Today a good friend of mine ripped out the article from her local Inner West newspaper and sent it to me. It echoes an article I shared last night on social media, about the fact that Wicked Campers is seeking council approval to open a depot on Church Street in St Peters, Sydney. This will mean that, being near a primary school, children will regularly see some of the more unsavoury and insensitive slogans that Wicked Campers pride themselves on. Local parents aren’t happy; well the mums taking a stand in the picture definitely aren’t.

 

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Eight moths ago, when I ran the campaign asking Wicked Campers to remove misogynistic and degrading slogans, there was outrage – OUTRAGE, I say – coursing through the Internet like hot lava. It spurred a little bit of hateful debate but for the most part, a sense of solidarity prevailed from both sexes; agreeing that Wicked Campers has some pretty offensive and degrading slogans driving around our public spaces. So much so, The Senate unanimously voted to condemn them and Wicked Campers themselves promised they would remove ‘insensitive slogans’. Their word; insensitive.

So with ALL that – where are we today?
Despite having broken their promise, showing their complete contempt, Wicked Campers are business as usual; having franchises throughout the world and will (possibly) soon be getting cozy with one of the Inner West’s communities of Sydney. Many have asked me how these things are possible and it reminded me of a quote form the film V for Vendetta:

‘How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.’ V

All I can say is; The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept.

This Wicked crusade has been a fascinating, albeit depressing, social experiment in my eyes. July 2014? Fury and lividity. Fast forward six months, when I wrote of their contempt and loss of integrity – all I heard, was the sound of crickets. Few shared the update and when I contacted some of the news people who originally reported on this important ‘hot’ issue with fervour and expressed their equal indignation, I received a tepid response; with some referring it on to others, who never called me back. No stories were run. As a collective, Australia went on as a bystander again.

I don’t get it. Was all of that bravado over the exact slogan my daughter saw? Because there are terrible ones that are still out there, right now. I’ve recently updated the last post with recent sightings from around Australia – sometimes seeing the same van at different corners of the country. Appalling vans, like the following, and more:

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Question#224: Is this the standard we want to teach? 

And as for the absence of male voices and faces in the fight against all this; I believe that as a society – and more importantly, as a culture – we are not only teaching our youth that perspectives like these have our permission to advertise themselves, we are also teaching our youth that because males aren’t standing on an equally visible, vocal platform – it makes it doubly OK. 

When it comes to battles asking for a little more humanity, women hold the front line. Without resorting to blood-shed, women put them selves ‘out there’ none the less; feeling fear and vulnerability, and risk crossing paths with threatening and violent Internet trolls. Due to this campaign, I received two violent messages from the same person (amongst others) and had a Wanted style poster made of me – falsely identifying where I lived. Imagine if he had been right.
The irony? He published under an alias. Coward. (I know his real name, though.)
Neither Facebook nor the Police did anything. And here I was naively thinking it was against the law to threaten someone. With proof, no less.

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Lastly, noone – especially the women who publicly question – actually wants any of this. I put up an update because I thought people would want to be informed; you know, considering that initial reaction. But I’m tired. I’m tired of the walls and the apathy. I’m tired of feeling helpless because problems like this can’t be solved with just the ideas of a few – it needs people power to make change occur. And people power is simply doing something. Anything. Regardless of who one is or what position one holds. This includes John Webb, owner of Wicked Campers. (It’s never too late, John).

And to be clear – this is not about burning this business to the ground nor using threats or violence – it is about finding a solution to the problem, and that problem is that certain slogans need to come down.

Question #225: So what can YOU do? 

Write, call, gather, talk – whatever.
Down to earth blogger and all-round amazing human, Eden Riley, was active and did it her way; numerous people have written to me, telling me they have contacted camp sites to enquire about their policy regarding Wicked vans – some sites don’t let the vans in, if they have offensive slogans. Let backpackers know this. Others have written to their political reps.
And today I applaud the women who are going to tackle the fight at St Peters. I’m with you wholeheartedly.

[Insert own action]

Deep Breath.

Paula

For those who aren’t Aussie, ‘Cooee’ is a loud call which is used when one is lost – generally in The Bush; nature – or to attract attention. I’m using the latter.

I’m calling for reinforcements. A call to arms.

I’m calling on writers, politicians, people who know of Internet law – anyone – YOU ! – to have an intelligent discussion – to see if anything can be done.

I wholeheartedly believe that one of the biggest problems we face today, lies in two areas:
1. The ‘Freedom of Speech’ argument that seemingly has no limits whatsoever
2. The big companies that give hateful and violent perspectives a platform from where to spread their hatred. Like YouTube.

An abhorrent action happened a few weeks ago and it has been missed in the general conversation. Those who read my last post will know what I’m discussing here – the latest Redfoo song, and accompanying video, Literally, I can’t.

My first reaction was to ride the same wave for obvious reasons – its depiction of females to ‘toe the line’ and do as they’re told, i.e. drink, perform girl-on-girl action, dance (twerk), or be told to ‘Shut the Fuck Up’ repeatedly – and was something that incited a loud outcry; including my own.

I won’t write any more, as I have already expressed my thoughts about it and it has been covered extensively in social media.

But something even more sinister occurs within the video which, in my mind, encompasses everything that is wrong with pop culture today. Product placement has now become rampant in recent big name videos (a complete, greedy cop-out) and Redfoo’s video is no exception.

However, instead of merely advertising a set of speakers, Redfoo advertises a porn site.

So, we have a 39 year old ‘mentor’ on X Factor Australia, loved by many – especially kids and teens – advertising this porn site in his video, a video which ALSO (funnily enough) tells females to ‘shut the fuck up’ for not complying to their misogynistic ideals.

Question #216: Is this OK with you??

Well, it’s not for me and I started a petition to YouTube a few weeks ago:

>>> Here <<<

As I said above, this is not about Freedom of Speech because I am not saying Redfoo can’t make the song and video, I’m not even saying he can’t publish his song and video – what we have to stand up to are the companies like YouTube who give them a platform to spread their dangerous perspectives – like ADVERTISING PORN – regardless of their Community Standards. Facebook falls deeply into this category too.

Today, another example.
I viewed a YouTube video that is linked in a petition (which has since been won) – written by three survivors of male violence – to ‘family’ store, Target Australia, (which is advertising the R Rated 18+ video game, Grand Theft Auto 5, in their brochure for Christmas next to Peppa Pig) to take the product down.
Regardless of this rating, kids in Primary School often engage in talk about the prices for sex and blow jobs within the game because they play it; I hear this from first-hand accounts from various schools. I also know of a family whose 8 year old son had a lap dance performed on him, playing this ‘game’, witnessed by his 12 year old brother.

On offer with this version of the ‘game’, one can have ‘first person’ sex with prostitutes – and then kill them horrifically afterwards, if it pleases one.

(*TRIGGER WARNING* with this video. It is quite disturbing.)

If you don’t want to watch, I will tell you that there is a commentator going through this particular part of the game he’s playing and tells us that we’re going to see ‘Michael’ have sex. Some quotes from the commentary include:
“Michael is a married man but hey, a man has his needs”
“We are getting all three services from the prostitute. I don’t know her name, who cares what her name is, she has a job to do.”
The commentator then goes quiet as we watch – from a first person perspective – the sexual services performed. She – of course – acts like it’s the best sex she’s ever had in a car, in an alley, and even says to him in the end – “I feel like I can really talk to you, come back and see me?”
Finally the commentator says, as the prostitute walks off:
“Now in classic GTA 5 style – you can’t let her get away with your money, so we’re going to go ahead and back this bad-boy up” referring to his car as he runs her over twice – then sets her on fire, listening to her screams and finally shoots her with an automatic weapon. You may also choose a number of weapons to kill her with, including an axe.

My reason for this post is simple – just these two examples are proven to be embedded in too many young children’s social and pop-world lives – and they are on YouTube.
If the images and issues I’ve included here are shocking to you – then don’t you think something has to be done?

This is becoming the foundation of who we are as the human race because they’re the lessons that are truly getting through to our developing minds.

Why do companies like YouTube have Community Standards in the first place, if they’re not upheld? What’s the point of them?

It’s all slipping through the cracks and many kids in Primary and High School are being well and truly desensitised to the depravity they’re watching. These children will one day want to shape relationships and simply won’t know how because it’s been modelled for them in this toxic manner that surrounds them; it’s the common narrative.

Please sign my petition to YouTube. Maybe this isn’t the answer, but simply the start where we ask companies to have our back first and we’ll have theirs.

Question #217: Do you have any other suggestions on how we can have companies stand by their own standards?
[also MASSIVELY; Facebook]

Deep Breath…

COOO-EEEEE !!

>> Sign Petition to YouTube Here <<

Facebook is evil

June 2, 2014

*** Warning – pornographic images from Facebook are used in this post.

I know – we all know – that Facebook is evil, but I feel a line has been crossed with their ‘Community Standards’ practices and I’ve just about had a gut-full.

Before one starts typing the tired, clichéd counter argument of, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t use it’, let me just say that:

1) I think Facebook is a fantastic tool for staying connected with loved ones (esp overseas) and equally awesome for things like blogs, businesses etc.

2) if I were to stop using it, myself and many other amazing warriors out there, would not be there to fight (ultimately) for the rest because ignorance, naivety or turning away never changed anything…. although I’m starting to think we should just about roll over on just about everything because nothing changes; in fact things are actually being made more difficult to fight and I have grown weary.

I am livid with Facebook.
Last week I (along with so many others) continually sent complaints about the Elliot Rodger is an American hero page, petitioning it be taken down every time it popped up….over and over. Every single time I was told it was dandy for general viewing – as the screenshot below shows. Eventually, with so much pressure, Facebook took down all the pages glorifying Elliot Rodgers – and finally informed me that it was taken down.

But this begs the question: So why were all the other protests rejected to start with?

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.06.47 pm   One of Facebook’s suggestions is that one can complain about a particular photo or post, rather than the whole page. OK, I thought, I’ll try that. As you can see above, I reported posts, such as the following, for hate speech:

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Facebook thought it wasn’t hate speech against gender. It’s dandy for general viewing.

Last night I stumbled across an ad for…well, let’s see if you can guess. What do you think this is for?

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Coffee. It’s for coffee.

I complained about the above image and the following one (for nudity or pornography); one which degrades a woman to the floor of a toilet cubicle, to give a male ‘head’ and couples it with a disgusting tag line:

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You guessed it. Dandy.

There are more images like these on the page – sexualising and objectifying females on different levels.

Funnily enough, the only photo using a male with a sexually implied text, is this:

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An ordinary man – who is showing his face; an honour the sexualised females aren’t afforded as they’re merely objects – doing something stupid. And is that a coy arm covering himself up a bit?

The thing is: females don’t rape males for being represented as stupid; in the way males rape females for being represented as hyper-sexualised.

Question #207: Can people not see the danger in this sort of ‘advertising’ about women?

Yes, it’s just one ad. But there a millions – billions – of images like the females above; shaping our psyche.

So why does the world then reel in shock when atrocities happen? I mean, REALLY? We are smack bang in the middle of an insidious culture which now confidently drives forward this misogyny and females are ultimately paying the price.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Complain.

Write on this corrupt Perth coffee brand’s Facebook page here (or any other Facebook page promoting misogyny)

Write to the Advertising Standards Board here as the above images are ads for coffee.

Now, what about Facebook?

Facebook is dictating what pornography is and according to them, the above isn’t. I decided to look at the wording of their ‘standards’ and we’re ultimately screwed:

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Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content.

So a woman with her had on her clitoris, between her spread legs, in heels, on a bed, with bare breasts (except for little boxes with the brand name covering the nipples) with a head seductively thrown back with the word ‘Ecstasy’, is not pornographic?

Well what is?

The worst part is that Facebook has taken away the chance, one used to have, to write a response to their ruling. Now they just say no and that’s that.

I feel that that is so very wrong.

Question #208: Can anything legal be done about this?

I’m shouting out to any ‘legal eagles’ because with every fibre in my being, I feel this needs action and we have to start somewhere.

Otherwise how?

If you have complained about a page or a post/photo on Facebook and have been knocked back – keep a screenshot of the page or copy the photo. I think we need to start collecting evidence.

Deep Breath.

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In the play, Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, a corrupt character named Peachum starts his first stint on stage by looking directly at the audience and declaring the lines:

“Awake, you sinners, awake!”

That’s aimed at us – Society – one that ‘sins’ through its compliant silence.

Brecht was a political playwright who wanted people to watch his theatre with intellect and reason, and not be deceived by the lure and grip of emotion.
Ultimately, he wanted people to leave the theatre with a sense of recognising the ludicrous injustices (still) going on in the world and DO something – to leave the theatre:

AWAKE!

Question #193: What does it take to stir the depths of society’s moral and ethical compass?

Last night was the first game – here in Australia – of the US inspired, Lingerie Football League. This is an issue I have fiercely argued about in the past.

It is with continued disbelief that, in 2013, we actually have these poor women – desperate for ANY sort of respectful attention toward their sporting and physical prowess – play with (essentially) virtually exposed breasts.
The image below is from the US league.

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I shudder to imagine the soreness and pain their breasts must feel, if that’s what they run in (no support) and smash into each other with.

 

Nope. Shaking my head. Gobsmacked.

 

AWAKE!

 

Women’s sport is virtually ignored.
Our screens are a deluge of men’s sport, 90% male commentary and male worship.

 

In David Penberthy’s article – Lingerie League an Insult to Sport and Channel 7 – he writes:

 

“It is pretty weird that at a time when our cricketers couldn’t buy a win, and were making headlines instead for being sent home after refusing to do their homework or decking a Pommy batsman in the small hours at an English pub, our women cricketers were quietly going about the business of becoming world champions, again.
Couldn’t name one of them.”

 

That’s the crux.
We don’t see women’s sport…unless they’re in their underwear?
Sexism. Pure sexism.

 

Last night the Lingerie Football League claimed two victims.

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Victim #1: Tahina Booth (pictured above), was taken away by ambulance due to injury.
One person on Twitter said she appeared in agony for a while before the ambulance arrived.

The following was Tahina’s response to a question from Andrew Webster from the Sydney Morning Herald:

There are a lot of critics of this sport. I have my own doubts. What would you say to them?
“I understand. I have a complex with the uniform. I don’t like it, and it’s not practical. But when you look at it, there are masses of people coming to watch … they realise it’s not for fun and these girls aren’t taking it lightly. A lot of feminists have told me I’m a disgrace. I tell them that I’m doing this for an opportunity. I
work so hard, it’s cost me so much money. I just want to be the best I can be.” *

How sad that here in Australia, women athletes like Tahina are simply not respected. That her ‘opportunity’ can only come from a form of undress.
 This is sexism at its purest.

The LFL responded today about her ‘injury’, stating she was merely dehydrated.
I sincerely hope that’s all it was.

Victim #2: Randy Perret – father to one of the players – wrote the following apology to Collective Shout, when his daughter was deemed ‘too fat’ to play, ON GAME DAY:

“I wish to apologise for the comments have posted lately regarding the LFL in Australia. i have known of Mitchell Mortaza and his reputation within the States but thought that maybe with a fresh start in Australia he may change his ways. Wrong. My 18 year old daughter has been told that she has to “lean out” to wear the uniform. That’s right. 
So yes LFL is all about how the girls look not how well they play the game. So now I have my 18 year old daughter down in NSW, shattered emotionally because at the last minute she has been told that she is too ‘fat’ to play his game. Send me any petitions you like and will gladly sign them. Also please forward any contacts as I wish to fight this all the way. 
We can not have our young girls thinking that you need to be skinny to play any sport in this country.”

She had already spent money on getting the prerequisite spray tan before the game.
Spray tan. Any Australian male footballers putting on their obligatory spray tan before a game?

No – the female athletes of Australia are not being respected. In this case, they are (mundanely) being exploited for their physical appearance. The fact that the audience is predominantly there for titillation through accidental nudity (something in the girls’ clause to play), is a truly sad indictment of our current paradigm.

Awake.

Deep Breath.

x

* Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/shane-watson-knows-tons-talk-as-hostilities-resume-20131205-2ytyv.html#ixzz2mrtjMou9

Here in Australia we have a t-shirt company named Nena & Pasadena.

The t-shirts they sell show degrading images of women – generally with their faces cut out of the image so that their value only lies in their breasts, buttocks and the all-important pose.

Example:

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You get the idea.

A few months ago, this company started an all-ages ’Casting Call’ on Instagram #npcasting – calling out for men and women (boys and girls) to post photos of themselves, to then be judged by a group of privileged lads – deeming them the ‘hottest’.

To the truly tiresome argument that men are objectifying themselves too, I reply with the obvious – it’s not the same. Men have their shirts off, flexing chest muscles. Strength. That’s it. They’re not sexually posing with their legs spread or bending over with their butts in a g-string (thong).

Simply – the males are not vulnerable. And that’s the glaring difference.

There is also the fact that there are far more females posting up their ‘selfies’.
I’m sure you don’t need to go over to the site to verify you’ll see predominantly women and teen girls in hyper-sexualised, or sexy-kitten, or innocent-young-girl-ready-to-be-deflowered etc., looks and poses.

I took the following images off the actual competition page:

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So here is my perspective on this pandemic:

Yes, women are doing it.
But WHY?

This is not empowerment.

And there’s a very simple reason for it – it’s done for validation from a vulnerable position, not one of power. Once someone seeks validation, they are in a submissive position to the person they’re awaiting judgement from.

Period.
And this obviously gives the ‘judge’ ultimate power and places them in a dominant position.

This is not what we want for our girls and we don’t want our sons to see and judge girls and women this way. And yet…

What we also seem to forget – but shouldn’t – is how these girls and women will be spoken about.
It won’t be about their sunny disposition, it will be crass, degrading, demeaning and more – calling them bitches, sluts, whores, gangas (girls who like gang rape; a term used by teens) and so on.

We know that.

Question #190: So, why do we continue to act so blind and ‘unaware’ of the effect this is having on our psyche?

  • That women are being collectively objectified and seen as submissive (by BOTH sexes), in everyday life;
  • That our youth’s perspective on gender is becoming alarmingly skewed and toxic;
  • That there is no equal modelling on what healthy and loving relationships look like.

All of this is for the male gaze – one that’s becoming insatiable.

As a tiny example, this ‘casting call’ is evidence of that.

Why does Nena & Pasadena need to incite this behaviour?
It’s a win/win for them – they get the benefit of seeing to what levels women will go to be validated in this way and get wonderful material for men everywhere (including predators) to masturbate over.

Simple truth.

Sadly the images are posted up by a large contingent of girls and women who have been brainwashed to think their value lies only in the collective sum of their body features; although the differentiation in their ‘hottness’ is miniscule – they all look the same. The fact that women’s faces are absent (like on many N & P t-shirts) just confirms this.

Why doesn’t that annoy women enough to stick two big fingers up at it all?

These t-shirts are just a cog in the machine; the machine that includes porn magazines in newsagencies and petrol stations all the way through to the infinite collection of violent and degrading porn on the Internet.

I recently featured in the article  Too much, too soon –  in the Sydney Morning Herald magazine, Sunday Life. This is a succinct and illuminating piece by Melissa Jacob, about the toxic relationship our kids are having with Internet porn.

This is an emergency.

These women are the supply; Men are the demand.

And we all know that when demand is strong – and supply is waning – extreme measures, like trafficking, are taken to keep the demand happy. That road leads to a desensitised world – one that will stoop to anything, while the rest turn a blind eye.

Are we there yet?

Deep Breath…and make a stand!!

x

PS Want to take action?
1. Nena & Pasadena is owned by AFL player Buddy Franklin (who joined the Sydney Swans in 2014). The AFL has a policy regarding respect for women that this ‘business’ does not comply with. You can write to the AFL or the Sydney Swans and let them know your thoughts – especially from you good males.

2. With some friends and the gals from Collective Shout, we’ve been posting our own memes on the competition page.
Why not do your own? It’s as easy as writing a sign, taking a photo of it and posting it on #npcasting on Instagram.

I put up the following one:

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and this one:

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GO FOR IT!!

Respect #2

April 26, 2013

I stumbled upon this video. A girl auditioning on one of the X Factor shows late last year.

In light of what I discussed in my previous post, I thought I’d share it.

I feel that the girl in this clip does not show respect for the male judges or male audience members, least of all for herself.

This girl – and many like her – never deserve to be attacked, raped or anything of the such. Absolutely not. Ever.

Let’s say she were raped after this performance (due to the outfit / blonde hair/ fake tan / is a woman / WHATEVER!), I would be the person shouting loudest, that what she suffered was a crime and a violation of her personal rights.

I need to make that point perfectly clear.

But when looking at the issue of respect,  isn’t she disrespecting men by treating them as the mindless creatures I described in my previous post?
“The men will vote for me, because I’ll give them what they want.”

On the same note, she is also disrespecting women, by demonstrating the notion that there is no way to succeed without hyper-sexualising oneself.

What say you?

Deep Breath

x

respect

On Friday, the last day of term, my colleague and I ran a workshop with our Yr 10 and 11 girl students (aged 15-17 yrs old). We looked at the objectification of girls and women through the media and ran lots of workshops to help them navigate through the tripe they’re being fed, looked at what is beautiful (them – exactly as they are) and how to be a voice in this saturating, hyper-sexualised society.

The boys, of the same year groups, were in a separate location,  journeying through the harms of pornography and participating in workshops to help them with all the issues they face as young men. They are also being fed false ideals about what it’s like to be a ‘real man’ and are also in strife. The wonderful feedback I got from this workshop is that the boys drew up a contract, their words, as to how they were going to treat women and they all signed it.

Fantastic.

The dynamic psychologist and teacher, Collett Smart of FamilySmart (and who was one of the original board members of Collective Shout) came to talk to both the boys and the girls together. She reinforced a lot of what we had covered up until lunch…and more.

It was such an inspiring day, that I’m still a little giddy from how good it felt to run a part of it.

I was up first and for an hour or so I covered what the girls are being sold by the media – more importantly, how they’re being represented and whether they were happy with it. My aim was to incite discussion and reinforce some Media Literacy with them.

To start off with, I asked them what characteristics we had that made us women. Two interesting things came out of this.
1. The first few characteristics were physical – boobs, curvy, vagina.
2. When I steered them towards non-physical, they came up with some beautiful ones, like compassionate and strong – but I was the one who wrote up intelligent (with lots of arrows pointing towards it).

From this point I launched in to a visual smorgasbord of examples of how women are represented in the media today. Basically one way – hyper-sexualised and objectified.

But it’s not just about ads, shows, movies etc – it’s also important to discuss the effect and consequences of a saturated paradigm, like our current one.

Objectification is the issue. What the girls needed to understand is that once you are seen as an object, anything can be done to you without remorse.
It’s a complete disconnect and is why the argument, “That could have been your sister” (for example) doesn’t work. Their sister is their sister, whom they love. An object is an object.

As Collett later told them (and the boys) – the Porn Industry now has to compete with the Porn Culture of our media. The images looked at in the dirty magazines of yesteryear, are now on billboards selling sunglasses/jeans etc.
So in order to keep their addicted masses, mainstream porn has to be bigger and far more violent. Women’s bodies are the commodity; bodies which only last between three to six months, before they’re tossed aside. Broken.

I showed the girls the following clip from Canada which covers a lot of what I wanted to discuss:

Notice how ludicrous it is to have the men portrayed that way?
We can’t do anything else but laugh about it because it’s not a reality for them – although they do have their own fair share of issues.

We watched the following Lynx ad by Unilever, being discussed in the States. The reason I showed this clip is because there is one female panelist in a studio full of men. Watch their reactions (nothing surprising).

What’s interesting here is mainly the woman’s take on it. It seems like everyone agrees – if it makes money it’s OK.
And the men’s reactions? Well, nothing out of the ordinary. Does that mean that we are also desensitised – seeing ‘boys just being boys’?

This led me to discuss the  Porn Culture which surrounds us and how that’s become the ‘fashion’ now. I showed them more clips and what it means to them. I discussed this concept in my penultimate post: The fine line. A chat with teens.

I could have talked about this FOREVER, but time was short. I finished with the trailer for Missrepresentation – the wonderful documentary I hosted a screening of last year – which perfectly encapsulates the serious issue of our gender’s representation in the media.

My colleague then tackled, What is Beautiful?
We looked at photoshopped images and got the girls to do an activity, where they put stickers on each others’ backs with positive phrases about their characteristics.
They loved it.

We talked in groups about some possible party scenarios, looked at sexuality and relationships and finally encouraged them to be a voice – to call out injustices and be a sisterhood to each other.

After lunch the boys and girls came together to listen to Collett Smart.

She discussed issues such as the truly damaging effects of child pageants on young girls (affirming from a very tender age that the only validation a girl can have is through her looks) through to hearing the tragic story of a teen girl who survived a rape.

She reaffirmed many of the issues we had discussed with the girls earlier in the day, which gave those messages more strength – Yay!
But there was one important point that Collett made, that stayed with me – it resonated:

She said the path toward a better social existence between girls and boys; women and men – is mutual respect. There seems to be a huge portion of the responsibility laid on boys and men to respect women, but women and girls also need to respect men.

Bang.

Question #155: Are women truly respecting men in this hyper-sexualised, porn culture?

It’s a tough question, but we need to step back and look at this through a balanced perspective.
Both genders play a role in perpetuating a state of existence.
Both men and women. Boys and girls.

Something to ponder.

At the end of this day, I hoped our girls left feeling a little more empowered about their whole selves – not just what they look like – and will become more united as women to cultivate that word – RESPECT – in themselves and those around them.

So it was no surprise that I actually cried a little when I saw the following messages from some of the girls, on my Questions for Women Facebook Page:

“Hey Miss,
I just want to thank you and Miss Fitzgerald for your talk today. I honestly feel so empowered to change the society we live in. I feel so much better about myself and I really want to make a difference in the world. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the world we live in. Hearing what people had to say about me in the sticker activity made me feel so good about myself. To know that people like me for something more than my looks is amazing. You are an inspiration to me and so many others. xx”

“Thanks so much ms. You really are an inspiration xxx”

“MISS ! thank you so much for today ! It really made me think twice about what i do now and the way i see my self. you are a true inspiration and we’re all so lucky and grateful to have you at our school.”

“Thanks so much for today miss! It gave us such a great message in a very fun way. It was really eye opening to many of the girls and it was really good to realise we all empowered each other as women. We love you miss!”

“We’re so lucky to be surrounded by such empowering women!”

My message to these girls was:
“May your love, intelligence, strength and compassion be what shines through and gives you true validation. That’s what makes you beautiful.
You’re all necessary and needed just the way you are. xxx”

I wish I could do this every day. My soul feels full and alive.

Deep Breath

x

sisterhood

In my Drama class recently – boys and girls aged approx. 16 – we were discussing Absurd Theatre.

This type of theatre looks at the existentialist view that we are born from nothing; live a fairly meaningless life, in the big scheme of things; attach importance to pockets of our lives (as we are ‘educated’ to do, by our surroundings) and then die – back to nothingness.

The world keeps turning. You made no real difference. It’s all quite absurd.

This is not to say that it is a life devoid of faith because with the existentialist perspective, there is also a sense of hope.

My students and I began to contemplate the issues and topics that encompass our current paradigm. I asked them to metaphorically take a giant step out of our existence and then look through the eyes of, let’s say, aliens studying human behaviour.

What would they see?
I wanted them to think rationally and not emotionally.

The issue of female representation came up – especially in terms of the fashion – and as the discussion unfolded, one girl asked what was so wrong with girls wanting to feel good through the attention they receive.

I replied, “Nothing…but…”

This is the point where it always gets tricky for me because my current opinion on what I’m seeing tears me in two opposing directions – and if it pulls me, a 43 year old woman, in this way – how in hell are these young, developing minds supposed to make heads or tails of it?

1. I believe women should wear what they want.

I was raised to believe that it’s good to show off your best assets. I have pretty good legs, for example, and I used to wear shortish skirts. I still wear skinny-type pants because they work best for my body shape. Of course, I wear pants of varying widths too – as well as skirts of different lengths.

The point is that we always dedicated a certain amount of time to creating a look that suited us and made us feel good about ourselves. Maybe it made a statement or it was simply following the fashion; no different to today, I suppose…

2. BUT when what is fashionable, emulates porn culture – we have a completely different kettle of fish.

Don’t we?

Growing up in the 80s meant there were various fads throughout the decade. I remember there was a pastel stage; a flouro one; we wore studded belts (as well as ones that wrapped around the waist twice over – flashy!); hair of different lengths and cuts; tube skirts; shoulder pads; goths; mods; punks…and the list goes on. Even in the 90s, there was grunge to add to the mix.

This is me at the dance – with boys! – aged 14. When your stunned expression lapses as to how much of a dag I was (yes, that’s a white ribbon in my hair), check out the background – pinafore dresses and a boy straight off the set of Miami Vice.

Truth is, we may have been dagga, but we thought we were SO cool. How could we not be, with such a variety of looks in one decade? 

Year 9 dance

Today, however, is quite a different story – there is only one fad: Hot ‘n Sexy and no age seems out of reach. The monumental difference today is the hypersexualised pre-teen that’s starting to flood the ‘market’.
(Sadly, one of the most used search engine terms that gets certain unsavoury and predatory people to my blog, is ‘12 year old sluts.’
Young and fresh out of Primary School – these girls are in high demand.)

I discussed the conundrum of this current fashion with the students to see if they could discern the fine line – that it’s virtually a ‘Catch-22′ situation. If, on one hand, girls wear hypersexualised outfits and allude to also behave in said manner as well, they are participating in the spread of porn culture – a culture created, predominantly, for male satisfaction. BUT at the same time, if we go around preaching to women about what they should and shouldn’t wear, it reeks of control and takes away a female’s agency to do as she pleases – the same way a man is permitted.

In other words, inequality.

This is crippling. Women – and now, very young girls – are being driven crazy with this and I can see that this paradigm, one that is so obsessed with sex and selling the female body (only) to make billions of dollars, is winning.

To wear, or not to wear – that is the question.

Question #153: Isn’t that absurd?

Deep Breath

 

I’ll be brief.

This petition has come up and it’s important you sign it. It’s to the Advertising Standards Board:

Stop Sex Industry Billboards Outside Schools

This is the billboard:

gEKeRGLIfoybclD-556x313-noPad

So – not only did someone approve this decision – placing an adult club BILLBOARD in front of a boys’ school in Brisbane – it was also complained about and the complaint was rejected.

In front of a boys’ school. Please.
As Verina Rallings wrote – it’s a type of grooming. And it is.

So I ask you:

Why do we even bother with the magic of Christmas?

Going to all that effort to create this fictitious world of wonderment…

What for?

We’re living in a world where the drive to make money has deadened our senses – opening the door to a seedy, underbelly lifestyle and normalising it.

Where did Santa go?

What happens when the belief in Santa ends – at 9 – 10 – 5 years of age?

Shall we dress our girls in denim undies (oh, sorry – ‘shorts’) and teach them how to act in a hyper-sexualised manner, for guys’ approval, with a low-cut top to boot?
How about our boys? Shall we encourage them to learn how to successfully land a bitch whose gagging for it?

If the answer for you is ‘No’, then speak up and show your indignation!
Billboards like this are powerfully promoting a representation of reality that is unbalanced.

I can’t believe we are actually allowing this subliminal coercion of our kids’ minds; rendering their ability to formulate a balanced reality, impotent.

WE have to be the stronger voice in our youth’s ears, not theirs.
Theirs is solely about making a buck…and it’s plastered all around us.

Doesn’t that infuriate you?

Well it makes me livid and disappointed at what we’re becoming.

Please sign the petition. x

Stop Sex Industry Billboards Outside Schools

Deep Breath.

Mila Kunis on Ellen

February 17, 2013

While I was sitting in an empty hospital room, waiting for my husband’s return from his surgery – I turned on the TV and I stumbled upon Ellen.

I have to say, that although I don’t really watch the show (don’t watch much TV at all), I do really like Ellen and what she does – yes, very similar to Oprah.
What I like about these women is that they spread a message of happy and that’s not a bad thing. We need more of it.

What makes Ellen different, of course, is that she is who she is and dresses comfortably – leaning towards a more masculine look – which I love.

Her female guests, however, are different. In the past, I’ve seen many (not all) come out wearing the ‘uniform’ – cascading locks of hair, over made-up faces, skimpy, barely-there outfits, very high platform shoes etc etc.

On this particular day, Mila Kunis was the announced guest and I watched with interest.

1. Mila came out looking stylish – pants and a white top. Nice.

2. Ellen’s first words to her are: “You look fantastic” and launches straight into the fact she must feel pressure now that Esquire has named her the ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ – pulling out the magazine which dons the following cover image of Mila:

Esquire-Cover-edited

After a bit of banter, Ellen says that there must have been a lot of pressure to pose for the cover of the sexiest woman alive.

Mila’s response was gobsmacking: She said,

“The only reason I did it, was so that when I’m 80, sitting in my little chair, I can say – SEE, Grandma was really hot one day!”

Ellen responded with, “That’s why you did it?”

A pocket of women in the audience started to yahoo and cheer – of course – and with that validation Mila continued, saying that she was sure her grandmother was a “sexy little thing, but there was no photographic proof.” (???)

She holds up her cover and says, “Look grandkids – PROOF!”

Dear me.

Ellen then guides the talk towards her outfits in everyday life saying she appears to be down to earth and doesn’t seem to ‘worry about what she looks like when she goes out’ (?????) and a whole minute dedicated to her use of cargo pants.

After tediously trying to get Mila to admit she’s dating Ashton Kutcher – the topic FINALLY turned towards her craft – the movie she’s in.
However, in the 8 minute interview – the discussion of her movie lasted 30 seconds.

I have to say, it was disappointing – again – to see how this interview fixated on and perpetuated society’s (women’s) obsession with the physicality of women such as Mila, and how we applaud and revere them.

More disturbing, however, is how Mila herself – a young and beautiful girl – needs to find validation through men voting her the sexiest woman alive, hyper-sexualising herself and slapping it on a cover for all to see…

…including her future grandchildren, no less – topless and with a provocative finger over her lips.

What hope do our daughters have with self-esteem and empowerment, when women’s looks are the only topic of interest?

Question #144: How can what girls do with their minds be in the forefront of discovering who they are, when noone cares enough to represent it?

 Remember: “You can’t be what you can’t see”

We’re certainly seeing a lot of young, hyper-sexualised women like Mila, which does nothing for the sisterhood and the true empowerment of our girls.

Deep Breath.

x

PS Hubby’s operation lasted four hours and had five surgeons. It seems to have gone well.