Wicked Campers slammed in South Australian Parliament
The following is taken from the Second Reading of the Motor Vehicles (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill in South Australia. The Hon Zoe Bettison, member for Ramsay, spoke in support of proposed legislation to deregister Wicked Campers if they do not abide Ad Standards rulings:
I rise this morning to support the Motor Vehicles (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill brought to this house by the member for Reynell. It is unfortunate that we have to talk about this because it seems quite simple that this is unacceptable. We want to propose reforms to the vehicle registration laws banning the registration of vehicles displaying obscene, sexist and racist messages.
We have modernised our society. We have called out violence against women, and I, personally, have worked diligently to ensure that our state is an inclusive and welcoming community that treats people with respect. That is why I am so disappointed and appalled by the harmful messages on the Wicked campervans that are freely driving around our state. Our community deserves better. Our community is better than this.
Despite South Australia being the first Australian state to grant women the vote and to stand for parliament, and the first to legally prohibit racial discrimination and sexual discrimination, currently there is nothing that prohibits these vans with offensive slogans from being on the roads of our state. Not only are they not acceptable but they should be removed immediately. Some might argue that we simply cannot see the funny side of these slogans. They are right; there is nothing funny about these slogans. Normalising violence against women and treating it as a punchline undermines all our efforts to reduce violence. They cause immediate offence and hurt across our community by perpetuating sexist attitudes that we are working tirelessly to change.
To quote our most recent former prime minister: not all disrespect ends in violence, but all violence starts with disrespect. This was an incredibly strong statement that he made because we have to call it out; whether it be in the workplace, the sporting field or down the street, that disrespecting women must end. We live in a country where one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. We have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. These messages undo decades of advocacy and women's empowerment and this is the kind of thing that we must make sure we stand up against in the future.
Wicked Campers promote their rental vans to backpackers and tourists who are likely to be visiting South Australia's most popular tourist destinations. While we as a state are promoting our festivals, our natural beauty, our food and wine, encouraging people to linger longer and enjoy what we love about South Australia, our visitors see these outlandish, highly visible vans at these great destinations. We are giving mixed messages to people. We are a global city. Tourism is one of our key economic drivers.
We invite tourists to come and enjoy what we love about South Australia, but in their face, in the car park, are these vans with offensive slogans. How does that match who we are? How does that match who we want to be? Think about our young boys and girls: we need to continue these messages from a very early age. We need to call out disrespect and we need to call out violence, yet we have these very visible slogans on the back of a van. How do you explain to your child that that is okay to be in public?
These are deliberately offensive slogans: 'Drink till she's pretty,' or, 'I've often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming.' These are vulgar statements. It is not just women that these are offensive to; they are offensive on many levels: sexism, racism, paedophilia. They go to the heart of the attitudes around domestic violence and violence against women. They also glamorise and trivialise drug use. In some cases, they even promote rape and murder. This is not what we want people to see when they visit South Australia. It is not what South Australians want to see in our state. A standard that we walk past is a standard that we accept.
I urge this house to support the motion and remind the house what we are supporting here: the cancellation of a vehicle's registration if it displays advertising material found to breach the code, preventing the refund of part or whole of the registration fee paid, preventing the transfer of a vehicle's registration when cancelled, preventing the renewal of registration unless the offending advertisement is removed, and purporting to prevent judicial review of the decision to cancel a vehicle's registration. This is what the bill does. But what it really does is send the strongest message that obscenity, racism and sexism is unacceptable in South Australia.
The bill has been adjourned. Read more here. Check our website for regular updates.
South Australian supporters, please contact your Liberal MPs and ask them to support this bill. If you are not sure who your local member is click here and choose your district.
"Nothing says romance like choking on a ...."- Collective Shout
Bill to ban sexist Wicked Camper vans- The Mercury
Collective Shout in the Sydney Morning HeraldRead more
Actor Charlie Sheen has a long history of violence against women, with sexual assaults, battery and threats against women spanning over two decades.
January 1990: While in their home, Sheen reportedly accidentally shot fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm. The relationship ended shortly after. In 2011, Sheen claimed she accidentally shot herself, using the story for a comedy routine:
"I was downstairs early in the morning making coffee and I thought she was still asleep upstairs," he said, regaling the crowd. "And I heard a f--king gunshot go off. I thought, 'She did it, she finally f--king did it. She killed herself and they're going to f--king blame me.'" So I abandoned the coffee, because a gunshot in the morning will wake you up better than a nice cup of coffee," he said, drawing increasing laughs from the crowd.
"I come around the corner and there's naked Kelly Preston at the top of the stairs, holding her wrist, staring at me, covered in blood…and I thought, that's pretty f--king hot," he explained, before quickly adding, "I didn't. I didn't." After tending to Preston, laying her down, grabbing towels and bandages and managing to stop the bleeding, he got around to asking her what happened. As you would.
"She explained to me when she lifted my pants off the scale in the bathroom…the tiny revolver I used to carry…it fell out of the back jeans pocket and hit the floor and shot a bullet right between her legs," he explained amid much interjecting from his onstage cohort. "So she got hit with shrapnel from the toilet bowl."
September 1990: Sheen completed drug rehab a month after checking himself in.
October 1994: Sheen was sued by a young UCLA student who claimed he repeatedly struck her in the face and head after she refused to have sex with him.
July 1995: Sheen testified in the tax evasion trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, admitting he spent almost $53,000 on the prostituted women she sold.
December 1996: Sheen was arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend Brittany Ashland, who was also a porn performer. Ms Ashland claimed he grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head into the marble floor of his home, threatening to kill her if she told anyone.
June 1997: Sheen plead no contest to the charges in relation to his assault of Brittany Ashland. He was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term and two years of probation.
May 1998: Sheen was hospitalised after a cocaine overdose. His father, Martin Sheen, turned him over to the authorities for violating his probation. Sheen later checked himself into rehab.
March 2005: Denise Richards, Sheen's second wife, filed for divorce while pregnant with the couples' second child. Richards alleged Sheen had a problem with drugs and alcohol.
March 2005: Porn performer and escort Chloe Jones told the National Enquirer Sheen was one of her clients, and had paid her $15,000 for oral sex. Sheen's agent disputed the claim.
April 2006: Denise Richards, Sheen's second wife, applied for a restraining order. In her statement to the court, she detailed a long history of drug use, gambling, paying for sex, abusive behaviour and threats, including threats to kill their dogs. Richards expressed her concerns about Sheen's pornography use, which included boys and girls who appeared to be underage, including girls with braces, pigtails and without pubic hair performing sex acts. Richards recalled an incident at her house on the 30th December 2005 where he pushed her over and threatened to kill her in front of their children:
'Respondent then started to approach me. I was still holding Lola. I put my right hand up to block him and to shield myself and Lola. The Respondent pushed me, shoving me with his two hands between my shoulders. I was forced backwards and tripped over one of the children’s toys and fell on the floor with Lola. Sam was screaming the entire time and crying. Lola was also crying. When I was laying on the floor, the Respondent then pointed his finger at me and screamed,”I hope you f..king die, bitch.” I took both girls, sat on the couch and tried to calm them down. The Respondent turned away and as he was walking out the front door, said to me that he was going to have me killed. He said,”you are f..king with the wrong guy.'
In a conversation on April 9th, 2006, shortly before Richards obtained the restraining order, Sheen continued to make threats:
'He told me that “I will never get to court because I will be f...king dead!” He told me to enjoy my parents “while they are still around”. I took this to mean that he was not only going to do me harm but also do harm to my parents. In this conversation, I also brought up an old prostitute/porn star who he saw by the name of Chloe Jones. I saw on the news that she had died from undetermined causes. When I asked him if he had anything to do with her death, he said that he had “no comment”. He repeated “no comment” again when I asked him again.'
March 2008: Jason Itzler claimed he sent Ashley Dupre and another girl to have a threesome with Sheen for $20,000. Sheen's reps denied the report.
December 2009: Sheen was arrested on domestic violence charges after an alleged altercation with his third wife Brooke Mueller, the mother of his twins, who claimed he held a knife to her throat.
February 2010: Sheen was charged with felony menacing and misdemeanour third degree assault and criminal mischief in connection with the December arrest. He plead not guilty the following month, but eventually plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in rehab, 30 days probation and 36 hours of anger management.
February 2010: Sheen announced he was voluntarily checking himself into rehab.
October 2010: Sheen was reportedly removed from The Plaza Hotel in New York after causing a disturbance and allegedly doing $7,000 worth of damage to the room.
November 2010: Sheen was sued by Capri Anderson, a pornography performer who was with him at The Plaza, alleging he choked her and threatened to kill her. Sheen countersued Anderson, accusing her of extortion.
March 2011: Sheen's estranged third wife Brooke Mueller obtained an emergency restraining order after Sheen allegedly threatened to cut off her head, put it in a box and send it to her mother.
October 2012: A man filed a police report after Sheen allegedly threatened to shoot him to death.
November 2013: Sheen sent an abusive tweet to his ex-wife Brooke Mueller, inviting her to fellate a hand grenade.
October 2014: Sheen was sued for assault and sexual battery by a dental technician after allegedly grabbing her breasts and punching her during a dental visit.
June 2015: Sheen sent an abusive tweet to his ex-wife and mother of two of his children Denise Richards, calling her a "heretic washed up piglet shame pile".
December 2015: Sheen's ex-fiancée Scottine Ross sued him for assault, battery and false imprisonment. She alleged he put an unloaded gun to her head and repeatedly pulled the trigger.
April 2016: Sheen's ex-fiancée Scottine Ross obtained a restraining order against Sheen after a recording believed to be Sheen's voice said he would rather pay someone $20,000 to kick her in the head than settle her law suit.
June 2017: Sheen was sued by an ex-girlfriend for knowingly exposing her to HIV. Sheen knew of his HIV positive status in 2011, and had sex with her in 2015. She allegedly asked him upfront if he had any sexually transmitted infections and he said he was "fine" but told her later he was HIV positive.
Open Letter: Collective Shout calls on Immigration Minister to revoke serial abuser Charlie Sheen's visa
Actor Charlie Sheen is set to kick off a speaking tour in Australia next month. Sheen's sickening history of sexual assault, battery and threats against women spans over two decades. We've got enough problems with violence against women in Australia, so why are we rolling out the red carpet for serial abusers of women?
We're calling on Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, to revoke Sheen's visa.
The Hon. Mr David Coleman MP
Minister for Immigration
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
We are writing to you regarding visa applicant actor Charlie Sheen, who is due to arrive in Australia for a national speaking tour starting 3rd November.
Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 78 on Controversial Visa Applicants refers to “people whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.”
We believe the application by Charlie Sheen meets the Department’s definition of ‘Controversial Visa Applicant’. Our views are based on his long and documented criminal history of violence against women. Allowing Mr Sheen into the country sends the message that domestic violence is not taken seriously.
Charlie Sheen has a history of sexual assault, battery and threats against women spanning over more than two decades.
In 1994, Sheen was sued by a young student after allegedly repeatedly striking her in the head and face after she refused to have sex with him.
In 1996, he was arrested for beating up his girlfriend Brittany Ashland, allegedly grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head into the marble floor of his home and threatening to kill her if she told anyone. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a one year suspended prison term and two years’ probation.
In 2006, his second wife Denise Richardson made an application for a restraining order, describing years of psychological abuse, threats and drug use. She detailed allegations of physical violence against her in the presence of their young children, including Sheen pushing her over while she held their young daughter and making threats on her life and the lives of her parents.
In 2009, Sheen was arrested on domestic violence charges after allegedly holding a knife to the throat of Brooke Mueller, his third wife. He was charged with felony menacing and misdemeanour third degree assault and criminal mischief. Upon pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 30 days of rehab, 30 days probation and 36 hours of anger management.
In 2010 Sheen was sued by Capri Ford who claimed he tried to choke her and threatened to kill her.
In 2011, Brooke Mueller, Sheen’s third wife, obtained an emergency restraining order after Sheen allegedly threatened to cut off her head, put it in a box, and send it to her mother.
In 2012, a man filed a police report after Sheen allegedly threatened to shoot him to death.
In 2013, Sheen sent an abusive tweet to his third wife Brooke Mueller, inviting her to fellate a hand grenade.
In 2014, Sheen was sued for assault and battery by a dental technician, after he allegedly grabbed her breast and punched her during a dental visit.
In 2015, Sheen was sued by his ex-fiancée Scottine Ross for assault, battery and false imprisonment. She claimed he held an unloaded gun to her head and repeatedly pulled the trigger.
In 2016, Ross obtained a restraining order against Sheen after a recording believed to be Sheen’s voice said he would rather pay someone $20,000 to kick her in the head than settle her lawsuit.
In 2017, Sheen was sued by an ex-girlfriend for knowingly exposing her to HIV. Sheen knew of his HIV positive status in 2011, and had sex with her in 2015. She claimed she asked him upfront if he had any sexually transmitted infections and he said he was “fine” but told her afterwards he was HIV positive.
Sheen’s list of offences is too extensive to list here. The complete list is available in an appendix on our website: https://www.collectiveshout.org/charlie_sheen_violence_against_women
Charlie Sheen is a Controversial Visa Applicant also because of specific conditions that continue to prevail in Australian society. In Australia, on average one woman is killed each week by a current or former intimate partner. Police respond to domestic violence matters every two minutes. Allowing Sheen to broadcast his misogynistic views towards women to an audience dominated by young men poses a particular risk for Australian women, and it sends the message that if you are high-profile and successful enough, committing violence against women doesn’t matter.
The Commonwealth Government’s National Plan of Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 notes that violence against
women and their children costs the Australian economy around $13.6 billion a year. If prevailing social conditions continue, “an estimated three-quarters of a million Australian women will experience and report violence in the period of 2021-22, costing the Australian economy an estimated $15.6 billion”.
There are therefore economic grounds to examine Charlie Sheen’s application on the basis of conditions recognised by the Commonwealth Government to cost more in their aggravation.
The National Plan also states that, “While living safe and free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility”. There is further grounds to consider Sheen’s application on the basis of this assertion.
As a society which claims to be serious about eradicating violence against women, there should be no place for performers who glorify misogyny and degrade women for entertainment. Welcoming individuals like Sheen sends a message that our leaders don’t really care about stopping the promotion and glorification of violence against women, and that the National Plan exists in word only.
The artist’s presence here would contradict the Plan, in that his commercial product and behaviour undermines the human rights of women and girls and respectful relationships, and impedes attitudinal and behavioural change especially in young people.
It is our view that your Department has failed to conduct due diligence prior to advising you to grant this visa.
On behalf of women and girls, and all who care about them, we ask that you place the safety of our female citizens before a recording artist with a criminal history, who wants to exploit women for profit and who will contribute to a harmful cultural environment for them.
We request that you act urgently to revoke Charlie Sheen’s visa so that he cannot promote his misogynistic attitudes here. Please demonstrate that your Government is serious about addressing the scourge of violence against women by taking this action as a matter of urgency.
Contact Minister for Immigration, David Coleman, and ask him to revoke Charlie Sheen's visa.
Email at Minister@homeaffairs.gov.au
Add your name to the open letter below
“Domestic violence and femicide is a real issue, pairing that issue with alcohol is beyond disgusting.”Read more
"Pornography is now the main sex educator for young people"Read more
[Warning: this article contains graphic descriptions.]
Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker and co-founder of Collective Shout. She co-edited Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry and Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade.
"Women must be safe everywhere. On the street, walking through a park, in their homes, at work. We need to ensure that we have a culture of respect of women. We must never, ever, ever tolerate violence against women. Eurydice Dixon - we grieve her loss, we mourn with her family and we say never again."
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
"Women in Australia have the right to freedom of movement. It is not the fault of women if they chose to walk home from transport to their house. All of this violence is ultimately preventable and we need to tackle the enablers of violence, we need to change the attitudes of men."
- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
She is on the run. Desperate, frantic. Wearing a head scarf, her deep dark eyes brim with worry and fear. She epitomises woman in flight, the kind of women filling our television screens, the ones with small children clinging for dear life to their mothers.
She is a woman who should evoke pity. Our hearts should lurch, we should fear for her; she is so vulnerable. Will she make it to the end of her journey unharmed?
But now, as though not terrorised enough, she is subjected to an affront so devoid of empathy it is difficult to believe. She is to be turned into porn. Refugee Porn. A displaced woman running from oppression into oppression.
"Tons of free Refugee porn videos!"; "All the hottest refugee porno movies for free!"; pick your preferences: "Syrian," "Timid Arabians," "21-year-old refugee," "Hijab pregnant porn" - and lots more. Unveiling and violating "exotic" women who are normally covered, appears to be a particular turn-on.
Refugee Porn attracts up to 800,000 search requests monthly. Sharp increases in searches for refugee porn in Germany have seen new studios springing up to service this demand, which correlates to the large number of refugees Germany has welcomed.
While some videos use porn actresses depicting refugee women, it is believed that actual refugee women are also used. Either way, the sex industry's aim is to convey and profit from a story-line - or terror plot - based on the eroticised subjugation of refugees humiliated for "dinner money."
While looking into this genre - and trying to remain sane - I noticed the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader in rare bi-partisan agreement following the death of Eurydice Dixon: saying that we must not tolerate violence against women, and that we must tackle the enablers of that violence. We are hearing pronouncements like this more and more. But while there are many enablers of violence against women, there is a particularly monstrous one that rarely rates a mention. It is the global industrialisation of the bodies of women - among them, the most powerless - as fodder for men's consumption. As Abigail Bray writes in Misogyny Re-loaded, porn and rape culture means "inhabiting a paradoxical space where the rape and murder of women is prohibited but everywhere eroticised and the object of laughter."
Enabling sexual violence
Pornhub is the world's largest provider of porn content. It attracts 80 million visits a day. The company, now owned by MindGeek, is headquartered in beautiful Montreal, where its more than 1,000 employees toil day and night to bring you the best scenes of suffering on the market.
Pornhub is both a repository and disseminator of hate propaganda. It hosts evidence of crimes against women for men to enjoy. Popular videos depict brutal sexual violence against women. Sadistic titles revel in women's inability to stop the violent assaults carried out against them. The most violent have views in the millions. Many titles are centred around the sexual abuse and rape of teen and underage girls. Men are fantasising about raping young girls with impunity while government, children charities and advocacy groups try to tackle an epidemic of child sexual abuse.
Cultural norms are taught through pornography. When boys learn early to enjoy, take pleasure in, laugh at, and get off on torture and humiliation videos, when they are fed a diet of rape porn and racist sexual abuse, does the avalanche of violence against women come as a surprise?
James Ogloff, an experienced clinical forensic psychologist, was recently quoted in The Australian: "In serious sexual offending, the motivation is often a deviant sexual interest. It is very much a sexual motivation." That deviant sexual interest has to come from somewhere. Pornhub features in the top five favourite sites of boys aged 11-16, according to ChildWise UK. Rape is on the menu for boys whose sexuality is still being formed. They see, and are taught to be aroused by, girls who are choking, sobbing, vomiting, their eyes popping, having their skin bruised, being called abusive names, slapped, kicked, pounded, hair ripped out.
Tell me this is not enabling.
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, whose constituency was at the centre of a child sexual exploitation scandal, produced the 2016 Dare2Care Report in which she quotes one young boy who asked: "If I have a girlfriend, do I need to strangle her when I have sex with her?" Indiscriminate porn exposure acts as a kind of social grooming for this generation of boys. Girls morph into porn fantasy sex props.
Thus the number of sexual offences recorded in the Republic of Ireland has doubled since 2003: an increase of 87%, two thirds of which has occurred in the past three years. Authorities in Ireland are linking the sex crimes to pornography - especially among teenage boys. In 2016, one in five rapes in Ireland was committed by a juvenile. Eileen Finnegan is the clinical director of One in Four, a national organization that aids and counsels the victims of sex crimes and also treats offenders. All the sex offenders in treatment began offending at 10 or 11 years of age. They developed what Finnegan calls "a deviant interest" in sexual violence. And they are getting their sex education from pornography. "The escalation is astonishing," says Eileen Finnegan, regarding the rise of rape porn and its access by children.
The UK has also made the connections. In the foreword to the 2012 report Basically ... Porn is Everywhere, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England Sue Berelowitz highlighted violence done to girls by porn-influenced boys:
"The first year of our Inquiry ... revealed shocking rates of sexual violation of children and young people ... The Inquiry team heard children recount appalling stories about being raped by both older males and peers, often in extremely violent and sadistic circumstances, and in abusive situations that frequently continued for years ... The use of and children's access to pornography emerged as a key theme ... It was mentioned by boys in witness statements after being apprehended for the rape of a child, one of whom said it was 'like being in a porn movie'; we had frequent accounts of both girls' and boys' expectations of sex being drawn from pornography they had seen; and professionals told us troubling stories of the extent to which teenagers and younger children routinely access pornography, including extreme and violent images. We also found compelling evidence that too many boys believe that they have an absolute entitlement to sex at any time, in any place, in any way and with whomever they wish. Equally worryingly, we heard that too often girls feel they have no alternative but to submit to boys' demands, regardless of their own wishes."
France is also observing the links between porn exposure and violence against women. "I am surprised that we are astonished at the violence done to women today without attacking the roots of the evil," says Professor Israel Nisand, gynaecologist and President of the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians. On 15 June, with several health professionals, Nisand launched a "solemn appeal" to the government to fight against the mass distribution of pornographic images, to which children are exposed. "We observe a policy inertia," he said. We see the same policy inertial here.
The dehumanization of girls
Personal accounts of the lived experience of women and girls dealing with porn-conditioned boys and men demonstrate pornography's dehumanizing power. I've written previously about my encounters with girls who tell me about boys demanding sexual favours, demanding sex acts they don't like, being pressured to provide naked images, being ranked on their bodies compared to the bodies of porn stars.
As British writer and activist Sarah Ditum has observed, "The pornographic vocabulary of sex as the violent debasement of the female body had seeped out from screens and into the lives of women." And it is no longer only porn "performers" who are taking the hit of porn (whose experiences are shamefully still largely ignored), it is women and girls everywhere, every day.
Growing numbers of young women are saying that their partners are initiating the signature sex acts of pornography: ejaculating on faces and bodies, deep-throating fellatio and anal sex. "Rosie Redstockings" - a young student at an English university - describes her experience of porn-conditioned men. She writes:
"I'm 23. Mine is the first generation to be exposed to online porn from a young age. We learnt what sex is from watching strangers on the internet, we don't know anything else.
"Here are some of the things that I have experienced ...
"Being told that my gag reflex was too strong ... Bullied into submitting to facials. I didn't want to. He said [jokingly] that he'd ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn't joking - I woke up with him wanking over me ... Bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive ... He continued to ask for it ... Constant requests for threesomes ... Constant requests to let him film it ... Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not ... giving him what he wants."
Then there's the 16-year-old girl who describes oral sex as "the new kissing":
"When you have sex with a guy they want it to be like a porno. They want anal and oral right away. Oral is, like, the new kissing ... the cum shot in the face is a big thing."
A recent study found girls were being coerced into anal sex they didn't want and which they found painful. The main reason they gave for engaging in the act was that boys "wanted to copy what they saw in pornography." Younger girls who spoke to British MP Sarah Champion for her report, told her they believed it was obligatory to have anal sex or to be shared between a partner's friends if they wanted a boyfriend to remain faithful.
Alison Pearson relays a conversation with a GP who described anal tearing from porn-inspired anal sex, increasingly happening to adolescent girls:
"A GP, let's call her Sue, said: 'I'm afraid things are much worse than people suspect'. In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because they wanted to, or because they enjoyed it, but because a boy expected them to. 'I'll spare you the gruesome details', said Sue, 'but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that'.
"Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn't confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress. When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew it hurt ...
"The girls presenting with incontinence were often under the age of consent and from loving, stable homes. Just the sort of kids who, two generations ago, would have been enjoying riding and ballet lessons, and still looking forward to their first kiss, not being coerced into violent sex by some kid who picked up his ideas about physical intimacy from porn."
At a time when the surreptitious filming of women and girls is increasing - known as "upskirting" and "downblousing" - hidden cameras is another rising porn genre. The appeal, as shown in the titles, is that the woman or girl doesn't know she is being filmed: "Girlfriend doesn't know she is being recorded"; "My 19 YO Roommate undressing - My first time spying on her" and so on ad nauseam.
It is a criminal offence to film people when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but men are placing hidden cameras in toilets, changing rooms and rental properties. We only hear about the ones who are identified and charged. These men will face court while Pornhub hosts and profits from the videos they created. Meanwhile, Amazon Australia has been exposed for selling a how-to guide for taking "creepshots" of women, implicitly fuelling the practice.
Porn consumption and sexual aggression
There is a growing body of literature testifying to the way that boys who take their sexual cues from porn develop sexist attitudes and aggressive behaviours, which then have "trickle down" effects on women and girls.
Porn use is linked to higher rape acceptance attitudes. A major 2012 systematic literature review found that adolescent consumption of internet pornography was linked to attitudinal changes including acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as "sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires." Adolescents intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material, the review found, were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed. Similarly, in a 2015 meta-analysis examining the link between pornography consumption and sexual violence, the authors found that consumption of pornography was associated with increased likelihood of committing actual acts of sexual aggression.
The evidence of this is all around us. One in four young Australian men believe it is normal for men to pressure women into sex. In the UK, one in three girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school, while 71% hear the terms "slut" or "slag" used to describe female students on a weekly basis.
In Australia there has been a notable increase in reports of child-on-child sexual assault, with porn being cited as a key factor turning children into "copycat sexual predators." At the other end of the age-spectrum, a secret Australian Facebook group called "Blokes Advice" deals in porn-laced threats of violence and vilification. The 200,000 male group members entertain each other with graphic descriptions of gang rape, revenge porn, advice on how to force women into anal sex and incitement to bombard women with porn. Men defended the multiple threatening and violent plots against women as "a bit of a laugh."
Likewise, The Red Zone - a 200-page report into the culture of sexual assault and harassment at many Australian university residential colleges, released earlier this year - details decades of institutionalised hazing and misogyny, including male students masturbating into the shampoo of female residents and an initiation ritual involving "male residents breaking down the doors of women's bedrooms, resulting in one student being taken to hospital."
A new documentary titled Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution, is currently screening on Netflix. It exposes the brutal reality of what happens during Spring Break, when American and international students converge on places like Florida and Cancun in Mexico. The sense of male entitlement is chilling. It feels like watching a mass pack assault, with every woman viewed as meat and conquest.
Male students are on the prowl, predators looking for the next girl to grope; they pull down a girl's top (chanting "Tits out for the boys!"), ply another with alcohol, hustle for sex and, in some cases, out in the open in full daylight, participate in gang rape to a cheer squad of men capturing it all on their phones. Young men are not only becoming inured to suffering - they are turning it into home-made ritual humiliation films to share with their friends.
Sadly, the girls have come not to expect better treatment. There's a price to be paid in not complying: when a girl says "no" and walks away, she is abused and derided. (One begs "Help me" as she tries to escape an aroused cabal who are poking and prodding her and trying to relieve her of her bikini). The boys are taken aback by resistance to the imposition of their unwanted hands and grinding penises. The college boys, for their part, make no secret of their porn consumption. They revel in it. And they enact what they have learned on screen on the bodies of real women.
With sexuality increasingly equated with the consumption of cruelty and brutality, with boys learning to equate the dehumanization of girls and degradation of their bodies with pleasure, with girls treated as masturbatory props, there can be little doubt that will see more of what Di McLeod, director of the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence (GCCASV), is witnessing. She wrote to me:
"In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender. With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are 'up for it' 24/7, ascribing to the myth that 'no means yes and yes means anal', oblivious to injuries caused and never ever considering consent. We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent.
"There is a cost in the trickledown effect that some of us bear witness to every day ... GCCASV has experienced a 56% increase in referrals from emergency departments of local public hospitals in the past year. Women have been hurt, sustained vaginal, anogenital and other physical injuries in the perpetration of forced sexual contact ... It is rare for us to have a recent rape presentation that involves only vaginal penetration. Porn inspired sex signature acts of anal, deep throating, the money shot accompanied by choking and strangulation are the new 'norm'. Despite the sexologist saying rape and sexual assault are not relevant it is central to the women and young women whose lives have been negatively impacted."
Trying to tell boys it is time for a sexual re-assessment, or lecturing them on "consent" and "respect" simply cannot compete with the indoctrinating effect that porn has on boys. They've learned from porn to gain pleasure in violation. As Glosswitch has observed:
"They can sit in a classroom and be informed about the rights and wrongs of [consent]. They can be encouraged to think, in abstract terms, about the Woman as Person. But that is not how they encounter her in the media, nor in the minds of fellow men. Deep down, they know that their 'right' to access hardcore pornography and purchase female flesh is inviolable. The Woman as Person narrative is subordinate to the one telling them that the ultimate human right is a 'real' man's right to f**k."
We need to talk to boys about how pornography depicts sexual violence against women, and explain to them that consuming porn is not only an affront to women and girls generally, it risks hijacking their sexuality and shaping it into something that will affect their ability to experience intimacy and pleasure without violence.
A culture built upon violation
There is thus a disturbing disconnect between condemnations of violence against women that invariably follows horrifying events like the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon and the utter silence about the role played by pornography in enabling that violence. Failing to address pornography as a driver of male violence gives future porn-inspired perpetrators a leave pass to commit it.
ABC journalist Jill Meagher was murdered in 2012 by serial predator and rapist (and consumer of rape porn) Adrian Bayley. In a Facebook comment posted on 23 June (quoted with permission), Jill's bereaved husband Tom Meagher observed the inexplicable reluctance to locate porn in the "Rape Culture Pyramid":
"It's so frustrating to see this issue ignored in mainstream conversations about male violence against women ... Generally I quite like these type of images [like the "Rape Culture Pyramid"] as a visual tool, but I have to ask, is it through moral cowardice or deference to the profiteers and guardians of sexual capitalism that you never see any mention of any facet of the sex trade in these pyramids? How on earth can anyone with a straight face claim that the ubiquity of violent porn doesn't have as much of an influence on the normalisation of female objectification and of sexual violence as locker room talk or catcalling and how can they fail to see the relationships and interplay between all of these problems (with porn acting as a deeply regressive sexual re-enforcement of the cultural misogyny that all of those other problems exemplify)? And if they do see it, then say it! It's like we can challenge any institution of patriarchy and male violence against women as long as it doesn't impact men's right to sexually access women and dictate the terms of pornographic content through endless male demand for boundary violations and increasingly younger (or younger presenting) women. If we can criticise ordinary men for failing to address violence against women (as we should), then surely we should be criticising the billionaire profiteers of this massive woman-hating industry as well as the millions of men who contribute to its ever increasing violence on a daily basis. This is a sign of a culture refusing to face [its] problems. The huge [pre-ponderance] of violence against women and dehumanising language in mainstream pornography doesn't come from nowhere, so who is it helping to pretend it's not a reinforcing influence on men who use it, the women in their lives and the wider culture that frames it and is framed by it? I'm so tired of hearing 'it's not porn itself, it's our culture' - well of course. Our culture is built upon and sustains itself on violation, porn is informed by that, but also informs and reinforces this ideology. That's how this s**t works. Violations that are mass produced, mass consumed, normalised and specifically tailored to male demand at the expense of women need to be confronted, not hidden from scrutiny for fear of alienating the 'good' men who get off on those violations, citing 'harmless fantasy' as an obfuscating sanitisation of filmed abuse. I'm baffled by intelligent people who defend this behemoth of sexual capitalism with a limp defence of 'some people choose to do it' - I mean, that is not a structural or cultural analysis, it's anecdotal whatabboutery that neither addresses the problem nor even recognise there is one. Why can't people be braver about discussing this honestly?"
If we truly care about confronting the enablers of violence against women and girls, we must tackle porn's role as, in Meagher's words, "a deeply regressive sexual re-enforcement of the cultural misogyny." If we don't, I fear that all the talk about addressing enablers and creating a safe culture for women is mere rhetoric and cant, devoid of meaning.
Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker and co-founder of Collective Shout. She co-edited Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry and Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade.
'Reprinted with permission of the author' See article here.
Content warning: This piece contains references to rape and violence against women that may be distressing.
This week, Noisey, Vice’s music channel, published a piece in defence of rap artist Tyler the Creator. The article, entitled ‘#FreeTylerTheCreator And Reject Theresa May’s Dumb Logic’ painted Tyler as a victim of racism and ignorance, and presented misinformation about campaigns against him.
The piece opens by describing a “moving” performance by TTC, summed up with the following statement:
"This – a peaceful lover of nature – is an artist who remains banned from entering the UK under any circumstances.”
It's hard to imagine such a “peaceful lover of nature” could be behind lyrics like “rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome”, or a wealth of others glorifying rape and extreme violence against women, murder, mutilating women’s genitals, stuffing them into car boots, trapping them in his basement, raping their corpses and burying their bodies.
The author suggests there is no basis for TTC to be refused access into any country, and that bans were motivated by racism:
"It was a very blatant case of making an example out of someone for no reason other than the fact that he’s black and angry and all the other countries under the Queen’s rule were doing it.”
The author's lack of research doesn’t end there, with the article incorrectly stating that after being banned from entering New Zealand in 2014, TTC became the focus of Collective Shout.
Collective Shout first campaigned against Tyler the Creator in June of 2013, not because he is “black and angry”, but due to his songs advocating rape and violence against women, often defended by his fans as ‘art’. In the course of our campaign, young activist Talitha Stone wrote a tweet accusing Tyler the Creator of promoting misogyny. TTC responded by sharing her tweet with his millions of followers, who predictably jumped at the opportunity to prove their loyalty by threatening to rape and murder Talitha, with police involvement required after one fan tweeted her home address.
Just days later, Tyler launched into an abusive tirade against Talitha who was in the crowd at his Sydney concert, calling her a bitch, whore and c*** as concertgoers cheered. He then proceeded to dedicate the song ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ to her, which contains the lyrics “You dead bitch, I'm hot as f*ck…Punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin' shit”.
Is this still ‘art’?
*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.