'You see more at the beach': Collective Shout responds to common defences of porn billboard

Sign petition to pull porn billboard - click image 

'You see more flesh at the beach'

Several people defending the porn billboard suggested the depiction of the woman featured on the billboard is 'nothing you wouldn't see at the beach'. This is an ill-informed and unjustifiable claim.

The woman is posed for sex: on all fours, legs spread, pouting lips. (Men on social media pages described the woman as posed "doggy style" and "ready for a pounding from the rear".)

Noting the photographer who took the pic is known for taking porn style images of women, the use of this pose is not coincidental. It serves the purpose of flagging the pornographic nature of the OnlyFans account promoted on the billboard.

Apart from a bikini (which is not and never has been an issue we are concerned about) there are no features which justify the claim that the billboard image is no different from a pic of a 'woman at the beach'.  

As we've highlighted previously, the problem with this kind of image is that it is an objectifying, pornified portrayal of a woman.

The presence of female flesh alone does not constitute sexual objectification. The inclusion of attractive women does not constitute sexual objectification.

Sexual objectification occurs when a person, often a woman, is treated as a body, or series of body parts for others' use and consumption, when her physical attributes and sexual capabilities are regarded as representative of her whole self or seen as determining her worth.

As Dr Linda Papadopolous stated in Sexualisation of Young People Review:

Although sexual objectification is but one form of gender oppression, it is one that factors into- and perhaps enables- a host of other oppressions women face, ranging from employment discrimination and sexual violence to the trivialisation of women’s work and accomplishments.

'This empowers women'

No it does not. This type of advertising - and the predatory porn industry underpinning it - achieves the opposite. It disempowers women and makes their lives harder.

Decades of research verifies that objectifying portrayals of women in media, marketing and advertising lead the viewer to see women as 'diminished in humanity, competence and morality'. This billboard dehumanises women, legitimisting the idea that women are objects for men's use (and abuse) and that women's bodies are commodities just like any other product.

Research also shows that women feel less safe in places where this type of advertising is displayed, and that it puts them at increased risk of sexual harassment. 

It's parents' job to protect their kids

Supporting and educating parents to help kids navigate porn culture is a significant part of our work. The predatory porn industry is pitted against parents though, and despite parents', carers' and educators' best efforts, children are stumbling across violent, degrading sadism, BDSM, rape and incest porn via simple keystroke errors and searches of favourite cartoon characters.

Kids don't have to look for porn - it finds them. And then it wreaks havoc, damaging their formative understanding about sex and sexuality, and teaching them that degradation of women is normal.

Read: Parents vs the porn industry isn't a fair fight

We are still waiting for the Federal Government to announce its response to eSafety's roadmap for proof of age measures on online porn sites. 

Meanwhile, this billboard makes parents' job of protecting their kids from exposure to porn even harder. While the account's content sits behind a subscriber-only paywall, the billboard's QR code links anyone using a mobile device directly to the front page of the account where sexualised imagery and a list of degrading porn acts are published. No proof of age required. We were even able to access the page when our device restrictions were set to block adult content.

In two clicks any user can get from the Instagram handle shown on the billboard to the porn page. Again - no age gating.

Gateway to porn: one click from billboard to porn page

This billboard shows that parents can do everything right - and still, they won't be able to fully protect their kids from having porn shoved in their faces. Not even in their own backyard. 

What about women who choose this?

Sexual objectification - reducing a person (usually a woman) to the status of less-than-human object for another person's sexual use (usually a man) - is harmful regardless of whether someone ‘chooses’ to participate. Decades of research have established the various harms of sexual objectification to ALL women, from a greater tolerance of rape myths and sexual violence, a diminished view of women’s competence, morality and humanity, and as foundational to men’s violence against women.

The reality of these harms does not magically disappear because a few women say they consent to being reduced to the status of object.

The objectification of women also doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When images of women’s objectified bodies as purchasable commodities are broadcast on billboards for a public audience, it impacts on the status of all women and girls. It sends the message that this objectification of women is normal, unremarkable, even desirable. It undermines equality between the sexes and perpetuates the notion that women’s value lies in their sexual desirability to men, and that women exist for men’s sexual use and enjoyment.

The objectification of women has real-world consequences for all women, including those who do not consent to being reduced to object status and all that goes with it.

It's a boss move to build a legitimate business

OnlyFans, a subscription-based social media platform that allows people to sell pornographic content of themselves, is portrayed as a great way for young women to make money, and a better, safer option than traditional prostitution.

News coverage tends to promote OnlyFans “modelling” as a glamorous and lucrative career choice for young women. This 'pro women' narrative serves OnlyFans' male owner Leonid Radvisnky, enabling him to continue lining his pockets with profits from the sale of women's bodies for men's sexual entertainment and be shielded from critique and accountability for harms to women.

The reality is, OnlyFans puts women at risk and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

An increasing number of accounts from young women operating on OnlyFans report degrading requests, abusive and predatory treatment, as well as doxxing, revenge porn and stalking. Read more here.

We object to attempts to legitimise OnlyFans - a corporate sexploitation offender - as an 'ordinary' business or to normalise its activities which harm women and girls. That includes the placement of billboards promoting this company in our neighbourhoods.

'This is no worse than Honey Birdette'

Two things can be true at the same time. The porn billboard objectifies women and contributes to a culture of sexism, disrespect and men's violence against women. So do Honey Birdette's degrading, pornified portrayals of women in their shop window ads.

You can read about our longstanding campaign against Westfield's resident (Playboy owned) sex store Honey Birdette here.

'It's nothing illegal'

Responsible adults do not expose kids to sexualised content or direct them to porn - regardless of loopholes in legislation.

'People need to mind their own business'

When an advertiser shoves a gigantic suburban streetside porn billboard in our and our kids' faces, obviously it is our business. It is nonsensical for an advertiser trading on the broad reach of billboard advertising to claim 'it's nobody else's business' when community members who object to being forced to view it speak out. Can't have it both ways.

It's just a marketing stunt - you're playing into it

Many comments on social media suggested the ad was a ploy to create controversy, and the advertiser is benefitting from the resulting exposure. The advertiser was even commended for the 'savvy' tactic and told that the billboard was a move 'well played'.

When a main street suburban billboard is flogging porn subscriptions, forcing non-consenting community members to view porn themed content and linking kids to an explicit list of porn acts via a QR code and an Instagram handle - no proof of age required - the matter extends far beyond trading on "controversy". This billboard is a form of sexual harassment of community members who do not want to see gargantuan porn billboards on their way to work or filling up at the servo. And it grooms children, serving as a gateway to pornography, and normalising its presence in their own backyard. 

Silence was not the appropriate response to these egregious for-profit activities which harm community members. Calling it out, exposing those profiting and urging them to pull the porn billboard was.

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

Take action

  1. Sign petition: change.org/billboardpetition
  2. Lodge complaint with Ad Standards: https://adstandards.com.au/lodge-complaint
  3. Write to WA Billboards: http://www.wabillboards.com.au/contact-us/
  4. Share petition on your social media channels

See also

Collective Shout - Parents

Add your comment

  • Collective Shout
    published this page in News 2023-04-25 16:32:32 +1000

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