Friday, September 9, 2011

Professional + Mummy = Oxymoron?

Sometimes I say to my husband, "You don't know what it's like to be home with the kids ALL THE TIME." I describe the often frustrating cycle of cleaning a room, as the children destroy another room. Or working for hours trying to 'get on top of the housework', thinking that at some point the house will be tidy, complete, and all that will be necessary is to maintain. I am yet to reach such a point, and highly doubt this point even exists before the youngest child is in full-time school (and even then...)

Or the constant stickiness, and the food in my hair (weet-bix is the worst!) and pulling on clothes that may not fit properly, or look like they were stolen from a hobo, and throwing my hair back into a ponytail. Seriously, I have seen babies that are better dressed than me. This is a very real concern!

There were days last year when it was school holidays and Sophia was still a pretty new baby, where it would get to the evening and I would go outside to empty the bin or check the mail, and I would look around and think, 'Huh, it rained today' or something, and realize I hadn't been out of my house, even to the letterbox, for a couple of days.

Back to my original point, I tell my husband he doesn't know what my role as stay at home mother is like, and he reminds me that I don't know what his role as 'bacon-getter' is like, because I've never had a full-time outside the home job.

He suggested awhile ago that I get back into some music teaching. I have been giving private music lessons since I was seventeen, and I actually quite enjoy it. I have met some awesome and talented young musicians and had a lot of fun with them. About two years ago we moved to another town, and with two small children and another on the way, I decided it was time for a break. A few weeks back, though, I decided life has calmed down enough for me to start thinking about starting up again.

Here's where it gets interesting- I somehow managed to get a part time job teaching piano and vocal lessons at a local private school (without so much as an interview, oh yeahhh!) and am finding myself actually being chased down by other schools looking for music teachers, which are apparently rare in this town. So here I am with more work than I can take being offered.

Maybe the first consideration should be the content of my lessons, or possible programs for Years 4-7 students...but let's be honest, my first thought was one of panic- Oh dear, I have to appear professional! No more food in my hair, no more havaianas, but ironed, smart casual teacher clothing. (Second thought was about programming.) I since took the opportunity to disappear off to the shopping centre and purchase a bunch of clothes (and while I was there, the complete series of Daria) much to my husband's shock. I usually come home fairly empty handed, mumbling about requiring practical shoes etc. Not this time!

Also thinking I could use some new make-up. It's been about two years since I really bought any decent make-up. And if I'm thinking about make-up, maybe I should be getting my hair all fancied up too. All in the name of appearing professional, of course. Both of these things don't typically fall under the realm of mother attire (at least in my world) so one could assume they are a part of being a working woman. And I think I could do with some new pants, too. You can't go to work with no pants.

My husband said if I wanted to work full time he would quit his job today. Sound like Lynette and Tom, season two of Desperate Housewives? Haha. In a way, that sounds....interesting.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does the Human Rights Commission really care about gender quality? : one woman’s battle against porno and violent fashion

This post is about my sexual harrassment complaint against City Beach, made to the Human Rights Commission, from Melinda Tankard Reist's blog.

Does the Human Rights Commission really care about gender quality? : one woman’s battle against porno and violent fashion

Get it off your chest, guys, but dirty shirts just make slogans for bogans

I am pleased to report that the porn t-shirts campaign has been getting more media attention. Last week, Melbourne newspaper The Age published an article on the subject.

It was also very encouraging to see a Letter to the Editor published about this issue, written by well-known psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg.

I am also getting used to speaking to journalists, usually with no notice, while in the process of getting dressed, with children fighting in the background, or during three hour car rides (once again, with children fighting in the background!) Fun stuff.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More media coverage on the 'porn t-shirts' campaign

I am pleased to report that the open letter to retailers has been receiving some media attention. Here's to interviews that take place with kids fighting in the background, and the much nicer ones when the kids are in daycare! Sighhhh.

I have had three radio interviews, one in Sydney, one in Adelaide and another in Melbourne, where Dr Michael Flood from the White Ribbon Foundation (both of them signatories) spoke also. He is brilliant. Listen here. Brianna did a wonderful job.

The Herald Sun wrote an article about the issue here, although it had a definite angle, and this angle was "Religious leaders are freaking out because they are so easily offended". Despite the fact that out of fifty nine signatories, only two were religious leaders. Perhaps a more appropriate angle would have been "Fancy well-educated experts agree that foisting sexual imagery on kids in a new medium is harmful, and just plain stupid". I'm just saying.

My local paper published an article this week. Thanks Brooke for the great article. I also found out the other day that small articles were published in another five newspapers around the country, anywhere from page two to page thirty.

Melinda Tankard Reist, one of the founders of Collective Shout (and a signatory, of course!) wrote specifically about Cotton On on her blog.

The facebook page is up to about 840 supporters. It is very refreshing to know that there are so many people who care.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Hello cyberspace! There has been some great progress with the Say No To Porn T-shirts campaign. Check out this article from page 3 of The West Australian.

Today, after much back and forth-ing on my part (I'm new at this, okay?) the completed joint signatory form was published, including a statement about this clothing and the impact on women, children and communities in general, signed by almost sixty of Australia's leading academics, psychologists, advocates and organizations.

I have been interviewed on radio today both in Melbourne and Adelaide, discussing this issue. From the comfort of my home and my comfy house clothes, that is.

Say No To Porn T-shirts page on facebook has 622 supporters at present, steadily growing. There are plenty of people who also feel strongly about this issue which is encouraging. So, ignoring the criticism and feeling optimistic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's in the genes!

As a teenage girl, I don't think I was all that bad. And by that statement, I mean I never drank or experimented with drugs, or had wild boyfriends or anything. I'm sure I was still a bit of a nightmare for my mother, arguing and answering back. I remember my exasperated Mum telling me many times, "You always have to have the last word!" (Also, I'm pretty sure my husband is nodding fervently in agreement.) Now here I am, ten years later, with three children who share my DNA. Yes, uh-oh!

I am now working with my five year old son on "answering back". Of course, to a small child, what does that mean? He looked at me blankly, and said very sincerely,"Why not?" I could picture what was going on in his head- questions are for answering, but if you answer then it's rude...? I think I have educated him now and he understands that the correct answer is something like "Yes Mummy, right away Mummy." Now I just have to remind him about eight times a day.

Then there are other situations when he doesn't understand the socially accepted 'rules' about manners and speaking to people. Like "Mummy, go away." Corrected to "Mummy, go away PLEASE." Ah. Much better.

My three and a half year old daughter has a similar tendency. She must have overheard me reading to her brother about different animal families, e.g. crustaceans, molluscs. She pulled out The Lion King book for me to read to her and said,"What family is this?" I paused for a second and said,"Well, animals that are a bit the same are in the same family. Animals that can lay eggs are in the same animal family. Lions and tigers and cats and..." as she held the book up to me and interrupted with "Read now." So patient, that one.

What hope is there for number three? Her favourite word is 'no'. And not just 'no', more like 'NONONONONONONONONOOOOOOO!" which roughly translates into, Touch my stuff and I will beat you with it.

Luckily they do have a few redeeming qualities. I do quite like the way that my 18 month old is quick to comfort and cuddle her crying siblings, even if the reason they are crying is because she belted them in the face with a drink bottle. And the way that my three and a half year old brings out dummies and toys to share with her little sister. And especially the way my five year old takes every opportunity to compliment his sisters ("You look beauuuuutiful, Isabel!")

All in all they're pretty good :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sand pits, not glitz!

My poor blog is so quiet, I haven't been giving it much attention lately. So here is some blog love, and an opportunity for me to 'talk' without interruptions, or else my husband smiling and nodding with wide, frightened eyes. He is learning the difference between topics where I am open to discussion and those where he should just fervently agree. He's actually making some progress.

A few months back, Universal Royalty from Texas decided to bring their child beauty pageants to Australia. There have been huge reactions from Australians (and now, New Zealanders) including nation-wide rallies and facebook campaigns for and against child beauty pageants, including Australians Against Child Beauty Pageants and Pull the Pin (on beauty pageants for children). AACBP currently has over 4000 supporters, and based on various online polls, 95% of Australians object to child beauty pageants. Including me. And I'll tell you why!

In some American style beauty pageants, little girls are spray tanned, waxed, wear fake teeth ("flippers") as well as style their hair and have their face heavily made up. This is so they can be the best- because they are judged on their looks, their level of hotness.

This is a picture of beauty queen Eden Wood, aged six, America's "prettiest little girl". Funnily enough, even she doesn't look much like the girl in this picture in real life. She is one of the stars on reality television show 'Toddlers and Tiaras' and has released her own single, along with t-shirts, ties, etc. There is a lot of money to be made here, and her mother (who is also her manager) is making plenty.

Then there is the concern of little girls being sexualised as they dress up and act like mini adults. Some wear skimpy costumes and move in a sexual way. Eden Woods sings about "shaking [her] booty". These little girls are encouraged to look and act like ladies, but they are not ladies, they are little girls.

What do girls learn about themselves as they participate in beauty pageants? That their value as a person is based on their appearance, how hot they are? That is a huge burden for a small child. And if they don't win, which odds are, most of them won't- what do they learn about themselves then? That they are not good enough, that they are not pretty enough?

Some pageant supporters argue that participation in these pageants builds confidence and self esteem in children. I disagree. There are many other ways a child can develop confidence- in learning a skill or playing a sport, or developing a talent or other attribute. Pageant supporters say there is no difference between these things and beauty pageants. However, in learning a musical instrument, for instance, a child might learn that with practice, hard work and determination, they may improve their skills. In playing a team sport, children learn the value of team work, good sportsmanship and many other important lessons. Beauty pageants, however, are not based on a skill that can be practiced- they are based on looks. Try working on your looks! Short of plastic surgery, your face probably isn't going to change too much.

My next big concern is the fact that the little girls involved don't have the ability to make an informed choice about being in pageants. They might want to, but they lack the foresight to see how they might be affected in the future, or the possible emotional harm that may result. The number one issue affecting young people in Australia is body image. Girls are experiencing eating disorders, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, self harm and more from younger ages. They are increasingly under pressure to be hot, thin, sexy- while still in primary school. Children barely have a childhood as it is, a time where they can be free of the burden and the worry that can accompany adult issues. I can't imagine feeling pressure to look perfect at the age of eight, for example. Personally, I didn't even regularly blow-dry my hair until I was sixteen. I didn't wear make up to school, with the exception of some mascara maybe, and the occasional rebellious blue eye shadow. (I looked GOOD...heh heh)

I don't believe parents can make this kind of decision for their daughters, and still believe it is in the best interest of their child. I believe in some cases they are pimping out their children for an ego boost. In Australia and New Zealand, there have been many child advocates and psychologists warning of the potential (likely) damage to young minds as they are exposed to 'toxic' pageant culture. I believe it is what the parents want, and for this reason I think it is exploitation. You can see a video of a five year old getting her eyebrows waxed against her will. Warning- it is unpleasant, but I think it illustrates my point about pageants being more about parents than children.

I don't consider myself to be the perfect parent, far from it! I am still learning and I think I will always be. It is not my intention to criticize parents, although I am personally disgusted by the child beauty pageant industry and those within it who are getting rich from this exploitation.

I am blessed to have three dirty, messy children who won't let me near them with a brush or a wet wipe. I will do everything I can to teach them that there is more to beauty than their outward appearance. Probably should start with myself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Don't you just love it when... google your name and find an article written about you?

I don't actually do this often, I was trying to sign in to my google account, and I started typing my name into the search engine by mistake- then my curiosity got the better of me!

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Please stop the world, I'd like to get off!"

I am about to have a huge whinge about the Advertising Standards Board (again). If you are tired of hearing these long-winded rants, please walk away now. (Dave, this includes you.)

Have you ever wanted to clench your fists and cry out, "GAHHHHH!" because the whole world has gone crazy (except for, of course, you)?

I cannot fathom the thinking or the motivation of the ASB. By now, it has become clear that the current system of self-regulation is absolutely useless, you would think if anything that now they would want to give the impression of functioning effectively and actually uphold some legitimate complaints. Nope, not at all. In fact, despite occasionally reaching the correct answer, when the Advertiser doesn't like the answer- that their ad campaign was a violation- the ASB reviews their decision and decides despite the fact that they originally agreed the ad was inappropriate, that it's actually okay now.

This particular case is of Rivers catalogue, with the heading "10 Deadly Deals", with a picture of a woman's legs coming out from under the couch. She is wearing fishnet stockings and stiletto heels. The highlight of the ASB report where they reversed their original decision was where they actually suggested the woman under the couch might be "searching for a lost wedding ring". Maybe the campaign should have been named something other than "10 Deadly Deals" if we weren't supposed to interpret the woman as dead...and being that Rivers sell clothing, and not couches and not women....what exactly was the correct interpretation here?

Another recent case, for Supre 'jeggings' (now there's a crime right there). These ads are of a topless young model wearing jeggings. Her hair is covering her breasts. Of course, these ads are displayed in the appropriate venue you would expect- the backs of buses. The ASB dismissed complaints for this ad, saying that a topless woman draws more attention to the jeans that are for sale. Funny, I thought when there was a topless woman around, attention was elsewhere.

Supre's response was that this ad was aimed at girls aged 18 plus. Because we all know only over 18's go outside without blindfolds on.

So you can see, my levels of grumpiness to those who are failing to properly regulate advertising in the public arena are slightly elevated.

Then, on top of that, THIS.


I personally have no interest in Sexpo. I know there are adults who do. And if they are adults, then that is their call and nothing to do with me. Sexpo is R rated, for adults over 18 only. However, their advertising is once again, aimed at the general public.

I am aware of at least one Sexpo billboard that is up in North Perth, including a picture of a famous porn star, whose accomplishments include four awards for anal sex, I have since learned. I, along with others, have lodged a complaint with the ASB about this billboard, for all to see, not just the adults over 18 who might be interested in attending.

Of course, I can be sure that the ASB will take their sweet time responding to complaints, and they will get around to it sometime after Sexpo has come and gone. Maybe they will even say it needs to come down. But the advertiser will be ready to take it down anyway by then, the event is over. And the moral of the story is: Advertisers, do whatever you want, and put up whatever you want- because there are no repercussions at all, and the more offensive, the more everyone will take notice.

But my issue with Sexpo in the public sphere goes way past billboards.

Sexpo is planning a public demonstration to take place in the City, in the middle of the day, where they will see how many people they can fit in a bed with this accomplished porn star I previously mentioned, as well as various Penthouse Pets and pole dancers. In the workplace, displaying pornographic images or pin-ups is sexual harassment. But for all the office workers in Perth, once they have stepped out of the office for lunch- no protection anymore!

Can someone tell me how there are sexual harassment laws in the workplace, but not outside the office door? Why at work, a woman can strive for equality, to be taken seriously as someone who has something to contribute- but outside, be put back in her place, where it is now appropriate for others to ogle and make suggestive comments?

Or perhaps someone can explain how it is that Facebook deleted pictures of 'porn t-shirts' because they contained pornographic content, thus violating the terms of use, when facebook users must be at least thirteen- when anyone, even my small children, can walk down the street and see someone wearing the identical shirt?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

What exactly is the "sexualisation of children"?

I read a great blog post about the sexualisation of children. It was written by Julie Gale, founder of Kids Free 2B Kids. You can read it here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Advertising + sexual imagery + children = FAIL.

A bit of a hot topic at the moment (for me, at least!) is about Outdoor Advertising in Australia, and whether or not the current system of self-regulation is effective. Child experts have referred to research, demonstrating that exposure to sexual material and advertising is harmful to children.

I could go on and on about the failure that is the Advertising Standards Bureau. Really, I could. And I thought about it. But then I remembered a youtube video I saw of Julie Gale, director of Kids Free 2B Kids. Not only does she make all the points I could potentially make, but she is hilarious!

Check it out here. (There are two parts).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Hello, sexy!"

Over the last year or so, since Jack has started attending school, he has come home with some choice phrases. "YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!!" is often used when as parents we stand by any rule, typically followed by "You're not coming to my birthday party!!" (Fine, have fun at this 'party' of yours...)

Then there are some less common ones, like "What the HACK???" (Admittedly, it could be worse.) And the most recent. "Mummy, Dylan says to me 'Hello, sexy' and it's soooo funny!" Jack mentioned this as the whole family was in the car, driving Daddy to work. Dave and I exchanged glances, both of us clearly unsure how (or if?) to proceed. I wasn't sure if this was something that should be discussed, or simply better ignored, after all he is only four.

Jack said it again,"Hello, sexy!" and exploded into fits of laughter.

So I said,"Jack, do you know what 'sexy' means?"
"Do you think you should say 'sexy' if you don't know what it means?"

And then the obvious moment I walked right into.

"What does sexy mean?"
I caught Dave's eye again, this time I'm pretty sure my eyes were saying HELP ME, but of course there was absolute silence from his side of the car.

"Sexy is something for adults. So you don't need to worry about it now."

Now imagine more silence, and more worried facial expressions at Dave.

And that was it! So now, I don't know that I actually accomplished what I intended, and I don't know what exactly I intended to accomplish, and I don't know if this will come up again. And if it does, I still don't have a better answer. My best answer is "I'll tell you when you're older!"

And if all else fails, there are still two other kids.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taking two hours to get the "I just rolled out of bed" hairstyle

I stumbled across this youtube video a few nights ago after entering "Men at Work, Land down under" into the search engine. (??) Anyway my husband and I couldn't help but just keep watching and laughing at how absurd it all was. Basically, a woman starts off with hair that appears to have been blow-dried straight, and then proceeds the curl it with hot rollers which she leaves in for twenty minutes, go through section after section, teasing it up and spraying it with hairspray, and concludes by clipping on her fake achieve the "natural" look. At the end, she ties a dainty plait in her hair to make it look more "beachy".

The time, products and effort that go into achieving what supposedly appears to be effortlessly beautiful hair seem so laughable from this angle (the angle of watching someone else do it!), but I can't help but feel a little sad that so many of us women want to look like someone else.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Say no to porn shirts- Facebook page.

Hi friends. I have created a facebook page called "Say no to porn shirts". That's what you do when you feel strongly about something, right? You make a facebook page about it.

It will be a place where those who feel strongly about this issue can keep in touch and support each other, as well as to learn ways to take action.

Please like my facebook page! It has one like so far...and guess who that is.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nasty religious folk discriminating against the poor Sex industry

Regular visitors of my blog will know that I made a submission to the Inquiry into Billboards and Outdoor Advertising, and how the Advertising Standards Bureau is doing their job of regulating billboards and advertising on bus stops, shop fronts, etc. (Short answer? Really really badly.) I was reading through some of the submissions, by various organizations and citizens and I came across this- a submission by Fiona Patten, from the Eros foundation and Australian Sex Party. I had no idea just how infuriating it would be...

First of all, she starts with the premise that the poor adult industry is so discriminated against, and they wish they could use outdoor advertising and billboards more, but they can't because the content of their advertisements draws too many complaints. She then describes the "enormous levels of frustration" experienced by the sex industry because of the "discriminatory attitudes" or anyone who dare complain. Blah blah blah big long paragraph about punishments for discrimination etc.

Then she proceeds to give the committee instructions on how to be fair, and if they are religious to put their beliefs aside. (Isn't that kind of a given, that the committee has to try to be neutral and put their personal feelings aside?) She then quotes statistics from the last national census, saying that 92.5% of Australians do not hold strong religious beliefs. Did she get that statistic based on the religions people had ascribed to in the census? No she did not. She personally determined "religious" based on the frequency of which people attend church. So if you don't go to church every week, your religious beliefs no longer count.

Fiona believes the remaining 7.5% "punch well above their weight" in terms of making complaints. That's an interesting assumption Fiona, but any evidence to support that theory, or is that based entirely on a hunch? Oh, also, you 7.5%, you use "shrill and righteous rhetoric" and lack the ability to think logically. Because anyone with a belief in God is an idiot.

Miss Patten also calls religious people to disclose their religious beliefs when making a complaint to the ASB, in case our religious beliefs have influenced our complaint. Should the sex party anti-censorship bunch also be asked whether their opinions are based on their beliefs too, and if so, should they be excluded too?

Apparently religion reflects "cultish behaviour" and attracts "unhinged" people. Oh, and then she shares one random anecdote about a moral campaigner tricking lots of people into doing something silly, and her conclusion: "These people are alive and well and complaining about billboards".

At some point, I have to wonder with discrimination, you know, that thing that Fiona Patten went on and on about and then listed the penalties for... Does discrimination only apply to the sex industry? Because from what I can tell, the leader of an Australian Political Party just lumped every person who has religious beliefs in together, as "cultish", "unhinged" and illogical, and hinted really obviously that religious people are noisy and should pipe down?

Back to Fiona and discrimination. Apparently against the adult industry, it's unfair. It's "an opportunity for people to get on their high horse". But don't worry, only unhinged people.

She then gives several examples of billboards that have been removed unfairly, and mocks the complainants. When a woman complained about a billboard for sexpo (featuring several barely clothed women in sexualised poses) on a school bus route, Fiona's response was that this woman demonstrated "inability and awkwardness" and "clearly needs help relating to her children", and then referred to "HER SHORTCOMINGS AS A PARENT" that made her defame Sexpo. Because the only reason anyone would make a complaint to the ASB is because they are too embarrassed to talk about sex with their kids. Yeah that's it.

Fiona suggests that if the ASB receives complaints regarding the same advertisement too close together, they should be viewed as collaborating and excluded. So what if people do collaborate? If a friend and I discuss an offensive billboard and both make complaints, are our opinions less valid? According to Fiona, complainants are "unreasonably biased".

Another sex industry billboard which was removed (probably the only two EVER) was defended by Fiona as she said the amount of breast shown was "no more than...on any of the Gold Coast Beaches that day". To provide a benchmark of what is reasonable according to community standards, she held as an example a magazine cover with a topless Paris Hilton on it. See? If a magazine in the porno section of the newsagency can get away with it, why can't a billboard that an estimated 250, 000 people see?

OH more on religious weirdos. Fiona reckons that Medical Experts say 10% of the community have some kind of mental disorder (could be perfectly accurate). But- wait for it- those who complain to the ASB COME FROM THIS TEN PER CENT. Because if you have a problem with women as sex-toys, or the general exploitation of women, or sexual themes and nudity in full view of children, you have a mental disorder.

Unsurprisingly, Fiona is against the instituting of another regulatory body in advertising, as the industry is already over-regulated as it is. Really, Fiona? A self- regulating industry with no actual authority to do anything but make suggestions is "over-regulating"?

I read a great article here by Caroline Norma from CATWA, who wrote about the Sex Industry furthering their own interests, with little regard for the women who work for them. While the industry wants to open more brothels, they have not made even one exit program for prostitutes who want to get out of the business. Interesting fact- Research shows overwhelmingly that people in prostitution suffer rates of post-traumatic stress disorder equal to that of war veterans.

So while I would love to feel sorry for the hard-done by Sex Industry who like to get rich by exploiting the less fortunate, I will refrain. I may go make some shrill and righteous complaints though, and pray my children don't ever ask about sex because darn it, my cheeks get so pink when someone mentions the s-word!

Oh and here's a little bonus- Fiona Patten getting wooped in an intellectual conversation about a how- to guide for paedophiles being sold on Amazon. (Fiona was for the book.) Scroll down to the bottom for the video.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My submission to the Inquiry into the regulation of billboard and outdoor advertising (whew!)

Last week I made a (late) submission into the Inquiry into the regulation of billboards and outdoor advertising. Outdoor advertising includes bus stops, billboards, shop fronts etc. And in case you haven't noticed, some of it is stupidly inappropriate! So here's what I had to say about the Advertising Standards Bureau and its complete uselessness.

If you knew Jessie like I know Jessie

A few days ago, I received a text around 7am. It was a picture message from my Dad- he still can’t remember that I can’t get pictures on my phone. I wondered what it was of- probably he’d done something funny with his hair and felt like sharing it. Sounds like something Dad would do!

But a few minutes later, my Mum called. She sounded like she was crying. “I have some bad news,” she said, and immediately she had my full attention and my mind was running wild at the possibilities.

It turned out, that Jessie, the golden retriever my family got when I was eleven, was going to be put down today. Given that I’m now twenty-six, she lived to be 15 years old, which is pretty good for a golden retriever, so I hear. Her health had been deteriorating for awhile now, and she’d been quite sick that night, so Mum and Dad had decided it was time.

I quickly packed up the kids and made the drive to Perth to say goodbye. I explained to the kids what was going on, and tried to prepare them for what could be an emotional time ahead, for the adults anyway.

I tried to reassure Jack that despite my tears, Jessie going to heaven was a good thing. She was old and tired, and her body wasn’t working properly anymore. She would go to heaven, and she would be perfect and young and happy. “Mummy and Grandma and Poppy are sad because we will miss Jess. But we know that one day we will see her again.”

Jack looked at me with wide eyes. “Yeah, cos Grandma and Poppy will see her again in heaven soon.” Calm down kid, they are only in their fifties!

It was hard to see Jess. One by one, so as not to overwhelm her, I took each child outside to the cool shadey spot where Jessie was laying. They gave her a little pat and sat quietly with her. Jessie was struggling to breathe and tried to lift her head to look at us but it was too hard.

I think after awhile Jack started to pick up on the emotion and tears from my parents, my brother and myself, and it worried him a little, to see the adults crying. He told me, ”I’m a bit sad,” and asked, ”Why does Jessie have to die now?”

I sat him down with me and I told him, “Jessie has finished everything she needed to do while she was alive. She did lots of fun things didn’t she?” And we remembered some of the fun things Jessie had done over the years- like going to the beach, the park, on lots of walks, how my younger sister and I used to walk to the local shop with her and buy three chocolate Billabongs (one for each of us) and the time Mum taught her to swim in the lake at my Nan’s farm, and Dad kept trying to get the perfect picture…and how just as the roll of film finished and started to rewind, Jessie hopped on top of the floating raft and posed beautifully.

And let’s not forget all the jokes from my Dad about Jess being his “favourite blonde” (too bad, sis!) and all the little songs he made up and used to sing to her while feeding her her vegemite toast.

We accompanied my parents to the Vets’. Was it a bad idea with the kids? Maybe, but I really wanted to be there and had no other choice. I just wanted to say a last goodbye and then sit with Jack, Isabel and Sophia in the waiting room while Mum and Dad went with Jess. Maybe as a support for them when they came back.

Dad carried Jess inside. We went into the small room where the table was. Dad prepared to lay her down, but then Jess made a strange noise and her eyes seemed to just stare blankly ahead. “I think she’s gone,” my Mum said quietly.

The Vet soon came in and checked for a heartbeat. She was gone. Our Jess had come this far and held on for every second that she was in my Dad’s arms, and then she had let go. She was a true friend until the very end.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guess how much Jack loves me...

A few days ago, Jack told me, "I love you Mummy. But I love Daddy more than you.”

Well, of COURSE you do. Daddy walks through the door in the evening, ready to play with you, while Mummy collapses on the kitchen floor, somewhere between the bin and Isabel’s most recent pair of wet pants.

This comes after he told me I’m the second most beautiful Mummy. Apparently I rank just after the mother from “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs”. And yes, you are right, she is not alive for the majority of the movie.

What is it about craving your child’s love? Jack has always been my cuddly child, while funnily enough, my girls are the ones who squeal and resist when I try to give them a kiss or a hug.

A day or two after this, Jack, Isabel, Sophia and I were all bouncing on the trampoline together, tumbling all around and laughing together. Jack wrapped his arms around me tightly and said,”Mummy, I love you so much. I love you more than Daddy.” Ohhhh. (Light-bulb!) So it just depends on the day, does it? How reassuring.

He also told me that he loved me “all the way to Saturn!”

It was all I could do not to say, “I love you all the way to Uranus!”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My personal study: Women in soft porn menswear

This is a study, by me, of soft pornographic clothing by brands commonly found in retailers throughout Australia. All brands are stocked in stores in Australian shopping centres. The brands I selected include Two In The Shirt (T.I.T.S.), Unit, Hustler, Nena and Pasadena, Jetpilot, Og Abel, Roger David and 187. They are sold in City Beach Australia, Waves, Liquid Surf and Roger David, to name a few. This study was based on 50-60 shirts.

Note: This is a "study" I did myself, on shirts that were specifically chosen because of their soft porn images. They ranged from shirts featuring girls in bikinis to...well, worse. I wanted to explore the common themes or depictions of women on this disgusting yet tragically fashionable trend.

Also, I did not include pictures this time, so don't be afraid!

Each time I found a shirt that met one of the following criteria, I made a tally of it. I have listed the most common results first, going down to the less common.


Decoration 30

Porn Stars 20

Punching Bags 5

Gold diggers 4

Angels 3

Bitches 2

These depictions were based on both slogans and images. By the term 'Decoration' I mean that the women had no real function other than being a near naked prop. For example, there were several shirts that featured women and cars. One of these involved a semi naked woman fixing a car, and another washing a car, but six of them were of a woman either sitting on or standing in front of the car- not doing anything but being there displaying their bodies.


Cars- Fixing 1, Washing 1, Decorative use 6

Alcohol, drinking 6 (limited to Wifey shirts)

Weapon (usually a gun, in one case a knife) 5

Bike (for riding or sitting on) 5

House duties 3

Bananas, eating 2

From this you may deduce that the activities women were shown to participate in were posing near cars or bikes, drinking, using guns, vacuuming and seductively eating bananas. I don't know about you girls, but I can't seem to stop myself posing near cars and eating bananas...


"General" sexual references 13 (semi naked women, references to sex)

Sexual activity (lesbian activity, touching) 5

Sexual poses 5

Legs spread 4

Putting things in mouth 4

S&M 1

Violence 1

It is important to note that when I refer to "General sexual references" I only included shirts that were of a very sexual nature. Obviously, all the shirts I reviewed I considered to be of a sexual nature, but I did not include clothing with pictures of simply girls in bikinis- it had to be further down that road. Therefore, "Sexual poses" refers to overt sexual poses, not just pouting girls in bikinis.


Mouth covered 6 (including one instance of entire head being covered)

Putting something in mouth 4

Additional references to silence 3 (gags, shhh sign, bandannas, word silent, silence included in slogan)

It seems to be a theme in many of these soft porn shirts that women's mouths are actually covered, by bandannas, gags and other objects. The obvious interpretation to me, is that women and girls are being silenced. I find that a very disturbing notion, that through the medium of t-shirts, half of the population could be so marginalized.


Focus on one specific body part 5 (Mainly backside and breasts)

Eyes covered 1

I think that having the model's eyes covered, as well as many more images showing only the model's torso or hot body parts, leaving her head off the image, makes her just a body or an object, and makes it easier not to view her as a person.


Black women 2

Black women exposing backside 2

Black women featured not exposing their backside 0

Basically what I have seen here is that ONLY white caucasian women, who are also thin, beautiful and sexualised appear anywhere in these pictures, except for a few rare instances. These are, 1) T.I.T.S. brand Latina Wifey shirt, with a barely clothed Latin women, with her legs open, eating a banana in an alluring way, for lack of a better word. 2) and 3) are both black women, who are wearing g-strings, as the focus of the picture in both case is their backsides.

This means that there is no representation of black women anywhere, except when they expose their backsides. That is the only time black women are used.

After noting all of the above, I couldn't help feeling a little more concerned about the messages they send about women and the roles that they have, or that are expected of them. Whether ironing, playing cards or standing in front of a car, women are expected to be beautiful and resemble porn stars- but also remember their most important purpose is posing and eating sexy foods in a sexy way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My radio interview- Nena and Pasadena

A few weeks back, I gave an interview on Melbourne radio station SYN for their current affairs program Panorama. They had a segment on Nena and Pasadena soft porn t-shirt designs, and also interviewed a psychologist from Women's Health to discuss the potential damage to women's mental and emotional health by these types of images. You can listen here.

What no internet?!

A few days ago, I read about some young people who went on a self-imposed media fast for three months. The idea behind it was to have an escape from the never ending flow of advertising, images and well, media, that surely has an effect on how we perceive ourselves, and those around us. Wow, that sounds like a great idea, I thought to myself. But I couldn’t do it, because I need to be online to keep in contact with people while I’m living so far away from my family and friends. And while I could cut out commercial TV, would I really want to cut out dvds at times when Dave is out, the kids are in bed and I have laundry to fold? Could I handle sitting quietly, folding laundry, with no distractions? And actually, blah blah blah, more excuses and reasons why a media fast probably wouldn’t really work for me…

This morning I sat down at the computer to check my email, and was redirected to my internet service provider’s page with the heading “Suspension reason”. Whaaaaat? I called up my husband. Once again, Whaaaaat? Turns out the direct debit that pays for the internet came out of an account with no money in it, oh well, tomorrow we can pay the bill. “It’ll probably be good for you to have a day off the computer!” laughed Dave. No! No. Whaaat!

Okay, well, it’s not like I have any shortage of things to do. Washing, housework, building Duplo with Isabel…oh wait, I have to print something today, but we are out of print cartridge. Maybe I can just email it to Dave at work…wait, no. Dammit! Okay back to child rearing. Hey, let’s make some play dough. Now how do I make play dough again- I’ll just google it. GAH! Come on! No play dough.

Isabel just told me that you should never kiss baddies. And you never marry bad guys because then you kiss them. Haha, that’s funny. Maybe I’ll update my status. Or not.

Now, I remember I was meaning to respond to a friend’s email- no worries, I’ll just call them. Except, of course, the number at which to reach them is only to be found online. Let’s fold some laundry instead in front of a dvd- fun stuff! 127 hours, it’s so intense…I wonder how much of this is based on the real guy’s actual account of what happened and how much is creative liberties? I’m going to google it. Oh yeah. No I’m not.

Thank goodness this is only for one day. Please, let it be fixed tomorrow.

But a media fast would be really beneficial for some people.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Porn and pop culture: A deadly combination

By Lexie Kite

In the last year, I have spent hours on the phone with a good friend as she discovered her boyfriend’s heavy use of pornography and his eventual cheating on her.

I have cried with a colleague who carries the burden of finding out her dad, a long-time viewer of pornography, has cheated on her mom and she can’t bear to tell her.

I have listened to accounts of women whose lives were consumed by pornography that distanced them from any meaningful relationships.

I have been out with men who openly admitted to pornography addictions that broke up their marriages because they couldn’t resist the images.

I have spoken with women who stumbled upon pornography at age 6 or 7 that ended up teaching them how they should look, act and what they should value for a lifetime.

I have stayed up late into the night talking with a friend whose sisters were molested by her dad, a pornography addict who eventually committed suicide.

I have been invited to powerful meetings and heard about the staggering costs of pornography paid for by individuals, families, businesses and tax dollars.

Because of these heartwrenching experiences, I’ve directed my research to the ways pornography has infiltrated our lives and smoothly made its way into mainstream media, where it is presented as safe, normal and unquestioned. I know I’m not alone in my experiences, so let’s break the silence that surrounds this secretive, dangerous and addictive force in so many lives. Let’s break the silence about the pornography industry’s huge gains at the expense of the people within its grasp. Let’s break the silence on how such objectified, degrading images have become unbelievably prevalent and normalized in mainstream media. Though it may seem like an abnormal first step, we must begin by redefining our very definition of “pornography.”

Pornography Redefined

Before talking about the dangerous consequences of our porn-saturated culture – from sexual abuse to failed relationships and body hatred – we need to define what porn is. At this point, the average person hears the word “pornography” and imagines a computer, a vision of the World Wide Web, or a magazine hidden under a mattress. But scholars define pornography as “a state of undress and a mode of representation that invites the sexualized gaze of the viewer” (ex: Mooney, 2008). Webster’s Dictionary describes it as “the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement.” Working from these definitions, we find these dangerous messages in many other places than just behind closed doors. In fact, we find them everywhere. Academics and journalists seem to agree the line between pop culture and pornography has blurred in just the last 10 years. The last decade of our lives has been called “the rise of raunch,” “porno chic society” and “striptease culture,” which marks the way media makers incorporate sex into their messages while totally denying they are pornographic.

In the last 10 years, porn stars are now mainstream icons; the music industry continues to push the limits to the point of “soft-core” pornography in words and images; and, as author Gail Dines (2010) describes, the pornography industry has worked carefully and strategically to “sanitize its products by stripping away the ‘dirt’ factor and reconstituting porn as fun, edgy, sexy and hot.” Today, the Playboy brand is a hit phenomenon for men and women – featuring the hit TV shows “The Girls Next Door” with Hefner and his harem of blondes, “Kendra,” a former Playmate, “Holly” a Playmate of the Year and her Vegas Peep Show – or any number of movies (2008’s “House Bunny,” for example). Little girls adorn themselves in Playboy bunny T-shirts and young women apply to be Playboy Playmates every day as the ultimate in feminine accomplishment.

Playboy and companies like it openly celebrate their status as pornographic, while other powerful media corporations feature the same images packaged as “safe.” For example, Playboy, SI Swimsuit Issue, and Victoria’s Secret share many of the same models from year to year – all wearing little or no clothing. But Sports Illustrated is the “most respected voice in sports journalism,” so when the hotly anticipated Swimsuit Issue hits mailboxes and coffee tables, pornography quickly moves from beneath the mattress to your kitchen table. Victoria’s Secret is “for women” and they specifically claim their images are far from the “cheesiness” of pornography, but represent “beauty and artwork,” all while featuring women who also pose for Playboy and other pornographic outlets with nearly-nude poses perfectly reflecting porn, as discussed in my recent analysis.

But the “pornification of culture” goes SO much further. We’re not just talking about Victoria’s Secret’s ever-present images, nor are we only referring to the SI Swimsuit Issue as examples of normalized pornography. Many of the most popular TV shows feature pornography, or sex-focused images and talk, at every turn without censorship. Considering again that pornography includes any “mode of representation that invites the sexualized gaze of the viewer” or “the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement” (Webster’s 2011), we have to recognize that those images and messages are literally everywhere. Reality TV brings us “Jersey Shore,” “The Real World,” “Bad Girl’s Club,” etc. Even basic cable TV shows that find their way into otherwise conservative households bring very sex-centered content at every turn, including “Desperate Housewives,” Gossip Girl,” “90210,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and the list goes on for days. Top movies every year feature women’s naked bodies and private acts watched by millions: “American Pie,” “Black Swan,” “Good Luck Chuck,” “Love and Other Drugs,” among thousands of others.

Television commercials don’t shy away from these images, either. Ever seen an Axe Body Spray commercial? They exclusively feature women in sexually degrading ways and are shown on TV all hours of the day. (And don’t forget Dove – the company that sells “self esteem” OWNS Axe Body Spray! Really, Dove, really?!) Pick up any number of popular men’s and women’s magazines, from Esquire andRolling Stone to Cosmopolitan and Shape, and you’ll find pornographic images and messages on display. Drive down the freeway and you’ll see sky-high billboards with parts of women’s bodies made to represent women themselves in sexually objectifying ways.

When we understand that pornography includes ALL of the depictions (in images or words) that are meant to invite a sexualized interpretation and incite sexual feelings, then we see that otherwise “mainstream” media choices are actually working as gateway drugs to more secret, addictive forms of pornography. These constant pornographic images and messages are causing boys, girls, men and women to be desensitized to images and messages that people would have RUN from just a few years ago. If seeing sex acts or nearly nude, zoomed-in images of objectified female bodies on network TV or billboards isn’t that shocking, then XXX Internet videos or blatantly pornographic magazines won’t seem like that much of a shock either.

We can’t forget that the Internet has contributed to skyrocketing rates of production and consumption of pornography, with an estimated 420 million pages of porn online, and 13,000 porn videos released annually while more than 900 million videos are rented (MEF, 2008). In the 90s, hits on pornographic websites outranked ANY other website by 10 to 1. And today, the most powerful media corporations like CBS (who gains massive profit from airing the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show each year), Time Warner, and News Corporation collectively earn $1 billion annually from pornography, either by direct distribution or by producing and licensing porn-related content and cross-promoting it through their media outlets. Today, pornography has redefined itself as just another safe media message, and many media powerholders thrive off keeping it that way.

This is not just a feminist argument calling out all the harmfully objectifying messages we are exposed to every day in the name of female equality. This is a fight for male and female mental and physical health, for safety, for meaningful relationships, for women’s worth, for the power to recognize and reject these proven harmful influences if we want to. The power of pornographic images — presented to us as normal and natural in the last decade of our lives – is REAL and is worth fighting against.

Here’s why we must fight back:

* One in three American girls will be sexually molested by the age of 18 and 87 percent of convicted molesters of girls admit to viewing pornography (MEF, 2008).

* In 2009, a neurosurgeon revealed alarming evidence that pornography triggers changes in brain chemistry and functioning like those caused by cocaine and meth. These changes result in an “enslaving addiction” that damages the brain, reducing the size of the brain essential for self-control and prudent judgment. Other psychiatrists around the world echo these findings claiming that today’s ever-present pornography “is a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before.” (Dr. Donald Hilton, The Lighted Candle Society)

* Research tells us girls and women who learn from media to pay extra attention to the way they lookhave fewer mental resources available in their brains for other mental and physical activities, including mathematics, logical reasoning and athletic performance (ex: Fredrickson & Harrison, 2004; Gapinski, Brownell, & LaFrance, 2003).

* Studies claim men and women who viewed just six hours of pornography (one hour each week for six weeks) reported significantly reduced satisfaction with their present relationship, both with their partner’s sexuality and appearance. Participants also reported being faithful to their partner was less important by study’s end and their view of sex without emotional involvement rose in favor (Bryant & Zillman, 1988).

* A study of 813 college students across the US revealed 66.5% of college-aged men agreed viewing pornography is acceptable and 48.7% of college-aged females did. In all, 87% of men reported using pornography at some level, with one fifth reporting daily or every-other-day use and nearly HALF reporting a weekly or more frequent use pattern. One third of women reported using pornography at “some” level. AND these results revealed connections between porn acceptance/use and risky sexual attitudes and unsafe behaviors, as well as connections between pornography use and alcohol and drug use (Carroll and Padilla-Walker, 2008).

* A survey conducted by Employment Law Alliance found 25% of employees in the US visit pornographic sites during office hours in 2004. Six years later, an investigation found the US Securities & Exchange Commission had 31 employees who were “serious offenders” of porn on the job: One senior attorney spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn, an accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in two-weeks, another uploaded his own explicit videos onto porn sites on his work computer, and yet another attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

* Studies demonstrate repeated exposure to sexualized female bodies encourages women to view and value themselves from an outsider’s gaze, positively endorse sexually objectifying images in the future, and experience body hatred (for recent reviews, see Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002; Holmstrom, 2004).

* In 2003, the top 1,600 U.S. divorce attorneys submitted data showing 62% of the divorces they handled claimed the Internet as a major cause of divorce and 56% of those went further to claim “one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Keep in mind the current no-fault divorce statute in place makes it advantageous for attorneys to entirely ignore and never record the causes of divorce, which means this 62% statistic is shocking and most likely drastically higher.

* Adolescent girls who value themselves primarily for how their bodies look to men, based on years of objectifying media images, make unhealthy sexual choices, measured by decreased condom use and weakened sexual assertiveness – the ability to say “no” (Impett, Schooler, and Tolman, 2006).


RUN from Normalized Pornography: Sexual images and dialogue are now a normal part of media all hours of the day. You now know research is very clear that pornography changes the way men and women view each other, it gets in the way of us forming loving and healthy relationships with family and friends, it skews our perceptions of female bodies, our sense of self-worth, and leads to unhealthy choices. Do not just walk away – RUN FROM IT! We give power to media messages and images when we continue to view and read them. Recognize the ways pornographic images and content show up in regular, “mainstream” media and continually remind yourself to turn off those shows, put down those magazines, throw out those movies, block those websites, cancel those channels, etc. Recognizing and rejecting those normalized pornographic depictions can prevent us from falling into the trap of more blatant pornographic content later.

Be an Advocate for CHANGE: If this information is alarming to you and you’d like to get involved in fighting it on a larger scale than simply turning away, volunteer or apply to join with organizations that support civil litigation against those that profit from pornography, finance research to study the effects of pornography, publish information to help people combat it, and counsel those harmed by pornography. A simple Internet search will give you contact information for many anti-pornography organizations that will help you get started in meaningful ways.

Go on a Media Fast: Choose a day, a week, a month, or longer to steer clear of as much media as you can. That way, you can see how your life is different without all those messages and images, and when you return to viewing and reading popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you and those you love. One group of male college students in Utah went on a “media fast” for three months, and at the end of that time, the men claimed they found the real women in their lives more beautiful while they were on the fast, and continued to find them more beautiful once the fast was over because they realized what real women look like when they weren’t bombarded with sexualized and unreal images of women in media.

Object to Objectification: Pay attention to media that is objectifying to women, which means it shows females as just PARTS of themselves. That happens when the camera pans up and down their bodies, or zooms in on certain body parts. This also takes place when magazines or movies and TV talk about women’s bodies in ways that degrade them and turn them into just body parts instead of thinking, feeling humans. Boys and men exposed to sexually objectifying messages learn to primarily view and value females for their outward appearance and actually endorse objectifying images in the future. The same goes for girls exposed to these messages. Yikes!

Take Media Into Your Own Hands: Post links or start discussions on blogs and social networking sites to continuously spark conversation about dangerous ideals like normalized pornography and to bring to light those who profit from us seeing those ideals. Join us on Facebook HERE for regular updates and links to share with your own friends and family. And when thinking about your future college studies and/or present career, consider going into journalism, advertising or media production so YOU can produce messages that uplift rather than degrade.

The Power of Media Makers: Media decisionmakers like editors, producers, writers, directors and web developers can and should disrupt the steady stream of sexualized messages by refusing to air or publish pornographic content, refusing advertising dollars from those that advertise with the use of sex-focused content, and use your voice to speak out against the onslaught of normalized pornography in media.

Make Your Voice Heard: If our suggestion to turn away from pornography is not enough for you, consider your fierce influence as an advocate for truth and uplifting messages. When you come across a company’s pornographic advertising or a magazine that objectifies women, speak up! Blogging your disapproval is a great start, and so is posting links to news stories that reveal harmful ideals or new research on social networking sites. If you’d like to go a step further, write to and/or call your local cable company, TV station, newspaper and any other media outlet perpetuating harmful messages. Get the word out that the media message you have seen is inappropriate and dangerous and threaten to boycott if it is not removed. If your complaints are not heard, do NOT patronize those institutions and suggest the same to your loved ones.

Check Your Vision: Be conscious of the vast amount of media we consume each day, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. In fact, the average American spends about 4.5 hours every day watching TV or movies and another 3.5 hours on the Internet, on top of being exposed to about 3,600 advertisements from every angle. As you go through your day, pay attention to what you see and what messages speak to the normalized pornographic images you read about here.

Get Help: If you find you are choosing to view pornography often, you feel addicted, or it is getting in the way of your productivity and healthy relationships, help is available. Hundreds of counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists specialize in treating pornography addiction and you are not alone. Though pornography addiction is dangerous and often “enslaving,” you can fight it and win. Speak to a health professional immediately and take your power back!

By Lexie Kite, 2011. “Let’s Talk About Sex: Pop Culture & Pornography” Published on March 1, 2011.

For the full list of references, click HERE.

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