**IMPORTANT***

A journalist I know is looking for parents who have had to deal with the inappropriate exposure of child to porn.
PLEASE email: melissagjacob@gmail.com

I’m going to be interviewed for this article. Chuffed!

It would be FANTASTIC to get some stories. They can be anonymous, if that is what you wish.

The effects of porn on our children is a very real and horrible reality. We must continue to have a conversation about this.

xxx

shh-porn

Last year, I wrote the post – Sex…education? – about my concern over our youth’s access to just about any type of porn on the internet – at their fingertips.
Playing with porn is a recent article pretty much declaring the same.

This porn paradigm is destroying a lot of our kids – it really is – and we just allow pornographers and the punters to indulge – either by watching it or making money off it – at the expense of our girls…AND our boys.

In fact, we are breeding the worst in some of our boys and girls/men and women, and the collective silence is allowing it. 

In just one week I heard a few personal stories from great women I know, regarding porn – accessed through the internet – by 11 year old boys (one a son, the other a nephew).

That’s young, isn’t it? 11?

Story #1

NEPHEW: The Aunt, with her very young sons – below 5 years of age – had their 11 year old cousin visit them in the holidays.

She thought that he was showing the young boys a game on his smart phone.
It turned out to be porn images.

The Aunt found herself pouncing to deflect her sons’ focus off the images – without drawing too much attention and making a fuss at the same time.

What she also felt was incensed – not just with the fact that her nephew was doing what he was doing – but also the ease with which he was able to ‘share’.

Story #2

SON: The mother called out to her 11 year old son to come to her when at home.
He appeared – upset – saying, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to see it! I didn’t see much!”
The mother was merely going to ask him a question, but instead found herself thinking, ‘Oh no. What has he done?’
The poor boy had googled ‘Angry Birds’ and it seems porn companies will pay Google through the teeth to advertise on the top page, when those words are put in.
Predatory.
This normal, curious boy clicked on the ad because it was deceptively luring him in with information about Angry Birds.

It was a porn site.
The boy was quite upset by what he saw – on many levels.
His mother saw the shame he felt and immediately comforted him on the fact that it was NOT his fault.

It’s not the fault of any of these boys because the problem is what’s out there and its accessibility.

What’s out there, you ask?

Well, Red Tube.
Another friend told me her 12 year old son – still six months shy of entering high school – was informed by a school friend of this site.
I just looked it up and the homepage alone is utterly and horrifically graphic.

As this site loaded its welcome and revealed itself, I can tell you that I was NOT prepared with what appeared.
Simple shock was what hit me first – like a rabbit in headlights – followed by an overwhelming wave of indignant fury at this site’s very existence and finally, a very real sense of helplessness that boys who are still in Primary School are looking – learning – experiencing something many will not understand – and then passing around the name of this site to friends.

Surely the logic in our minds has to admit that the porn that’s accessible today, as well as how it’s made, is dangerous, sinister and toxic.

How can boys navigate through this, without it affecting their mental health (in terms of sex)?

How are parents, who are already finding themselves overwhelmed, supposed to help their sons form healthy, loving and respectful relationships with women, when what they see in porn is the COMPLETE opposite?

I can’t help but feel a sense of despair – and all for an industry saturated in money, dominance and violence.

Is this what we want for our sons and daughters?

Question #176: Can’t people see things are very, very wrong?

On Friday Night, SBS aired the following documentary:

Love and Sex in an Age of Pornography 
(This link expires on the 9th August – please make time to watch this)

This is a fantastic collection of perspectives (from Australia) by many young adults, in relation to the porn industry.
The girls broke my heart – too many beautiful, young girls covering their tears with laughter…sitting with their agent who is literally filth.
The juxtaposition between them and him only compounds how it’s all VERY out of whack.

Below there is a petition which is following the UK’s footsteps – where a law has been passed, compulsorily putting filters and stops to porn (adult content) from reaching any computer – unless asked for – as well as making it illegal to make rape porn.

Bloody brilliant.

We want to do the same, here in Australia…

 How wonderful would that be?

SIGN HERE

Deep Breath

x

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I made this…

July 21, 2013

…because it’s what I feel:

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Time to act.

Deep Breath

x

Let the battle begin.

July 15, 2013

In the UK, Kat Banyard – founder of UK Feminista – started a campaign to Lose the Lads’ Mags.

She has signatures from lawyers supporting her push to have leading businesses, like Tesco, cease to continue stocking magazines – such as ZOO – in their stores.

As it states in the linked article (whilst looking through a ZOO magazine):

Banyard points to one advertising sex line workers who are “just 18” and a bigger ad, on the facing page, promising “Asian Dolls: find your perfect Oriental escort NOW!”. She winces slightly. “I find it staggering that high street retailers sell these magazines mean, they’ve been on their shelves for years, but I still find it staggering that they expect customers and employees to be exposed to this and also that they think it’s OK to profit from them.”

I think this drive is fantastic.

I want to do it here in Australia – and this is why…

A few days ago, my 10 yr old daughter needed a few simple stationary items, so I said we’ll pop into our local newsagency – a family friendly place, right?

This is the same location where I had ‘words’ with the owner, a few months ago, about how he positioned his copies of ZOO magazine on a stand, so that you could see it from outside the shop as you walk by…or your son…or daughter…or grandparents…
He also had very provocative magazines in the same location – down the front of the store – near the newspapers.

When I challenged him about a magazine cover showing a naked lady sitting on a push bike, in plain view from where you get the newspapers, he simply told me I had good eyes. (?)
He also argued that ‘children never go there’.

He ended up removing the ZOO magazine stand – which was a positive step – but alas, it stopped there. He left the other magazines as they were.

It had been a long time since I had gone in there, so you can understand how livid I was when I saw my daughter head to the stationary section and noticed it is located directly opposite the Lads’ magazines.

The current cover of ZOO is this:

IMG_5564

Below are the magazines ready for visual perusal, by anyone wanting to buy stationary in this newsagency – where ‘children never go’:
Bulging breasts, spread legs; titles such as ‘Six feet of Sex’ and ‘Hot Stuff’…oh and a naked woman.
Above these are the hard-core mags which have the majority of the cover shrouded in dark plastic.

If this is what’s ‘allowed’ to be shown – what the hell are on the other covers?

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Where I was standing, as I took the photo below, is where they sell the newspapers and women’s gossip magazines. Stationary wall to the left and lads’ magazines just opposite.

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Question #175: Does this incense you as it does me?

I spoke up.
The only person in the shop was a woman who I have regularly seen over the years and I told her I thought that it was completely inappropriate to have these magazines where children could see these pornographic photos – where anyone could see.

She shrugged, said she just worked there and it had nothing to do with her.
A fairly predictable and typical response and yet still deeply disappoints.
I always wonder if the day will ever come, when someone I’ve spoken to says, “Yeah! That’s true.” (A girl can dream).

She also offered an alternative place of business – Officeworks – to buy stationary.
I was surprised by that – proposing we spend our money elsewhere – and I said to her that sadly,  for newsagents, it may just have to be the way.

At that point I directed my girls out of the shop and we did, in fact, go elsewhere.

There seems to be no thought for anyone except heterosexual boys and men to get titillated (and conditioned) everywhere they go, perpetuating this ever-invasive porn culture …and then profit from that.

Of course, we have the equally unsettling issue of the girls and women participating in this paradigm – who feel somehow empowered to be told by men they look ‘hot’ when nearly naked…and then profit from that.
It’s aaall OK, as long as someone’s getting rich – regardless of what ethical lines are being crossed.

Well, I am done.

So is my friend Lily Munroe and we’ve started research for our own campaign.
So stay tuned.

Question #176: Are you with us??

Deeeeeeep (nervous but pumped) breath.

x

A day at the movies.

July 3, 2013

As I stepped into the cinema complex – it was utter chaos.

School holidays. What a nightmare. Kids everywhere – excited – and asking for everything.

I took my 10 yr old, her school friend and my 6 yr old, for a stint at the movies, to see Monsters’ University.

The cinema was full to the brim of super-energized children and their parents.
Nothing was on the screen at this stage.

It’s funny that when you go to a kids’ movie, you tend to get there early.
Why is that? So loud. Kids kicking into the back of your seat…

The first ads started to roll out – the still-photograph ones – promoting the local area.

To my horror, one of these ads was for pole dancing classes, with images of women dressed as strippers – one hanging upside own with her legs completely spread apart.

Behind me, two 7ish yr old-looking boys exclaimed, “Whoa!”

All the while girls and women are being told, it’s great exercise!
So why not in sports’ gear?

Bollocks.
It’s grooming girls and boys. It’s Porn Culture.

So that was Gender Studies Lesson #1 for a lot of the children in that cinema.

Did they all see it? Or get it?
Who cares.
The two, 7 yr olds behind me certainly felt a reaction that their brains computed and filed somewhere, and I know my daughters saw it.

I was gobsmacked. It almost feels like they’re taking the piss.

Then we came to the ads for future kids’ movies. Coming soon!

  1. Planes (from the makers of Cars) – animated scenes from Top Gun in the ad. Boy planes talking about other boy planes.
  2. One about a snail (a boy) who wants to be fast and his dream comes true (fancy that). That one’s called Turbo.
  3. Smurfs 2 with ONE female – who needs rescuing from all the men.
  4. And a behind-the-scenes movie following One Direction around their world tour.

This leads us to Gender Studies Lesson #2: Almost all children’s movies will be about boys, leading boys fulfilling their destinies and boy worship.

Not girls or women. They can only (generally) be a support to helping him.

Yes – we did have Merida from Brave and what a wonderful, sassy, girl she was. I say ‘was’ because Disney are now remodelling her to look more ‘princess’ like, with a smaller waist, big doughy, cat-like eyes with long eyelashes…see below *sigh*

Left = After – – – – – – – – Right = Before.

original

It feels hopeless. They give us a wonderful story about a brave girl and her relationship with her mother (of all things) and then take it away again by wrapping her up in Barbie.

And then there was the actual movie, Monsters’ University. It was good in parts – it was about boys, boys, mateship, boys, boys, brotherhood, boys, boys, teachers…and one dominant female role – the meanie Dean of the University. Witchy like, but who was the best ‘scarer’ of her time. Can’t have it all (be the best AND nice), like the boys.

monsters-university-poster

When we left the cinema, I did chat to the girls about why we keep seeing children’s movies that are SO male heavy and what ‘type’ of women/girls we all – boys included – soaked in.

In the few hours of our cinematic journey, the female representation we observed, was as follows:

  • Ad: Stripper – sexual pleasure machine
  • Upcoming movies: The only substantial amount of girls seen, in only one of four trailers aired, were screaming out their undying love (male worship) for the cookie-cutter boys of One Direction – the other needed rescuing.
  • Movie: A secondary role of a mean, witch-like Dean of the University
  • Movie: An even lesser role of a mother, in curlers, a mu-mu and doing the laundry
  • Movie: There were some all-girl frat houses, but collectively were on-screen for about a minute.

That’s it.

I honestly can’t convey my disappointment.
Boys are so fortunate to see the same positive reinforcement over and over again – showing them how to tackle problems with the brotherhood…

Question #172: Where are the movies for our girls? Where are their role models?

And another thing – even though it could be done without it, they didn’t use the opportunity to use the plural possessive apostrophe after Monsters in the title. The perfect chance to teach everyone its use – like for Mothers’ Day.
So no grammar lesson for the kiddies either.

Deep Breath

x

PS I lodged a complaint with the cinema and the Advertising Standards’ Board. I’ll keep you posted.

Respect #2

April 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

I need to make that point perfectly clear.

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

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

What say you?

Deep Breath

x

respect

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

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

Fantastic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bang.

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

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

Something to ponder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep Breath

x

sisterhood

I heard this question asked twice in one day, from two different people, about two different issues.

I think it’s the crux of it all – the question we must seriously ponder and decide when we ‘cross the line’.

Is there a line?

There has been a growing voice emerging and gradually escalating – standing up for the preservation of some basic, bloody principles. Fundamentals.

But there also seems to be a surge in bad, malicious, callous behaviour that’s infecting our culture – like bad apples rotting the barrel.

I don’t know…is it a backlash?

If we look at the current, abhorrent issue of the rape culture we now seem to inhabit, then we need look no further than the Steubenville rape case in the States. *Trigger Warning*

Why this case? Because it’s the first biggie since India. This was the test to see if we changed – even a bit.

We failed. In fact, I feel like we regressed.

The two boys on trial were found guilty of rape – one will serve a minimum of one year and the other, two (an extra year for taking nude photos of a minor and circulating them).

The discussion has been fierce on both sides – but I have to say that I am quite dumbfounded at the reactions to this case.

This girl was stripped naked, raped repeatedly, sodomised and urinated on (tweets support this) – carried around from party to party by the wrists and ankles – whilst unconscious. These boys went a step further by documenting the ordeal by filming, taking photos and tweeting about it.

There is the video where one of the bystanders who watched his mates, laughs about the girl’s  horrifying experience, for 12 minutes and discusses what was done to her – you can see it here. *Extreme Trigger Warning*
(Notice the rifle on the floor by this guy? What a frightening combination.)

And yet, there is an enormous, insurmountable number of people who still think it’s her fault. Blaming the victim. One man went so far as to write the following post over his ‘outrage’ that the rapists were put on a Sexual Offender Registry:

Why don’t we have a Dumb Fucking Whore Registry. Now that would be justice.

Just the title. Speechless. I’m so offended by it.

Why aren’t ALL women offended by this?

Many of the comments left on this post sing a familiar tune – supporting the author’s stance of the girl pretty much ‘asking for it’ – male and female alike – including that she wasn’t raped at all – just digitally penetrated. Saying she shouldn’t have gone out, shouldn’t have gotten drunk, shouldn’t have…etc.

This girl’s human rights were violently and devastatingly ripped from her.
She will never be able to form a healthy relationship with a man, she may have sustained physical injury – like not being able to have a baby, caught a disease and she’s still a child. She’s a minor and has already endured such a horribly degrading, violent and humiliating experience. Never, EVER to be forgotten.

They will do a year or two in juvenile detention. Come out and either rape again – more bad for us – or come out changed men. If that’s the case – great, they gets a second chance.

What about her?

Why should they get a second chance?

So how bad does a rape – or anything for that matter – have to be, before society snaps out of its coma and starts to take action?

Well, I see one of two solutions for our rape culture:

1. Women actually do as they’re told and stay home. They don’t go out. Stay indoors. And if you do go out, cover up so as not to provoke. Don’t smile sending mixed messages that you ‘want it’. There’s only one problem with that…many, many girls and women are raped at home. It’s a tricky one.

2. We hone in on the source of the problem:

Question #153: Why are there so many more men like this?

It may not be you – but if it’s not, you can’t deny –  it’s like a war out there.

Isn’t anyone hearing what’s being shouted? Or is everyone simply turning a deaf ear?

There’s only ONE significant change – I believe – in all our social existence.

PORN.

Yes, it’s always been around but now it’s saturating –  the availability of it – the actual advertising of it, regardless of location – like the local newsagent for families; TV – and what eyes are watching. REGARDLESS.

Women are advertised as whores (I’m sorry for the word – but it resonates best) to both our sons and daughters – look around at the effects this is having on both genders.
Life is imitating art.

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Quite unavoidable, isn’t it?

Is this the world you want?
Its consequences are happening now, to a lot of people. Around the globe. And it’s escalating.

This is bad.

Yet we find it hard to punish and say ‘No’. We give more and more chances – until when?

Seriously.

So I’ll ask again: If not now – WHEN?

Deep Breath

x

PS – I really do want to talk about this. Good guys – any ideas?

My local newsagent located the hard core porn magazines at the very front of the side shelf of his shop. If you send your kid down to buy you the paper – from where the papers are, you can see a magazine on the flat section of the shelf, with a fully naked woman on the cover, sitting on a pushbike.
I challenged him, very politely, saying if he had to have them at all, they should be at the back of the shop. It’s all still there.

What are your suggestions?

Just a quick observation.

I was watching The Project last night and one of the stories was about an annual competition here on the east coast of Australia:

The Face of Origin…

…for The State of Origin, of course.

As usual, the women all looked the same – long hair, lots of make-up and fake tan, little amount of clothing etc. etc. Snore. Snore.

I actually wonder how the guys pick the ‘winner’ out of the bunch…eeny, meeny, miney, mo?

Anyhoo, that’s just one angle – the obvious one – but here’s my question to you:

Question #65: Why can’t the ‘Face of Origin’ be a guy?

It’s a $20,000 prize.

Twenty THOUSAND dollars!!

So why can’t it be a guy? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a guy represent the ‘face’ of Rugby League?

With that sort of money – I was curious as to what you thought…

Deep Breath.

x