Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Are We Allowed To Talk About The Rampant Objectification And Sexualised Violence Towards Women?

A few days ago, my two sons and I went into the local service station to buy some comics. We walked over to the magazine section and stood there for about, twenty seconds. Looking down at all of the pornographic images. I'm not easily shocked - but these were really nasty stick mags, proudly out on display. They were the ONLY mags on display. Not even a Who to be found. I looked up to the man behind the counter but he wouldn't meet my gaze.

As my ten year old and four year old boys stood there, I almost took a photo. For the contrast. All the black leather and boobs hanging out ... the blondes on all fours who love it ROUGH. In ALL of the holes. It was absurd. Ludicrous. I knew it was wrong, but my boys didn't.

Sexual violence, sexist attitudes and the objectifying of women are reaching epic levels. It's ingrained, everywhere.

A photo of the last few years of the GQ Magazine Men of the Year winners:

Silly Lana forgot to put her tux on!

I'm not quite sure what this image is trying to convey. Something about power?

Marc, is it a perfume or a vibrator? I'm confused.

One woman is killed every week in Australia. Can you believe that? Usually by somebody they know. Sometimes, by somebody they don't.

I've been thinking a lot about Jill. 

As soon as I saw the Facebook page her husband set up to help try and find her, I had a terrible feeling.

And I was right. Many other people had a terrible feeling too, and voiced it on twitter, Facebook, blogs. Armchair detective agents in droves, publicly commenting on theories. It was disgusting and wrong, culminating in both the police and her family repeatedly appealing for privacy, for people to stop public conjecture on a shocking crime that needs to go through Australia's justice system.

Social media played a huge part in piecing together what happened to Jill that night, but it also served to victimise her further. She was blamed for walking by herself late at night, for having a few drinks with colleagues ... even for being attractive and respectable. "Why does a pretty white woman get so much media attention?"

We live in a world that has sexually objectified women beyond belief. So much that even women themselves are numb to it. I am. I also judged Jill, sitting safe in my armchair and watching the haunting, despicable CCTV footage that made me cry and feel sick. I judged her shoes. "Jill, you can't run in those shoes."

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with a white ribbon as its iconic symbol. White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 as part of UNIFEM (now UN Women).

White Ribbon is Australia's only national male-led violence prevention campaign, and the White Ribbon Campaign is now the largest global male-led movement to stop violence against women.

Read this piece of writing. Every woman in the world has a story like that.

I'm fed up. Our children are being indoctrinated right under our noses. I'll be actively working to undo this, as my boys grow up. Open conversations about body image, respect, the use of violence. I'll be telling my sons that, despite evidence to the contrary ... women are not sex dolls.

I'll be doing something next month for White Ribbon Day ... for Jill, for her family, for all of the women who are silently struggling against violence. I need to care about this, for my sons, your sons ... and everybody's daughters. 

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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