UK's Advertising Standards Authority takes a stand against objectification of women. Time for Australia to do the same.
A clothing brand Missguided has been told by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to not use advertising that objectifies women in future campaigns.
The retailer aired an ad during the TV show Love Island that “showed models on a beach with their legs apart in seductive poses, a woman running her hand up her inner thigh, a group of women in thong bikinis and another woman posing in a bikini with her legs astride on a motorcycle”, the ASA said.
The ASA received a complaint that the ad was “overly sexualised and objectified women”.
The brand argued that the ad showed "empowering, confident women" in bikinis.
While the ASA acknowledged that swimwear was to be expected in a summer advert, it concluded that the advertising was "irresponsible" and the way the bikinis were presented “invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects”.
'The scene of the four women in thong bikinis leaning against a wall exposed a lot of the buttocks and hips of three of the women. The very next scene showed another woman in a similar thong bikini sitting astride a motorbike and leaning back with one arm bent above her head.
'While we acknowledged that the heads and faces of the women were often shown, in many of the scenes the women looked seductively at the camera with their lips parted and their poses were sexually suggestive - in particular in the scene of the model sprawled out over the bike which presented her as merely a decoration to the bike."
The regulator banned the ad from appearing in the future.
Collective Shout commends the ASA for taking a strong stance when it comes to the sexual objectification of women. Sadly the excuse used by the retailer sounds very similar to that used by Ad Standards when dismissing similar complaints about sexualised advertising in Australia. It sounds like the UK is light years ahead of Australia when it comes to regulating advertising and keeping the community safe from harmful marketing.
We have documented the failures of Australia's self regulated advertising industry here.
The harms of sexually objectifying portrayals of women are clear. This meta-analysis states that:
Sexually objectifying portrayals of women are a frequent occurrence in mainstream media, raising questions about the potential impact of exposure to this content on others’ impressions of women and on women’s views of themselves. The goal of this review was to synthesize empirical investigations testing effects of media sexualization. The focus was on research published in peer-reviewed, English-language journals between 1995 and 2015. A total of 109 publications that contained 135 studies were reviewed.
The findings provided consistent evidence that both laboratory exposure and regular, everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.
Huffington Post here
Daily Mail here
Collective Shout's Caitlin Roper quoted in 10 DailyRead more
I have been a client of Australian Ethical for a number of years now. I made the conscious choice to switch super funds in an effort to invest more responsibly. Their website says "We invest in companies to have a positive impact on the planet, people and animals. We agitate for change and that means taking a stance." This sounded great and seemed aligned to my values.
Until I realised that Australian Ethical invested in property. And this included Lendlease Group and Stockland who facilitate Honey Birdette's harmful hyper-sexualised advertising. The very advertising I have been campaigning against for years. And just so we are clear this is the type of advertising that Honey Birdette are pushing in the public domain to our kids. This is what Lendlease Group and Stockland are facilitating. This is what Australian Ethical are investing in. This is what my superannuation is funding.
Australian Ethical replied:
"We agree the advertising from Honey Birdette is concerning. They have breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics 30 times since 2012 & shown general disregard toward compliance with the Code."
"We are engaging with Lendlease & Stocklands asking them to require Honey Birdette to comply with the Code for all advertising within their shopping centres."
"We invest in Lendlease because they develop & manage a range of properties including schools & hospitals & are considered a sector leader in sustainability. They’re also one of the few companies in the industry to target large scale urban regeneration projects."
"Like all companies Lendlease has negative impacts which we take into account in our ethics assessment. But not every negative will mean a company is automatically ruled out for investment & in some cases we can have more of an impact engaging with them."
"We exclude over 60% of the ASX top 200 companies. The word ethical doesn't mean every company we invest in is perfect (in our experience perfect companies are rare). We look at the positives and negatives to assess if a company is, overall, aligned with our Ethical Charter."
After a decade of Collective Shout campaigning against Wicked Campers sexist and degrading slogans and imagery, we are excited to announce our calls for uniform legislation across the country to deregister offending Wicked vehicles have been heard. Wicked Campers with offensive slogans will be banned from registration in all states and territories under a new plan signed off on at a national meeting of transport ministers.
According to The Advertiser, each state agreed to deregister vans that did not remove offensive slogans following a complaint, and to ensure the van could not be re-registered in another jurisdiction. This national approach would ensure this problem would be solved once and for all.
Katrine Hildyard, Labor’s shadow spokeswoman for the Status of Women said in a statement:
“together with women’s advocacy organisations including Collective Shout and the YWCA, domestic violence services and a range of other groups, we have been campaigning for a long time (for) the Marshall Liberal Government to pass our legislation to rid our roads of Wicked Camper Vans which promote violence against women. They have to date refused to do so.
“Whilst their actions are long overdue, I am glad to hear that Stephan Knoll has finally listened and is beginning to understand how wrong it is to use language which disrespects women and promotes violence against women.”
Thank you for standing with us and speaking out. We couldn't have done it without you!
The objectification of women is so unremarkable in advertising and popular culture that it’s sometimes hard to envisage what an alternative might look like. Is it possible to advertise lingerie or swimwear without objectifying women, we are asked? Is objectification in the amount of flesh revealed, or is it more than that? Where is the line between women being merely attractive and objectified?Read more
Yesterday I took two of my children into town for ice cream. This is what they were exposed to on a busy Perth street.
Ad Standards has previously dismissed complaints over this same venue’s ‘Miss Nude’ billboards, on the basis that “based on the location of the building, the audience likely to be frequenting the area are generally customers of the venues and that... this is the relevant audience.”
But the “location of the building” is a busy street in Perth- one with restaurants, ice cream stores, a bookstore, library and Time Zone, and the audience is everyone. Why do sex industry interests trump kids rights? If public spaces include adult venues, do they become off limits to children Ad Standards? Are children not welcome in public spaces?
The harms from everyday exposure to sexually objectifying imagery like this are well-established. With twenty years of empirical research, 135 studies found across 109 publications, there is no shortage of research into the negative effects of sexual objectification. Consistent evidence found that:
"regular, everyday exposure to [sexually objectifying portrayals of women] are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women's competence, morality, and humanity."
What is the message being communicated to my daughter about women and girls? What do images like this teach her about how her body should look, where her value lies and who she should aspire to be? What do these images teach my son about what women are for? How does this near constant backdrop of sexist and sexualised images of women’s bodies prepare them for adult life and relationships? This view of women as endlessly sexually available is so normalised and accepted it is routinely broadcast on billboards and shopfront windows and nobody even blinks. How does this perceived acceptance of women as sex objects impact young people’s understanding of women and their place in the world?
Ad Standards consistently allows the sex industry to target children.
This photo of a billboard advertising a strip club was taken from a Brisbane boys school. Ad Standards dismissed complaints, and ruled the strip club ad treated sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience- school children.
Ad Standards gave the green light to Honey B’s strip club billboard outside a school:
Ad Standards allowed sex industry exhibition Sexpo to advertise on school buses, including one emblazoned with the slogan "The most fun you can have with your clothes on" and others complete with URLs to hardcore live-streaming pornography.
A life size poster of this image was located on a busy Adelaide street. Ad Standards ruled this outdoor advertising was not in breach of industry codes and standards because "the image is relevant to the advertised product". The product was women, for men's sexual use.
Our current system of ad industry 'regulation' is broken. The harms of sexualising children are well-established, but the commercial interests of advertisers are time and again prioritised above children's rights and wellbeing. The ad industry was put on notice 8 years ago that they had one last chance to turn things around. The industry has proven that it cannot be trusted to regulate itself. It's time for a change.
General Pants has a long history of using sexist and sexually objectifying advertising to sell its merchandise. Their latest ad campaign, in store windows across the country, shows that nothing much has changed.
This is not the first time General Pants has sexually objectified women, or used topless women to promote their products. The youth retailer first came to our attention after featuring pole dancers in their shop window display in Melbourne's Bourke Street store.
In 2011, General Pants management instructed underage staff to wear “I love sex” badges that made them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.
General Pants then displayed large images of topless women being stripped from behind by an unseen man. Some of these images were framed as large keyholes to suggest the women were being spied on.
A short time later, a supporter alerted us to the store’s change room wallpaper, featuring an array of images advertising pornography and prostitution.
In 2014, General Pants window displays featured sexualised images of young, bikini clad women in the bath alongside the slogan ‘Wet Dreams’.
In 2016, their advertising featured topless and semi-naked women alongside fully clothed men.
The research is clear- exposure to these sort of everyday sexualised images of women has a range of negative impacts, including greater body dissatisfaction and self-objectification in women, greater support of sexist beliefs and a greater tolerance of violence against women, as well as leading both men and women to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality and humanity.
The ongoing sexualising and objectifying treatment of women by companies like General Pants contributes to real-world harms for women and girls- why is this advertising still permitted?
Ad industry self-regulation in Australia is a failure. In the lead up to the election, we are calling on supporters to contact their local candidates and ask them to support a new regulatory regime to ensure public spaces are free from sexualised and sexually objectifying images that harm women and children.
This Wicked Campervan was spotted in Brisbane last week with Victorian licence plates:
(pic: Boycott Wicked Campers Facebook)
Under existing laws, there is nothing to prevent this. Even when Ad Standards upholds complaints- as it has against Wicked Campers more than eighty times - they have no authority to enforce rulings, and there are no penalties for repeat offenders.
Collective Shout is calling for uniform laws across the country to deregister Wicked Campers if it does not abide Ad Standards rulings. Tasmania, ACT and Queensland have already passed these laws, but we still need MPs to enact similar legislation in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, where a private members bill by MP Katrine Hilydard has received overwhelming support.
Just last month, the federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer called for a national response against Wicked Campers’ “sexist, misogynist and offensive slogans”, writing to state and territory ministers seeking their urgent support.
Also in March, festival promoter Adrian Buckley announced that Wicked Campers would be banned from Wollombi music festival. We welcomed this news, and are calling on other music festivals to do the same.
Three years ago we reported on the extreme amount of hypersexualised imagery on display at Chadstone Shopping Centre. A popular hangout for teens after school, it was hard to walk from one end of the centre to the other without being exposed to the harmful ads.
A recent visit shows that not much has improved.
We know from two decades of research that "everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity."
Grant Kelley, the CEO and Managing Director of Vicinity Centres, who owns Chadstone Shopping centre, was appointed a Male Champion of Change in 2018. One of their goals is "ending everyday sexism". They even have a whole 18 page document dedicated to it. So what exactly is Mr Kelley doing to ensure that this everyday sexism is stamped out of his shopping centre?
Contact Vicinity Centres CEO and Managing Director Grant Kelley via his LinkedIn here
Tweet Vicinity Centres here
Send them a message via Facebook here