We live in a pornographic world
My daughter has just had her first experience at boycotting. We have been boycotting Diva jewellery stores because they have been selling Playboy jewellery. Diva’s client base is 8-18-year-old girls. They have missed out on our money for two birthday presents, so far.
Imagine my shock at approaching their store recently, with my pre-teen daughter, to see a huge, free-standing Playboy bunny poster out the front, proclaiming ‘Diva now stocks Playboy merchandise.’ Right along with their Cupcake and Winnie the Pooh range. How little girls would love the cute fluorescent bunny pendant, or the “Miss January” or “Playmate” necklaces!
Try to imagine the conversation as it played out with my daughter in the middle of the shopping centre, as I tried to contain my disgust with deep, measured breaths:
She: “Mum, can we please have a look in Diva?”
Me: “No, darling, we can’t go to Diva.”
She: “Why not?”
Me: “Because that poster says they are selling jewellery that is inappropriate for little girls, so we won’t be shopping there until they stop selling it.”
She: “But I’m not a little girl, I’ll be 12 next year!”
Me: “I know, darling. But trust me; this is jewellery that’s not suitable even for 12-year-olds.”
She: “Why not?”
Me: “Remember I said sometimes you just have to trust my judgment and you won’t really want to know the reason, but one day you will know everything?” (Now why I persist with the ‘just trust me’ line, I do not know—it never has worked, though I live in hope.)
Then she realised she’d seen that bunny before, in the kids’ movie Hop she had just watched at a friend’s house the night before. I asked her about when it appears in Hop.
“When they turn up to the playbunny mansion and they say that’s where all the sexy bunnies from around the world come to play.” (Cue her moment of realisation.)
“Oh… is that sexy jewellery?”
Me: “Yes, darling.”
She: “How is it?”
Me: “Because that bunny symbol means you want to be sexy and do sexy things, so if you wear that jewellery you will give people the wrong idea about you.”
Inquisitive, intelligent girls demand truthful answers. I did the best I could to be age-appropriate, considering I had not planned to talk with my daughter about pornography in the middle of the shopping centre on a Saturday morning. And, considering there is nothing child-appropriate about pornography!
I came home and looked up Collective Shout, an Australian grass-roots movement that protests against the sexualisation of women and children. Yep, they were onto it. I signed the petition. I invited friends to sign the petition. I found out that Australian social commentator, Melinda Tankard Reist, had just edited a book written by 33 experts of various fields on the pornification of our culture, called Big Porn Inc. It was launched last week.
With my recent experience that pornography is indeed big business marketing to an ever-younger audience, I decided to interview Melinda Tankard Reist about the book for my blog this week. http://galvanizepress.typepad.com
Now for the good news:
Just last week, Collective Shout said that enough concerned customers signed petitions and boycotted the store that Diva has withdrawn their Playboy merchandise altogether. I was able to say to my daughter, “Look at the change brought about in one month! Be encouraged that you can make a difference in this world by speaking out.”
And I ask you, what is more compelling to speak out against than marketing the brand synonymous with pornography to young girls?
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