In previous years, sex shop Honey Birdette Christmas shopfront ad campaigns have typically featured Santa Claus. One depicted the beloved children’s icon on his back being straddled by a lingerie-clad model, another with him tugging at a model’s underwear, and another BDSM-themed scenario shows Santa bound and gagged alongside a model in red lingerie.
It’s safe to say that our expectations for 2018 were low.
Honey Birdette lived up to their reputation for sexually exploiting women this Christmas. Highly sexualised images of women were accompanied by demeaning slogans and sleazy double entendres such as “Fill my stocking”, “Hurry down my chimney”, “Take a Ride”, ”Unwrap me” and more. These sexualised images partnered with degrading slogans position women as existing for men’s sexual use.
"Take the reins"
Ad Standards considered complaints against three of these images- “Leave Santa a treat”, “Unwrap me” and “Take a ride”, with complaints against the first dismissed, and the second and third upheld.
Honey Birdette claimed to be "astounded" that complaints against 'Take a ride' were upheld:
"Our very commercial photography does not objectify our model in any way, shape or form. The tag line ‘Take a Ride’ is a nod to the classic Christmas carols that reference taking a ride in a sleigh seeing as though the model is quite clearly sitting in a sleigh. If someone perceives this tag line as meaning to ‘ride’ the model, then that is their personal interpretation."
Nobody is buying it, Honey Birdette.
Collective Shout campaigns manager Caitlin Roper spoke with Dave Pellowe this week about our campaign against Honey Birdette and how the sexual exploitation of women by companies like Honey Birdette has real-world consequences for women and girls.
The evidence is clear. Twenty years of empirical research, 135 studies across 109 publications, 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."
The petition calling on shopping centres to take action on Honey Birdette's porn-themed ads has garnered over 70,000 signatures. Keep the pressure up!
If you have signed the petition please share it with your family and friends. We want Westfield and the other major shopping centres that lease to a Honey Birdette to know they can not turn a blind eye. Honey Birdette have breached the advertising code of ethics multiple times this year without consequence. It is time the centres, their landlords, intervened.
By Sherele Moody, founder of the RED HEART Campaign dedicated to fighting violence against women and children. Read the full article at the Courier Mail.
I can only imagine what is said during a Honey Birdette marketing meeting.
Perhaps the conversation goes something like this: “Hey, let’s put a photograph of a scantily clad hairless vagina in our catalogue and at the front of our outlets in the lead-up to Christmas. Make sure the panties show a good percentage of side labia. And don’t forget to emblazon “ASK FOR YOUR CANDY” in capital letters across the image.”
The lingerie retailer is known for titillating and offending Aussie consumers by covering its stores — usually in major shopping centres — with controversial marketing that objectifies women.
At best, Honey Birdette advertisements serve up “hypersexualised” imagery of young women.
At worst, it delivers a good dose of “soft porn”.
There is a fine-line between empowering women and turning them into sex objects.
I believe Honey Birdette has well and truly crossed that line in its attempt to profit from the female form.
I am a feminist and that means I’m 110 per cent behind a woman having the freedom to work in whatever industry she wants — including modelling lingerie.
I am also opposed to policing what women wear.
As a gay woman, I do not see myself as a prude with a churlish view of women looking sexy.
But coming face-to-face with near-naked vaginas while strolling through the mall is enough to make me want to grab a can of black spray paint to do a little bit of censoring.
The Advertising Standards Bureau has banned 13 of its adverts for being “sexually explicit, highly pornographic and condoning excess violence”.
The business copped a ban earlier this year for a marketing campaign that clearly showing a woman’s nipple.
The watchdog said it contained “high level nudity and sexual suggestion”.
“The level of nudity was at the higher end of the scale and the image was highly sexualised and as such the image included on a poster that is visible to members of the community standing outside the business was not appropriate for the relevant broad audience which would likely include children,” the ABS said.
A petition calling for Honey Birdette to change its marketing strategy has gained almost 70,000 signatures.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of the 2018 BandT Women in Media Social Change Maker Award and has multiple Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her work reducing violence against women and children. She is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the creator of the Femicide Australia Map.
Sign the petition to Westfield: STOP Honey Birdette using porn-style advertising in Westfield family friendly centres.
Female Empowerment? Why Feminism Deserves Better than Honey Birdette- ABC Religion and Ethics
Objectifying Christmas promotion turns heads; stomachsRead more
Campaign to end Honey Birdette's porn-style advertising featured in 10 DailyRead more
Our annual list of corporate offenders who don’t deserve your Xmas dollar!
As our loyal supporters know each year in the lead up to Christmas, we release our annual blacklist of corporate offenders- companies that have objectified women and sexualised girls to sell their products and services throughout the year.
You can send a message to these companies by voting with your wallet and refusing to financially support brands that rely on sexploitation to sell their products.Read more
They even film themselves doing it [video]Read more
"I am writing to complain about your choice to allow and profit from, Honey Birdette, being given a platform to brazenly advertise to your customers using highly sexualised porn inspired imagery within your ‘family friendly’ shopping centres. There are significant community concerns for the harm these kinds of images have had and continue to have on the collective cultural psyche regarding the objectification of women.
a significant pornography epidemic in which boys are being misled into believing woman are there for their personal
sexual gratification. This is a crisis being played out in schools, homes, work places and social media 24/7 and highly sexualised public images such as these do a great job in reinforcing these extremely harmful mindsets. In supporting and allowing this store a platform within your shopping centres to display its porn inspired images in such a public way, and to be making a profit from it, you are a contributor.
Myself and my friends are surprised that Westfield would align itself with this degrading imagery considering the
amount of families that support your business.
Please consider the broader community and your contribution to it. Especially considering that the majority of shoppers in your establishment are women. Respect them.