Because all women must be brought to their knees

Melinda Tankard Reist writes on Zoo magazine's portrayal of Mary Mackillop

Published on ABC's The Drum Unleashed

Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop, was a woman who devoted her life to the poor and speaking out against injustice. Known as a progressive woman of action, her canonisation has just been celebrated in Rome.

But for Zoo magazine, it doesn’t matter who she is. Or really, who any woman is. Because all women exist only to serve male gratification and pleasure. All women must be brought to their knees.

Here’s some examples of Zoo's treatment of Mary MacKillop, using a model in a habit.
“The life and times of St Mary in lingerie”

“The newly canonised cans of St Mary”

“St Mary Mac and her holy rack”

“Mary’s heavenly hooters blessed by Pope”

She’s presented as on her knees and “begging for it”.

I know a number of religious sisters. They felt called to a different way of living. They rejected the usual life trajectories for women. They wanted to give their whole selves in service to others. They wanted to support each other in all-women communities.

While difficult for many to understand, their actions are radically counter-cultural. It’s a radical act to turn your back on all the world offers and give yourself in service to others.

That’s what Mary MacKillop did.

But Zoo’s editors don’t understand things like higher callings and devotion to others. It's beyond them to comprehend that there are women who really aren’t interested in conforming to the Zoo version of  pornified womanhood.

Their main concern is finding more fodder for the sexual gratification of their hungry male readers. More ‘hot’ women for men to ogle. More women to dissect piece by sexual piece. Pages and pages of female flesh for consumption.

So, even a woman like Mary MacKillop has to be brought under the control of male pornographers.

Catholics are understandably outraged and distressed by the ACP-owned Zoo spread.

But you don’t need to be a Catholic to be affronted. The treatment of Mary MacKillop is an insult to all women. Zoo has made a statement that no woman deserves special treatment. All women exist to provide masturbatory material. All women exist to be served up, made-up, made-over as male sexual fantasy. And they should be flattered.

"We think Mary would be thrilled and flattered at her portrayal,” editor Paul Merrill said.

Paul Merrill, your own portrayal is as a man beneath contempt.

Take Action!

Zoo magazine is published by ACP magazines, which is owned by PBL media. Use PBL's contact form to send them a message. Ian Law is the Chief Executive Officer of the PBL media group and Phil Scott Group is the publishing director for men's lifestyle magazines. (see here for more details) You might like to direct your message to both of them.

As well as including some basic information about Zoo's portrayal of Mary MacKillop in your message, you might also like to make the following points:

    • Zoo magazine is degrading to all women, however this mockery of a woman who devoted her life to the care and well being of others, including bravely speaking up for child victims of sexual abuse in the church, takes misogyny to a new level.
    • While it is often argued that the women who pose in magazines like Zoo 'choose' to do so, it cannot be said that Mary MacKillop consented to this degrading portrayal.
    • Editor Paul Merril's claim that Mary would be 'flattered and thrilled' shows his complete contempt for women.
    • Ask them: Is ACP proud to be the publisher of a magazine that has demeaned Mary Mackillop in this way?
    • Tell them you will not be purchasing ACP magazines and will not purchase ACP magazine subscriptions this holiday period if they do not at the very least make a strong statement against Zoo magazine's actions.


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