Planning for action

PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION — it’s just ideas atm

Best approach is to raise the issue of harm

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Media and sexualization: State of empirical research, 1995–2015, L. Monique Ward, Annual Review of Sex Research Special Issue.  This research shows that regular, everyday exposure to sexually objectifying content is directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.

Avoid raising issues of personal taste and feeling offended — we are not objecting to these things on the basis of being ‘offended’ or whatever; we are objecting to them on the basis of the social harm they do to women and children.

Don’t ever make a personal comment or attack on someone who has responded to your complaint; ALWAYS focus on the social issues, not personal or individual ones. For the women who respond to us, we need to keep them safe, too — they are not the enemy! Patriarchy is the enemy!


Typical tactics used to deflect criticism of the sexual objectification of women

Note that each of these defences is based on a neo-liberal appeal to the individual; they take no account of the social context within which women and girls exist. That is, patriarchy. The arguments below represent a crippling philosophical relativism where no-one can say anything about anyone else’s experience. Therefore the social conditions and the objective, material realities of people’s lives that give rise to pornography and prostitution are erased.

Regardless of the issues raised in the complaint, the response will always focus on the individual and will fetishise choice above all other things, so that once the ‘choice’ card is played, it’s seen as the end of the matter. It’s bullshit, we know, but it’s what they do.

  • Saying it’s about choice. We can choose to fight the conditions that lead to women’s subjugation and degradation.
  • Saying it’s a matter of taste
  • Talking about causing offence
  • Arguing from the standpoint of individualism or a personal point of view. Individual experience matters, it does not determine what is true, but, rather, is simply part of a broader reality for a majority.
  • Arguing that these images are empowering for women. Empowerment is about an individual empowering themselves in the context of the existing, unjust conditions; it is about an individual accepting things as they are and then trying to get the most out of that for themselves. In this instance, it’s about accepting that women’s bodies are to be viewed and treated as commodities that can be consumed, abused, tortured, degraded, etc., for the titillation of men.
  • Personalising the model(s). Example from Bras N Things: “Clementine (the model in the campaign) is like part of the BNT family and we have worked with her in the past. Her and her daughter were part of our Mother’s Day campaign and she also featured in our Maternity campaign. This Valentine’s Day campaign was about her true love, her hubby.”
  • Appealing to one’s status as a woman