Ad Standards refuses to review Honey Birdette BDSM ads 'a few shops down from Santa's Workshop'

Mystery Chair blocks 'padlocked + chained women' ads from review

*Content warning

An unnamed Ad Standards Community Panel Chair has denied panel review for a series of sex shop Honey Birdette's BDSM and porn themed shop window ads.

In the complaints, a campaigner noted hardcore BDSM features in ads for 'Chastity', including 'near naked women neck-bound with chains and padlocks, presented as sex objects for men'. 

Complaints were also submitted for 'Tilly' and 'Olympia' - ads which featured women in sheer underwear (exposing their genital region), posed in a sexualised fashion.

The campaigner objected to the ads - displayed in a family shopping centre in the same area as children were getting photos with Santa - on the basis of their harms to women and children:

These objectifying, pornified representations of women presented by owner Playboy are harmful and contribute to a culture in which women are reduced to the status of things for men's use and abuse, and in which violence against women is accepted.

I object to corporate pornographer Playboy exposing members of my community - including vulnerable children and young women who are victims of sexual assault and harassment - to its harmful, objectifying ads which depict women in terms of men's porn fantasies.

The campaigner pointed out the particularly poor timing of the ads which were displayed during United Nations' annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence:

Unacceptable at any time of the year, but it is particularly abhorrent to see these degrading representations of women in Australian public spaces during this campaign, while women and girls are fighting hard to rise above second class status and achieve equality and respect. Playboy's irresponsible, harmful advertising sets us back decades.

Ad Standards issued "consistently dismissed" (CDC) notices for the four ads, meaning the campaigner's concerns about the ads will not be considered by the Community Panel. Once the Chair issues a CDC notice, there is no further opportunity to have concerns about an ad heard. 

Campaigner responds

Dissatisfied with the outcome, the campaigner responded to Ad Standards:

I would like my disappointment made known to the Chair who made the decision to dismiss my concerns against a pornographer's BDSM-porn themed ads shown to children in my community, without forwarding them on to the panel for review. This is a gross abuse of power and a disservice to the community, which the panel is supposed to represent and protect from harmful advertising. His/her response only serves to diminish waning community confidence in the self regulated complaints handling process even further.

Please pass my response on to the Chair, and confirm that they have received it.

Ad Standards has not replied.

Who is this mystery chair who made a solo decision to sideline a community member's concerns about a pornographer exposing vulnerable women and children to its porn and bondage themed ads? Why do they have so much power? And why is their identity hidden? Why is this useless system we are all stuck with and beholden not more transparent? 

Porny Christmas ad awaiting review already replaced

The panel is scheduled to review a complaint about 'Ondine' - a porn themed ad featuring two women lying side by side, surrounded by Christmas gifts and foliage. A supporter told us that the ad has already been replaced, rendering any future decision Ad Standards makes about the ad entirely worthless.

Ad Standards' self regulated system aids and abets pornographers in our own backyards - and puts women and children in harm's way. It is a disaster.

Read about the many failures of self regulation and why we're STILL calling for a new system here.

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  • Collective Shout
    published this page in News 2023-12-07 16:30:35 +1100

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