An anti-violence activist who stood up to superstar rappers Tyler the Creator and Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg) has revealed that she was terrified to leave her house and lived in fear of attack after receiving thousands of messages of vile abuse from fans of the rappers.
Talitha Stone, 25, has told MailOnline about the heavy toll her work has taken on her saying she wanted to ‘hide away and never do anything like this again’ after her attempts to have the rappers banned from entering Australia led to threats of rape and death from rap fans.
The abuse, which mainly took place on Twitter, included ‘death threats and saying things like they’re going to grab me in the alleyway, that I need a good f***, that they’re going to go for my family first. One said that they would hire someone to cut my t**s off,’ she said.
Talitha Stone, 25, is an anti-violence campaigner who received thousands of messages of abuse on Twitter after she protested Snoop Lion and Tyler the Creator being allowed in the country
Talitha Stone, 25, is an anti-violence campaigner who received thousands of messages of abuse on Twitter after she protested Snoop Lion and Tyler the Creator being allowed in the country
A high school student in Melbourne even posted what he thought was Talitha’s address online. The address was wrong, but it was only a street away from where Talitha was sharing a house with another girl.
‘Who knows what could have happened. It was not a fun time, I didn’t sleep much and jumped at noises. Every time I was alone I was panicked, I was so afraid, but at the same time I was so angry that this was my reality,’ she said.
The abuse started after Talitha created a petition to have Tyler the Creator denied a visa to enter Australia last year, on the grounds that his lyrics incited violence against women.
His songs include lines like: ‘You call this s*** rape but I think that rape’s fun, I just got one request, stop breathing’ and ‘I wanna tie her body up and throw her in my basement, Keep her there, so nobody can wonder where her face went.’
Talitha came to the attention of Tyler the Creator when she tweeted that he would be at a signing event in Sydney and suggested that the event organisers needed a lesson in what misogyny was.
Tyler the Creator retweeted her comment to his 1.7 million fans and suddenly her phone went crazy.
‘It was instant, oh my gosh, the barrage of threats, I couldn’t believe it. I was just sitting there looking at my phone, I was like: “Holy crap, what is happening? What have I done?”‘
When Talitha went to the police about the thousands of messages she had received, she said they laughed at her.
‘They were like: “Do you think we’re going to do anything about this? Do you know how often people come in here about threats of abuse and death on Twitter?” They just laughed at me like I was so stupid, they gave me a cyber safe brochure and sent me out.’
Talitha ended up going to Tyler the Creator’s Sydney show to film evidence of misogyny and she stood in horror as the rapper mentioned her during his set, dedicating his song, B**** Suck D***, to her.
Video of the concert shows Tyler the Creator, who seemed unaware that Talitha was in the audience, call out to the ‘f***ing w****’ who tried to get him kicked out of the country.
‘F***ing b****, I wish she could hear me call her a b****, too, f***ing w****. Yeah, I got a sold-out show right now b****. Hey this f***ing song is dedicated to you, you f***ing c***.’
He also said he hoped Talitha’s children ‘get some messed up STDs’.
Talitha said she was petrified that someone in the crowd would recognise her. ‘I honestly didn’t believe what I was hearing when he called me out. I was terrified.’
She reported him to the police, but they said there was nothing they could do.
The abuse continued for months after the concert and led to Talitha meeting with two executives from Twitter, which led to the introduction of the ‘Report Abuse’ button on the site.
‘I was like: this is ridiculous, where’s the protection for women? I got told to delete my account, that was my option. They were like, “Why are you fuelling this?” Me fuelling this? Are you kidding me? I’m speaking out against rape and I’m getting rape threats in return, yeah that makes sense,’ she said.
‘So much in me wanted to hide away and never do anything like this again, but at the same time it also fuelled me to keep doing this, I was like: There’s no way they’re going to silence me. It made me more determined,’ she said.
This determination gave her the energy to try to get Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg)’s visa revoked when he came to Australia in January.
Her main objection to Snoop Lion was that he had admitted to pimping out girls in a Rolling Stone article in 2013, saying he had a bus follow him on his 2003 tour with ten women on it.
‘I could fire a b****, f*** a b****, get a new ho: It was my program. City to city, titty to titty, hotel room to hotel room, athlete to athlete, entertainer to entertainer,’ he said.
Again Talitha petitioned (unsuccessfully) to have Snoop Lion denied access to the country, again she was hit with an onslaught of abuse from the rapper’s fans.
She said that this time she received less abuse and Snoop Lion did not engage with her directly, but the impact of the abuse was a lot worse.
‘I didn’t have anything left in me, I couldn’t do it. I was completely drained. It’s just so exhausting and you just feel like, what’s the point sometimes, when is there ever going to be change?’
The Snoop Lion campaign was the third campaign the young activist has headed up, the first involved her trying out for the Lingerie Football League in 2012.
Talitha said she wanted to see what the experience was like and whether the League’s insistence that the women would be treated as athletes was true. She found that it wasn’t.
She said that walking into try-outs ‘was like walking up to a nightclub. We got told we had to have a dress code at the try outs – sports bra and short shorts. I had to take my top off so I had my sports bra on.
‘If we lost they would scream at us and call us a pussy and make a ‘pussy symbol’ above our heads. It was a huge joke.’
The reaction to Talitha’s exposé was her first experience of serious online abuse, with people taking to Twitter to threaten and attack her.
‘They were trying to scare me, with rape or death,’ she said.
Talitha is speaking out as she is about to return to work with women’s advocacy group Collective Shout after a six-month hiatus.
The Sydney woman became involved in advocacy work for women and girls after ‘frequent unwanted sexual experiences’ as a child and teenager.
‘It’s so sickening, I hate that this is a reality for women and it’s becoming more and more common,’ she said.
She began researching different organisations and read news articles before she stumbled on Collective Shout, a grassroots Australian advocacy group headed up by Melinda Tankard-Reist.
After the draining experience of her campaigns against the two rappers, Talitha took some time out – travelling to Europe, working a series of odd jobs and spending time with family and friends.
It is only in the last few weeks, almost six months after Snoop Lion was in the country, that she has felt able to pick up her advocacy work again.
‘I took a lot of time out. I had to put in boundaries. I’ve only just in the last month slowly, slowly got back into it,’ she said.
The next step for the young activist is a new role at Collective Shout speaking at schools around the country about issues to do with violence, pornography, eating disorders and the sexualisation of children.
She has been visiting schools for years alongside Melinda Tankard-Reist and can’t get over the fact that many of the students recognise her.
‘The young people at schools I’m going to, they’ve heard of me. I have young kids come up to me and say: “It is an honour, can I please shake your hand? You’re my hero.” It makes no sense to me. It is just overwhelming.
‘I’m doing this because I have to. I need to do this for them.’
An article was published in The Guardian today about the campaign calling for Snoop Dogg’s visa to be revoked. Titled ‘White singers deserve the same scrutiny for sexism as Snoop Dogg‘, it implied that Collective Shout’s motivation for the campaign was race, not misogyny, sexism or violence against women. The Guardian declined to publish Dr Caroline Norma’s response. So we did.
Dr Caroline Norma
So often, when women speak against sexism, misogyny and women hating in general, they are accused of having a hidden and secret agenda. They’re ‘anti-sex’, they ‘hate’ men,’ they have other secret agendas. We’ve just witnessed a classic example of this in the framing of Collective Shout’s campaign led by 24-year-old activist Talitha Stone, calling on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to recall the visa issued to well-know U.S rap artist Snoop Dogg, who is about to land on our shores.
Francis Lockie, writing in The Guardian today, fits within this camp. Collective Shout activists couldn’t possibly believe that women and girls are intrinsically worth enough that they would selflessly spend time, money and energy in their service. Other false claims have been made about this grassroots movement in the past – why not add ‘racist’ to the mix?
In Frances Lockie’s view the female activists of Collective Shout have another agenda – and it’s racist. They find the energy to launch campaigns against sexist male singers not out of a desire to stop hate speech against women, but because deep down they are racists, whether they realise it or not. Their racist impulses allow them to work together. In the absence of agendas like racism, why else would they bother?
Criticising feminists as ‘racists’ is easy, because no-one believes women’s activists are genuine in what they believe or do anyway. Everyone is ready and willing to hear an alternative explanation for why women are getting together to do things on their own behalf. Lockie need cite just a sample size of three campaigns–one against Kanye West, one against Tyler the Creator and one against Snoop Dogg– to successfully persuade every one of the ‘real’ agenda driving the tireless work of Collective Shout supporters. Inevitably there is another agenda, so a little evidence goes a long way. (As an aside, there’s no mention of the success of the Tyler campaign in forcing Twitter to establish a ‘report abuse’ button as a result of rape and death threats against Talitha Stone, no mention that the campaign against Kanye West was global and supported by a coalition of international women’s groups, not just Collective Shout).
Lockie spent hours painstakingly gathering up evidence of white men singing sexist things and brutalising women to show how Collective Shout members had given them a ‘free pass’. She wanted to make the point that racism acts as a decoy in diverting attention away from the sexism of white men, and how Collective Shout members had fallen into this trap. So, whether they realise it or not, the women in Collective Shout are actually working on behalf of the world’s most powerful men–this is the real agenda of the group. Through forming a group that sticks up for white men they probably think they can get themselves a better deal in life, and rise above the downtrodden masses of women.
When feminists and their organisations are imagined to have ‘another agenda’, sexism does not just cause us to doubt their loyalty to other women. It also leads us to think women are incapable of acting in anyone’s interests other than men’s, and especially white ruling class men. Even when women tell themselves they’re trying to get a better deal for women, they’re actually trying to protect men, or push down other women so men can rule more easily with more perks.
Lockie probably thinks she’s done Collective Shout members a favour in pointing out their folly. Without Lockie’s good instruction, these women could have carried on their whole lives running campaigns, lobbying and working together on behalf of women–totally oblivious of the fact they were inadvertently protecting white men and covering up their abuses. Collective Shout has said nothing about Axl Rose! Or John Lennon! Our younger members have no idea who Rose is. And the fact John Lennon is dead seems to have escaped her. She ignores our campaigns against Robin Thicke and Brian McFadden for their rape apologist lyrics.
Luckily, Lockie stands apart from women working hard in feminist organisations, so she can objectively assess their agenda and intentions, and deliver pronouncements to the benefit of all. Her aloof impartiality would have been compromised if she’d joined Collective Shout, and donated the research she did on the sexism of white male singers. Lockie might have found herself leading a campaign on behalf of members to stop one of them coming to spread hate speech in Australia. Perhaps she will join us in our efforts against rapper Eminem who brings his special brand of women hatred to Australia next month?
If Collective Shout isn’t prepared to launch official campaigns against every artist who profits from misogyny does that mean we shouldn’t campaign against any?
This debate on violence against women, as glamourised by the music industry, isn’t about colour. Collective Shout (in the face of limited resources and its volunteer nature) addresses this where it can. Two high profile rap artists have toured recently. That they were black was irrelevant. Eminem will receive the same welcome from us when he lands next month. To turn this into a debate about race and not misogyny is to wilfully miss the point and, in a rape culture in which all women and girls have to live, this is something we cannot allow to happen.
Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University
“The attempt to dress this up as black v white issue is beneath contempt”
Here are a selection of comments on The Guardian site which condemn attempts to turn our campaign into an issue of race.
OneManIsAnIsland: The objection to Snoop Dogg, presumably, is that ALL of his songs seem to be extensions of his own persona, and ALL seems to include a casual misogyny which is not contextualised. And finally, before you make it a race thing, remember that Robin Thicke is very, very white.
Jahlion: The attempt to dress this up as black v white issue is beneath contempt.
SidusVitae: Many rap songs that feature violence and misogyny are not figurative – that’s the problem, isn’t it? People have politely tried to point out above, under the guise of ‘context’. Snoop Dogg/Lion actually does have a history of problematic dealings with women.
WinstonThatcher: Have you ever listened to the lyrics on ‘Doggystyle’, Frances? I suggest you do so. They’re astoundingly disgusting (on a whole other level of disgusting), and Collective Shout, if anything, should be admired for not letting the big bad wolf that is accusations of racism cloud their judgement.
SamBeckett2: Are Cave, Dylan, Pink Floyd et al ex-pimps who’ve made porn videos? The vast majority of lyrics you quote are clearly telling stories representing misogyny rather than promoting it.
Timcw: So if a black singer refers to a woman as a ‘ho’ or a ‘bitch’ then anyone who complains at the content of the song is being racist if they don’t research every past instance of a white singer using misogynist lyrics and complain about that at the same time? This article is nonsense even in its own terms. Look at the criticism Robin Thicke rightly attracted recently. More seriously, it reflects a type of thinking that implies any criticism of men who aren’t white over the way they treat women is racist.
StVitusGerulaitis: What an utterly absurd article. This is not a race issue, and trying to make it so is disingenuous and rather desperate.
Sexism is more common, widespread and aceptable in modern hip hop….If anything, people give hip hop more of a free pass.”
NewsfromNowhere: I think that this is the problem. Hip hop is used to play by its own rules and black hip hop artists can always play the race card to get a free pass. White hip hop-ers) have to retract and apologize or lose their gigs. I am seriously concerned about this perspective that white feminists (if Collective Shout are white) can’t protest against misogyny from black men or they are racists.
Robthablob: The Prodigy “Smack my bitch up” and Eminem (many early tracks are both misogynistic and homophobic).
However, I remember both of these being heavily criticized at the time, which kind of goes against the author’s contention.
Luxrothchop: A colleague tells me he’s also a pornographer. Is that also true of any of the performers in the author’s list, and don’t you think that makes something of a difference? Seems to me one can’t do right for doing wrong on this question. When I and other posters criticised Robin Thicke on another thread earlier this week those who leapt to Thicke’s defence retorted that “you wouldn’t say that about a black artist for fear of being called a racist”.
ID2099454: Violence against women is an important issue, and this article makes it sound ridiculous. So thanks a bunch for undermining the hard work of lots of people trying to make a difference
DoctorPeppa: I can’t help but wonder if the author actually bothered to get in touch with Collective Shout with her concerns before publicly insinuating that their feminism is a smokescreen for racism. Why does it have to be their job to police the music industry for hate speech against women – if you have noticed other artists contributing to public misogyny, why not pick up your bat and have a swing for yourself? Other women doing feminist work are not an enemy who deserve to be shot down like this.
Why I want to stop Snoop Dog from visiting Australia
I am a 24 year old activist with grassroots organisation Collective Shout. You may know me from my anti-violence campaign against US rapper, Tyler the Creator who verbally abused me at his all ages Sydney show last year.
Just before Christmas I learned that Snoop Dogg (AKA Snoop Lion) would be kicking off a national tour for Big Day Out. Snoop has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for drugs and weapons related offences and involuntary manslaughter, as well as by his own admission, pimping and trafficking women for sex. Snoop also reportedly lured two underage girls into exposing themselves on film by offering them marijuana and ecstasy.
Snoop’s lyrics glorify violence against women. He refers to women as ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ who ‘suck d****’. His songs include ‘Break a bitch ’til the day i die’ and ‘Can you control yo hoe? where he describes beating women who do not obey him, who need to learn their place. He justifies violence against women because their behaviour ‘forced him’. These are the very cultural attitudes that both excuse and perpetuate actual violence against women. These lyrics trivialise violence against women and they desensitise young men to the real pain and suffering of victims of abuse.
Snoop Dogg performs during the BET Hip Hop Awards 2013 at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 28, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/FilmMagic) Photo: Prince Williams
The Australian Immigration guidelines on controversial visa applicants says that we can and will reject people “whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.”
Snoop has been refused entry to Australia before because of his criminal history. Britain, Norway and the Netherlands also wouldn’t let him in.
I created a new petition on change.org calling on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to revoke Snoop Dogg’s (AKA Snoop Lion) visa, as I believe his long criminal record, his insolent admission of sex trafficking (“selling pussy”) and his glorification of violence against women do not meet the character requirements for an Australian Visa. Morrison has declined to revoke Snoop’s visa. Read full article here.
A petition has been launched on Change.org calling for the Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison to revoke the visa of US rapper and self-confessed pimp Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion aka Calvin Broadus.
Snoop Dogg’s lyrics glorify violence against women. His criminal history reportedly includes drug and weapons posession, voluntary manslaughter, inciting violence and assault. He has reportedly been listed in an affidavit claiming that he and others lured two underage girls to be filmed exposing themselves by offering them marijuana and ecstasy.
In a 2006 article with Rolling Stone, Snoop Dogg admitted that he was a real-life pimp. During his 2003 US tour – at the height of his stardom – he transported women around the country selling their bodies to athletes and entertainers.
He again discussed his pimping past in another Rolling Stone article earlier this year. The language used to describe the experience reveals that far from being remorseful, he is proud of his contribution to the worldwide problem of trafficking in women and girls:
“I could fire a b*tch, f*ck a b*tch, get a new ho: It was my program. City to city, titty to titty, hotel room to hotel room, athlete to athlete, entertainer to entertainer.”
Collective Shout activist Talitha Stone is calling on you to support the call for the Immigration Minister to revoke Snoop Dogg’s visa.
As a society which claims to be serious about eradicating violence against women, there should be no place for recording artists who glorify misogyny and degrade women for entertainment. Welcoming artists like Snoop Dogg sends a message that we don’t take our obligations to address violence against women seriously.
Girls’ Mag Watch: More Stereotyped and Limiting Messages for Girls
This is the second installment of my review of magazines for girls and young women, published by Generation Next.
For many girls, the magazines they read are their lifestyle bibles. How should they look, dress, act and relate? What’s important in life? Who should they look up to? My analysis of the November issues of Girlfriend, Dolly, Girlpower, Disney Girl, Little Angel and the October and November issues of TotalGirl shows that girls are being delivered a mostly one-dimensional, generic and limited view of girl/young womanhood. The emphasis is on looks, fashion, beauty practices, consumerism, gossip, and celebrity culture. The little girls’ magazines provide early socialisation into the popularised teen world of clothing, make-up, sex and celebrities. I’m especially disturbed by the encouragement given to very young girls, through the advice sections, to have boyfriends.
GF’s ‘Self Respect REALITY CHECKS’ are just getting weird. They seem to be dropped in at random, even when not all that relevant. In this issue there’s one on the front for Emma Watson. Emma’s image, we are told, was purchased before Emma cut her hair. So what? How does that address body image dissatisfaction and provide a ‘Self Respect REALITY CHECK’?
An inside feature, “I believe…”, about girls with a variety of religious beliefs, also has a ‘reality check’. The magazine declares that ‘we did an online call-out for readers of different religions to participate in this story and these are the girls who stepped forward.’ Perhaps that’s worth stating. But is it about self-respect? There’s three other ‘reality checks’: ‘Readers, not models, were used in this shoot’ (x2) and a ‘check’ showing the time that models spent in hair and make-up. So that’s five checks, only two which have any relevance to GF’s originally stated intention of getting real about body image.
And why is the advertising exempt from ‘reality checks’? This is where we see the bulk of skinny, air-brushed, flawless women.
The Billabong ads are a paean to summer body perfection. The advertised bikinis may as well be marked size T – for tiny. There’s virtually no body diversity in GF’s advertising. Advertising should not be treated as somehow exempt from the magazine’s stated intention that it is ‘getting real’ about body image.
We meet the winners of the ‘Face of Fing’rs 2010’ competition. Kharla is 14, Jessica 15. For some reason the stylists have plastered them in fire-engine red lipstick, the intensity of which would make a clown’s mouth look pale. It makes them look much more adult than they are.
Speaking of models, we also meet past winners of ‘Girlfriend of the Year’. I’m not a fan of modelling competitions, but at least new applicants are asked to write about their dreams and how they want to achieve them. This year’s winner was fashion designer Iman Krayem, who is wearing a head covering (and, somewhat in contrast, holding what appears to be lingerie). Perhaps GF wants to show it does want to represent a range of women. Having said that, most of the women in the magazine are standard-bodied white anglo females.
Advertisers must be aware that very young girls are reading Girlfriend. There’s an ad (here and in the other mags reviewed) for ‘Fashion Paradise’, inviting girls to ‘become the ultimate fashion expert’ and organise fashion shows and open glamorous boutiques. There are figurines available for this product, which look to me like they would appeal to girls around 8-11.
Other advertising, for example for Garnier, was presented as a four-page feature when it was really an advertorial.
The Good Bits
I was very pleased to see the piece ‘Dying to Drink’ which discusses the rise of Vodka as the drink of choice for teenage girls. The article confronts young women with the risks and harms of Vodka consumption and shatters the myth that it is less risky than other alcoholic drinks. Paul Dillon, Director of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia – and one of Generation Next’s speaking team – makes a sobering statement: “The last five deaths that I’ve been involved with were all female school students aged 16 and 17 and all fatalities were vodka related.” Now that’s a reality check. If GF ran more articles like this, I would commend it publicly and loudly.
Other positive and helpful articles: one on how to save money (a welcome inclusion would have been ‘reduce spending on hair, cosmetics and other grooming products which you mostly don’t need’!); a recommendation to volunteer your time, how to manage family stress caused by financial pressures and how you can help ease the load at home (assist around the house, look after your belongings, earn your own money). I like that girls are situated within their families, and are encouraged to contribute positively, especially when times are tough.
A piece on safe driving features a short video created by 14-year-old Maddy Frahm.
The ‘Get Real’ section contains true stories which will hopefully inspire girls towards empathy (‘I was bullied by thousands’, ‘I’ve had 101 operations’) and making a difference in developing countries (‘We volunteered overseas’).
Then it’s back to hot boys and crushes and how girls and boys aren’t from different planets, ‘just different hemispheres’.
Jessica Mauboy is here too – she was featured as a fresh-faced teenager on Australian Idol and has now been rebranded as the new ‘It girl’, having returned from a trip to the United States where she was made-over by some of the most misogynist male rap artists in the industry (that fact isn’t mentioned). GF describes Mauboy’s new single as ‘a flirty tribute to every girl’s number one love – shoes!’. Oh please, every girl?
Not so good: Why is mental health in the sealed section?
This issue includes a very important subject: ‘The truth about mental illness’. The article covers anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, bipolar, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia, along with treatment, recovery and helplines. This is great. But why is it in the sealed section? What does that suggest about being mentally ill? That it is something that should be hidden? I’m at a loss to understand this placement decision.
Dolly has a ‘re-touch free zone’. The problem is, the logo indicating a ‘re-touch free zone’ appears very minimally, despite the ‘amazing response’ Dolly has received about this feature. It is too tokenistic a gesture in my view. The fact that the logo is used so rarely shows just how little re-touching actually does take place. And when it is used, it’s hard to tell if it just applies to the one page it appears on, or to a feature as a whole (e.g swimsuit photo section from p.74). Use of the word ‘zone’ suggests more than an individual page but I’m not sure that’s how Dolly intends it to be interpreted.
A feature on teen pregnancy, clearly designed to portray the reality of having a baby at a young age, is unrelentingly bleak – so much so I wondered if the case study was real. ‘I’m 16…and a mum’ describes what happened when ‘Jessie’ told her parents she was pregnant to her boyfriend: ‘My dad was furious and kicked me out.’ Nice one, dad. In ‘A day in the life of Jessie’ she says that from‘8.30pm-5am: ‘I get up during the night over 20 times to burp, change, feed and sing to Emily.’ Twenty times a night? If this is true I hope Dolly put her in touch with a service that could help. No girl – or woman – should have to manage that without support. Dolly: if she is a real girl, please tell put her in touch with a relevant agency.
And if ‘Jessie’ is not real? It’s one thing to discourage teen pregnancy, it’s quite another to catastrophise it to the point where the litany of horrors become hard to believe.
The Dolly fashion pages feature these shoes (right). Perfect for crippling the feet of Dolly’s tween and barely teen girl readers.
Some tiny bikinis in Dolly though they’ve also included some larger sized swimwear, unlike GF.
The Good Bits
…Are a page on how not to get caught up in gossip, how to handle criticism, unreliable friends and why they are bad for your health, 10 ways to lift your mood, handling period pain, and dealing with death. The ‘Real Reads’ section features a 17-year-old girl whose health was harmed smoking pot, a 14-year-old who had a hip replacement, a 14-year-old who helps to look after her 13-year-old disabled brother, and a 14-year-old survivor of domestic violence who suffered abuse at the hands of her step father.
A section on ‘What’s your ideal career?’ could have been useful, but the series of multiple choice questions results in the limited choice of a mere four ‘ ideal careers’: hospitality, creative arts, IT and fashion. Is that it? (it is bizarre that ‘news reporter’ is included in the fashion section. Perhaps in Dolly’s world, fashion is the only thing worth reporting on?).
The NOT So Good Bits
‘How to rule the (online) universe’ introduces readers to Tumblr, Flickr and Formspring ‘to put you at the top of the social media stratosphere’. According to cyber safety expert Susan McLean – also a Gen Next speaker – Formspring is the number one medium for on-line bullying. This isn’t mentioned in the article.
Dolly gives advice to girls which could be seen as promoting stalking-type behaviours. For example ‘Get insider info on your crush’: ‘Ask your crush a question anonymously…you can get loads of helpful hints about how to snag him – and he’ll never guess it’s you.’ You can even find out what he’s doing on the weekend ‘so you can randomly turn up at the same spot!’ I found this advice creepy.
Also creepy is a six page feature titled ‘Planet Hot’ featuring 13-year-old Australian boy singer, Cody Simpson and 14-year-old US boy actor Kodi Smith (who looks younger)”. Would we want to see 13 and 14-year-old old girls featured in the ‘Planet Hot’ section of a boys’ mag?
Boys are asked about their ‘ultimate dream date’. What message does it send to the average girl reader that teen boys pick women like Angelina Jolie – ‘She’s hot and has big lips’ (Max, 15) and ‘Miranda Kerr is hot! I’d love to take her on a private jet to Canada’ (Lachlan, 16). Seems irrelevant that Kerr is married and pregnant and Jolie lives with Brad Pitt and their large brood.
Then there’s ‘The guy field guide’ with lots of tips to help you know if ‘he is watching you’, ‘top four tips to keep him keen and what to watch out for’, and how to tell if he’s flirting or not. The tips come from The Little Book of Flirting. There’s also places to find boys that readers may not have thought of, and some suggested pick-up lines: Try an electronics store, for example, approach target boy and say: ‘Hi, sorry to bother you but what console would you recommend’. Or a hardware store: ‘Hi. I’m a little lost – can you please tell me where the hammers are?’
Also concerning is that many of the featured men are in their 20’s – one is 27, two are 28. Should Dolly be encouraging crushes on men this age in its (increasingly younger) readership? Is teaching girls to objectify men’s bodies a good thing?
This issue doesn’t seem to have the same body diversity as last month’s issue. There’s an eight-page fashion spread featuring a willowy blond girl.
Dolly Doctor’s advice about obtaining the pill and the ‘morning-after pill’ for under-age girls may be of concern to some parents. The advice says (in part): ‘The chemist won’t require ID and you don’t have to be a certain age. You can also see a doctor confidentially to talk about contraception and to be prescribed the pill – if you’re under age’. If a girl is under-age, and the male is more than two years older, it is possible a crime is being committed. The girl may have been coerced into unwanted sex. It would have been helpful if something along these lines had been flagged to assist girls in this situation.
Dolly Beauty Book
This issue comes with a ‘Beauty Book’: ‘All the advice you’ll ever need!’ While some of the advice may be helpful to girls, it should not be overlooked that the Beauty Book is very much also a product promotion.
Most of the girls featured have impossibly flawless newborn baby skin. That should get girls buying up the products! On the last page (p.146) are some nice words about ‘Beauty wisdom’: the importance of personality, being beautiful on the inside, how we’re all imperfect, you know the kind of thing. Which is good, of course. But it’s the last page page after flogging all the products so ‘essential’ for girls.
Total Girl (Oct, Nov)
I could just cut and paste everything I said last time. Not much has changed. Total Girl reads like an advertising catalogue for the ‘cutest products’ girls must have. It’s a seemingly endless barrage of pink fairies, clothes, toys, styling aids.
TotalGirl November is the‘100th issue collector’s edition’ (the first issue was launched in 2002).
TG is celebrating with a major party theme, featuring highlights of past issues and most popular cover girls. In 2009, Lady Gaga was the big ticket item for TG: ‘Lady Gaga has got the world hooked on her out-there antics, and we just can’t get enough!’ This once again reinforces Lady Gaga and her porn persona as an appropriate celebrity for little girls.
A feature asks ‘What were the most important issues to TG at the time?’ The response gives us a great insight into what the editors consider ‘issues’. The original editor Sarah Oakes replies: ‘Lip-gloss, ponies, cute things, friends, glitter, music, movies, clothes’.
Total Girl, covering the big issues in girls lives….
The party pages are also used as product placement ‘for all your party needs…’ ‘for beautiful balloons…’, ‘for yummy cupcakes…’. No opportunity is lost to sell something to little girls. ‘For party saving tunes’, TG’s number 1 suggestion is California Gurls by Katy Perry (that’s the one where she shoots cream from her breasts, in case you haven’t seen it).
There is one page of craft (which also promotes the store where the craft gear came from) and a page of cupcake baking.
These headings reinforce the fashion imperative: ‘The uber chic lost girls by minkpink are here to make your wardrobe dreams come true with the ultimate new fashion collection for spring’ (‘lost girls’ is little angsty for 7-8 year-olds, isn’t it?), ‘Make your wardrobe dreams come true’, ‘Get lost in fashion heaven’.
The November issue promotes a$20 notebook for little girls: ‘I’m going to be gorgeous and this is my plan…’ I couldn’t find one that said ‘I’m gonna be smart and this is my plan’.
My hopes rose when I got to the ‘Totally SMART’ section. But science for girls was just an opportunity to promote another product: ‘Secrets of cosmetic science: just like the professionals’ with a free ‘Secrets of cosmetic kit: Be inspired!’ Buried in the wall-to-wall products was a page on Aussie athletes in the Commonwealth games, two pages of reader’s artwork, a page of Halloween craft, a one page recipe, and two pages of quizzes. Then it’s back to ‘Barbie fashionistas: express your fashion personality’.
TotalGirl isn’t a girl’s magazine. It’s an advertising catalogue full of stuff girls don’t need, reinforcing the idea that they have to be cute and gorgeous consumers.
On the front: ‘Brilliant Beauty Tips’. Again cementing the notion that this is what being a girl is all about.
As in the last issue, the Red Carpet Ratings disturb me. ‘Watch out celebrities! The Girl Power fashion police are on duty…and some of you are about to be arrested…’ Celebs are judged on the basis of ‘Best dressed’ and ‘Worst dressed’. Girls can be on the ‘GP fashion panel’ if they ‘know a ‘hot’ look from a ‘not’ look…’ This encourages girls to engage in judgemental behaviour at early ages (one of the judges is aged 10). “EW!” is a commonly used expression.
The ‘friends forever’ pages were sweet in their declaration of love for friends, but the featured pairs – the youngest 11 and 12-years-old – were heavily made up. The 11-year-old with high bun and make-up looked quite adultified.
GirlPower also promotes misogynistic rap artist Snoop Dogg to girls. Jessica Mauboy gushes, ‘I have never met such a beautiful man.’ This may contribute to girls setting the bar very low and assuming that violence against women is normal and acceptable. As noted above, Mauboy’s new release is about the pleasure of wearing stiletto heels, being on display, and how she couldn’t live without them. One of the lyrics says: ‘I’m the shit, you can ask the whole world about me’.
Lady Gaga is here again, this time wearing a dead animal. The editors seem to think it’s OK for little girl readers who love animals to see Lady Gaga in a meat dress. This also normalises the violent themes Lady Gaga employs in her performances.
Cody is here too (see Dolly above) with a love heart and ‘Boy Power’.
Jessica Mauboy features here also. Her new release, ‘Get ‘em girls’, is described as ‘an edgy hip hop track that makes you want to shake your booty.’ Shake your booty nine- year- olds! Get out your stilettos and tell the world ‘I’m the shit!’
The Bad Bits
Here’s some advice for little girls from Brandon Smith (who is, apparently, a ‘celeb’). You want to get together with a boy you like? ‘Just shoot him a little wink, just catch his eye and if he throws you a smile back, you got him.’
In ‘Survival trips for crushes’, Johnny, host of ‘Escape from Scorpion Island’, advises a girl who likes an older boy and asks ‘How do I get him to notice me?’: ‘Ask them out’.
Justin Beiber tells how he once got into trouble after sneaking out of the house at 3am to meet some girls who had texted him. Isn’t that cute? Girls maybe you can arrange to hook up with boys at 3am too!
Girls featured in this issue are aged from 9-13. Because no age is given, primary school age readers might think Brandon and Johnny’s advice applies to them. This is what girls are supposed to be doing – having boyfriends, approaching boys at parties, arranging hook-ups with boys in the middle of the night.
I am angry that Girlpower thinks conditioning little girls to pro-actively seek boyfriends is acceptable – and potentially making those who don’t secure one feel insecure – as well as making risky behaviour seem amusing.
While there are more alternatives to products and fashion than TotalGirl, with greater space given to food, animals, recycling, quizzes and pets (28 out of 83 pages), this does not make up for the damaging messages the magazine sends.
‘What song are you loving right now?’ DG’s designer responds that she loves ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg (see above re cream shooting from breasts). GF’s production controller prefers ‘Teenage Dream’ also by Katy Perry. It features the lines: ‘Let’s go all the way tonight’, ‘the way you turn me on’, ‘got drunk on the beach’, ‘Let you put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans’. The film clip depicts some bedroom action suggesting Katy’s bf agreed on going all the way tonight.
Disney Girl helps girls know what’s in and what’s not. ‘What’s hot right now: For an ‘A+ in cool’. For example, who’s the cool boy of the month for our little Disney Girl readers? Jason Desrouleaux – who is 20.
Lady Gaga’s new perfume range is promoted. ‘Wonder what it will smell like’? DG asks (eau de dead animal perhaps?) Gaga is also mentioned in a ‘fun quiz’ to find your ‘inner pop princess’. The options are Miley Cyrus, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.
And what would a little girl’s mag be without more ‘cute crush’ advice? This time from Matthew ‘MDOT’ Finley: ‘If you like a boy at a party, make sure you give him lots of eye contact’. One of the readers is a 10-year-old girl who has submitted art work. Is this advice designed for her?
More Jess Mauboy promotion: ‘We are loving this track in the DG office…make sure you check out the ‘Get ’Em Girls’ video clip…’ Yeah, check it out and see young Jess writhing up against Snoop Dogg.
Making invitations, wordsearch, six pages of DIY clothes and accessories, two pages of art work, and two pages of healthy eating are the only break from the celeb parade (13 out of 83 pages).
Cyber safety experts would be disturbed by this comment in ‘What does your bedroom say about you?’ In question 7, one of the multiple choice options is: ‘Your computer – you’re always emailing friends and blogging’. No computers in bedrooms! Come on DG eds, this is cyber safety 101. You are undermining the efforts of those concerned about on-line child safety to get computers out of bedrooms.
Celebs, gossip, products, entertainment, the usual line-up.
One page costume making, one page craft, an interview with 16-year-old Matilda’s defender, interview with a ballet teacher, facts about the human body, 10 pages of quizzes and an activity book – which opens with facts about Katy Perry and a poster of her taken from California Gurls (in which she’s naked in clouds). There’s no escaping…
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