Gone in 24 hours. But why does this keep happening?
Well that was quick.
On Tuesday afternoon I posted on my social media pages this hoodie for primary school aged boys.
It was found in the Canberra outlet store of surf style chain shop Quiksilver, which describes itself as ‘The World’s Leader in Snow and Surf Clothing’ by Rachel Grant. She’s a mum who was looking for clothes for her 6 and 9-year-old sons who were with her. She then told me about her unfortunate discovery on the rack of clothing in her son’s sizing.
Quiksilver was about to become a world leader in objectified and sexualised clothing for little boys.
At a time when we are (at last) having a global discussion about the mistreatment of women and girls, calling out the bad behaviour of so many predators, gropers, sexual abuse apologists and general thugs and with governments adding in new budget items for respectful relationships programs in schools, corporates like this go about their merry misogynistic ways, creating fashion items which enmesh objectification of women and male entitlement in the culture.
Supporters went into action immediately – women like mother, grandmother and teacher Lisa Ashdowne who wrote in part: “I’m writing to make a complaint about the messages your products and advertising send our children, girls and boys, about who they are in the world, how they should think and behave, where they belong in society, the value they hold for themselves and for others – living in Torquay, I am faced daily with the overriding message that boys and men are valued for their skills and effort in surfing and girls and YOUNG women are valued when they are skinny, semi-naked…being on display, not valued for anything other than another’s pleasure. I will be actively campaigning against your company until your values and guiding principles change and they are EXPLICITLY demonstrated in your products and your communications at all levels”.
Then, the next day, supporters began receiving this message.
I’ve thanked Quiksilver for their prompt response. And they deserves thanks.
But activist Melinda Liszewski, whose has been working with me in cultural jamming actions for more than a decade, asks this pointed question on twitter:
That’s the thing, isn’t it. There are people who decided that plastering semi naked women on a jumper for little boys, suggesting those women are a ‘paradise’ for them to enjoy, is acceptable. There were entire design/buying/marketing departments determining that turning little boys into walking billboards for spreading harmful ideas about women and girls was fine. Where is the quality control? The ethics? The corporate social responsibility?
It’s great to go into the New Year with a win straight up. And we are thankful when companies respond to community concern. But we must remain vigilant and keep fighting until there is genuine change at every level.
“Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain”: Former child star Mara Wilson condemns sexualisation of child actors
Former child actress Mara Wilson, from Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire, has penned an essay condemning the sexualisation of child actors.
The piece featured on Elle.com recalled Wilson’s experiences of being sexualised and fetishised as a child:
"Even before I was out of middle school, I had been featured on foot fetish websites, photoshopped into child porn, and received all kinds of letters and messages online from grown men.
"At every premiere and awards show, I would see strange men holding photos of me they’d printed themselves, hoping I would sign, and I would, hoping they were going to sell it somewhere and not keep it.”
“As soon as I’d hit puberty, it had become okay for strangers to discuss my body…Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain.”
Wilson was motivated to write the piece after seeing inappropriate comments on social media about Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, who is thirteen. A photo of the young actress at a premiere had been tweeted alongside the caption that, at thirteen, she “just grew up in front of our eyes”.
Wilson described feeling both sick and furious, arguing that a 13- year-old girl is not all grown up.
“I thought of the media outlets that posted countdown clocks until Emma Watson or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were “legal”—that is to say, “safe” fantasy material. These websites also run scare pieces about kidnapped children, teen sex-trafficking, and pedophile predators. Young girls at risk, young girls objectified: It’s all titillation to them. These adults fetishize innocence, and the loss of innocence even more. They know what they’re selling.”
Wilson shared her dismay over criticisms of 13-year-old Brown’s appearance on social media, which included comments suggesting she was inviting sexual attention or harassment through her dress.
“Saying what amounts to “if she didn’t want to be sexualized, her parents should not have dressed her that way” takes the responsibility away from the one doing the sexualizing. It would be unacceptable for an adult to comment on the body of a 13-year-old girl they knew. So why do these adults make pronouncements about the body of a 13-year-old girl they have never met?”
With the growing #MeToo movement, Hollywood has come under scrutiny over the abusive treatment of actresses by powerful men. But the tendency to sexualise girls and fetishise youth and innocence is not limited to Hollywood.
Wilson had some final words of advice to social media participants:
“We do not need to perpetuate the culture of dehumanization Hollywood has enabled. But the media has become democratized; social media and user-generated content mean anyone can write about anyone, and there is a good chance anyone will see it. We are all part of the media, but I don’t know if we’ve realized that yet, nor understood what a tremendous responsibility that is.
“I’m not saying we need to tiptoe around celebrities’ feelings. But we should be careful and thoughtful…Commenting on a child’s body, whether in a “positive” or “negative” way, in a sexualizing or pitying way, is still commenting on a child’s body.”
In our sexual histories series, authors explore changing sexual mores from antiquity to today.
We often hear that we are living in a corrupting, visually saturated, consumer culture, which threatens the innocence of girlhood. But representations of young girls in the European postcard trade at the turn of the 20th century cast doubt on this notion of an ideal, more innocent past.
From the mid-1890s until the first world war, Europeans had a love affair with collecting postcards. Created in 1874, the Universal Postal Unionestablished standardised postal regulations at accessible rates for its member nations; this greatly contributed to the postcard craze. In bigger cities, cards needed just a few hours to arrive at their destinations. The world was at one’s fingertips.
Rival publishers vied for attention with collectors’ competitions, impressive exhibitions, and artistic innovations. It did not take long for alluring postcards to flourish in the light-hearted social context of the time. European publishers showed great ingenuity in avoiding local censorship. They played with the boundaries of what was socially and legally acceptable.
Yet the trend of erotic postcards did not just bring cheeky smiles and cheerful eroticism. A quick look at one Italian postcard (c. 1900) highlights more disturbing aspects. Elevated on a pedestal, a pre-pubescent model is the privileged object of our gaze. Side lightings magnify her blond mane, and sculpt her flawless skin. A neutral backdrop focuses the attention on her statuesque body. This little goddess is a work of art.Read more
Experts advise parents to have their eyes wide open in this digital age, as sexual predators are targeting children through Social media apps.
The rise of social media has made the threat of online child grooming easier, resulting in high prevalence of sexual exploitation. Experts have advised that parents need to stay up-to-date with mobile apps to be prepared for potential threats. It has become more apparent that sexual predators and paedophiles have been using social media to groom children and teens, preying on kid’s attachment to their favourite mobile and computer apps.
‘Grooming’ is when a person manipulates a child for sexual purposes, by building an emotional connection to gain their trust. The process may start with sending pornographic images to the child, ‘normalising’ sexual activities, to eventually moving on to requesting naked images or perform a sex act on a webcam.Read more
Netflix 'Stranger Things' all-child cast is sexualised in a raft of new media
"TV is sexier than ever" with 13-year-old child actor Milly Bobby Brown, who has "turned it up" in the words of recent media reports.
The fine line between sophistication and sexy. The Feed's Andy Park takes a look at how children and sexuality are portrayed in the images we consume and finds that standards are fluid. And they are changing fast.
Every day, everywhere, we are saturated with images of sexuality. Buy this. Click here. Like us.
But where these images become taboo is at the fringes of what we find acceptable. Especially when they involve children.
Julie Willis is a Gold Coast based photographer who specialises in photographing children from newborns right up to teenagers.
Many of the children Julie photographs are destined to be featured in magazines and advertising.
She says working with mothers who allow their children to model at an early age can sometimes have its challenges.
But it's the reaction to images of children that are viewed by some as sexual, that she can't understand.
"For me, I don't live in world where I look at children in that way or that kind of thing," says Julie. "I think it's people's interpretation of their own childhood, their own life, and whether they've got that disposition within their own upbringing that triggered something."
So is it all about our subjective view or can you draw some more objective standards on what is, and what is not, appropriate for children in media and advertising?
First let's look at how things have changed.
In the 1960s products still very much reflected social attitudes of the day. Barbie was in the kitchen, Ken was looking sporty.
But then suddenly something happened. We changed and Mattel released a new doll.Read more
A mother has won a battle against a popular retail company, Best & Less who were selling slogan T-shirts with inappropriate messages targeted at young girls.Read more
A mother has won a battle against teen clothing company Missguided who were promoting child sexual abuse imagery in their shop. A recent blog published by Elizabeth Johnston an Activist Vlogger from theactivistmom.com who educates about current events and topics that are important to families shares the following:
You know it’s a sick world we live in when you can’t even take your kids out to buy clothes without them being sexualized.
Clothing company “Missguided” came under fire recently for posting a sign on the wall of several of its UK shops that read “send me nudes.”
Yup, in an age where the sexualization of children must be guarded against every single day, “Missguided” – which also operates in the U.S.– just had to take things a step further and literally encourage the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse imagery.
A new 2017 study has revealed that more Australian teens are viewing porn and they are exposed at younger ages than ever before.Read more
Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigning movement fighting the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture. In its 2007 Task Force into the Sexualisation of Girls, the American Psychological Association defined sexualisation (as opposed to healthy sexuality) as follows:Read more