'Choking women is sexy': Honey Birdette ads eroticise violence against women

Named 'champions for women' host BDSM-strangulation ads in their malls

'Choking is sexy, women love to be choked'. That's the message Honey Birdette is broadcasting to all-ages audiences in shop windows across the country.

Its latest batch of porn-inspired BDSM themed ads includes a video featuring a woman in black bondage wear, complete with a collar and chain. The woman is shown pulling on the chain and writhing sexually before breaking into a smile. The message to the all-ages shopping centre audience which includes children? Choking women is sexy, women enjoy being choked.

It’s yet another display of contempt for women and girls by sex shop chain Honey Birdette - which we’ve called out before for eroticising violence against women in its publicly displayed, floor to ceiling, bondage and porn themed ads.

And it’s yet another demonstration of hypocrisy from Honey Birdette’s Champions of Change-led landlords who claim to care about women, ending sexism and even boast about their work to support victims of domestic violence. Meanwhile, women in the community who have been victims of male violence - the shopping centres' own customers - are fair game for exposure to Honey Birdette’s triggering ads.

Caitlin Roper in The Age: Strangulation a ‘red flag for homicide’. Why is Honey Birdette portraying it as a bit of sexy fun?

Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper condemned the ads and challenged Honey Birdette's Champions of Change landlord CEOs to take action. Writing for The Age, Caitlin referred to the growing number of reports from women and girls who have been pressured to submit to violent, unwanted sex acts - like choking - and the rise in men's use of 'rough sex' defences in women's killings - many of them by strangulation. These disturbing trends highlight the serious real-world consequences to women and girls resulting from the eroticisation of violence against them.

From the article:

Publicly portraying simulated acts of violence against women as sexy and desirable not only contributes to a culture of violence against women – it silences victims by preventing them from naming or recognising what happened to them as abuse.

We have finally started to engage in a national dialogue about the reality of men’s violence against women and its devastating impacts. There is a greater understanding of the connection between attitudes towards women and men’s treatment of them, as well as the cultural drivers underlying men’s violence such as sex inequality, casual sexism and the routine objectification of women.

What does it say about the status of women in this country if we don’t even draw the line at videos that sexualise and simulate acts of violence against them being streamed in shopping centres, to an audience that includes women, children and survivors of rape and sexual violence?

What does it say about how little we care about survivors of violence against women that sexualised depictions of it could form the backdrop of our day-to-day lives and be considered unremarkable?

'It's not empowerment, it's misogyny'

In a separate media piece, Caitlin slammed the ads, telling 9Honey that 'portraying choking as sexy, as something women desire and enjoy, shows a reckless disregard for women':

"Strangulation is a serious red flag for future homicide, and victims can suffer brain damage or death even weeks or months after.

"Women are increasingly reporting being unexpectedly choked during sex by male partners.

"At a time where we are finally starting to have a meaningful national dialogue about men's violence against women, it's hard to fathom how Honey Birdette could have thought it was a good idea to eroticise choking to sell overpriced lingerie."

The article continued:

Roper believes the imagery in the new campaign could be "deeply distressing to many survivors of violence against women."

Honey Birdette's eroticisation of violence is a slap in the face to these women," Roper says, adding the brands "eroticising violence against [women] for profit."

"This is not what empowerment looks like, it's misogyny."

Roper draws attention to the "rough sex" legal defence, whereby defendants claim the death of a sexual partner occurred because of injuries sustained during consensual sex.

"I don't think this is any great surprise given their sexist and sexually objectifying treatment of women in their advertising. They've been showcasing their attitudes towards women for years," she tells 9Honey.'

Read the full article here.

See also

Ad Standards endorses Honey Birdette upskirting ads after new porn style ads are released

"Blissfully bound”: Honey Birdette eroticisation of violence harms women

12 ways Honey Birdette disempowers women and girls

Honey Birdette sexual objectification does not empower women, it leaves them worse off

Submission to Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Inquiry




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