*Co-written by Women’s Rights Advocate Verina Algie
Six stories in the news headlines grabbed my attention over a short period of time in the middle of last year:
- Rolf Harris was found guilty on all 12 charges for the “indecent assault” of 4 children
- A man was arrested for the rape and murder of 32 year old Yuk Ling Lau in Melbourne. He is now reportedly “happy to be in jail with a roof over his head”.
- Gerrard Baden-Clay was found guilty of murdering his wife, Allison Baden-Clay, Brisbane.
- The Oscar Pistorius trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, which later only found him guilty of manslaughter.
- The La Trobe University’s ground-breaking report that lifted the lid on the sexual assault of older women in Australia.
- The rapes and sexual assaults of women in the Australian military.
They all involve male violence and male sexual violence against women and children.
At the same time I came across a gallery viewing of paintings of Nigella Lawson being abused by her husband. I then realised the art gallery selling this art, was owned by her husband Charles Saatchi. The husband who publicly throttled her, was selling these works of art of his violence against his wife, and taking 30% profit for their “artistic” portrayal.
Our country was promoting the upcoming White Ribbon campaign to “end violence against women” while our government was welcoming rap artists who sing about raping and chopping women up. When brave women objected, the fans of these rap artist’s said “they are only words, it doesn’t mean we do those things“, while proceeding to send death and violent rape threats to these same women.
Sport is apparently trying hard (female athletes anyway) to rid sexism and domestic violence from its arena, while we have major sporting companies like DUNLOP producing golf tees in the shape of headless naked women. And The AFL will do nothing about Lance Buddy Franklin’s involvement with the Nena and Pasadena T-shirts which display pornographically posed women, often headless, always sexualised, as objects to be worn on men’s body in the public sphere, with no regard for the women, children and survivors of male violence and sexual violence in this society.
Towards the end of last year Rabbitohs centre Kirisome Auva’a avoided a conviction but was handed a two-year good behaviour bond and made to pay $3000 to a Melbourne court fund after pleading guilty to recklessly causing injury, assault and criminal damage, after an alcohol-fuelled assault on his ex-girlfriend. The South Sydney football club handed Auva’a a meagre fine and suspended him for a week.
Just a few weeks earlier, Cronulla Sharks and NSW Captain Paul Gallen swore at the NRL bosses in a tweet, “there was no hearing for Gallen. The CEO of the NRL, Dave Smith, wouldn’t even take a call from one of the most senior players in the sport he runs. Gallen was told he would not be selected for Australia, it was brought into question whether he’d be able to resume his role as captain of the winning NSW State of Origin team, and he was told he would be fined the maximum – $50,000 – for breaching the players code of conduct“.
The message to all the boys and men playing league or other codes? Offending the male bosses is far worse than beating up women. We see this time and time again, where the punishments for other things such as using drugs or bringing the game into disrepute are far more serious than the punishments for male players accused or charged with violence against women.
As a society we are supposedly trying to stop the sexual abuse of and violence against women and children, while chain stores are selling bikini’s for toddlers.
Note; The girls bikini is from the Miami Jungle collection and is a Must Have for this season! Featuring an all over pink spot print over a deep navy background and contrasting orange. The back of the bikini top features a clever cross over design for added styling and comfort.
A contrast to boys swimwear;
Perfect for a day at the beach or when your’e at the pool, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle rash vest is certain to be a favorite! Featuring contrasting sleeves and awesome TMNT print on the front! With a UPF rating of 50+ to protect him from the harsh sun rays, you’ll love it too!
“Naughty girls get more presents” for Christmas and selected “naughty” underpants, in sizes for Tweens, being sold in the Tweens/child section of a major Australian chain (but it was just a placement error?).
Real women for sale for men to buy for their sexual pleasure (I’ve never seen a naked/basically naked sexualised man advertised to sell pornography, strip clubs or brothels before) at sex shops and strip clubs in the hubs of city and country towns, in among the banks, ice-cream parlors, cafes and clothing stores.
In December Australian survivors of prostitution petitioned against GTA 5 being advertised and sold in major “family” chain stores, a game where you can virtually act out raping and killing prostituted women. And yes when women objected, these men claimed “it’s only a game, it doesn’t mean we do those things“, while proceeding to send death and violent rape threats to these same women.
Meanwhile Globally, TEEN is the most searched for porn term. A Google Trends analysis indicates that searches for “Teen Porn” have more than tripled between 2005-2013, and teen porn was the fastest-growing genre over this period. And we have a mainstream music industry that pumps out highly sexulaised pornified young women with catchy tunes, airing on morning, afternoon and evening TV, and your local gym and pub.
The worldwide promotion and sale of Fifty Shades of Grey, as a sexy romance, in spite of all professional and survivor opinion, that this book glamourizes violence and sexual violence against women.
“…for practitioners, those who are aware of domestic abuse and those who have experienced an abusive partner, they show a troublesome contrast between the reality of domestic abuse and the fictional, romanticised version that has been accepted as part of popular culture.”
9 women have been murdered already by male violence this year in Australia, 5 women have gone “missing”, and countless others have been beaten and raped, while Australian cinema’s are releasing the Fifty Shades of Grey movie just in time to promote it for valentines day, so we can all share the love. I doubt this woman was ‘feeling the love’.
In this society at the moment we have two hands, and they are not doing the same thing.
On one hand we are saying all this violence against women and children must end, as we are reminded of the escalation of Australian women being raped, beaten and murdered by Australian men on Australian soil.
Yet on the other hand we are allowing people to profit from sexualising women and girls, reducing us to objects and glamourising male violence against us. When women are no longer people, but objects for sexual gratification, they then become objects to be violated.
Recently I saw a picture of a man showing off his tattoo that was being shared around Facebook. It was of a naked bound woman, upside down in a wheelie bin, with birds pecking at her genitals. So offensive I refuse to contribute to sharing it here
Every time we indulge in something, allow profit, or a laugh, or a “freedom of expression” that violates, objectifies and degrades or upholds violence against women, again, we undermine any claims we have of wanting to end male violence against women and children. We are in fact enabling and perpetuating porn culture, rape culture, male violence against women, and a society that continually treats women and girls as sub-human.
We must consider why the laws were changed so quickly to protect young Australian men from cowards punches (which we applaud), but we are now losing up to two woman a week from male violence. Women are just not in the same category as men.
We CANNOT, WILL NOT and NEVER WILL get rid of male violence and male sexual violence against women and girls until we have two hands doing the same thing. As long as we remain complicit, on the fence, silent, and yes, indulgent in this culture, this situation for females; the ones we love and women globally, is not going to change.
“Turning a person into a thing is almost always the first step in justifying violence against that person.” – Jean Kilbourne
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