“Domestic violence and femicide is a real issue, pairing that issue with alcohol is beyond disgusting.”Read more
Scentre Group and Honey Birdette Advertisements in Westfield Retail Space: Eight examples of Inconsistency
1) Scentre Group promotes awareness and supports victims of domestic violence
They also allow display of sexualised imagery- the very type that perpetuates harmful stereotypes and is correlated with violence against women.
2) Avoidance of discrimination
Scentre Group Directors’ Code of Conduct requires that directors
“Avoid discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, religious beliefs, race, marital status or disability.”
Yet in their retail space, discrimination occurs daily against Westfield customers in the form unwanted exposure to sexualised imagery.
3) Concerns for public health and safety
Scentre Group employees are encouraged to report behaviours that bring “harm to public health or safety or the health or safety of any Scentre Group employee.”
Despite the claim above, Scentre Group continues to allow display of sexualised imagery - the very type verified by research to harm mental health, body image, sense of self-worth and attitudes towards women.
4) Encouragement to report unethical behaviours
Scentre Group employees are urged - via formal whistleblowing policy - to report concerns about “unethical, unlawful or improper conduct” and are ensured they may do so “without fear of reprisal.”
Yet when customers reported unethical behaviours (in the form of Honey Birdette advertisements - 13 recent examples of which have been ruled to breach Ad Standards) Scentre Group’s response was silence. Direct approaches to Scentre Group lessees, Honey Birdette, have been met with claims that are dismissive, condescending and scientifically indefensible.
5) Champions for gender equality
Brian Schwartz, chairman of Scentre Group, has been lauded as a champion for gender equality in the workplace. He was initially driven by the desire to see his own daughters grow up in a world with equal access to opportunities to succeed and excel.
Despite this, Scentre Group has remained content for customers’ daughters (and sons) to grow up in a world where exposure to sexualised imagery in the course of grocery shopping and visits to Santa is the norm.
6) Commitment to the development of women
Westfield is the major sponsor of our national women’s soccer team, the Matildas, and also of the Young Matildas (under-20s team). (See https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au/)
Despite Westfield’s tremendous dedication to the development of women in sport, they have failed women in the general public by allowing the display of overtly sexualised imagery (via Honey Birdette advertising) to persist.
7) Commitment to community enrichment
In the endeavour to “connect and enrich communities,” Scentre Group gathered feedback from “some 29,000 community members.”
Despite their stated commitment to the betterment of local communities, Scentre Group has largely ignored the 63,000 community members who have signed this petition.
8) Proponents of change
Sir Frank Lowy, Owner and Manager (and former Chair) of Westfield was named a 2018 BOSS (publication) True Leader. True Leaders are “people who are changing Australia for the better.”
Despite this award and the existing change.org petition which has urged Westfield to indeed make a change for the better by ceasing to allow Honey Birdette porn-style advertising in their retail space, no change has occurred.
Sir Frank was quoted in March, regarding the growing popularity and success of pop-ups in Westfield shopping centres and their resemblance to kiosks of old:
“The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Sadly, little could be more truly said about the perpetual disregard and mistreatment of customers in Westfield-owned retail space – driven by Westfield’s continuing permissive relationship with Honey Birdette. Only when this dichotomous situation ceases and Westfield agrees to allow advertising only of the type that lines up with their other positive statements and activities within their retail space will any true change be possible.
Click here to sign the petition to Westfield
*Content warning: This post contains descriptions of men’s violence against women and may be distressing*
This week a supporter contacted us after coming across a disturbing image on Golfporn’s Facebook page. The picture, which showed a woman being kicked off a cliff after suggesting her male partner sell his golf clubs, “did not violate community standards”, according to Facebook. It had been shared over 1500 times.
It is an unsettling image for many who understand the shocking reality of domestic violence and murders of women.
Not a joke, but a reality
This isn’t an absurd abstract scenario - it is a real-life and often life-ending scenario for many women.
In 2015, Harold Henthorn was sentenced to life in prison after pushing his wife Toni 130 feet off a cliff while hiking in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate their anniversary.
Brisbane man Daniel Brookes was arrested in 2015 having been accused of killing his girlfriend Maria Elena Huilcanina Ocampo by throwing her off a balcony. The couple were heard having an argument before security footage showed her body fall. Her sister said that Maria had blood under her nails when she fell.
Simon Gittany was found guilty of murdering his fiancée Lisa Harnum by throwing her off the balcony of a Sydney high rise apartment block.
At trial, witness Joshua Rathnell recalled hearing “deranged screaming” and looked up to see someone “unloading” something from the building.
”I saw the man load the object off the balcony, and in what I described as a fluid motion, turned and went straight back into the apartment.”
Rathnell later realised the object he saw was Ms Harnum’s body.
At the time of Gittany’s conviction, Justice McCallum said Ms Harnum must have been "in a state of complete terror in the last moments before her death".
Earlier this year, Alexander Kenneth McIntyre pleaded guilty to assault charges after he held a woman by the neck against a balcony and told her he would drop her to her death and “happily do 16 years” in jail. Holding a knife, he threatened her “I will cut your head off, c***.” A crying child was also present.
Last year, Loren Bunner was sentenced to 52 years in prison after murdering his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend Jolee Callan while they were hiking together. He shot her in the back of the head and in between the eyes before shoving her off a 40- foot cliff. Bunner bragged to cell mates about killing Ms Callan, claiming that if he couldn’t have her no one else could.
New South Wales man Des Campbell was found guilty of killing his new wife Janet Campbell by pushing her off a cliff. The prosecution told the court that Ms Campbell was "worth more to her husband dead than alive" because he needed her money to pay off his debts.
Given this awful reality, how can casual joking about pushing one’s wife off a cliff be regarded as humorous? Joking about violence against women is sinister in its apathy and callous attitude to women whose lives ended this way.
Trivialising acts of abuse
Dr Kristin Diemer, one of the lead researchers and authors on the National Community Attitudes Survey on Violence Against Women, noted that excusing the abuse of women as a joke “minimises the impact of violence against women”.
“Few Australians openly support violence against women, but many others subtly endorse it by trivialising and excusing acts of abuse.”
Media has an impact on attitudes and behaviours. That a social media post making light of violence against women is so popular and unremarkable both reflects and perpetuates our desensitisation to these horrific crimes.
Dr Diemer concluded:
“Community attitudes on violence against women are an important barometer on gender relations. They illustrate the way people respond when they witness violence, whether victims feel confident to seek help, and whether perpetrators are likely to be excused or held to account for their actions. Changing attitudes is crucial to preventing crises in the longer term. Community attitudes shape the way we respond to domestic violence.”
We can’t address men’s violence against women while simultaneously making light of it. Violence against women is not a joke.
This Valentine’s Day, why not ditch the roses and celebrate by watching some sexual violence? That’s a more honest marketing pitch for the Fifty Shades of Grey film.
It’s astonishing that, in 2015, sexual abuse can still be marketed as romantic and bondage can still be defended as freedom. Yet advance ticket sales for the film have been record-breaking, demonstrating that, to the wider public, Fifty Shades is seen as little more than harmless, kinky fun.
Plenty of companies have been keen to cash in on the film’s expected success. One Australian chemist chain is giving away free tickets as a “perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day”. Others have organised screenings as fundraisers for cancer charities, pre-schools, and even White Ribbon.
Yes, someone thought it was a good idea to use “domestic violence dressed up as erotica” – to borrow a phrase from Lisa Wilkinson – as a way to raise funds for “Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women”.
White Ribbon was eventually forced to distance itself from the event, which not only involved a screening of 50 Shades, but also included a Q&A led by a “professional dominant”. To top it off, the event was sponsored by a sex shop that sells bondage gear.
This raised more questions than funds. If the film screening was supposed to promote a discussion about ending violence against women, why did it seem more like a platform to extol the virtues of sex-industry-sponsored sadomasochism? If the event really was about trying to promote awareness and end abuse, why not have a Q&A session with someone from a domestic violence service, or a centre against sexual assault?
The politics of BDSM
The key to understanding this situation is to understand the politics of BDSM – that is, the politics surrounding the practices of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism; practices which fundamentally eroticise domination and subordination. Through decrying what is depicted in Fifty Shades as violence, and “fake” or “bad” BDSM, a defence of “good” or “real” BDSM has been spawned.
The sex in Fifty Shades doesn’t qualify as “real” BDSM, so the argument goes, because it involves unhealthy coercion and unauthorised control. “Good” BDSM, on the other hand, is supposed to be about mutual trust, pleasure and explicit consent.
This dichotomy is maintained despite prominent BDSM bloggers writing openly about experiences of rape, abuse, and harm, when consent was ignored and bodily integrity violated, even in supposedly “good” BDSM environments.
The “good” BDSM defence is evident even among those organising boycotts of the film. Fifty Shades Is Domestic Abuse, among others, plans to protest at a number of premieres.
But the group’s founder, Natalie Collins, felt the need to declare her group was not “against sex or BDSM” and that many from within the BDSM community were “concerned not just about the domestic abuse but the way their lifestyle has been portrayed and misrepresented by the books”.
In the social media discussion surrounding the film, and the (largely) feminist resistance to it, many have gone to great lengths not to disparage BDSM. And perhaps this should not be surprising when criticism of BDSM practices is now frequently met with accusations of “kink-shaming” and claims that the “BDSM community” is persecuted in the same way gay men and lesbian women were “30 years ago”.
These debates aren’t new. In 1982, the so-called feminist “sex wars” kicked-off at the Barnard Conference when radical feminists protested what they saw as the valorisation of sexual practices that harm women, in particular, pornography, prostitution and BDSM. What we are seeing now is a resurgence of the argument that engaging in BDSM is simply the expression of a liberated sexual choice that can be both empowering and transgressive.
Indeed much of the discussion today still hinges on individual choice, with the suggestion that if you choose to do something, and enjoy it, it is therefore beyond critique. But our sexual choices are never made in a social and political vacuum.
Continuum of abuse
In a culture where women and girls are encouraged to learn that sexual pleasure equates to pleasing men, even when it compromises their own physical or emotional comfort, the pleasure/ pain dynamics described in much pro-BDSM writing don’t look that radical.
In a world where at least one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence, it hardly seems transgressive to sexualise power dynamics. It just looks a lot like a continuum of abuse.
While a “liberated sexuality”, where patriarchy is magically subverted through sex-toy aided orgasms, may sound like a fun idea to some, this position is naïve, at best, and cannot seriously address the broader issue of violence against women.
As Professor Karen Boyle has wryly observed about the Fifty Shades phenomenon:
Whether individual women find new pleasure from butt plugs is not the point here. Rather, the novel’s engagement with broader debates about gendered violence and power cannot be fantasised away.
It is not enough to talk about “good” or “consensual” BDSM without taking into account the endemic levels of violence against women and the eroticising of that violence in a pornified culture.
Nor is it enough to talk about the pleasure that an individual may find in BDSM without considering the broader social context, not least the racist and misogynist origins of so much BDSM gear.
Indeed, the insistence on separating BDSM, as an individual choice, from issues of violence against women more generally, only serves to obfuscate the real underpinning of that violence, which is women’s inequality.
So maybe just don’t bother with the film at all and use your movie ticket money as a donation to a women’s shelter instead. Because while this debate rages on, many frontline services helping victims of violence and abuse could desperately do with a real fundraiser.
Full article here at the Conversation.
Domestic violence is so common in the region girls believe it is normal.
Domestic violence disproportionately affects women in Australia, and for women living in the Kimberley, this reality is far starker than for the average Western Australian. In fact, women in the Kimberly are four times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than the average Western Australian women, and reporting rates are increasing at twice the state average.
Welfare workers have raised concerns about the prevalence and normalisation of domestic violence in regional Western Australia where girls as young as twelve are being assaulted by their boyfriends according to a report by Emily Jane Smith of ABC Kimberley.
Alarmingly, more and more adolescent girls are having violence perpetrated against them. And because domestic violence is so rampant in their communities, girls believe it is “normal” to be beaten by a boyfriend.
Among those raising concerns is Victoria Baird. In her capacity as the regional coordinator of Save The Children in the East Kimberly, Baird said that domestic violence affected most of the young people with whom she came into contact.
"We have 12, 13, 14-year-olds who are already in violent relationships with their teenage partners," revealed Baird in a shocking statement.
A report to this effect was given by Detective Sergeant Tania MacKenzie of East Kimberley in March 2017.
"We're seeing situations where young girls [as young as 14] are being repeatedly assaulted, dragged along the street and assaulted again and again, which is such a concern that at that young age they're getting used to that level of violence," said Detective Sergeant MacKenzie.
Ms Baird explained that children often experience domestic violence growing up and so domestic violence becomes normalised and tolerated.
"Domestic violence is so normalised across the region. Most of these kids have […] experienced it growing up, it's not an unusual part of a relationship,'' said Ms Baird.
"It's something that affects them in their relationship in their family that they've grown up and now as they move forward into adulthood, it's repeating that cycle."
And the cycle is vicious.
Welfare workers say that attacks such as a recent incident, which saw a 16-year-old girl allegedly slashed across the face by her boyfriend, are not uncommon.
In fact, Detective Sergeant MacKenzie said, "I've seen women that have had their ankles smashed with rocks, so they can't walk away with anyone else, and we've seen repeated attacks with all sorts of weapons: belt buckles, rocks, hammers, wheel braces, boiling water, just a myriad of weapons that people use and yes, you get some pretty horrific injuries from those kind of weapons." (Park 2017).
While reporting rates are on the rise, terror continues to plague survivors of domestic violence, particularly adolescent survivours, who often are too afraid to speak out for fear of backlash or retribution from the perpetrator or the perpetrator’s family.
This cycle of violence must be broken, and for this to occur, Mr Hill insists that young people must be engaged and taught about healthy relationships.
"We need to break that cycle, but to break the cycle you need begin with the young generation," he said.
Mr Hill suggested that services for young men, in particular, were needed to change the pervasive and entrenched culture of violence in the Kimberly region.
"We need to teach them from a young age that it's not an acceptable way to treat your partner," he said.
For family and domestic violence support services:
1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
Women's Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
Men's Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
Please join Collective Shout in our commitment to protecting girls from sexual exploitation and violence
About the author: Violeta Buljubasic detests pornography and anything that resembles it. Cognisant of its devastating consequences, she believes that porn and the raunch culture from which it stems are symptoms of a ubiquitous ill that has removed sex and sexuality from their original design. Moved by the work of Collective Shout, Fight the New Drug, and NCOSE, Violeta hopes to be part of the solution to this insidious problem.
LEAGUE players who have committed an offense of domestic violence, sex offences or disrespecting women could face life bans under new NFL guidelines to end a culture of “covering up” and paying “hush money” to victims.
In what would be a first for an Australian football code, the NRL has adopted a number of new punishments for players found guilty of violence against women, which could result in bans ranging from nine months to life.Read more
Over the past few years we have been shocked by the dramatic rise in domestic violence. We have seen a State Government taskforce established and generous funding pledged from the Federal Government in order to put an end to domestic and family violence. Despite this the problem grows and the pornography industry thrives. Once only freely available in the online space, pornography has now has successfully transitioned into the mainstream. Just look at the Fifty Shades Franchise.Read more