I just wanted to say what a profound effect you have had on me today(June 23 2014). I attended both your Keynote and group sessions. I have been involved in welfare for all of my teaching life from the East End of London to an Independent School in north west Sydney. As a deputy I struggle more and more with the sexualisation of girls and the complexity of getting the message across.
I intend to return in term three with a renewed determination to build the voice and the rights of our girls and deliver a consistent message to the boys that the values of respect and understanding are not lost. I have two boys 29 and 27 and I hope and pray that they build positive relationships with their partners through my values. You were simply awesome. - James Webb – Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School – Arndell Anglican College
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 School
I hesitantly went to Melinda’s talk about Children being sexualised in the media thinking it was going to be a sensationalist attempt to make me feel bad as a parent. During her introduction I realised it was the best 50 steps I took from the car to the auditorium and 90 minutes later, I had quantifiable evidence and authentic strategies to help educate my children against the normalisation of women and girls as sexual objects in the media. 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 at Pembroke School
Melinda recently spoke to staff, students and parents at Firbank Grammar. Feedback was extremely positive. It was one of the most successful parent evenings organized in the school community with many parents being encouraged by their daughters to attend the parent function. Melinda’s passion and level of commitment is exemplary. - Jenny Vincent Green – Director of Students Services – Firbank Grammar School, Melbourne
Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school. Her confronting, yet powerful message about the sexualisation of girls in the media is one that we all must hear and respond to. Melinda is an outstanding presenter who is passionate about her message. She has opened the minds of students, staff and parents at Turramurra High to the toxic culture that the media creates in our society. I would highly recommend Melinda to any school or community organisation who cares for their kids and for their future. -Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
Melinda Tankard Reist is not just a passionate and articulate crusader against the commercial sexualisation of children and the sexual exploitation of women, she is also an intelligent, charismatic presenter with a fabulous sense of humour. This brilliant and fearless woman has single-handedly set out to stem what she sees as the polluted tide of a pornified society. I could not recommend her more highly as a speaker to schools, community groups or at conferences – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
BA (Hons) MA, PhD MAPS Cert Child Internet Safety (UCLAN) Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist, Chair, National Centre Against Bullying – Cybersafety Committee, Official Psychologist, Girlfriend Magazine, Pacific Publications Columnist, New Idea, Pacific Publications Parenting Expert, Sunrise, Morning Show, Seven Network.
Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant! She spoke with such insight about issues concerning the sexualisation of young girls and women and the dangerous acceptance we have of this in our culture through over-exposure in the media. She mentioned that young girls are feeling increasingly dissatisfied with themselves as they are made to believe they’re not normal if they don’t conform to the false images they’re presented with. The consequences of this can be far-reaching and can trigger eating disorders, self-harm and even suicide.
She also spoke about the impact graphic sexual and violent imagery has upon individuals and that these images are ultimately selling the idea to men that women are subservient and only worthy for sexual purposes. The result of this is that teenage girls often feel pressured to perform sexual acts by their male peers. Melinda exposed girls to a lot of images from various popular culture sources, photographs, ads and magazine excerpts and this really got them thinking and caught their attention. Although her talk contained disturbing ideas about the extent the media unethically shapes values, she left the girls feeling positive and empowered as she spoke about the power of saying “No!” and that they can make a difference by making better choices. She also gave them the option to join her group of advocates responsible for ensuring ads or products are withdrawn from public viewing: “Collective Shout”. This group has successfully campaigned for the removal of a lot of unethical ads and products. Thanks so much to the Pastoral Care teams for organising this extremely relevant and powerful presentation – Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda spoke to our girls in November of 2011 as a part of our ‘gender day’
and she was absolutely inspiring. Not only did she enlighten them to the toxic sexualisation of women and girls in today’s society, she gave them positive, affirming messages about how this can be resisted. Every girl was engaged for the entire presentation and, since then, I have even heard them talking about Melinda in the playground! It is so exciting to know that there is someone who is able to get such an important message across to young women. I warmly recommend Melinda to all schools.” – Rena Hatzi, Menai High School
“I want to put on the record my recognition of some of the incredible heavy lifting that has been undertaken by Melinda Tankard Reist to bring this debate [on sexualisation of girls] to the public.
She has been writing on this issue for some years. In the last little while she has really increased the profile of the issue in the mainstream media.
This is no longer an issue that is sitting around on the edges of conversation; it is coming right to the heart of our talk about images and the mental health aspects of what images construct, convey and destroy in our own community at this time.
Congratulations to Melinda Tankard Reist for her work in that area” –Ms Deb O’Neill, MP, Member for Robertson, Hansard, February 13, 2012
“You continue to reset my shock meter”–Steve Biddulph
“Melinda Tankard Reist was an invited speaker at Paediatric Grand Rounds at The Canberra Hospital – a medical education forum for the various health professions with the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health. Her presentation was titled “The effects of popular culture on girls and young women“.
Melinda crystallises the confronting reality of popular culture and its role in distorting our collective social conscience. Her presentation provided an enormous amount of insight into some of the factors that have contributed to the many psychosocial issues that many of our paediatric and adolescent patients, and the health system as a whole, struggle to cope with. She is charismatic, dynamic, and has an ability communicate the exceptionally important message about the complicity of every member of society – not just the media – in promoting values that are confuse and hurt our young people.
Her talk was very well received by all who attended and remains one of the highlights of the Paediatric Grand Rounds calendar to date.” – Dr Tony Huynh FRACP, Staff Specialist Paediatric Endocrinologist, Chairman Paediatric Grand Rounds – The Canberra Hospital
“There is a growing recognition that are we are in the midst of cultural crisis. Melinda has chosen to become a front line fighter in a culture war whose outcome will be fundamentally influenced by the way that we choose to treat our women and children. Melinda unleashes the sociological napalm we need to both illuminate the strategies used by commerce and the media and then ignite our collective will to action. Her work is at the cutting edge of this necessary counter attack: she is a force to be reckoned with.” – Dr Ramesh Manocha, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney
“Melinda Tankard Reist spoke to a gathering of over 2000 people at the PLC Sydney Speech Day at the Sydney Opera House on December 1st 2009. Melinda is a well-known writer, commentator and advocate for women’s causes, both within Australia and around the world. She is a speaker who brings illumination, passion and conviction to her subject, especially when she touches on such important issues as the growing sexualisation of girls and objectification of women. Melinda brings hard, evidence-based research to the topics on which she speaks, which gives her presentations a strong air of authority and credibility. She was able to engage an audience across a broad range of ages, from eight year olds to persons in their senior years. She is an impressive advocate and was the catalyst for ongoing discussion within the College.” – Peter Hastie, PLC Sydney & Armidale
“Melinda Tankard Reist did not disappoint as a Guest Speaker: on the contrary, she was inspirational. She spoke with great knowledge, understanding and passion about young women and their situation in Australia today. She highlighted both the tremendous opportunities now open to women which were not so, one hundred years ago, as well as pointing to the many pitfalls which a young woman encounters in her quest to be “all she can be”. This latter phrase is the tag line of The Glennie School and Melinda, in her speech, skilfully wove it into the fabric of her talk. The large audience found her address to be outstanding.
Melinda Tankard Reist is a strong advocate for all things which help to nurture and develop young women to be strong, confident, capable and self-assured adults. She stands against anything that would undermine the capacity of girls to reach maturity unharmed. I can recommend her without hesitation.” – Wendy Ashley-Cooper, The Glennie School
“I am very pleased to offer a reference for Melinda Tankard Reist and have no hesitation in doing so.
Melinda came to Abbotsleigh to speak at a mother daughter breakfast on Friday 14 August 2009. The audience was made up of girls from Years 7-9 and their mothers and we had well over 200 in attendance. We were pleasantly surprised at the response to both the breakfast format and the speaker and her topic. Melinda’s presentation was based on how we can help girls resist the negative messages from popular culture and recognise their true value and worth.
Using both illustrative slides and an excellent sense of humour, Melinda was able to both sensitively and succinctly deliver an (age appropriate) message that was most challenging – in a sense that it made the mothers realise how desensitised we have become to the media in all its forms. She also touched on accepted – and even expected teenage party behaviour as well as the dangers of facebook and various internet sites – about which we as parents again, scarily, knew nothing!
I could not recommend Melinda highly enough. She was warm, funny, sincere and passionate. She held the attention of the girls equally as well as the mothers – no mean feat, as I am sure you are aware! As part of the ticket price of our breakfast, we included a copy of Faking It – the research paper presented in magazine format to each mother/daughter pair.
The breakfast was so successful, we will be inviting Melinda back again. We had a number of mothers who wanted their older daughters to hear the message as well.
The feedback we had from mothers was overwhelmingly positive. Not only were their eyes opened to what is before our daughters on a daily basis, they were given tools to begin to combat the negativity. They were also grateful to be given access to a resource such as Melinda and saw Abbotsleigh as being proactive in promoting this important issue.” – Alexandra Norton, Abbotsleigh
“Melinda spoke to our parent body earlier this year (2009). Her subject matter was well researched and interesting and appropriate for an adult audience. She is a dynamic and capable speaker. She is very intelligent and inspiring.”– Glenda Stevens, St Catherine’s School Waverley NSW
“Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, a million times over, for your website.
I’m a seventeen year-old student, and the way women and girls are objectified in every single mass media format that I can think of repulses me. I’m doing a oral presentation on the issue for an year 12 English SAC, and I borrowed the ‘Getting Real’ book from my library. Your introduction has proven an invaluable source of information, opinion, and resources for me.
The objectification of women in the media is an issue that I am incredibly passionate about, and I cannot tell you how amazing it was to pick up ‘Getting Real’. It opened my eyes even more to things that I hadn’t considered, and just abhorred on face value – for example, the impact of pornography, and the way in which Kellie Crawford felt the need to prove her femininity, when the Wiggles do not. Your website continues to provide more and more resources, and as I read each article, I get more and more worked up (and consequently, more and more passionate). Believe me when I say, I will me recommending it to my friends (who I think are getting sick of my constant ranting).
You are truly an inspiration, and I thank you again.” – Clare
Just wanted to thank you for the speech that you delivered at the Social Justice Day at All Saints College in Casula. As Vice Captain of St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove, I was asked to attend and I expected the day to be the usual preaching and awareness about the issues in our society. However, your workshop was a highlight and I was glad to see that practical action is being taken to stop the issue of women sexploitation. While many of these motivational speeches sometimes don’t have much impact on teenage audiences; after speaking to other students, I could tell your speech really made an impact, and that even though we are already exposed to so much of these media portrayals of women, we were shocked by some of the ways that companies were trying to sell their brand. After just visiting the Collective Shout website, I am still disgusted at how women are continually portrayed as objects for men, and how society finds this acceptable, and I can see how serious this issue actually is. Thank you for raising this awareness and I aim to find a way to also raise this awareness in my own school and social communities. Thank you once again.” – Rita Mikhael
“In my opinion, I would love to see many more real examples of ‘empowered’ women; women who have seen a great beauty within themselves and are not frightened of it, women who are proud of their achievements in education, careers, community and life choices, women who look into themselves to feel good, women who may be afraid to attempt but do it anyway, who are not too proud to learn from failures (theirs or someone else’s). There’s a Marie Bashir and a Melinda Tankard Reist within all of us” – Paola Yevenes
“I want to thank you because you have given me a voice. Until I discovered your blog and your facebook page, I had no idea there were so many people in the same position as me. I just went about my daily life thinking I was some kind of freak who was disturbed by this porn trend. I thought it was me who had the problem. Your blog and Facebook page have allowed me to gain a lot of insight into women’s and children’s issues, far beyond what I ever knew before. Thanks again, so much for your support. It’s great to know that I have people on my side” – Nicole
“I think you are amazing. Your blog is so insightful and validating. It’s a wonderful help in my life. I’m sick of hearing “it’s just the way things are” and I need to accept it. Coming across your blog was reassurance that it’s not “just the way things are”; female oppression is socially constructed, and while there is deep sadness and frustration in that realisation, there is also the possibility of change through the fight for equality. I bought your book and I loved it. You’ve also helped me interpret daily events with less ambiguity. You’ve helped me navigate my world and empowered me to protest when I come face to face with oppression in whatever form” - Victoria, psychology student, Sydney
“Your work and courage and level-headedness are so admirable and inspirational to me. We don’t know each other, yet I feel somehow that you’ve got my back when I feel steam-rolled for my opinions in my own little world, I visit your page and find restoration of hope and courage” – Kim, Virginia, US
My husband introduced me to your online contributions on the sexual objectification of women and girls which I have been very interested in. He recently bought me ‘Big Porn Inc’ which I just finished a minute ago. Prior to reading the book, I thought I was fairly well educated on the issue (as a feminist who has been passionate about seeing equality between women and men for years) but your book painted a vivid picture of how harmful the porn industry is in fuelling harmful behaviour and attitudes against women (and other sex related industries) in ways I never knew. I often de-briefed with my husband (who respects women) after a reading session (sometimes feeling hopeless about the issue), and said I hoped there were some action points for readers at the end of the book. I’m so glad you included the final chapter including websites to change the damaging porn culture.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. -Rachel Attard
Melinda came to my school today (June 2014) and really empowered me and all the other girls I spoke to about it. My Mum has always taught me to not let boys treat me unfairly and to respect myself as well as others and I’ve grown up with really passionate feminist beliefs regarding a lot of the stuff Melinda spoke about today.
I’ve always wanted to do something to help young girls affected by being mistreated by men and who have developed mental illness because of the pressures society puts on us but I wasn’t really too sure how I could do that. But today I was shown that there is a career path I can follow to do that and to stand up for what I believe in.
I hope that when I am older I can join and organisation like Collective Shout so I can do what you brave amazing women do. So thank you for showing me that. All the girls at my school were inspired by what Melinda said and we are all really grateful we had the chance to listen to someone who could help us find our voice and stand up to the standards we are being told to bow down to.
I am especially grateful to Melinda because she has now shown me that there is a way that I too can make a difference in something I’m really proud of all throughout my life so thank you very much. - Maharny Driver, 14, WA