Sex doll sales blocked, new on-line safety plans, Pornhub + Big Tech held to account, beach handball body scraps bikini rule, sexist ads and products withdrawn - all thanks to supporter action!
What a year! Despite the multiple challenges caused in another COVID-ravaged year, 2021 saw us achieve a record number of wins - seven of them global!
Let Them Wear Shorts
The International Handball Federation scrapped its sexist bikini rule following global condemnation after the Norwegian women’s team was fined for “inappropriate clothing” after wearing bike shorts instead of bikini bottoms during a competition in Spain. Talitha Stone - a young Aussie woman now living in Norway - launched her #letthemwearshorts petition with our backing, attracting more than 61,000 signatures. Gymnastics NSW also announced its gymnasts would be permitted to wear shorts over their leotards. This was a great win for sports-loving women everywhere.
Alibaba blocks sex doll sales to Aus
After removing child sex abuse dolls from sale last year, global e-commerce platform Alibaba went even further, geoblocking sales of all sex dolls to Australia and the US.
Porn platforms held to account
As part of a global collaboration, we held major porn sites accountable for crimes against women and girls.
Mindgeek executives (Canada-based owners of Pornhub) were forced to face a Canadian Parliament ethics committee inquiry to account for allegations of trafficking, hosting videos of under-age girls, rape and non-consensual image sharing.
We had backed a petition calling for an investigation into the world’s biggest porn dispensing platform, which reached a staggering 2 million signatures. You can read our submission to the Canadian inquiry here.
Major Mindgeek porn tube site XTube was permanently shut down. Pornhub, YouPorn and XHamster are due to be closed down in Germany for refusing to protect children via required age verification procedures.
More companies cut ties with Pornhub. Budget shopping app Wish demanded Mindgeek ad agency TrafficJunky remove its logo after misrepresenting a partnership between them. (You may recall Mastercard blocked its services from porn sites hosting illegal material last December following a private briefing which included our Movement Director Melinda Tankard Reist).
Streaming site Roku revised its policy, effectively banning Pornhub and other porn sites.
We are now backing a class action against Mindgeek filed by our partners at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) Law Centre on behalf of survivors.
Big Tech forced to act to protect young people: Instagram’s new safety measures; Insta for Kids + Facebook encryption on hold, predator accounts removed
Instagram rolled out new safety measures for teens including default privacy settings for under 16s, blocking suspicious accounts from finding teens and restricting Direct Messages between teens and adults they don’t follow and prompting teens to set their accounts to ‘private'. New parental controls will be rolled out in March 2022.
Instagram announced it was putting plans for ‘Instagram for kids’ for under 12’s on hold.
Facebook parent company Meta announced it was delaying rollout of end-to-end encryption across messaging platforms until at least 2023. We were signatories to a joint letter with global partners calling on Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg not to go ahead with the plan. Authorities estimate 70 percent of child sex abuse material would go undetected if encrption went eahd on the platform.
Our team reported hundreds of Instagram and dozens of Twitter accounts to the National Centre on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for sexualisation, exploitation and/or predatory activity. Many were removed.
We also took part in meetings with Instagram executives and campaign partners in which we pressed for more changes. MTR and our campaigner Lyn Swanson Kennedy were invited to join a private briefing of Federal MPs by former Facebook employee and whistle blower Frances Haugen.
Victories at home
Fed Gov announces age-verification plan
After calling for a system to protect children from exposure to porn for years, the Federal Government announced support for an age verification system, instructing the eSafety Commissioner to come up with a roadmap for the rollout of a new system.
‘Bottle of Boobs’ gone
In our most recent win, Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory pulled its sexist and objectifying ‘Bottle of Boobs’ after supporters, including breast cancer survivors, condemned the product.
South Australia and Western Australia enacted legislation to deregister Wicked Camper vehicles where Ad Standards upheld complaints against them for sexist slogans. This follows our decade-long campaign which resulted in state transport ministers agreeing to uniform legislation to de-register vans carrying anti-women slogans where the company failed to comply with an Ad Standards ruling.
Pornified ads: gone!
Playboy-owned sex store Honey Birdette was pressured to pull its choking advertising from the window fronts of two stores in NSW and QLD after supporters complained to centre management.
The ‘Perfect Pair’ ad, which featured beer glasses positioned to resemble women’s breasts, was pulled from a Perth venue after local supporters objected.
Objectifying ‘fat-bottomed-girls’ funeral ad was pulled after our protest.
Chocolab removed a Facebook post featuring a block of chocolate with the slogan ‘F*ck me Daddy’.
Brisbane-based car loan company Cat Mountain pulled its porn-themed and racist ‘gang bang’ ads.
Alcohol brand Wet P*ssy pulled its ad after a supporter made a complaint to Ad Standards.
Playboy ANZ was forced to remove false retailer listings from its website after we exposed them.
Etsy petition grows to 55k signatures
Following our successful Alibaba campaign (see earlier), we turned our attention to ecommerce platform Etsy. Fashion designer, singer-songwriter and mum of five girls, Anna Cordell, launched a petition calling on Etsy to stop selling child sex abuse dolls and incest and child abuse-themed merchandise after closing her own Etsy store in complaint. Her petition was approaching 56,000 signatures just before publishing!
Playboy’s Honey Birdette exposed
We supported a fortnight-long boycott of shopping centres hosting Honey Birdette organised by supporter Sharon Coulton in response to the sex store’s ads eroticising choking.
The sex store clocked up almost 60 advertising code of ethics violations for its porn-inspired shop front advertising. Ad Standards had upheld complaints against 57 individual Honey Birdette ads. (We continue to make multiple complaints to Ad Standards re this multiple offender).
Along with breast cancer survivors, we called out Honey Birdette for pinkwashing breast cancer with its pornified breast cancer fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation.
We exposed a Lendlease shopping centre for hosting a children’s Santa parade which travelled directly past Honey Birdette’s BDSM-themed shopfront.
We exposed the so-called Champions of Change claiming to advocate gender equality in sports while hosting Honey Birdette porn-themed upskirting tennis ads in their shopping centres.
We also continued to put pressure on so-called ‘ethical’ superannuation investment companies for propping up the property groups which are Playboy-owned Honey Birdette’s landlords facilitating harm to all women and girls. Only two of the 15 companies have taken action and a third says it will (we will update our ‘Super Sexploitation Scorecard’ in the New Year so you can know where your ethical super company stands!).
#HoneyBirdetteMeToo - we amplified the voices of ex Honey Birdette employees who alleged sexual harassment and abuse.
City Beach introducing Playboy brand to youth
We exposed youth retailer City Beach flogging merchandise by Playboy, a major brand of the global porn industry, to teens.
Fighting the sex trade
We provided evidence to parliamentary committees, government reviews and local councils on sex trade harms. MTR testified before a South Australian parliamentary committee on a bill that would lead to industry de-regulation and Caitlin addressed councils in Victoria on the harmful consequences to women and girls from legitimising the trade in women’s bodies.
Joining American feminist icon Gloria Steinem and 200 sex trade survivors, we signed an open letter condemning Victoria’s decision to decriminalise the sex trade.
We also published an open letter from sex trade survivors excluded from giving evidence in the Victorian Government review, who condemned the lack of proper process.
Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper spoke on the global trade in child sex abuse dolls at ECPAT Taiwan’s International Conference on the Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation and a Campaign Against Porn Robots international online event.
We’ve also joined forces with our friends at Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATWA) on a research project examining how mainstream media normalised and promoted the sex industry during the Covid 19 pandemic. The report is due to be released on International Women’s Day in March.
Daniel joins the team - a big year in schools ahead!
We welcomed Daniel Principe to the team full time in June as our youth advocate and educator. Daniel and MTR are gearing up for a big year with almost 50 schools so far booking them to speak on porn culture, respect and consent. See here for more on the 2022 schedule to date which includes every state of Australia and even Christmas Island!
For enquiries, email Daniel: [email protected]
Re-imagining Masculinity interview series launched
We launched our new interview series Reimagining Masculinity: conversations with men challenging porn culture, hosted by Daniel. Guests so far have included New Zealand’s Richie Hardcore, Young Victorian of the Year Eric Agyeman, Professor and author Robert Jensen, recovering porn consumer James Evans, psychotherapist Paul Lavegrne and Shay Douglas from the Netflix documentary Liberated. The series can be viewed on YouTube.
We hosted a screening of The Children In The Pictures, followed by a panel discussion featuring Melinda Tankard Reist and Collective Shout campaigner Lyn Kennedy, Victim Identification Specialist (Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation) Scott Anderson and film directors Ahkim Dev and Simon Nasht.
Auction for Action
We held our first ‘Auction for Action’ to raise much needed funds for our fight against sexploitation.
First national virtual supporter event
We hosted our first online gathering with supporters nationally, to celebrate all our achievements over the past year and share our plans for the next one.
Our campaigns this year attracted significant media coverage to list here - here’s a selection:
Melinda Tankard Reist was a guest on Studio 10 to discuss Playboy-owned sex store Honey Birdette eroticising violence against women with its choking ad.
Talitha Stone’s #LetThemWearShorts petition victory attracted global media attention - we rounded up some of the highlights here.
Caitlin Roper contributed an op ed to The Ethics Centre, arguing porn is incompatible with gender equality.
Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Caitlin exposing sex store Honey Birdette eroticising violence against women with their shopfront choking ads.
The team participated in a number of podcasts and Facebook Lives, including MTR on the Ideas podcast, Caitlin on NCOSE’s End Sexploitation podcast, Daniel on radio 98.5 and Renee on ACCTV’s ‘Be that’ women’s show.
MTR and Caitlin research was cited in a global report, titled #exposebigporn, published by our colleagues at CEASE UK.
Social Media growth
We were very pleased to see significant follower growth across all our social media platforms, especially Instagram!
CSR Pledge Partners
We grew our list of companies and small businesses who signed our CSR pledge not to objectify women and sexualise girls in products and services. Please support them!
Our pledge partners provide a positive counter to our annual black list of corporate offenders which don’t deserve your Christmas dollar. You can view the handy guide to help inform your shopping choices here.
And if you’d like to have your business included and promoted to our thousands of supporters, please sign the pledge here.
It is your support which makes these wins and highlights possible! We look forward to achieving more victories with you in 2022.