Yesterday I created some discussion on my blog’s Facebook Page about the #putyourdressout movement – where women around Australia got out their wedding dresses, took a photo of it and posted in on social media, with the above hashtag – to honour Stephanie Scott on the day she would have been married. Stephanie was horrifically murdered six days earlier.

I’m always trying to teach my daughters – especially the one that just entered high school – to think about the core reason for doing anything – mainly due to her recent small engagement with the online world. I tell her that that’s what drives action and that even though her actions may change as she gets older, the core reason behind them, may stay the same. It’s an important thing for all of us to identify, I think.

Yesterday, when I saw the first few wedding dresses pop up on Facebook, I thought about taking out mine but then questioned the action when it didn’t sit right with me. I believe it’s a very well meaning and touching tribute (organised by her friends, so I’ve been told), but after 28 women having been murdered by male violence before her – I felt like I needed to show my respect for her differently. Plus, to be honest, I couldn’t imagine the family perusing through the wedding dresses of others and gaining comfort from them. I may completely wrong here but it’s what stopped me from doing it and think it’s an equally caring action.

My Facebook post prompted a friend to wonder if it was the same as when people put Cricket bats out for Phillip Hughes’s accidental death. I think it is very similar in sentiment, but ball parks away in context. Phillip died due to a freak accident, playing his beloved sport and was honoured as such. Stephanie, however, was the 29th woman murdered by male violence, (or suspected male violence) in Australia so far this year and today the tally went to 30*; a teacher at school in the holidays setting work (like so many of us do). She was a fellow Drama teacher and we may have met one day in the future, at HSC marking perhaps, if her life hadn’t been tragically taken. It’s hit us all in our own way. This is what I did write on Twitter to show my respect:

My post was never one to put this movement down but truly question what the drive was for the action. I won’t go into detail about the responses I received, as most mainly explained the sentiment –  which I reiterate, I understand – but others wrote it’s to create awareness.

This is where it hit the wall for me. Awareness? As a good friend of mine said to me – Awareness we have –> the rate of female deaths from male violence has gone up from one per week – to #OneEveryThreeDaysfrom one year to the next; a little more than double! A few weeks ago I started that hashtag to attach all the stories containing Male Violence Against Women; which is at epidemic proportions. Another one started online was, #MysteryIsMisogyny, a category Stephanie’s murderer falls under – the ‘he was such a quiet man’ or ‘it’s a mystery why he did this’ blanket. These hashtags could actually create more awareness, but sadly, they won’t be as popular as #putoutyourdress, though.

And there’s the conundrum for me. It’s action we need.

As I was pondering this, I read a piece written by my good friend Lily Munroe from REAL for Women titled: While men decide what they stand for; we women must be warriors. Bam!
Just the title alone birthed two thoughts about the #putoutyourdress movement:
1. Are women collectively being warriors about the situation we’re finding ourselves in?
2. Women also need to decide what they stand for.

Well, I stand for a society that finds the spike in male violence against women – against ANYONE – abhorrent and I’m sure most of you do too.
So, what’s next?
The dresses are up and they gave needed comfort to many. But that was yesterday.

What about tomorrow?

Wouldn’t it be a sight if every person who found this murder – and the 28 before Stephanie’s – an insufferable blight on our psyche and safety, marched in every major city demanding a tightening of laws? Check the #OneEveryThreeDays hashtag and see how many men of position charged with sexual assault, have walked free on bail recently in Australia. Legislation was changed due one man’s death due to a King Hit – ads telling guys not to engage violently with other men – but only the sound of crickets is heard on the news and in our timelines about our shameful tally of female deaths.

Look around at what wallpapers our lives and stories; females (girls and women) demeaned as mere sexual objects, whilst males are hailed as heroic through their hyper-masculine toughness. When females are deemed, through representation, as less worthy and merely objects – violence and murder becomes easy (and even condoned to an extent) by the silent society that lets it all slide.

Let’s not forget those first 28 women:

Image from 'REAL for Women'

Image from ‘REAL for Women’

and of course, Stephanie.

Stephanie Scott

Stephanie Scott

May she – may they all – Rest in Peace.

Paula x

PS Up for a kick-arse march? Let’s fill the streets like they do overseas when a few people are killed by terrorism. THIS is terrorism – by our own.

* There has been some confusion about the actual tally. For those using the Destroy the Joint tally, this includes women killed by other women (three this year). This is not to diminish those deaths in the slightest (in the same way that male violence against males is also not to be ignored) but as Male Violence Against Women is the issue that needs a searing spotlight, I use the tally linked in the piece as it follows the #countingdeadwomen campaign of the UK, started by Karen Ingala Smith. Only male murdering female)
Notice the UK tally stands at 25 and they’re three times the population…

My 8 year old gets it.

March 18, 2015

This morning, on my way to school with my 12 year old, I was talking to her about how frustrated I was that over the last two weeks or so, there has been constant reporting on how one man followed another man back to his place and stabbed him to death. Every night, another report about the case. I commented to my daughter that there should be more reports about the 24 women who have been murdered so far, this year (11 weeks) – two murders per week here in Australia.

As we were having dinner tonight The Project DID do a story (we both shot a look at each other), discussing that although the numbers of murders have come down in general of the years, it is a different and alarming story when looking at the increasing statistics of violence against women – with murder obviously being the worst outcome but that a very high percentage of women (87%) experience abuse at least once in their lives; whether it be verbal, physical, at home or out in the streets. The discussion also mentioned how the conversation has to be turned away from victim blaming – although nothing was said about the fact that it predominantly occurs at the hands of a male.
As a society we seem to tip-toe around that glaring fact. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the discussion generally gets sidetracked with the #NotAllMen arguments and what we should really be dissecting slips away again.

After the story wrapped up, the panelists had a discussion and one of the females said that it angers her that when she goes out into the carpark, she doesn’t feel safe. I can relate to that. Another panelist brought up victim blaming again, saying how we shouldn’t be discussing this issue with statements such as, ‘She shouldn’t have been out getting a taxi at 2am’.

At this moment, my eight year old daughter – who just caught that last sentence – said something along the lines of, ‘But she should be alright because the taxi driver is with her.’

I responded, “These sort of things can happen anywhere and by anyone. What happens if it’s the taxi driver that hurts her?”

She said, “Well then it wouldn’t matter if she got the taxi at night or in the day because that person is a bad person and would do it anyway. So people shouldn’t say that about what time it was.”

Exactly. My eight year old makes a simple deduction – bad people will do bad things regardless, so it’s not the victim’s fault. I was chuffed with her simple logic.

I started to think about what she said in terms of ‘bad people’. If, statistically, violence against women – all violence, actually –  is predominantly done by men (in the United States 90% of murders are committed by males) – how are we to curb this? I’d say that making ‘jokes’ about it, is not the solution; in fact it’s incredibly damaging.

After dinner, I opened up my laptop and lo and behold, one of the most disgusting and dangerous slogans Wicked Campers have (which I thought they had removed) is still being used (Seen in Darwin on Feb 25 2015):

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When violence against women is used as a joke, it only does two things:

1. Creates a sense of permission to feel that women are lesser beings to be violated and hurt – and for the wrong person (like my daughter mentioned) – enact on those sentiments;

2. It creates a sense of dread and fear for women to navigate through this world.

Question #226: Can we please acknowledge that none of this is a joke?

Simply, we are fearful. Our daughters are in danger because society keeps claiming Freedom of Speech, over their – our – safety.

Just last year, a Townsville woman (irrelevant) posed for this image that was for her step-mother’s car – again claiming it was a joke:

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How is it funny to depict a woman tied up with a shovel to bury her? How can we have no compassion for the way this image may trigger women who have endured being tied up – terrorised – trapped – powerless?

I’ll leave you with a post showcasing advice for lads – that includes the following image; amongst other ‘hilarious’ sentiments towards women.

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Whilst these types of expression are continually given oxygen to forge perspectives and attitudes, I’m afraid the future is looking bleak for females. One only need look at what’s happening right now – two women a week are being murdered by men.

Question #227: Can a moral line be drawn? 

Or is it just business as usual?

Deep Breath

Finding Mr Grey.

February 15, 2015

A while back, I had a chin wag with students about the fine line that is present in many a discussion about females – in that case, their dress. A recent example has been the great deal of to-ing and fro-ing over the release (on Valentines’ Day, no less) of the film, Fifty Shades of Grey. The argument surrounding this narrative has been bugging me in a similar way the aforementioned discussion with my students did. 

My understanding of this issue can be put into two simple points: 1. The books sold like wildfire and seemed to have predominantly titillated the ‘housewives of suburbia’ who saw a love story with consenting adults and 2. It brought to the fore, many psychologists, feminists and survivors of abuse, who have presented an alternate and more dangerous perspective; one that looks at a male grooming and trying to utilise complete control of a naïve female; a demonstration of psychological and physical domestic abuse.

I have not read the books and even wrote post at the end of 2012, asking those who had read 50 Shades to write their thoughts, without judgement from me; because I support women and fight for their complete agency to choose and participate in this world with freedom and safety. This novel is simply a great example of where – if anywhere – the line gets drawn between ‘sexy’ and ‘sadistic and sociopathic’. The issue of choice and consent is also smudged for me when grooming is involved as that’s what grooming does – trick people (and children) into thinking something’s OK, when it’s not.

The prevailing argument in its favour is that it’s just a fictional story and is just a fantasy. I completely understand this perspective and think, each to their own. If the sexual escapades of this novel pushed the saucy buttons of women worldwide, then I say, whatever floats your boat. The pro-50 Shaders seem to be more about the steamy, naughty, forbidden [insert own adjective] sex, not so much about the screwed up male (due to his prostitute [of course] mother) ‘discovering’ himself emotionally and physically through Ana.
But the two issues are married together – the psychologically disturbed man, comes with the sex.

So having heard all the arguments in various articles about this relationship and its representation of varying abuse, I simply want to ask:

Question #222: Why him?

Maybe there are women who want to escape their predictable sex lives and find this story does in fact help them do just that. But what about the man himself; not just his skill with a whip?

Maybe there’s also a secret want to have a rich and ‘powerful’ male be a dominant figure, in his expensive suits and play/torture dungeon.
Maybe women like the idea of ‘fixing’ a damaged male – that love will 
conquer all. That if she stays, he’ll get better – even if it means enduring a controlled and abusive existence .

Is that it?

What if Christian were, let’s say, a newsagent, would there be as much sexual excitement in finding one’s own Mr Grey?
In terms of the story, the sexual awakening would be the same for Ana, wouldn’t it?

What I’ve heard, from friends who have already gone to see the film, is that the sex wasn’t as ‘good’ as in the novel but found other differences. This is from a friend of mine in her 20s:

‘I found it uncomfortable to watch but didn’t find it uncomfortable to read. I’m not easily phased but it was unpleasant. Personally I enjoyed the development throughout the series. It was an interesting read. But seeing it in film was sort of next level. It was basically porn. The sex scenes were not overly graphic but the violence was too much. It made me feel sad.’

Isn’t the following image from the film, eerily similar to the very real Julian Blanc many found to be abhorrent in his behaviour towards women. The thought of being grabbed by the neck chills me. That’s because I have been grabbed like that. But it’s still not the reason all this bothers me.

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On one hand, Rosie Waterline wrote the following review for Mamamia, where she was shaken by what she saw and left the cinema nearly in tears, through to Mia Freedman’s review with her opposing take. One quote stood out in Mia’s piece, that came from a friend of hers:

‘If some women view Christian as a catch – that’s disturbing but it’s their call. The value of the books and the film is the accompanying conversation about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. A healthy relationship doesn’t involve your partner dictating what you wear or eat. But the author isn’t writing about a healthy relationship! It’s the story of a messed up relationship!’

The first line encapsulates the problem for me – Christian Grey is being touted as a catch and someone to be dreamed of, despite being in a ‘messed up relationship’.
One example (of many) is this bus stop advertisement, of which I got a photo:

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This poster grooms – just like Christian Grey – for selfish reasons.
And that’s what bothers me at the core. How this narrative is being sold.
I think it’s dangerous for those – especially our youth, without the experience to know differently – to believe this is a relationship to aspire to – because it has sex in it that supposedly pushes the boundaries of pleasure?

There are adults who enjoy this story; those who enjoy BDSM (even though many are saying it does not accurately portray BDSM correctly); and that’s fine.

But ultimately there’s one thing that seems to be agreed upon:
It’s not a healthy relationship.

Question #223: So why is it being romanticised?

That’s grooming.

 

My friend Lily Munroe – who was my partner in crime in launching our campaign against the positioning of Lads’ Mags in newsagents, petrol stations and other similar establishments a year ago – is writing an Open Letter. Still a work in progress.

Part of her letter, however, looks at the intimidation and threats women who speak up receive online and she asked me if I were willing to share any.

I was never going to publish these, but I did keep the most horrible comments made by the same man, in response to the Wicked Campers campaign back in July.
Why did I keep them? Because I’ll never forget how they originally made me feel – but the re-reading of them, on occasion, lessens the impact of those sentiments and helps me strengthen and arm myself against any future expressions of deep hate.

I publish them today to help a worthy cause – which I will keep you updated on.

During that campaign, I received over 300 (mostly positive) comments on this blog, and I responded to just about all of them. Only a few were missed because I couldn’t keep up with the incoming flow, but a few I barred from publishing because they merely insulted and didn’t contribute to the discussion. But the following thoughts – from the same man – were pure venom.

As I was reading this first one, I reached the end of the second paragraph and thought – ‘Isn’t that what I did?’
And then the penultimate paragraph knocked me for six:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 6.46.07 pm

 

Then he followed with this:

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A myriad of responses may come to your minds as you read these, from: ‘Suck it up, he’s just a troll’ to maybe understanding how it must have felt to ‘hear’ those words – but all I have is how responded.

It was deeply alarming to me – especially how he imagined my brains being blown out in the first comment. It made me catch my breath as I read it, even though a few had had a fair go at it – but this one was different. There was so much hatred in his words. It upset me.

I also had a man in Queensland make a ‘Wanted’ poster of me, lifting an unclear image of me (lucky) incorrectly identifying where I lived (lucky) and saying that if anyone saw me around, that I needed to be ‘taught a lesson’.

Question #219: Imagine if I hadn’t been ‘lucky’ in the first two instances?

I would have been in real danger. Well, I already was, a little.

When women who ASK for something better – not abolished; just better – like getting rid of some particular slogans off a camper van or asking one retailer to remove the horrible game GTA5 from sale in their family store – the bitterness and rage that comes cascading down is something to behold.

And all because we dare to ask.

BUT – more and more articles are being written about misogyny, more conversations are being had and some campaigns are even being won – which is bloody brilliant.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters wrote this piece titled, Australian women can’t and won’t be silenced. She references my petition against Wicked Campers and how it inspired her to take it to The Senate. The motion she put forward, condemning Wicked Campers, was voted on unanimously – just four days after the petition was launched.

Activism works – even though, you might get winded from time to time.

A great way to work those abs, though, right?
Each ‘hit’ will only make one stronger.

Deep Breath.

As some of you may be aware, Target Australia was petitioned, in the last week, to take down the video game Grand Theft Auto 5, off their shelves. The attention was drawn from an advertisement from Target, placing the game on the same page as children’s toys.

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Survivors of violence, Nicole, Claire and Ket, started the petition due to the graphic sexual and violent nature of the game – most notably towards prostitutes – which cements perspectives of violence against women.

I felt it was important to share the petition because even though I don’t own the game, YouTube was dutifully able to provide me with a sick commentary of how to pick up a prostitute (woman). Of course, one can choose whether or not they’re going to run her over after the first-person sex, set her on fire and finish her off with a blast from a machine gun.

Yesterday, Target Australia listened, agreed and stopped the sale of the game in its stores; demonstrating integrity with their business standards.
I believe it was the right thing to do.

With emotional issues such as this, many choose to clutch the time and tested clichés of yore. In this case, those who oppose Target’s ultimate decision have two common arguments:
1. It’s just a game
2. Parents are to blame for children having it

I’m not going to go into the first point because the reason/s why a person chooses to play this game is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m not a psychologist nor a judge and it would be going down Alice’s rabbit hole for me to try and understand it.
The second point, however, is where the crux of this lands with me.

The main argument is that this is an R-Rated 18+ game and that the simple solution is that parents should not buy it for their children.
Yes. This is true – BUT, it’s not the simple solution.

Parents are always the easy target in arguments like these, but to be fair, the common cliché has lost its potency in this day and age because of the context of the world we’re living in. We are ALL being bombarded with a pornified and hyper-sexualised world and yet somehow, it’s up to the parents to ‘simply not buy it’?

I think this has become very difficult for parents; to actually deal with the pressure of filtering the ever-encroaching, adult world for their children. To do this successfully, though, one would have to be next to their child at every given moment and that’s impossible – and quite frankly, who would want to raise their child like that anyway? Not me.

As a parent, I am very aware of this paradigm and am doing my utmost to help my girls navigate through it, regardless of whether it’s aimed at them or not (and more often than not it isn’t – but they’re still being exposed anyway). My last post gives examples of the child exposure to this game – and it’s widespread in Primary Schools.

What we need is for the adult world to meet us half way and in my mind, Target Australia has now done just that.

They are a family store and being a family store means it comes with responsibility.
If they had ultimately chosen to keep stocking R-Rated games, then they would have needed to create a section where children can’t access the products; making it very clear it’s for adults only. Ultimately, though, what family store would want to attract attention to the fact that they sell products for adults only?

You’re more likely, as a parent, to be shopping with your children in a place like Target, Big W, K-mart (who should also follow suit and not just this game but all R-Rated games), as they sell children’s toys near the games section. To a child, one ‘game’ is the same as another, so:

Question #218: Can we just have some space that’s safe for kids?

Sadly, we have the fact that many young (predominantly male) children are actually playing this game and although it’s easy to pass the buck on parents – it’s not always their fault.

This decision makes it easier for the parents who are not aware of the game and its pretty horrible contents and who simply don’t notice the rating. We are human, after all, and not noticing a rating when your mind is full of a million other things, is far more forgivable than the bigger picture of all this.

And for all those who cry foul about not having their violent, porn games available in every store they want – at their fingertips – I ask them to step away from their own sense of privilege and think of reducing the temptation of having something rated strictly unsuitable for children, in a place frequented by children. It’s at their fingertips too.

UPDATE: Kmart have in fact now followed Target Australia’s lead and have also pulled Grand Theft Auto 5 from sale. That’s two.

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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 <<

To begin I would like to express my awe at the overwhelming and resolute support I received during the last six days, due to the petition I initiated. I am truly humbled.
I want to quickly address a few points, as I need to sit down and have a moment of normalcy again. The last six days have been a surreal mix of many emotions.

I started the petition for one reason only – to remove slogans, like the one that upset my 11 year old daughter, from the outside of Wicked Camper vans.
And they have complied.
Have they had a change of heart? Well, that remains to be seen.
But, as I wrote in my penultimate post – we must judge people on their actions.

Only time will tell – so give them time.

Under the law of Freedom of Speech, Wicked Campers are not obliged to take down any of their signage – which is why they had chosen to continue practising as they were, despite numerous attempts from the Advertising Standards Board to have offensive slogans, deemed to have crossed ethical and community standards, removed.

But this wasn’t about the law – it was about the standards we hold as human beings.

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Thanks to the staggering amount of people who supported this campaign – 127 752 signatures – in such a concentrated amount of time, we were able to send a clear message that this sort of signage was in fact not a standard we were willing to accept.

* For the clichéd response telling me (us) to ‘not buy it if we don’t like it’; I answer you with the fact that the ONLY person who doesn’t see the signage, is the driver him/herself – it’s the public that has it rammed in their face, regardless.

* For those who have said there are far more important issues to fight for – like the horror in the Gaza strip (for example) and where the petition for that is; I answer you in two ways.

Firstly, calling out misogyny is a paramount issue to fight.
Females around the planet are being sexually assaulted and murdered for the simple fact that they are female. This wouldn’t be happening if they were respected. One woman a week dies from Domestic Violence in Australia and a slogan that says ‘a wife is attachment you screw on the bed to do the housework’ degrades females to nothing more than that and it is hateful.

I also believe many slogans demean males too. Grooming males to believe they’re mindless and sex-obssesed, do no favours to our boys and, in turn, our girls. Slogans such as the following are disturbing – both the visual and what it’s saying:

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We would never see, ‘We’re here for your sons’ because we all know what the slogan above means.

Secondly, if one feels that there are issues out there worth fighting for and that a petition will do something, then by all means, create one.
I found it incredible that people provided me with a list of issues I *should* be fighting for – basically saying I shouldn’t be bothering with my daughter’s emotional response to the slogan she saw, but rather appease strangers and their vocal outrage that I had the gall to do it over other issues.
To you I say – Do something about it yourself. I did this for my daughter.

* To all those who said I gave Wicked Campers free advertising, I say to you that it is an irrelevant argument.
My motives never were, nor do they continue to be, about bringing down Wicked Campers – it was to remove certain morally offensive slogans. In fact, if this petition causes the company to reevaluate their business model to better fit the ethical standards of society – well, wouldn’t that be the best victory of all?

Only three days after releasing the petition I received a personal email from Ross, a representative for Wicked Campers, apologising to my daughter and myself. He wrote:

I wish to commend you on your campaign, I believe you’ve carried yourself with poise and intellect and kept your side of the discussion civilised (where others have resorted to physical threats)

I would like to say at this point, that anyone who writes to someone, saying they wish to incite violence against them (or anyone for that matter), is abhorrent and goes against the spirit of this petition.
I have also received graphically violent death threats due to this stance and it’s quite distressing and completely unnecessary. Noone deserves that.

Wicked Campers also included the following press release; sections which have now been used in a number of articles outlining the commitment they are making to do as the petition asked. This is the full statement:

Statement: John Webb on behalf of Wicked Campers Australia

First and foremost, we sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused.

Anybody who is familiar with our brand would probably know that we are strong proponents of free speech and pushing the limits of humour – we are a ‘cash for chaos’ kind of company.
As is often quoted ‘A sense of humour is a sense of proportion’. And in this instance, we admit that we have taken things out of proportion and out of the realms of what is considered to be ‘socially acceptable’.

We are a small company, with eclectic, creative and multi-cultural staff. It is impossible for us to conceive that a throw-away message written on a van could have such far-reaching implications for the community at large.

Over the past few years Wicked has supported numerous charity endeavours including:

Free hires for Returned Servicemen & Servicewomen (2011 – 2013)

A Mardi Gras float for the Metropolitan Christian Church Sydney to promote social & religious acceptance of homosexuality in the community (2014)

Support for the ‘Free to be Kids’ Charity, whose goal is to facilitate child centered community development in Kolkata with the aim of improving the community’s capacity to protect children. Wicked Campers have donated over $70,000 to this organisation in the hope of improving the welfare of children in India (2012 – 2013).

Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature. Bear in mind however, many of the images presented in the media of our vehicles are from up to 8 years ago, and the vehicles simply do not exist anymore.

In the spirit of being ‘actionist’, Wicked Campers also invites anybody who feels strongly offended by a slogan to either paint or tape over it.

Mr Webb implores everyone to also focus their passions and energies on a worthy cause such as funding for women’s refuges and shelters around Australia.

“If everyone who signs this petition were to donate to a worthy charity – even just $10, we’d be closer to achieving something truly positive from this campaign.

It is easy to get caught up in the news cycle and the mob-mentality of the internet, but the fact remains, the world’s problems will still exist next week, long after this has blown over. Don’t forget the cause – it’s still there, hidden amongst the memes and useless drivel that pops up in your feed.

We’ve given and we will continue to give – so if you give to a women’s refuge or charity this week, send us the receipt and we’ll write you a personal apology for any offense that has been caused”.

Wicked Campers would also like to commend all petition signers for their passion and commitment to the cause – and their openness to actively working with us towards a compromise. Again, we apologise for any distress that has been caused.

For receipts for donations made, please email: marketing@wickedcampers.com
Many thanks

John Webb
Owner – Wicked Campers

Lastly, what is very important to note, is that this victory happened because ultimately, my daughter and I were respected throughout this journey – by everyone; the populous that cared more than it didn’t and joined the fight; the reporters – ALL of them (I thank you all for that, I still feel honoured to be asked); to being listened to by the business itself and even had a motion passed in the Senate.
In four and a half days.

We just achieved a really good thing. We stood up for a better standard.

My daughter is so happy…in her 11 year old way.

Thank you everyone. Thank you very much.

Deep Breath

 

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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A chilling experience.

May 29, 2014

Whilst discussing the need to look at the actions that are plaguing our existence, an illuminating response came from a wonderful follower and artist blogger, Godtisx.

In the big (mammoth) scheme of things, this is just one microscopic drop of an experience that happened to her.
But it’s not a small deal – because this seemingly ‘innocent’ interaction has happened to a friend; can and does happen to far too many females; it could happen to me.

Godtisx wrote:

You know the problem is entitlement, and society is now constructed in such a way that men feel we are partnering in their thoughts towards access. So many women are overtly sexualizing themselves in such a way who can have a reaction.

I.e. The other day I was in the supermarket, and this really handsome man (and well dressed too) came up to me and started chatting me up. Soon I wanted to get to shopping, so I tried to conclude the conversation with saying we’ll see one another around for sure. I was interested. But then he grabs my hand and starts saying stuff like I’m so attracted to you, are you attracted to me. *Awkward/forced.* So I even said you’re nice looking… but was already feeling uncomfortable w/ the sudden handling?

Then he says I wanna take care of you will you let me? So me being a bit of an introvert, didn’t catch it. I laugh and say, we’ll see each other around, see how it goes blah blah. Then he goes, I wanna take care of you just tell me what you want. So now I am confused. And he goes what do you want? Still not getting it.

Finally he goes I wanna f–k you. How much do you want.

I go — WHAT? You think I’m a hooker? Then I get, no no. I just wanna, and fumbling. I pull away and tell him with a different attitude now, I’ll see you around. With him, trying to apologize and me continuing to move away from him physically. But as I was leaving I thought, I better be careful. That’s the kinda guy that will wait around the corner for you or something. Every woman has to go through this kind of stuff sometime in her life. And unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out positive for some. 😦

How horrible. Seriously.
That feeling of wondering whether a person, who is so forward, is capable of more.
Can they get angry? Have I used the right tone with this complete stranger, to not trigger a negative reaction that may cause harm?

One simply never knows.
And it’s not that ‘every male is like that’, either – it’s that the statistics are stacked against us.
I think the tweet below explains perfectly:

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The other important issue (and the apparent white elephant in discussions), is the one thing that truly does separate the sexes, and that is that males are stronger (in general) than females. And that strength is used against us.
When I was attempted raped at university and the sobering moment hit – that it was actually commencing – I knew that the only chance I had, was to use my wits. He had already threatened me with his strength, saying he didn’t want to ‘get violent’ – so I knew I wouldn’t succeed that way.

#NotAllMen but #YesAllWomen

Question #206: Is the argument clear?

It’s urgent that people understand it because there really is no other way to put it.

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Deep Breath.