terms of masculine and feminine.” Quite apart from the incorrect description of genitals – one that is advised against by health professionals – the idea that gender is a feeling is highly questionable. In fact, the idea of feminine or masculine thinking has long been disputed in the research.
Other topics to which children will be inducted through Safe Schools materials include the use of plastic surgery and hormone treatments to change gendered appearance, as well as how girls should bind their breasts if they aren’t comfortable about them. Not only does this promote dangerous practices, but it also has the potential to normalise body dissatisfaction within an already vulnerable demographic – all in the guise of “progress.”
Far from being progressive, such campaigns seem somewhat counter-productive. If gender neutrality really is progress, why the focus on classifying gender? How can such programs neutralise gender and yet simultaneously name, categorise and even medicalise it?
Gender itself is a sociological category, a concept designed to examine broad trends between the sexes. Yet it is now erroneously applied to children who are expected to understand and embody a theory usually only the purview of researchers. Suddenly we must scrutinise, analyse and even pathologise natural child behaviour as “gendered.”
While this focus on gender appears to be celebrating diversity, it may actually be doing the opposite.
Many people are indeed diverse and non-conforming, and ending discrimination around difference is worthwhile. But there is no consensus in the research on whether putting children into gender categories is helpful or simply premature and possibly disruptive. Theories about gender are dubious at best. As the Safe Schools program demonstrates, many theories still fall back on the archetypes of “feminine” and “masculine” traits, which have long been discarded in the research.
… Accordingly, 51 gender categories are now prescribed for children to choose from. Facebook has followed suit, offering these 51 gender options to users.
Indoctrinating children into these new “gender” categories is not going to resolve stereotypes. In fact, this may merely create a more exhaustive range of gender classifications within which the stereotypes continue to exist. This is not gender neutrality, but gender enforcement.
This may create more confusion, more anxiety and more pressure for children over an issue that is not their burden to bear. Stereotypes need to be done away with and diversity needs to be accepted. If we truly want to be progressive and neutral about gender, perhaps we would be better off just letting children be children. Read full article
Violence against women is a scourge on the planet. When I’m asked what is the greatest human rights violation in the world today, I respond, violence against women. Female genital mutilation, honour killings, dowry deaths, forced marriage, sexual slavery, trafficking to serve the demands of prostitution and pornography, female foeticide and infanticide….the list goes on. Women and girls are ground down, reduced to nothing, in so many parts of the world.
Yet so far this International Women’s Day, I’ve heard a lot about lack of female representation in corporate board rooms (I’m not saying this isn’t important) but little about this barbarity which seems to go unabated.
So I was pleased just now to come across this piece about the global pandemic of sexual violence against women and girls.
It’s written by Kate Ravenscroft from Victoria , a blogger at www.16impacts.wordpress.com and a survivor of sexual assault. She also tells us she’s handy at making crumpets from scratch, likes to take photos and is a sometime specialist in contemporary French cinema. She also understands the global horror of sexual violence, affecting one in five women in the world. Here’s Kate’s piece reprinted with permission.
In honour of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share this with you:
10 Reasons We All Need to Care About Preventing Sexual Violence
Perhaps you think sexual assault is an individual problem? One that affects the victim, and those close to her and, of course, the police and the Office of Public Prosecutions but, beyond that? Why should anyone else care? Why is it any business of mine if some bad man commits rape? Sure, it’s terrible but that’s not my problem, right?
Wrong. Sexual assault is not an individual problem. It does not concern only those affected, only those victimised and their loved ones. It is not merely the concern of the law enforcement and legal systems. It is an urgent social problem, a global health crisis, and an international pandemic, that affects all of us.
On the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, here are 10 reasons why YOU, too, need to care about preventing sexual violence:
1. We all know someone who has been the victim of sexual violence.
One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.* One in five women, globally – it bears repeating. In fact, it beggars belief. That’s roughly 10% of the global population and yet, that is a conservative estimate.
Statistics can be pretty meaningless, pretty hard to make sense of, but this is one that is so significant it’s hard not to translate into reality. How many families contain at least five women? How many workplaces and friendship groups and clubs? How many times a day do you stand in a room with at least five women? Statistically, every time you gather with at least five women, at least one of those women will have been the victim of sexual assault. Whether or not we are aware of it, we all know a victim of sexual violence.
2. Sexual violence is a global pandemic.
Sexual violence knows no geographic, cultural, religious or socio-economic barriers – it occurs in all cultures, all countries, everywhere. Across the world women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. In 2002 alone, the UN estimated that 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence. Seventy percent of women will suffer some form of violence, sexual or otherwise, in their lifetime.* Statistics such as these could be reported ad infinitum, so common is sexual violence in our communities. Violence against women is so rampant and pervasive that it is globally the most frequent human rights abuse occurring.
3. Sexual violence is a devastating crime with extensive, long term consequences.
The impacts of sexual assault are almost impossible to quantify or qualify. Not only are they devastating and intensely destructive but they are also personal and unique to each victim. Physical, psychological, emotional, social, sexual, financial, professional – the consequences of sexual violence extend to every aspect of life. Self-esteem and self-worth are often destroyed. Physical and mental health complications arise and can continue throughout the victim’s life. Trust and confidence in society and other people are savaged. The capacity to hold down a job, support oneself and contribute productively to society are all undermined. Quality of life, health and happiness, autonomy and security are all damaged by sexual violence.*
The entire course of a life is derailed and in many ways the task of recovering from sexual violence is the task of rebuilding a life anew. Only it’s not really anew. Rather, the knowledge of what could have been, had violence not intervened, will always be there. At the very least, for the rest of their life, the victim will carry the horrifying knowledge of violence with them. At the very worst, the specific, individual consequences of the crime will continue to burden and determine the course of their life, for the rest of their life.
4. Sexual violence doesn’t just devastate individuals.
It devastates families and communities, too. Around each victim is a network of people who will be affected to varying degrees by the consequences of sexual violence. Supporting someone you know and care about through a traumatic, violent and criminal, experience can be deeply distressing, stressful and costly for family members, friends and others close to the victim. The consequences of providing this support can include physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial costs. These are costs that the supporter, like the victim herself, may have to bear for the rest of their life.
The impacts of violence are insidious and extensive, complex and subtle. Sexual violence savages the victim’s relationships to others and to society. It destroys their trust in people and their confidence in ordinary situations. This is of vital significance to all of us. When distrust and fear permeate our communities and define the way members of our society live amongst each other, we create a lesser community, a lesser society for all of us to live in.
5. Sexual violence is a human rights abuse.
“Inherent dignity”, “equal and inalienable rights”, “freedom from fear”, “the right to security of person” and protection from “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” are all enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If these really were the standards we set for human behaviour, then every incidence of sexual violence, all sexual violence, would be not just a tragedy but a travesty. It would be irrefutably criminal and clearly prosecutable. It is impossible to wholeheartedly believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings and their fundamental and inalienable right to security of person and rape them. Without the inferred right to bodily integrity and bodily autonomy, “security of person” means little. Sexual violence, and violence against women, is rarely framed in human rights terms, but once we take seriously women’s full and equal rights, it can hardly be framed otherwise.
6. Sexual violence is a clear indicator of gender inequality.
The single greatest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault is being a woman.* Violence against women is a systemic, and literally deadly, expression of a fundamental gender inequity at the heart of every human society. Sexual violence, and all violence against women, not only reflects this fundamental inequality but moreover perpetuates it. Truly egalitarian attitudes and beliefs are simply incompatible with sexual violence, with forcing or coercing a sexual partner or with any kind of violent behaviour. What any form of sexual violence against women shows is an essential lack of respect for women. It fails to see that women have full and equal rights and that any sexual activity needs to take those rights into account. To put it bluntly, it refuses women the right to not only choose, accept and initiate sexual activity as they see fit, but equally to refuse any sexual activity at any time, under any conditions, according to their own desires. A culture that doesn’t value a woman’s voice, that does not listen to women, will have trouble respecting a woman’s right to choose when, where, how and with whom she engages in sexual activity. Such a culture perpetrates violence against women at alarming levels.
7. Sexual violence costs all of us dearly.
In 2009, violence against women cost the Australian public an estimated $AUD 13.6 billion. If nothing changes, ie. if things stay as they are now, this is set to rise to $AUD15.6 billion by 2021.* Quite simply this is a phenomenal, and burdensome, waste of money. Recent Australian research has identified that even a modest reduction in the perpetration levels of violence against women could save the Australian economy over $AUD300 million in lost productivity alone. It has to be asked, has anyone pointed this out to Canberra?
8. Sexual violence is the least successfully prosecuted crime.
Not only is sexual violence less likely to be reported than other crimes, but, when it is reported, it is less likely to result in charges being laid, less likely to be prosecuted and less likely to lead to conviction than other crimes.* In fact, overwhelmingly, both the law enforcement and legal systems, in Australia and internationally, are highly ineffectual and unsuccessful in their response to sexual violence. A crime which cannot be successfully prosecuted is, in effect, a ‘no-crime’ crime – a crime which society tacitly condones, a crime with no punishment. The failure to successfully prosecute sexual violence (along with the inability to hear women’s voices and testimony and to respond to it), is yet another way that we fail as a society to protect, and take seriously, women’s human rights.
9. Sexual violence is a form of terrorism.
Sexual violence is undoubtedly the most pervasive form of terrorism in the world today (and has been for a very long time). It is a violent act intended to create fear which deliberately targets civilians. The ideological aim of sexual violence is to create, and perpetuate, women’s vulnerability and therefore their inferiority. The perpetrator enforces his victim’s submission with the aim of not just subjugating this one woman for the duration of the assault but, with the expectation of creating and enforcing gendered roles that the rapist sees as ‘correct’: male dominance and female submission, especially in regards to sexual behaviour.* The aim of sexual assault is to effect permanent change in the victim and to cause lasting psychological damage. What is phenomenal about this is that, in a world that spends so much time, energy and money discussing terrorism and creating counter-terrorist measures, we are still so complicit, and have so resoundingly failed to extricate ourselves, from the everyday, ongoing terrorism that sexual violence continues to perpetrate against women everywhere.
10. We can end sexual violence.
Unlike most traumatic events – disease, natural disasters, accidents – sexual violence is a human behaviour which is completely under our control. We can end sexual violence. That ever increasing body of statistics could start declining today. It is both possible and imminently achievable. All it takes is a commitment to respectful relationships, a decision to refuse violence as a way of getting what you want and a willingness to only engage in sexual activity that is genuinely, whole-heartedly, joyfully (ie. non-coercively) consensual for each and every party involved. All it takes is a decision not to rape. Rape is not accidental, it is not inevitable, it is not justifiable behaviour. So, what are we waiting for? A real commitment to women’s full and equal rights, real education about respectful relationships, real consequences for criminal behaviour – this is what it will take. Let’s end sexual violence, now.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
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