For years, Honey Birdette sex shops have relied on sexist and objectifying representations of women to flog their products, despite claiming to empower women.
But far from “female empowerment”, Honey Birdette portrayals of women headless, faceless, bound, chained and objectified convey the exact opposite- the sexualised subjugation of women.Read more
Racist, sexist: why porn mags had to go
The last issue of the Picture magazine to ever hit shelves
On September 26 2019, I walked into the Park Street Sydney offices of Bauer Media Group, to meet with its CEO.
This moment had been a long time in the making.
In 2010 I wrote an expansive piece on the nature of porn titles in convenience stores - and the failure of our classification system to regulate them - for the ABC.
That same year as part of Collective Shout’s campaign against lad’s mag Zoo, I wrote this piece, ‘Because all women must be brought to their knees’, also for the ABC. Our campaign saw Zoo pulled from Coles five years ago – thanks to the help of a young Coles employee who, with support of her union, told Coles it was creating a “hostile workplace environment” by requiring young women like herself to sell the magazine and to see boys ogling the magazines in store. Coles subsequently pulled the title, which was “catastrophic for sales” and saw publication cease in 2015 (Zoo devoted its final cover to us).
In 2019, we revived the campaign, this time focusing on The Picture and People Magazine. The renewed campaign was prompted by my colleague Melinda Liszewski walking into a 7-Eleven store to get a Coke, when confronted with the headline “X-RATED AUSSIE TEENS 18 & 19-YEAR OLDS STRIP” on the cover of People Magazine. Our campaigns team spent many hours going through the titles. We discovered the fetishizing of schoolgirls, encouraging sexual fantasies for “fresh young flesh”, the extolling of nurses and female tennis players as existing for male gratification and pleasure and racially eroticized Asian women. We asked how content like this could be permitted in a society that claimed to care about the status of women. We made the point that a sexist culture was grooming sexist boys and that these titles were normalizing that idea.
Our rapid-fire social media campaign highlighting the content and the failure of 7-Eleven to exercise corporate social responsibility, along with correspondence with the CEO, resulted in 7-Eleven pulling porn titles Picture and People from 700 stores three weeks later. BP soon followed, removing the titles from 350 servos. Then Bauer Media Group’s CEO Brendon Hill offered a meeting. He had good news. Only in the role a few months, he agreed with our views that these titles were inconsistent with Bauer’s core values and pro women position statements. It was a positive exchange. We commend Brendon for his actions.Read more
We recently wrote to 7-Eleven CEO Angus McKay about the harmful sexual harassment mags sold in their stores. These magazines not only include pornographic images and descriptions they even encourage up-skirting which is a crime in Australia.
These magazines are classified as 'Unrestricted M' meaning they can be sold to anyone regardless of age. 7-Eleven is well known as a destination for kids with their popular Slurpees brand and partnerships with Krispy Kreme and Chupa Chups.
Yesterday we received a response to our letter from the 7-Eleven head and it is even more pathetic than we expected.
Dear Ms Tankard Reist
Thank you for your letter regarding the sale of Picture and People magazines in 7-Eleven stores.
As you are aware, the magazines you refer to are classified 'Unrestricted M' by Australian Classification, which is part of the Australian Government's Department of Communications and the Arts.
These magazines are sold in a wide range of outlets such as newsagencies, supermarkets and convenience stores across Australia and we understand some people may be offended by images displayed on the covers and within these magazines.
I can confirm 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd no longer includes Picture and People magazines as part of the product range we recommend / offer to our franchisees. However, under our Franchise Agreement, individual franchisees are able to stock products beyond those recommended / supplied by 7-Eleven.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me on this matter.
CEO, 7-Eleven Stores
*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.
‘Beat the p***y up’ – the way we talk about sex with women
By Jessica Eaton
This blog contains a discussion of violent language to discuss sex, sexual violence and porn. It also contains the titles to real porn films that a lot of people may find disturbing. Please take care of yourself whilst reading this and seek support after reading if you need to.
As a massive old skool (and sometimes new skool) RnB, Rap and Hip Hop fan, I often find myself experiencing some pretty serious cognitive dissonance to try to enjoy my music without yelling at the radio or crying into my crisps.
As a younger feminist, I used to tell myself that it was okay that women were called bitches and hoes because that’s the way that artist chose to express themselves (I know, I know, so progressive).
As I got older, I started to resent the use of the word ‘bitch’ in my once-favourite songs. I stopped listening to some artists because I couldn’t stand the way they spoke about women and sex. The next challenge was dealing with the rise of female artists using ‘bitch’ and ‘nasty hoe’ to describe themselves. I thought the rise of female MCs, rappers and writers would eliminate this constant woman-hating but it didn’t. Nicki, Cardi B, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott – they made me wanna two-step and cry at the same time.
(Edit: I would just like to add that misogynistic and rape-glorifying lyrics are found in Death Metal too so this issue clearly isn’t unique to my music preferences, but I have never listened to it so didn’t know until someone told me today! Here’s a link.)
It is often the case in music that women sing about loving men and men sing about f*cking women. And it’s this that I want to talk about.
I noticed recently that the range of ways men sing, rap and talk about having sex with women has become inherently violent. They aren’t talking about ‘getting jiggy’ or ‘having fun’ or ‘doing the deed’ – I mean, they are not even calling it sex anymore. Not only that, but they are not even naming or identifying the woman anymore.
I decided to sit and think about all the violent ways men describe having sex with women these days, and came up with this list in about 3 minutes. I am sure there are many more and people will contact me with others.
List of violent terms to describe having sex with women:
Beat that p***y up
Beat it up
There are two main points here. The first is that sex is being described in very violent terms and the second is that the word ‘that’ is used in place of ‘her’ to objectify the woman they are talking about. These men aren’t saying ‘I would love to have sex with her’ or ‘I would shag her’ or even ‘I would f**k her’ – they are saying ‘I would f**k that’. ‘That’ is not a pronoun. ‘That’ is not a name. ‘That’ is used for objects. I’ll come back to this point.
The first point is the violence in the language. Hit. Destroy. Ruin. Bang. Beat up. Smash. Smack. Hurt. These are words that describe violence and injury. They don’t describe sex. They don’t describe the type of sex any woman wants to have.
When I started to search the terms I had heard and read, I easily found memes, articles, discussions and blogs using this language about women in a completely normalised way. Men saying to their friends ‘The girl next door, I would ruin that!’ or ‘She’s gonna get it hard. Beat that p***y up!’ The image of all of the guys saying they would rape the sleeping girl on the sofa. I found hundreds of song lyrics like the ones I have listened to.
Gucci Mane released a song called ‘Beat it up’ about having sex with women. So did Slim Thug. So did Chris Brown. And no, I’m not talking about one song they all featured on, I’m talking about three separately produced songs about ‘beating that p***y up’.
Here are the lyrics from Slim Thug:
Guess what? I’m f**kin tonight
Whether you know it or not, Ima beat that pussy right
Yeah I’m f**kin tonight, Ima beat it up
In song lyrics, R Kelly says he ‘beats the p***y up like Django’and Lil Wayne says he ‘beat that p***y up like Emmett Till’.
Chris Brown says he f**ks women back to sleep in ‘Back to sleep’. I don’t really know why he would want to make a woman he has sex with fall asleep but the song lyrics are creepy as shit:
F**k you to sleep, wake you up again, I go so deep, beat it up again
Just let me rock, f**k you back to sleep, girl
Don’t say no, girl, don’t you talk
Just hold on tight to me, girl
F**k you back to sleep, girl.
The issue here is that these influential men in our popular culture and music industry are openly using sexually violent references to having sex with women and then every day adults (and children) are singing along to Chris Brown riffin’ about the women he wakes up to make them have sex with him again when they are too tired. We are so oblivious to what we are listening to, this language quickly becomes the norm.
One article I found listed every artist they could find who referred to sex as ‘beating the p***y up’ and they found over 15 current male artists using that term in hit songs. Jay-Z to Lil Wayne – they were all describing sex as harming women.
After searching for evidence on each one of the terms I listed above, I found a website discussing what ‘destroy that’ and ‘ruin that’ meant and was surprised to find how open men were when talking about what they meant. I had thought that maybe it was being used semi-consciously by men who were using it in banter, but they were using it literally. One page defined it as ‘having sex with her so rough that you cause injuries, the more physical injuries the rougher it probably was’. One man said he used it with his friends to mean destroying or ruining a ‘nice girl’ by having very aggressive sex with her or by taking her virginity.
It reminded me of a film I watched (and use in my teaching) about mail order brides and the way white, wealthy guys were buying and sexually exploiting women as servile brides from deprived areas. There was this one guy who used military metaphors to discuss meeting and having sex with potential brides. He made my skin crawl.
He is sat in a dark club when he says to the camera:
“Uh, the search and destroy mission for today is to circulate, work the room, identify a target and go for it. If plan A doesn’t work, I retreat, rally the troops and then go out and then try plan B uhh to capture the target.”
He doesn’t even say woman. He doesn’t even talk about humans. He talks about destroying and identifying targets.
This links to the second point I wanted to make – that this language dehumanises and dementalises women – it reduces them to their ‘p***y’ or their ‘ass’ that the men are going to ‘hurt’ or ‘hit’ or ‘crush’ or ‘beat that up’. They no longer converse about sex in human terms – they talk in metaphors and disconnected, dehumanised language. They refer to women as ‘that’ or they only talk about her body parts. She is there to be used, abused and hurt for their pleasure.
Where is this sexually violent language coming from?
Well, sorry to be the not-the-fun-kind-of-feminist, but its porn and societal misogyny. There is no doubt about where this is coming from. Work by people like Julia Long and Gail Dines has long told us that porn has become more and more violent, with Long (2012) arguing that over 90% of porn now features violence against women including hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, hurting, whipping and deliberately painful and extremely degrading sex acts.
You only have to look at the titles of porn films on Pornhub or X Videos to see the way they describe women in violent and degrading terms to see where this is coming from.
Here are some examples that are on porn sites today (18th May 2018):
‘Passed out slut letting me f**k her brains out’ (this film is of a clearly unconscious young girl being raped on Pornhub)
‘Unwanted painful anal’ (another allowed to stay on Pornhub despite clearly describing a rape)
‘Rip her up’ (the name of a series of videos in which women are raped)
‘Blonde babe gets brutally slapped and f**ked’
‘Beauty humiliated and ruined – BRUTAL’
‘Teen gets anally destroyed – hear her real screams and crying’
‘Heavily pregnant teen used by men’ (Pornhub allows this!)
Researchers have found a direct link between seeing girls as sex objects and showing aggression towards them in teenage boys.
Boys who agreed strongly with statements such as "girls are only good for their body", "it's OK to treat girls as objects" or "girls are only used for pleasure" were more likely to be aggressive towards girls – but only if they were not members of a gang, according to a study published in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law.Read more
It has come to our attention that Merriwa Tavern The Sixty 30 has made an application to vary existing trading conditions to allow topless waitresses or ‘skimpies’.
As an organisation that fights against commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls, Collective Shout strongly opposes this application on the grounds that:
- The use of women’s bodies in sexual entertainment and services is a form of prostitution
- Sexual trade in women’s bodies both causes and contributes to gender inequality by reducing women to mere objects for men’s use and enjoyment, with adverse impacts on women who are directly involved as well as women as a whole
- A significant body of research links sexual objectification of women with violence against women
- Sexploitation venues pose a threat to women, with women reporting increased incidents of sexual harassment, abuse and violence in areas in close proximity to strip clubs