Last year, father of three Kenneth Thor started a petition calling on Westfield to stop Honey Birdette’s consistent sexist and porn-inspired imagery in shopping centres across the country.
More than 61,000 people share Kenneth’s concerns about the retailer’s ongoing depictions of women as sexual playthings for men, yet to date, Westfield has failed to demonstrate corporate social responsibility or even respond to hundreds of complaints.
Honey Birdette is a serial sexploitation offender, attracting numerous complaints to Ad Standards for its sexually objectifying treatment of women. The sex shop even made the Ad Standards top ten list of most complained about ads in the country in both 2015and 2016. When complaints against Honey Birdette have been upheld, they refuse to comply, even stating, “Nobody tells Honey B’s when to take down her signage!”
In a response to Kenneth’s petition, CEO Eloise Monaghan once again dismissed legitimate concerns over Honey Birdette’s sexist treatment of women, claiming,
“You see more flesh on Bondi Beach at 10 a.m.”
Monaghan has missed the point.
What is sexual objectification?
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 other’s 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.”
Honey Birdette routinely promotes the sexual objectification of women in their floor to ceiling porn-themed advertising, featuring hypersexualised depictions of women’s bodies or even just parts of their bodies. Women in Honey Birdette advertising exist for men’s pleasure, defined only by their sexual appeal and availability. The message is that women exist for men’s enjoyment and entertainment.
Objection to the sexual objectification of women is not an objection to women, nor is it an objection to women’s bodies. It is about opposition to sexism, to corporates who profit from the sexual exploitation of women and have the audacity to claim they are empowering women in the process.
What about ads showing men in underwear?
Monaghan went on to suggest Honey Birdette is the victim of a double standard because there is no outcry over ads showing men in underwear.
Again, the issue is not and has never been about underwear. The depiction of men or women in underwear is not inherently degrading or sexualised, nor does it require women to be objectified and exploited. Just look at the lingerie ad below by Badger and Winters who “made a commitment to never objectify women in our work”.
While we have spoken out against the objectification of men, the objectification of men is not nearly as prevalent as the everyday sexualisation and objectification of women in media and popular culture. Women are far more likely to be objectified and to be negatively impacted by objectification. Men featured in advertising are not typically demeaned, dismembered, treated like decorative objects, or posed as vulnerable and submissive in the way women frequently are. Read more here.
In the #MeToo era, with a growing community awareness about alarming rates of men’s violence against women and the relationship between the objectification of women and men’s violence against them, companies like Honey Birdette continue to put their profits before the respect, dignity and wellbeing of women. #TimesUp Honey Birdette.
Female Empowerment? Why Feminism Deserves Better than Honey Birdette- ABC Religion and Ethics
If you're a child living in a society filled with sexploitation, what messages do you receive from this kind of daily environmental reinforcement?
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the UK (NSPCC), has warned that child sexploitation is being woefully underreported. The NSPCC further attribute sexploitation to children not understanding what healthy relationships look like.
St Andrew’s Cathedral School, a co-ed school with over 1000 students, is fighting an allegedly illegal brothel that is operating a mere 60 meters from the entrance of the school premises. The Star Massage parlour in Sussex Street offers a range of erotic services, but it is the services involving girls who imitate schoolgirls that are causing significant uproar.
Honey Birdette have a long history of exploiting women in their advertising. But more recently they have come under fire for a different reason, encouraging the sexual harassment of female employees.Read more
McDonald's are pushing soft porn to kids by screening hyper-sexualised content on their in-store TV screens throughout restaurants across Australia.
Our petition for McDonald's to implement a national policy regarding family friendly content has gained thousands of signatures.
Over the course of the campaign we have had comments from selected individuals excusing McDonald's behaviour and showing a true lack of understanding of the problem. We have addressed those arguments below.Read more
A NSW father has spoken out against the hyper sexualised music videos displayed in McDonald's restaurants across the country. He was with his six and eight year old children when they were exposed to sexualised content via the in-store TV screen.
Our petition to McDonald's to implement a national policy regarding family friendly content has already gained thousands of signatures.
Sign the petition to call on the ASB and the AANA to revise the Code of Ethics and stop letting Australian advertisers get away with sexism and objectification.
For years, the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has turned a blind eye to sexism in advertising, because it’s not specifically mentioned in the advertisers’ Code of Ethics.
Take this recent ruling from the ASB on the demeaning and objectifying ‘Hot Girls Eat Free’ ads at a local Sydney pub. While the board noted the ad was ‘objectifying’, they added…
“However… the Code does not prohibit such advertising unless the advertising material could be considered to be discriminatory or vilifying.”
It’s simply unacceptable.
While our government is executing the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’, we have a self-regulatory advertising system that gives the green light to sexism and objectification.
Join the call for a simple solution!
The research is clear that…
- Sexually objectifying portrayals of women are harmful – especially to young girls.
- Exposure can lead to higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater support of sexist beliefs and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women.
But the good news is, there’s a simple solution to this problem – the AANA simply needs to update their Code of Ethics to ensure advertisers are kept accountable for sexist and objectifying material.
Sign the petition below to call on the ASB and the AANA to revise the Code of Ethics and stop letting Australian advertisers get away with sexism and objectification.
From an ex employee
Okay I will admit it, I was once an employee at the world's biggest restaurant chain, McDonald's. I was just about to turn 15. It was my first job. When I was hired on the spot and toured around the back of the restaurant I was in awe. There was so much hustle and bustle, beepers going off, staff calling out orders, but it ran like clockwork.Read more