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

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

Location: Coles – one of the major Australian supermarket chains.
Area: Magazine Section
In the past I have merely done this:

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But today – Wed 7th Jan – I decided I would say something, when I saw this on the second lowest shelf:

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I wrote to Coles to explain my experience in one of their stores:

In my visit to a Sydney Coles store this afternoon, I went past the magazine section and saw Zoo magazine (imaged attached) on the second lowest row – small child height – next to Peppa Pig. I asked a worker who was in the same aisle, who I could talk to about it and he directed me to go to the front desk. My children and I had a few items to buy so I asked the employee serving us in the express lane. I believe she was in a managerial position as she was making announcements over the speakers to coworkers. I explained what I saw and she said that everything had to be placed where Coles says and that there was nothing employees could change in terms of an item’s location – in this case, to put Zoo magazine high up (top) on the shelves. She showed me an example of this with a nearby drink refrigerator; pointing out the sticker which clearly indicates EXACTLY how it must be stocked. She also explained that a recent visit from the person who checks that it’s done properly, was VERY unhappy because it was incorrectly stocked. We – the Coles manager and myself – then moved to the magazine section and when we looked at the labels along the shelves (indicating where every magazine should be) – not one magazine was in its correct place. She removed the magazines and I trust (and hope) that the Zoo magazine ended up being placed high – if it has to go back at all. It would be fantastic if Coles takes the lead and sees the good removing magazines like Zoo from sale would do. It takes a village to raise a child and supermarkets – like Coles – are a part of that village. It also takes integrity. Consumers who want to see sexually, objectified women can access it everywhere – but it feels culturally oppressive when a magazine, sporting the image of a sexually objectified woman on a cover that matches its contents, is being sold at a supermarket chain, like Coles – placed low on its shelving. There were multiple copies of the magazine behind one another, so it was purposely placed there. Do you think it would be possible for Coles to stop selling Zoo magazine and any other magazines of its type? (In this particular store the only objectifying magazine that was on sale was Zoo, so I don’t know if there are others). Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and look forward to hearing from you. Paula Orbea

The following is a cartoon I’ve seen cross my Timeline from time to time, which asks a crucial question:

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Right? Another moment worth noting, was the response the managerial employee gave me when I was suggesting the magazine shouldn’t really be sold there in the first place. Her expression was one of raised eyebrows, looking at the cover, coupled with an expression (small smile?) that suggested it ‘wasn’t that bad’ – and said:

“I reckon you see worse on TV.”

“Yes”, I agreed, “but that’s a whole different issue.”

I don’t understand that kind of statement as an argument; that there’s something worse. There’s always something worse, and then something worse than that. And then worse than that.

That sort of statement argues that one shouldn’t stand and confront the ‘small stuff’ – like the soft porn industry, in this case; an industry that is heavily guiding younger and younger people toward an ocean of porn online (including terribly violent ones) – because there are *other* problems deemed more important for an activist attend to first…generally something in the ball park of, ‘Stop ISIS’ or ‘Get the girls from Nigeria back’.

What I find curious is how people who do *nothing*, suddenly presume themselves the Traffic Cops of Activism. In this case, the Coles employee removed the magazines, for the sole reason that they were in the wrong place. If it were to turn out that the Zoo magazines’ location – assigned by Coles – is smack bang in the middle of them all, I know that this employee would have put them in their ‘rightful place’ – as that is her directive. I’d like to add that this employee was courteous and professional in her conversation with me and that I appreciated her attention on the matter.

As I think of Maria in The Sound of Music teaching the children (through song, of course)about starting at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start – so must we. That is the only way change can truly occur – by getting to the roots of behaviour and action.

So have a look for yourselves – in the everyday world you and young people reside and ask:

Question #220 : What’s going on at ground zero?

What lessons and attitudes are being taught through consumption? Well, the selling of ‘soft porn’ (aka porn culture) in supermarkets is one thing, wouldn’t you say?

Deep breath.

PS This is the response I received from Coles:

Dear Ms Orbea

Thank you for your letter regarding the sale of magazines in our Coles stores.

Coles aim to provide customers with a wide range of products that appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes. We are very aware of our responsibilities in relation to the display of various magazines in our stores and we must comply with the guidelines set by the Classification Board and legislative requirements regarding the selection and placement of various magazines.

Magazines such as Zoo and FHM, do not have a classification rating, as set by the Classification Board, and form part of our men’s interest range of magazines.

Coles only sell magazines that are unclassified and to help ensure a comfortable shopping experience for all customers, these particular men’s magazines must be placed in our reading centres within our stores and are not to be sold from the stands next to the registers.

We are sorry to hear that you find these magazines offensive* and have forwarded your comments to our Merchandise Team so that they are also aware of your concerns.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to your future custom at Coles.

Regards

Patrick Chylinski
Coles Customer Care

*[Doesn’t sound like an apology]

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 <<

Questions for *You*.

October 19, 2014

Just recently I had the incredible honour of presenting at the International Women’s Liberation Summit. It was an enthralling few days, hearing stories from such a rich pool of experience – not all nice, of course, but profoundly unifying.

The biggest issue I explored was the predictable and pedestrian narrative being spewed forth – one that has not deviated much, in essence, since the ’50s [Man = strong, brains, breadwinner, leader; Woman = weak, multi-tasker, housewife, follower] by the media and advertising at a ground-zero level; mainly through the common TV, the medium of choice, consumed by the masses.

My presentation – and my actual main concern with us human beings – addressed the way in which we perceive ourselves and categorise each other into labels; ever-restricting ones. I believe our obsession with labelling, will be our eventual undoing as a species.

It’s permeated every crevice from sex + gender through to race + religious beliefs; from what needs to be ‘tested’ in school to determine a student’s worth (label at the ready) through to perceptions of who a person is just from what job they have, where they live, clothes they wear, what they earn etc – all of which we know is ludicrous and non-sensical but something we sadly participate in (and consume), nonetheless.

The worst labelling by far, is sex; the label that hurts women and girls the most. It hurts us all, actually. We mustn’t forget the boys – because as easy (and true) as it is to say that males commit the most crimes, we must ask ourselves – how did they become the ‘monsters’ we keep reporting they are?

They were taught – just like girls are taught.

As the battle rages over what exactly a woman or man is, our media manages to showcase very strict guidelines as to how men and women are to be represented and perceived – this is the very labelling I want to debunk with our youth. They are our hope of change.

So I started a business to channel my activism toward them.

About three weeks before the Wicked Campers campaign in July, my business was born –  to present workshops about media literacy, how we relate to each other as human beings, resilience, consumption and more.

I’ve called the business Questions for You, as the questions will be the springboard toward healthy discussion – using critical thinking.
The central theme – and what I titled my presentation at the Summit – is:

The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept.

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I’ll tell you why our young ones are the answer. Recently, I had the privilege of seeing a volume of work, created by students, using film to tell a story. It was such an enlightening experience. I loved it. Some narratives blew me away and others reinforced stereotypes. The point is, however, that I saw a balance. And the incredible part is that I had no idea what sex had created what piece. Logic tells me that I saw sophisticated pieces equally from both males and females; all telling unique stories. This needs to be preserved and nurtured.

Turn to the TV and movie narratives, however, and we see something formulaic and banal. Our youth have the capacity to see beyond this but some need a guiding hand in helping them open their eyes to the ‘product’ they’re being sold – mainly what they’re being taught about each other and ‘how it is’. This sort of language will also be explored in workshops, as well as a lot of the clichés that keep humans bound to restricted perspectives; dealing equally with boys and girls.

Question #211: Does this sound like a program your school, child’s school, business or parents may benefit from?

My website: questionsforyou.com.au is ready for your perusal. Please peruse.

Action speaks louder than words, and this has never been more apparent for me. After 20 years of teaching, I feel a deep connection with our budding youth and have never felt more driven to do something, as I do with this.

I hope you’ll join me in this quest.

Deep, positive breath.
PS: Below is the back of my business card, which was designed by my dear friend Katy Donoghue of Giddy Up Graphics (I’ve known her since we were 7 years old). She rocked it. I do love it so. x Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.46.37 am

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

 

A few days ago, I went to pick up my 11 and 7 year old daughters from a holiday stint with my parents.

As we greeted each other with hugs, my 11 year old did not hesitate in telling me, with great concern, that she saw something terrible when she was in the car with my dad – a van that said something to the effect of all girls being sluts who want to try it just once.
I was stunned because only the day before I had put up images (again) of the type of messages that the car-hire business Wicked Campers revels in, on my social media pages – including (and especially) the one my daughter saw.

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So it’s official – something I personally called out had encroached and touched my family directly.

I was livid and went to file a complaint on the Advertising Standards Bureau.
The first thing you have to do is check if there have already been complaints made and whether the Board has made any previous rulings. Unsurprisingly, the list of complaints is long for Wicked Campers with a variety of unsavoury slogans and advertisements, like the following:

Wicked Campers online

Or there’s this sort of thing:

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Noice.
It appears the young, male, *haw-haw* demographic is well and truly being catered for; girls as sluts / women are nothing more than something to service males / guys with big cocks (to do what with, pray tell?)
The only problem is that it’s the everyday person that finds themselves face-to-face with these types of bulletin in the PUBLIC sphere, not the drivers themselves – that person merely announces their consent to what’s been spray painted on the back and ironically the only person who doesn’t see the moving billboard they’re driving around. Hilarious.

Step two was to file my complaint, as I didn’t see the slogan my daughter witnessed on the ASB list. There I hit a snag because I had to have seen it for myself, to be able to denounce them. I explained this to my daughter and she immediately sat up and said, “I’ll complain.”
And to be honest, I thought, ‘Why not?’
So she submitted it under her name and wrote as her reason for offence:

‘I am a little girl and I am not a slut.’

I’m proud of her.

I would like to now direct your attention to how a young male responded to my posting about this business on my Questions for Us Facebook page. You can see the full conversation there.

Comment on vans 1 Comment on vans 2

The usual waterfall of clichés start to roll off the tongue like honey:
* It’s just a joke;
* If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. (Which is actually my usual rule of thumb except when it’s in my face regardless of whether I bought it or not);
* I bet if it were about men we’d be all ‘feminists rule’;
* Comparisons that don’t compare (girl sluts and McDonald’s toys);
* Get out there and fight for something worth fighting for.

Suffice it to say I had a long conversation with this young man, reasoning that phrases like the one my daughter saw puts her and all girls in danger. He predictably responded that it’s not all men who would feel that way about women and girls and that the car rental business is not to blame for that.
Of course nobody ever says ALL MEN are a menace, but that Yes, All Women are at risk of harmful perspectives like these, crossing just one male’s mind – because it only takes ONE to enact those sentiments on an innocent girl. 

Rolf Harris ring any bells?
I think ‘all princesses being sluts’, would have reflected his sentiments succinctly.

There are many ‘ground zeros’ in fighting what commences the chain of abhorrent perspectives and actions in people, and we can’t ignore them because in the eyes of most, it doesn’t equate to the fight against the femicide of girls in China and India, for example, or bringing the girls back from Nigeria (things I also fervidly fight for, of course).

I live here – in Australia – in a capitalist cesspool that will stop at nothing to make money. There are horrors occurring around the world which I passionately call out against, but the rape culture my daughters are about to enter, is the here and now – and it’s real.

We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the so-called ‘little’ things because as Paul Kelly sang:

‘From little things, big things grow.’

Question #209: How can we fight the big things, if the little things prove too difficult? 

It’s time to be Actionists, just like my daughter.

After quite the parley with this young man (which became more respectful as it progressed), I asked him where he (being smack-bang in the demographic he so eagerly defended) thought we should focus our energies to stop the perception of the hyper-sexualised youth and the halt of rape culture (which some slogans of this business purport), to which he answered the following:

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He didn’t really answer my question and went straight for the overseas problem but appreciated his honesty in not knowing – which is generally the case with most people who start shouting objection to the calling out of bad actions.

‘Wicked Campers aren’t out to make women inferior.’

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I respectfully, but wholeheartedly, disagree.

Deep Breath.

PS – I have started a Change.org petition to the founder of Wicked Campers;
Please sign if you are tired of being told what to ‘relax’ about.

>>> Sign Here

What follows is how I see it; a manifesto of sorts. You can take it or leave it.

I am speaking to every single person who graces this post with their attention – regardless of gender (however you interpret that), race, religious persuasion, social standing and so forth.

I’m tired.

Aren’t you?

The attainment of money – that noxious contagion that has infected the psyche of our species – is the driving force of every human being, in some form or another, regardless of social standing.
One either works like a dog to attain it; ‘steals’ from the vulnerable to maintain ones wealthy society (and keep the status quo) or denies others from obtaining it, through enslavement – well, the last two points are heading up to the alter together, hand in hand.

This insatiable capitalist system, is destructively out of control.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

We have utterly lost our way.
We are suffering as a species and so is the planet that sustains us.
Our humanity is vanishing before our very eyes.

At home, I am teaching my girls to ‘find a solution to the problem’ and telling them to really think about the varying factors, before making an intelligent choice.
{I get cranky when I find out that the way they continue to deal with their problem is by shouting, finger-pointing and/or lying to get the other one in trouble.
Kids, right? Ha. That’s what far too many ‘adults’ do.}

The problem with our current paradigm – in its core – boils down to labels;
gender – race – religion – class.

* We attach labels (along with their pre-determined characteristics) to everything;
* We bestow judgement and social stigma or exile upon those who don’t conform to said labels and behaviours;
* We use these labels in pedestrian, yet sadly effective ways, to target the basest of human wants, rendering our race stupid.

The toxic way we relate to each other due to labels, has become the crux of how we relate to everything – especially our planet’s ecosystem; becoming critically out of balance.

We manipulate, exploit and insatiably consume – with little (if any) foresight – thanks to the lustful procurement of money and/or power.

The label that is crippling us the most, is that of gender.
Both males and females bundled into Label A: Men and Label B: Women.

What is a man?
What is a woman?

BAM! And there in lies the problem of our existence.

In the western world, Government – Big Business – Media (with their basis in ‘Religion’ {however you interpret that}) suckle at the teat of these manufactured labels, for the benefit of the self-serving and privileged few.
Dividing us into Men and Women – and making those categories ever stricter but MASS PRODUCED – is their bread and butter.

SCREW THAT!

It’s time to evolve out of this cesspit of hatred and destruction; actually use our minds, think intelligently and do things a little differently.

I – along with so many others (of both ‘genders’) – have been involved in bloody battles on the Internet; calling out abhorrent behaviour and crossing paths with bitter and spiteful trolls (of both ‘genders’).
Gender, in essence, is irrelevant – either one is a good person (with a penis or vagina) or one is not.

My proposal:

We must look at THE ACTION of a person only – regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs and/or class; we must drop all labels.

Classifying people in any way only entrenches the stigma further. I mean, how has this been working for us thus far? It’s only digging that wedge in further.

‘All men are violent’

‘All women are bitches’

Question #208: What is the ultimate point of categorising a person, when it’s the action of said person that must be addressed?

I am an actionist.
Another label, I know, but one that encompasses a fight for a just existence for all human beings – regardless.

Of course there are innumerable levels of dangerous conditioning that need to be dismantled – so very many – which I will explore more deeply in following posts, but I believe being an actionist is fighting for equality via a different track and that gives me hope.

It doesn’t matter who you ‘identify’ as – you’re a mixture of a gazillion different nuances that make you, you.
Who you are has nothing to do to with speaking out against destructive behaviours – *especially* those done to others because it could just as easily be us.
Anyone can be an actionist.

Join me?

keep-calm-and-be-an-actionist

Deep Breath.

 

 

 

 

Think ahead.

Arguments, however, by all those who troll the Internet and are given a platform to let their hatred infect – Think behind.

 

 

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:

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.39.22 pm

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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