"I was in the vehicle behind the camper van with my children in the vehicle.I find it not only very offensive and obscene but also highly sexist and degrading to women."Read more
Wicked Campers ignores ruling; is referred to Qld Department of Transport and Main Roads for enforcementRead more
Twenty Victorian men arrested over child exploitation material depicting torture of children and newborn babies
***"Trigger warning: child exploitation''
Twenty men across Victoria have been arrested over child exploitation offences, with police seizing photos and videos of children and babies being tortured.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told the Herald Sun that each month hundreds of Victorians shared millions of images of child abuse material.
“We know there are links between this type of online activity and contact offending, so it’s important that we target anyone prepared to source this type of material in any way,” he said.
Source: Victoria Police
Mr Patton said the material showed children, and even newborn infants, in sexually provocative poses and in pain.
Writing in response to the Royal Commission into institutionalised child sexual abuse, Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist said:
There is deep distress in the community that defenceless children are used in such evil ways. But the broader culture that encourages the abuse of the children goes unaddressed. The same loathing that is directed toward child sexual abuse has not been extended to the mainstream promotion of paedophilic fantasies for profit.
Melinda Tankard Reist pointed out that this abuse of children was also driven by a culture that normalises and eroticises child sexual assault.
We’ve exposed mainstream retailers for their promotion of child sexual abuse. Bookworld was forced to withdraw hundreds of rape and incest titles, many of which portrayed the rape of girls by their fathers as erotic and desirable.
After months of campaigning against Amazon in 2010, they finally delisted ‘The Paedophile’s Guide to Love & Pleasure”, a book written by an actual paedophile endorsing sexual crimes against children. Amazon continues to attract criticism for its sexualised content involving children and babies, including sexy nurse outfits for toddlers.
Australian sex shops sell replica vaginas for men’s use, modelled on the bodies of little girls and promoted as “fresh” and “innocent” with intact hymens. Chemist Warehouse sold the ‘Virgin Palm Pal’ men’s sex toy until we exposed them in 2015.
Major retailers sell sexualised clothing for girls, including padded bras, and advertising features children posed and styled in increasingly adultified ways, inviting us to see them as older than they really are.
Service stations around the country sell ‘barely legal’ style porn magazines featuring girls with braces and pigtails.
As Melinda Tankard Reist concludes,
We are destroying the cultural norms that once taught male adults that children’s bodies are off-limits to sexual use. We cannot fully address child sexual abuse until we reject a culture that glamorises it.
Qld Transport suspends registration under new laws
Wicked Campers has narrowly avoided having one of its vans deregistered after the Queensland Government suspended its registration until the company removed the “offensive” advertising deemed inappropriate by Ad Standards Board.A Wicked Campers van with a Queensland registration, which had the statement “oral sex is a great last minute gift” written on the back, was banned by the Ad Standards for using inappropriate language and reference to a sexual act.
See Mumbrella for full article Wicked Campers narrowly avoids Queensland van de-registration following ad standards rulingRead more
We recently shared an article detailing a mother’s experience with her teenage daughter and an online swimwear company.
The mother, Tania, had written to Collective Shout after her 16-year-old daughter received a g-string bikini in the mail, a prize for a “last comment wins” competition on Instagram for a company called “Makana Swimwear”.
The g-string bikini was accompanied by a card which encouraged her daughter to tag herself in any photos she shares on Instagram of herself posing in the swimmers.
The mother went on to have a difficult but necessary conversation with her daughter about the swimmers and why she could keep the top, but not the bottom. At the same time she was alarmed that anyone would think it appropriate to send this item to her daughter. So she contacted Collective Shout. Read more about what the mother had to say here.
Following publication of our article, we were alerted to a post that appeared in a closed group from someone speaking on behalf of the “Makana team” making a series of factually incorrect claims.
As a result of this post, Collective Shout began receiving comments from hundreds of people defending the business. Almost every comment made the same specific claim, that competition terms and conditions "clearly stated" entry was for over 18+” and therefore it was the 16-year-old girl’s fault for entering against the rules.
Upon visiting Makana Swim’s website, we found a link called ‘competitions’, which included terms and conditions, including a requirement that entrants be aged 18 and over. However, a google cache search found that this section of the website did not exist before March 15, one day earlier. It appears that the owner only published terms and conditions after the mother’s complaint and then edited old Instagram posts to cover her tracks, while making misleading statements that resulted in hundreds of hostile comments blaming a 16-year- old girl for breaking the rules and claiming the mother was unreasonable to complain about the business for her daughter’s actions.
Pic: How Makana Swim’s website appeared up until March 15 (see left hand sidebar, with no competitions section)
Pic: How Makana Swim’s website appeared after Collective Shout published the mother’s article (see ‘competitions’ section added to left hand sidebar)
Pic: Instagram photos as they appeared before March 15, with no reference to terms and conditions.
Commenters, many of them adult women have called the 16yr old girl a liar, sneaky and naughty among other things. They’ve claimed the mother is an incompetent, inattentive and irresponsible. Both have been mocked mercilessly.
At the time of writing there are over 600 comments on our fb page and volunteers have struggled to keep up with moderating the abuse against the teenage girl her mother and Collective Shout. We are now receiving messages via our website, which include accusations and threats to disrupt Collective Shout’s operations in various ways. Staff have had to take time out of their weekend to attend an urgent situation as a result of Makana fans making good on these threats.
All because a business didn’t want to cop to making a mistake and instead decided to go with a cover up and portray themselves as the victim.
This is taxing on our volunteers and staff, but our biggest concern is the 16 year old girl who played by the rules presented to her at the time and who according to her mother leaned towards defending the company and yet is still subject to a barrage of nasty abusive comments from adults who should know better.
Adults running a business should have known better than to allow a 16-year-old girl to participate in an 18+ competition. Adults should have known better than to try and cover it up and lay blame at a 16yr old girl’s feet.
Hundreds of other adults should know better than to gang up against a teenage girl with such vicious name calling and mockery.
On top of being the most bizarre behaviour Collective Shout has observed for some time, what is also striking is how unnecessary this all is.
How different it could have been if they had posted a statement with something like “thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. We apologise to the mother for this mistake. This was a serious oversight on our part and because of this we are now taking measures to prevent a similar situation occurring again.”
The company has now issued an apology and stated it will close indefinitely. We can’t speak to whether that was a wise or necessary decision to make. We can only hope that if the owner/s do decide to re-establish, that they commit to doing better in future, not only in relation to how they manage ethical age restrictions, but also in how feedback or complaints are managed.
UK retailer Primark has been accused of sexualising toddlers by selling frilly, adult-style bikinis for children younger than two.
Young mother Holli Sherratt saw the swimwear while shopping and felt they were inappropriate.
Ms Sherratt said:
“In my eyes it is completely stripping the innocence and childhood of said child. When I first saw the bikini, I instantly thought it was lovely until I realised it was for a child.
“A child should be covered up, protected from the sun and not flaunted as some sort of model. I have a daughter of my own and I want to protect her innocence and let her be a child. I look at this bikini the same way I look at bras that are aimed at young children.”
Children’s campaigners Kidscape have urged the retailer to “let our children be children” and to leave bikinis for a time when girls have breasts and make a choice to wear them.
Primark denied the swimwear is unsuitable, claiming the bikinis are in line with British Retail Consortium guidelines.
“Why do girls’ dysfunctional clothes prioritise their looks over their freedom? And why do we parents buy them?”
A recent article on SBS described a mother’s frustration over the process of trying to buy appropriate clothing and footwear for her young daughter. Most of the clothing is designed to be pretty rather than comfortable or practical. Louise Wedgwood writes:
When shopping for my eldest, a boy, it’s a breeze to find shoes that are comfortable to play in and practical for parks and puddles.
When I stood in front of the girls’ sections in three different major retailers, I was perplexed each time. Why is almost EVERYTHING pink, frilly or sparkly? How are pale fabrics and glittery finishes to withstand the rigours of play?
On that first naive shoe-buying mission at my local shopping centres, I was desperate to go home with something. So I bought the most practical shoes I could find – Mary Janes in a sparkly rose gold canvas, and glittery jelly sandals.
From birth, girls’ “cutest” outfits are usually dresses. But they can be unwieldy to move in, and girls in dresses are discouraged from climbing, hanging upside down or doing anything else fun that might show their undies.
I’ve unwittingly restricted my daughter with dresses. We were given a sweet purple cotton dress with white polka dots, buttons down the back and contrasting frills on the edges. I popped it on my daughter for a playdate with a baby boy the same age, around 10 months old. They were both eager explorers but she kept getting tangled in the skirt and couldn’t crawl in it, navigate stairs or climb onto furniture. As soon as we got home, I changed her into leggings.
If an alien landed in any of our major retailers, you could forgive them for assuming girls and boys are different species. Girls’ t-shirts encourage them to be "sweet and fun" and "hug your heart out". Meanwhile boys' shirts instruct them to “say yes to new adventures”, “fly away with me” and be superheroes.”
Both boys’ and girls’ slogans limit them to narrow stereotypes but the girls’ are particularly uninspiring. “Those companies are selling sexism, basically, the idea of a subordinate female or a dominant male,” according to Dr Hannah McCann, a gender studies lecturer at the University of Melbourne.
Gone in 24 hours. But why does this keep happening?
Well that was quick.
On Tuesday afternoon I posted on my social media pages this hoodie for primary school aged boys.
It was found in the Canberra outlet store of surf style chain shop Quiksilver, which describes itself as ‘The World’s Leader in Snow and Surf Clothing’ by Rachel Grant. She’s a mum who was looking for clothes for her 6 and 9-year-old sons who were with her. She then told me about her unfortunate discovery on the rack of clothing in her son’s sizing.
Quiksilver was about to become a world leader in objectified and sexualised clothing for little boys.
At a time when we are (at last) having a global discussion about the mistreatment of women and girls, calling out the bad behaviour of so many predators, gropers, sexual abuse apologists and general thugs and with governments adding in new budget items for respectful relationships programs in schools, corporates like this go about their merry misogynistic ways, creating fashion items which enmesh objectification of women and male entitlement in the culture.
Supporters went into action immediately – women like mother, grandmother and teacher Lisa Ashdowne who wrote in part: “I’m writing to make a complaint about the messages your products and advertising send our children, girls and boys, about who they are in the world, how they should think and behave, where they belong in society, the value they hold for themselves and for others – living in Torquay, I am faced daily with the overriding message that boys and men are valued for their skills and effort in surfing and girls and YOUNG women are valued when they are skinny, semi-naked…being on display, not valued for anything other than another’s pleasure. I will be actively campaigning against your company until your values and guiding principles change and they are EXPLICITLY demonstrated in your products and your communications at all levels”.
Then, the next day, supporters began receiving this message.
I’ve thanked Quiksilver for their prompt response. And they deserves thanks.
But activist Melinda Liszewski, whose has been working with me in cultural jamming actions for more than a decade, asks this pointed question on twitter:
That’s the thing, isn’t it. There are people who decided that plastering semi naked women on a jumper for little boys, suggesting those women are a ‘paradise’ for them to enjoy, is acceptable. There were entire design/buying/marketing departments determining that turning little boys into walking billboards for spreading harmful ideas about women and girls was fine. Where is the quality control? The ethics? The corporate social responsibility?
It’s great to go into the New Year with a win straight up. And we are thankful when companies respond to community concern. But we must remain vigilant and keep fighting until there is genuine change at every level.
“Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain”: Former child star Mara Wilson condemns sexualisation of child actors
Former child actress Mara Wilson, from Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire, has penned an essay condemning the sexualisation of child actors.
The piece featured on Elle.com recalled Wilson’s experiences of being sexualised and fetishised as a child:
"Even before I was out of middle school, I had been featured on foot fetish websites, photoshopped into child porn, and received all kinds of letters and messages online from grown men.
"At every premiere and awards show, I would see strange men holding photos of me they’d printed themselves, hoping I would sign, and I would, hoping they were going to sell it somewhere and not keep it.”
“As soon as I’d hit puberty, it had become okay for strangers to discuss my body…Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain.”
Wilson was motivated to write the piece after seeing inappropriate comments on social media about Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, who is thirteen. A photo of the young actress at a premiere had been tweeted alongside the caption that, at thirteen, she “just grew up in front of our eyes”.
Wilson described feeling both sick and furious, arguing that a 13- year-old girl is not all grown up.
“I thought of the media outlets that posted countdown clocks until Emma Watson or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were “legal”—that is to say, “safe” fantasy material. These websites also run scare pieces about kidnapped children, teen sex-trafficking, and pedophile predators. Young girls at risk, young girls objectified: It’s all titillation to them. These adults fetishize innocence, and the loss of innocence even more. They know what they’re selling.”
Wilson shared her dismay over criticisms of 13-year-old Brown’s appearance on social media, which included comments suggesting she was inviting sexual attention or harassment through her dress.
“Saying what amounts to “if she didn’t want to be sexualized, her parents should not have dressed her that way” takes the responsibility away from the one doing the sexualizing. It would be unacceptable for an adult to comment on the body of a 13-year-old girl they knew. So why do these adults make pronouncements about the body of a 13-year-old girl they have never met?”
With the growing #MeToo movement, Hollywood has come under scrutiny over the abusive treatment of actresses by powerful men. But the tendency to sexualise girls and fetishise youth and innocence is not limited to Hollywood.
Wilson had some final words of advice to social media participants:
“We do not need to perpetuate the culture of dehumanization Hollywood has enabled. But the media has become democratized; social media and user-generated content mean anyone can write about anyone, and there is a good chance anyone will see it. We are all part of the media, but I don’t know if we’ve realized that yet, nor understood what a tremendous responsibility that is.
“I’m not saying we need to tiptoe around celebrities’ feelings. But we should be careful and thoughtful…Commenting on a child’s body, whether in a “positive” or “negative” way, in a sexualizing or pitying way, is still commenting on a child’s body.”
In our sexual histories series, authors explore changing sexual mores from antiquity to today.
We often hear that we are living in a corrupting, visually saturated, consumer culture, which threatens the innocence of girlhood. But representations of young girls in the European postcard trade at the turn of the 20th century cast doubt on this notion of an ideal, more innocent past.
From the mid-1890s until the first world war, Europeans had a love affair with collecting postcards. Created in 1874, the Universal Postal Unionestablished standardised postal regulations at accessible rates for its member nations; this greatly contributed to the postcard craze. In bigger cities, cards needed just a few hours to arrive at their destinations. The world was at one’s fingertips.
Rival publishers vied for attention with collectors’ competitions, impressive exhibitions, and artistic innovations. It did not take long for alluring postcards to flourish in the light-hearted social context of the time. European publishers showed great ingenuity in avoiding local censorship. They played with the boundaries of what was socially and legally acceptable.
Yet the trend of erotic postcards did not just bring cheeky smiles and cheerful eroticism. A quick look at one Italian postcard (c. 1900) highlights more disturbing aspects. Elevated on a pedestal, a pre-pubescent model is the privileged object of our gaze. Side lightings magnify her blond mane, and sculpt her flawless skin. A neutral backdrop focuses the attention on her statuesque body. This little goddess is a work of art.Read more