Sophie Mirabella (Australia’s shadow minister for industry) attacked explicit billboards and magazine covers, and demanded the “Parental Guidance Recommended” classification be reviewed.
In a speech to the anti-choice, anti-single mother and homophobic group the Australian Family Association, Mirabella claims youngsters are being bombarded with “near-pornographic” video clips in shopping malls and “highly suggestive” promotions at sporting events. Mrs Mirabella said research showed exposure of sexualised images to youngsters had been linked to childhood anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and self harm.
The points Mirabella made where important and based in fact. Sexualization of children and exposure to overtly sexual content is not appropriate and causes serious harm to children. Numerous studies(Wikipedia has some good sources as always. Also: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) have shown sexual media/advertising exposure has serious consequences on the development of children and later in life. So much so that the Australian Psychological Society had released guidelines for parents dealing with “the bombardment of highly sexualised images their children experience”. (Not to mention how many similar things USA health/ Psychology boards have posted.)
Mrs Mirabella seems over all to be a pretty on the ball woman. Why she would give this address to such a small and bigoted organization, excluding all others eludes me. While I think her argument, as well as that of AFA is valid and important; the solution they suggest is anything but valid.
Prohibition is not the answer.
This whole debate reminds me of talks in Australia regarding an R18+ rating for video games. Currently; anything deemed not acceptable for 15 year olds is refused classification and is banned from the country. This means games created and marketed at a mature audience can not be enjoyed by an adult audience. it doesn’t make sense. The argument for an R18+ rating is that; if such a rating was created it would mean games unfit for children wouldn’t be able to get into tiny hands. It relies on parental responsibility: You wouldn’t buy your children an R-X 18+ film, so if a game was rated R you would not purchase it for your child.
This is the issue with protecting children from things which are inappropriate but are in public spaces: it has nothing to do with parental responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you are a responsible parent- if you take your child outside, ever watch morning weekend tv, listen to the radio, drive past billboards or take them clothes shopping you simply can’t protect them from sexist, over sexualized and inappropriate advertising.
Examples: I have chosen these examples because I know some adults like them, some don’t. Some find them offensive and some don’t. Personally I find the first one funny, the second arousing, the third offensive. Do I want these ads off tv? No. However; they aren’t really for kids. I have not linked to any ads I find highly inappropriate. Feel free to use some google-fu on AMI ads, or clothing brands. Even MYER adverts.
Fernwood Womens Gym
Sexual imagery, themes, products and industry have their place in our society. And that place is unquestionably the realm of adults, not children. I agree; it’s time for a reform on Australia’s advertising and classifications. Parents need to be able to protect their children from such harmful and negative advertising in day to day life. Going to the supermarket for groceries, or sitting down to watch family time tv shouldn’t have to involve explaining adult oriented advertisements like the ones listed below to impressionable minds who are not equipped to deal with them.
Self-policing of the advertising industry isn’t working and it’s time to do something about it.
Sexual imagery, themes, products and industry have their place in our society. And that place is unquestionably the realm of adults, not children. Public space is for people of all ages; adult themes are not for all ages.
*Amendment 1: I do not enjoy sexist/stereotyping/degrading advertisements. However I do not feel that all advertisements containing sex or sexual connotations/imagery are the above.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. As always the ask box is open.