Melinda Tankard Reist tells the truth that every adult already knows. Nevertheless, audiences are shocked. How dare she awaken me from my inalienable right to choose denial? She has simply and bravely collated the gruelling statistics of the damaging affects of pornography on our youth, and on us as a people. Anyone who has ever questioned issues of gender equality, misogynism, sexualisation or objectification in media, anyone who has ever been disturbed by more than one advertisement content, knows that our world is rife with this toxic rubbish. But instead many would prefer to yell, ‘Shoot the messenger’.
Porn is a multibillion dollar industry, a powerful money wielding machine operated by people. Should we all turn a blind eye, accept defeat now, head for anaeshtaethics, lest we face the paralysing sense of helplessness that looms in the fight with such a powerful opponent? Or should we stand up together, men, and women, mothers and fathers and grandparents, straight and gay, and say ENOUGH. We have to be willing to feel, feel how we have been asleep, been duped, been damaged by the abusive barrage of over sexualised images, feel how this is affecting our daughters, our sons, and twisting perceptions of intimate relationships.
I have taught media literacy from a feminist perspective to adolescent girls and their mothers for more than ten years. I used to use the word objectification, (explained in simpler words for 10 year olds), then some years later it became too blatant to not name ‘over sexualisation’ (girls size 6 panties saying ‘wink wink’), but now after Melinda’s talk I want to admit that the word that best describes our everyday media images is de-humanisation. I want to cry every time I sit with puberty girls and listen to their responses to everyday magazine ads, but they need their feelings validated and encouragement to find their voice.
Melinda is calling for sane parameters to regulate and shut down the indiscriminate use of violent and over sexualised images. Police the media?? What about free speech?? If we as a society are so sinister, money hungry, and dysfunctional that we can’t recognise the damage we are causing to ourselves and our future, then regulate and boycott we must.
‘Nanny State’, you say? , Over the top? Just a bit of fun, spoil sport? Where are the bureaucratic regulations, the protection for our children and for the sanity of our society? Watching porn online. more than 30% of all internet hits are porn, that includes business, banking, education. And I think that’s a conservative figure based on, well you know, shhhhhhh , let’s keep it our little secret, eh? The addiction is at least as powerful as gambling or substance abuse. We have laws governing behaviours of teachers, drivers, drinkers, school uniforms, and copyright, but what about pornography?
The more I listened to her depressing statistics the more irate I became at the lack of regulation in this arena. Anaesthesia, from the Greek root meaning ‘lack of sensation’. We have been systematically de-sensitised by media. Very clever, now we can still eat dinner while watching murder or child porn or the weather. De-sensitisation leads to a lack of empathy, a dull, deadening numbness, requiring more and more intense stimulation. It’s called addiction.
Pleae join Melinda’s ‘Collective Shout’ organisation (http://collectiveshout.org/) to let media know we refuse accept visual or any form of abuse of women and our collective intelligence insulted.
Women are Earth, Earth is woman. It has been said that a culture’s treatment of women is directly correlated to it’s treatment to the Great Mother Earth. When we deface the earth, we deface women; when we abuse women, we abuse the earth; when we no longer respect women, we no longer respect the earth; when women are no longer valued, life itself cannot hold any value, and any prospect of the future seems hollow, grim and meaningless. Look at the statistics. And feel. Now take action. Open your mouth, use your voice, and please don’t stop until we have all cleaned this mess up, not just hid it under the bed.