FAQ

What is objectification?

A:

Objectification is the process by which a person comes to be treated as a commodity or an object for use, rather than a human being with a personality, feelings, needs, dignity and rights. Sexual objectification is where a person is objectified for the purpose of the sexual gratification or use of another.

See also 'Empowerment, Body Positivity and the Internet'. 

What is sexualisation?

A:

The American Psychological Association defines sexualisation in this way:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

1)    a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;

2)    a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;

3)    a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the     capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or

4)    sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

Read the entire report here.

Opposing sexualisation is not the same as opposing sex or sexuality. We are for a culture in which people can develop and express healthy sexuality in their own time. To achieve this we must resist a culture that tells people their sexual value is all they are.

Is sexualisation just in the eye of the beholder?

A:

Micki Wood, mother of US child beauty pageant star Eden Wood, made this same argument in response to child advocates and health professionals who spoke out against sexualising and exploitative pageants, claiming that if an individual looks at a child and thinks 'sex' the problem is with them. At this time Eden was six years old and famous for her Vegas showgirl routine. 

This notion that viewers are simply choosing to view children though a sexualised lens is a deliberate misrepresentation of the issue, one that obscures reality in such a way as to let advertisers and marketers off the hook completely, as if deliberately contrived ads somehow happened by accident and viewers are seeing something that isn't there. This argument is either disingenuous or indicates a lack of understanding into the significant global body of research into the harms of sexualisation. (See our resources page for more.)

Why do you show sexualised images and videos when you are trying to fight against this?

A:

Collective Shout is a campaigning movement that is against the objectification of women and sexualisation of children in media and advertising.

From time to time as part of our campaigning we will choose to share these images to encourage supporters to take action. History has shown that majority of our supporters are more compelled to take action when they themselves have seen the offending advertisement.

While we would prefer that none of us had to look at these images our aim is to create change through collective action in the most successful way possible. 

By campaigning against these companies and ads, aren’t you doing exactly what they want? Creating controversy and providing them with free advertising?

A:

It’s true that some companies will use controversy as a way of increasing exposure to their product and brand. They hope this increased exposure to their brand will translate to increased sales. This must be true at least some of the time, or companies wouldn’t continue to do it.

So we can do nothing and hope it goes away. We can leave the objectification of women unchallenged. We can remain silent on the sexualisation of children. Or we can take action and expose the offending company.

These companies are going to make their money even if we don’t campaign against their practices, so we choose to speak out. Any increased sales are an unintended consequence of activism and an indictment on the self-regulated advertising industry that fails to penalise companies for unethical marketing practices. We maintain that advertising industry self-regulation doesn’t work. Read our submission here. Read about how the Advertising Standards Board works here.

‘Silence is the language of complicity, speaking out is the language of change.’ – anon

Why don’t you include men in your mission statement? It’s not right to objectify men either.

A:

Sexualised representations have increased for both men and women over the last few decades, however hyper-sexualised images of women (but not men) have skyrocketed. Women are more likely than men to be viewed as objects, even when both genders are portrayed in similar sexualised ways. Women also objectify other women at the same rate as men.   

We do not support equal opportunity objectification, but the reality is that it is primarily women who are objectified in our culture. Even a brief look at the media and advertising landscape demonstrates that this is the case. Women are also far more likely to be impacted negatively by objectification than men. This is why our activism is primarily concerned with issues affecting women and girls.

We do, however, encourage people to speak out against objectification wherever it is seen - including against the objectification of men and boys. Everyone is welcome to use our website, Facebook and Twitter for awareness raising and advice, along with relevant complaints processes.

But don’t women choose to participate in pornography/lingerie football/beauty pageants etc? Doesn’t your activism limit their choices and freedom?

A:

The issue of choice is complex. A number of factors influence the choices a person makes, including culture. Through media, marketing and product placement, the dominant message about women and girls is clear – women are valued for their appearance and how well they can sexually satisfy men.

We absorb this message from a very early age. Mainstream children’s media communicates that ‘beauty’ is a woman’s most important attribute. Images of flawless, slim, youthful models plaster public spaces. Padded bras and make up are marketed towards little girls. Pornographers are working hard to connect girls and young women to their products and the global branding of the sex industry.

The negative impact of sexualisation is significant and has been documented globally.

Girls are under increasing pressure to fit a narrow beauty standard and a sexualised mould. A culture that affirms girls for conforming to these standards is one in which women will be willing to participate in their own exploitation. Collective Shout believes in challenging and changing this toxic culture, rather than focusing on the choices of individual women.

Why don’t Collective Shout speak out on other causes such as abortion and asylum seekers. They are about women’s rights too.

A:

Collective Shout’s primary focus is the objectification of women and sexualisation of children in media, advertising and popular culture. We don’t ask our supporters what their views are on topics outside of this although we know that many of our supporters are very involved in other causes as well.

Many of our supporters give their talents, time and money to our cause and it would be a misuse of their resources to campaign on topics outside of our primary mission.

Does Collective Shout partner with outside organisations?

A:

From time to time Collective Shout partners with organisations who share our vision. These engagements are usually time limited and enable us to achieve outcomes that may not be possible to achieve on our own. Sometimes our partners are involved in other activities regarding issues beyond the narrow mandate of Collective Shout. Our partnerships are project specific and do not mean that we support other agendas of our partners.

By critiquing sexualisation are you shaming the girls?

A:

A common refrain is that to acknowledge sexualised clothing is to ‘shame’ girls for their choices. The fact is, the sexualisation of girls has very little to do with girls choices, and much more to do with adults - companies, advertisers and marketers - whose financial interests are at stake, corporations who make choices to sexualise girls for their own financial gain. 

Calling out retailers that manufacture and sell padded push-up bras and g-strings for pre-pubescent girls, clothing and underwear with sexualised and suggestive slogans and merchandise embedded with the logo of global pornography brand Playboy is not shaming girls. It is holding these companies accountable. 

Another accusation from sexualisation deniers is that accurately labelling children’s clothing as sexualised is tantamount to arguing children are inviting sexual attention or even sexual assaults from grown men. Identifying sexualisation and outlining the harms for girls is in no way suggesting girls or victims are responsible for crimes against them. What the research does indicate, however, is that the sexualisation of children may play a role in ‘grooming’ children for abuse.

Dr Emma Rush, co-author of Corporate Paedophila report said, “Premature sexualisation also erases the line between who is and is not sexually mature, and as such, may increase the risk of child sexual abuse by undermining the important social norm that children are sexually unavailable.” 

The American Psychologial Association concluded that “Ample evidence testing these theories indicates that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and attitudes and beliefs.”

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