Collective Shout – Astroturfing for the Christian Right

Secrecy lies

Collective Shout are a pro-censorship, anti-sex, christian lobby group in Australia. They’re run by a team of Christian women who claim to be a “grassroots” organisation. They appear on the surface to be kinda progressive feminists and that’s how they get support and media coverage for their campaigns. They are able to pass as secular feminists as long as they keep their focus narrowly on sexism in advertising and pop culture, but there is a strong wowser element they cannot completely conceal, and a christian moral panic common to their campaigns.

A little due diligence and scrutiny of publicly available records reveals them to be an astroturfing lobby group for the Christian Right, ideologically driven by religious conviction, lead by a known pro-lifer christian who was a long term conservative political staffer, and using public support and uncritical media coverage as a cloaking device.

Their founder and leader is Christian anti-abortion campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist who was ‘bioethics’ advisor to Right Wing Catholic Senator Brian Harradine for 12 years. Their language, ideology, campaigns and many links to the Christian Right all reflect Tankard Reist’s personal style and conservative politics. The first flag of their policy to conceal the religious nature of their campaigns is their complete silence about Tankard Reist’s long term employment with the Christian Right Senator – it isn’t mentioned on their web site, or on Tankard Reist’s current bio, despite being her longest term and highest profile gig.

CS have campaigned on advertising standards, what they call the sexualization of children, sexual content in popular culture, porn, misogynist lyrics and music videos, and against sex work and sex worker rights. Their stance is sex-negative and pro a strict, morality-driven censorship regime. They have made several submissions to government proposing widespread censorship of sexual and sexually violent content across all media, and mandatory filtering of the internet at an IP level. They have also made submissions in favour of criminalising sex work. Their submissions state they are in favour of a much stricter censorship regime, applied to all media on all devices. They have particuarly targeted music, especially in hip hop, rap and R&B. Because of this narrow focus they have been accused of racism, overwhelmingly targeting Black American art forms and artists. This article by Clem Bastow is worth a read –

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-problem-with-the-ban-against-chris-brown-20150927-gjvswr.html

I view Collective Shout anti-music campaigns as part of a long history of Christian attempts to censor popular music over the centuries, particularly for it’s perceived sexual content and corrupting effects on young people. Collective Shout are no different to the good christian preachers and housewives of the 1950s who wanted to stop the kids getting turned on by Black Music, and the sexually charged performances of Elvis the Pelvis.

CS are unwilling to disclose their many close links to the Christian Right, and the religious ideology of their team members – but the info is freely available in public documents.

Collective Shout state that 1. they are not specifically a religious organisation, and 2. the religion of team members is not relevant to their campaigns. Technically they are right about the first point because they need non-religious supporters for numbers so they aim for broad support, you can make up your own mind about the second one.

On the following posts I’ll share information that has been publicly published about their team, their funding and backers, links to the Christian Right, their lobbying activity and the religious ideology fueling their campaigns….

Here’s their original logo, used until mid 2011. First I thought it was meant to be a halo, but now I’ve seen the anti-gay websites designed by the same Collective Shout founding member Cath Smibert, featuring wedding ring logos, I’m convinced it’s a wedding ring, symbolising the values of married, heterosexual, christian women. (scroll down to Virtual Shout on this page for more)

Back in 2011 the Collective Shout logo was a halo.

Back in 2011 the Collective Shout logo was a wedding ring.

DISCLAIMER

First up – I agree with some Collective Shout campaigns, particularly on sexist and exploitative advertising. I support their right to name & shame and protest sexist and objectifying advertising. Consumer boycott and protest can effect change and educate companies to be more progressive in their approach to gender equality, and I think that’s a good thing. What I don’t agree with is their campaigns for a much stricter and far reaching censorship regime in Australia affecting all art forms and media, and their campaigns against the rights of sex workers, for reasons explained in this blog. I also don’t agree with the concealment of religious and political affiliations of what operates as a political lobby group. I support their rights to whatever religious beliefs they choose, and to campaign from those values. I just think they should be up front about it like Australian Christian Lobby. We have enshrined separation of church and state in Australian law and I believe if you want to lobby government and influence legislation, as an organisation, you should disclose the religious ideology you campaign from. Transparency is a foundation of democracy.

My comments and opinions do not claim to represent any other person, group or organisation. I do not identify with any political party, ideology, group or religion. I’m open to other ideas and ways of looking at things. I may change my mind, and my posts. Feel free to comment. If I have made factual errors let me know and I’ll correct them. Because the web is full of dicks comments will be moderated. You don’t have to read any of this if you don’t want to. It’s your choice to take offense if you do, so be an adult and take responsibility for your own feelings.

All info used in this blog has been published openly on the net by the people involved, no private pages have been accessed, no accounts hacked, no passwords or security settings bypassed, only what was publicly available at the time of writing. It’s likely that some posts and pages will be deleted or hidden as often happens, but no private information was accessed in writing this blog. I’m not a hacker, I’m a guitar player.

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Collective Shout’s Christian Fundraising & PR partners.

Collective Shout advertised a couple of positions in March 2017, Operations Manager and Campaign Manager. The Operations Manager is the senior position, and the key responsibilities list includes

  • External stakeholder engagement and management (eg Dunham & Co, Heartburst, web developers etc)

http://www.collectiveshout.org/positions_vacant
CS position descrip stakeholders

There’s a couple of new friends (stakeholders) they haven’t mentioned previously. Who are Dunham and Heartburst?  “Dunham+Company is a full-service Christian marketing and fundraising company that helps faith-based nonprofits develop and execute a fully integrated fundraising strategy”

https://www.dunhamandcompany.com/who-we-are/cause-effect/

Their Australian director Joshua Crowther “has led strategy for over 30 ministries” – as well as Collective Shout he also works with Australian Christian Lobby & Hillsong. So we can expect Collective Shout to really ramp up the fundraising efforts in 2017 – especially now they’ve been granted status as a registered not for profit charity, with the help of their long term supporters and Right Wing Catholic Lawyers, Herro Solicitors. (more in a future post on that development)

Crowther CS

Joshua recently had some strong words to say about Christians giving up the dollars to bring the Kingdom Of God to this nation, when he spoke to Kaley Pane of the Eternity website –

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/a-wake-up-call-how-much-are-we-really-giving-away/

Crowther Eternity

What about Heartburst? They’re a Christian Digital Ad Agency who design websites and online assets. Their clients include – The Justice Conference, Churches Of Christ, Connect Christian Church, SIM Serving In Mission – christian missionaries, Porn Harms Kids – run by Collective Shout and Fred Nile’s extreme christian right group Family Voice, Global Interaction – christian missionary group, Overseas Council Aust. – christian missionary, Berwick Church Of Christ. Here’s their website –

http://www.heartburst.com.au

Check out their education portfolio, every single client listed is a Christian School or Org.

http://www.heartburst.com.au/portfolio/education

Collective Shout Team burnout

Since these job ads were posted CS have been far less active, even since the second half of 2016 it looks like they are operating on auto-pilot. Their social media posts have been less frequent and basically reposting & repeating. The focus has narrowed to a few campaigns against sexist advertising, there’s been no high profile campaiging against touring rap artists, sex worker rights or MRA speakers like previously, campaigns that came at personal cost to the young women who fronted them for the group.  Follower counts on social media have flatlined, and many of their followers look to be inactive – most likely church people who followed after a Tankard Reist speaking engagement but aren’t active social media users typically. There are tumbleweeds blowing across their twitter and facebook…

The group runs very much on a biblical and church model of a ‘charismatic’ leader with the core vision, followed by a small group of disciples who do tireless support work for little or no pay or recognition.  All campaigns reflect Melinda Tankard Reist’s consistent ideological obsessions. The work of Collective Shout furthers her profile and promotes sales of her books and speaking engagements, so it all benefits her. But Reist is busy enough in self promotion that she obviously has little time for running or promoting the front organisation. For the women who act in supporting roles the rewards are less clear and it seems the sacrifice and time commitments needed to run constant social media, personal appearances, book promotions, articles submitted to the usual outlets, submissions to government inquiries, fundraising etc. will wear out the most blindly committed of followers sooner or later.

There have already been several Collective Shout campaigners who basically stopped or dramatically reduced their campaigning to focus on having a life with their own careers and personal goals, naturally. Being the person who argued endlessly with Snoop Dog supporters on twitter about his pot smoking is not something particularly useful in your CV. The current Operations Manager is obviously taking a break and it doesn’t look like Tankard Reist has found the next young christian woman full of religious enthusiasm ready to be exploited and over-worked for the cause yet. Until she does Collective Shout appears to be in a holding pattern. Caitlin Roper the Collective Shout West Australian Campaign Manager has been trying to build a career as a feminist opinion writer and has dramatically backed off from even mentioning the lobby group online. Tankard Reist is looking isolated and Collective Shout may well be basically finished. Or their initial push for profile and influence has settled back into their naturally pre-existing audience of prudish middle-class Christian women who are always going to protest any public display or discussion of sexuality.

Tankard Reist can enjoy an income from speaking engagements at Christian Schools and conferences indefinitely, whether she continues Collective Shout to maintain the appearance of being the leader of a ‘grassroots movement’ remains to be seen. But it looks at the moment like the organisation has stalled. Collective Shout had the advantage of coinciding with a time in Australian politics with the highest proportion of socially conservative Christians in the cabinet of both major political parties – and yet they failed to gain traction. CS lobbied and courted conservative politicians, even making an ‘ambassador‘ out of Kerryn Baird, the christian wife of right wing NSW Premier Mike ‘Casino’ Baird. Regardless of their attempts to get close to power their repeated submissions to State and Federal governments on advertising standards & the regulation of sex work have all been ignored. Their political agenda has stalled, despite parliaments being stuffed with christian ideological allies. Obviously the politicians are working from different priorities, and for different lobbies. Baird was able to waltz out of parliament and straight into a 6 figure salary with the banking industry. Those are the lobbies who get traction. It may be too early to call it, but right now it looks like Collective Shout are effectively finished except as an Australian Christian Lobby lite for censorship, that nobody listens to.

Collective Shout -a quick guide to the christian lobby group

Here’s the basic info this blog has about Collective Shout as a list with links to each long read post

  • Collective Shout are a lobby group for the christian right in Australia, who hide their christianity to get public support – Astroturfing

 

  • Collective Shout are a pro-censorship lobby. They want a much stricter, repressive censorship regime, and to remove legal protections & rights of sex workers. They want to censor music lyrics, music videos, games, t-shirts, films, anime, advertising and the internet at an ISP level for all Australians – Censorship Lobby

 

  • Their leader is anti-abortion christian campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist. Her background is as a conservative political staffer – MTR

 

  • Collective Shout is run by a team of conservative christian women, but they forgot to mention it on their website – Team

 

  • Collective Shout are closely linked to the Christian Right in Australia and the USA, they use their campaign materials, appear at their events and support each other in christian and mainstream media. They are close friends with Australian Christian Lobby – Xtian Right Links   They use the same Christian PR & Marketing firm as Hillsong and the Australian Christian Lobby – Christian PR & Spin

 

  • Collective Shout receive funding from the Christian Right – Money

 

  • Collective Shout founding members include conservative christian leaders and members who are active in the homophobic christian propaganda fight against marriage equality for LGBTI people – Anti Gay

 

  • Collective Shout align themselves with RadFem Feminists, which publicly disguises their conservative christianity, and their version of feminism seems to largely be about judging & attacking other women’s choices, particulary women involved in sex work. In twitter-speak they’re SWERFs and some of the team are TERFs – Fauxminism

 

  • For emotional impact they re-publish images which they claim are harmful and pornographic, for outrage, shock value and clickbait. They are attempting to change the definition of porn to include almost any image that could be interpreted as sexual, even if it does not include nudity or any sexual activity at all – Christian Pornographers & Hypocrisy

Collective Shout’s Conservative Christian ‘Ambassador’

In October 2016 Melinda Tankard Reist and the Collective Shout website posted that their new ‘ambassador’ Kerryn Baird had been announced at a fundraiser for the group held in Sydney’s Museum Of Contemporary Art. Kerryn has solid credentials on the Christian Right. She is the wife of then Liberal National Party Premier of NSW ‘Casino’ Mike Baird. The Bairds are both known for their wealth, old money connections, social conservatism, and right wing christian views including opposition to same sex marriage and to women’s reproductive rights including abortion. They met on a church camp where he was a ‘youth leader’.

http://melindatankardreist.com/2016/10/collective-shout-announces-kerryn-baird-as-new-ambassador-to-support-advocacy-for-women-and-girls/

secret-fundraiser3

Mike Baird had rapidly become the most unpopular state leader of NSW for many years, and was particularly on the nose that week when he announced he was reversing his opposition to the barbaric cruelty of the greyhound racing industry, in a startling backflip after making long, detailed and passionate public statements about his moral conviction that stopping the animal torture and deaths was “the right thing to do”. The move was deeply hypocritical even by current political standards. That may have something to do with the Collective Shout fundraising event he appeared at being effectively secret.

Collective Shout didn’t advertise or publicise the event anywhere, which is unusual for a lobby group who obsessively chase publicity and seek favour and influence with conservative politicians. To have an event with a state leader is something they’re clearly proud of, but decided not to publicise. There was a draft public invitation on their website, mentioning a $120 ticket price, but it was deleted. They obviously had second thoughts about it, or Baird’s people didn’t want to publicise his appearance at a time when he was attracting heated protest online and in the streets. As it turned out Baird was so toxic he resigned only weeks later, in January 2017, maybe to avoid scrutiny for possible corruption, or because he was making his own party unelectable.

secret-fundraiser

Regardless, their new ambassador is a perfect representative for a christian censorship lobby group. The second article below also mentions Tankard Reist’s other ally in the NSW government  “New finance minister Dominic Perrottet – a former protege of one-time ”religious right” faction leader David Clarke – attended Redfield College in Dural, a school run by the conservative Catholic order Opus Dei.”

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mike-bairds-premiership-is-rooted-in-family-and-faith/news-story/0b544a2ca453fd61afcb1c96e69722a6

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/onward-christian-soldier-a-premiers-faith-20140425-379pp.html

Update – March 2017

Mike Baird took the golden ticket of a corporate job with NAB Bank in unseemly haste just a month after announcing he was leaving politics to devote time to his family.  Cue more bad press for the Bairds, it’s certainly not a good look. And within a week Collective Shout have blanked out the bio on their website for their proud new Ambassador Kerryn Baird. Looks like she’s being erased…

Ambassador Blank

 

The Right Wing Christian Men in Collective Shout

Collective Shout do not list their team on the website, their paid or volunteer staff, or their board of directors. So all their public supporters can know are the group of christian women who represent Collective Shout as spokespeople on social media. This is not an organisation that believes in transparency or disclosure. How many of those who run Collective Shout are men from the Christian Right? How would it look for a group identifying as ‘feminist’ in public to have male staffers from the Christian Right?

Well there’s at least one – Daniel Pignatiello appeared in August 2016 at a presentation in Perth with Collective Shout leader Melinda Tankard Reist and ‘campaigns manager’ Caitlin Roper.

MTR DPig

Daniel lists himself on Linkedin as having a role in “Communications and Customer Service” for Collective Shout since June 2015, ongoing.

Daniel was also Media & Communications Adviser for hard right Christian conservative Politician Andrew Hastie for the 6 months leading up to the last Australian Federal election in 2016. Hastie is from disgraced former PM Tony Abbott’s hard right faction, and was supported by Abbott in his campaign. His father is a prominent Creationist Presbyterian Pastor and his wife has published homophobic christian rants, while Hastie has said he is opposed to gay marriage but won’t comment on other religious beliefs.

Daniel Pignatiello also supports Kansas based ‘rescue’ mission Exodus Cry, who believe that conversion to Evangelical Christianity is the solution to sex trafficking.

exodus cry

On the face of it you may not expect a ‘feminist’ organisation to have a man from the Christian Right in communications & customer service who was also a political staffer for an extreme right wing Christian politician. Probably no other org in Australia calling itself feminist would do such a thing. But Collective Shout is lead by Melinda Tankard Reist who was also a political staffer for a Catholic Conservative Senator for 12 years, so there’s definitely a values fit. Daniel’s role with Collective Shout reinforces the impression that the organisation is first and foremost an Astroturfing lobby group for the Christian Right, using feminism as a cloaking device.

DP Linkedin

As for other prominent Christian men in Collective Shout, they’re not telling us but there are at least a couple more. The Collective Shout website in 2010 listed Evan Shelton as one of their founding members. Evan is the brother of Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton and an Evangelical Preacher first at City Church Toowoomba then at Rangeville Community Church. Mr Shelton has impeccable Christian Right credentials of his own, and a fundamentalist belief in the “supreme authority” of the Bible. The ministry team at Evan Shelton’s church offer a wide range of “Deliverance from demonic oppression”, from Incubus and Succuba Demons, from Freemasonry, and from demonic markers on the land.

Evan Shelton Rangeville

http://www.rangeville.com/about-rangeville/our-ministers/

rangeville/freedom-life/ministries/personal/

http://www.tcchurch.com.au/sermons/archive/messages/teacher/evan-shelton

Shelton CS Member

Another active Collective Shout member is Catholic anti abortion crusader Chris Da Silva. Back in 2010 he had his own page on the short-lived Collective Shout community page.

Chris Da SilvaChris was involved with NET Ministries, a Catholic youth organisation, and since then has become what the Catholic Leader describes as a “pro-life warrior”.

Chris Da Silva3

FAQs – Religious Villification

For centuries christians in the west have enjoyed unchallenged power to dominate politics, law, the lives of individuals and public discourse. That power has been disintegrating, and at every challenge they mount the same arguments, portraying themselves as victims of a savage and unreasonable secular culture which is apparently trying to silence them and deny their religious freedom. Expect to see a lot more of this kind of rhetoric in the lead up to Australia finally allowing marriage equality for same sex couples.

I welcome criticism, but I don’t welcome false accusations attempting to silence criticism, so let me anticipate a couple I expect to be levelled at the content of this blog.

Is this Religious Villification?

No it’s political critique, intended to promote democratic examination of campaigns to change censorship laws. It is not intended to promote hatred, contempt, severe ridicule or any type of abuse or violence. I think hatred is the enemy of open discussion and democratic progress. We have a definition of Religious Villification under Australian Law;

http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/types-of-discrimination/racial-and-religious-vilification

According to the Human Rights Commission “The legal definition is conduct that ‘incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule’.”

 “Behaviour that is not likely would not be seen as vilification includes:

  – being critical of a religion or debating racial or religious ideas in a way that does not encourage others to hate racial or religious groups

   – actions that offend people of a particular race or religion, but do not encourage others to hate, disrespect or abuse racial or religious groups.”

I’m arguing for democratic disclosure of religious lobby groups. I’m not suggesting they be singled out for unfair treatment, bullied, denied rights enjoyed by everyone else, denounced as un-natural, evil, perverting children… in the ways some Christian groups treat LBGTI people, for example. I’m not promoting hatred, contempt, extreme ridicule or violence. Just to be really clear – I do not want Christians, Collective Shout or members of any religious group to be subject to hatred, contempt or abuse. Check my timeline, in the past I’ve had a small number of twitter conversations with CS team members, usually initiated by them, I have never used personal abuse or anything that could be described as hate speech, or called for others to.

I do reserve the right to find religious beliefs ridiculous, and the law allows for ridicule as long as it is not severe, or intending to encourage hatred, contempt or violence. If you believe that eternal holy laws for all humanity were delivered to a lone man looking at rocks in a hat, as Mormons do, then I’m going to find that mildly hilarious. Similarly for those who believe that an all powerful immortal god was born as a human baby to a mother who was sexually impregnated by a ghost yet remained a virgin. Sorry, that kind of wilfull denial of science and human biology is also fairly ridiculous, but I don’t want anyone to be bullied for believing it.

 You’re Trying to Silence Them

I have no interest in silencing Collective Shout, I don’t call for them to be no-platformed or denied an opportunity to express their views. I agree with them on some things, some of the advertising they campaign against should be called out for its sexism and objectification. I support their right to campaign on any issue they choose. I also support the rights of others to criticize those campaigns.

Also I have never claimed to be speaking for anyone else, not for women, feminists, sex workers, not even for other musicians. I don’t claim to represent anyone’s views other than my own. Given the access to mainstream media that CS enjoy it’s ridiculous to suggest that an unknown self-published blogger could silence a group with that power. It’s not something I want to do, or could even attempt.

Collective Shout -Anti Choice Feminism

N Jameson RadFem Team

Collective Shout seem to have a very selective kind of feminism, they support some women’s rights and not others.  It’s illuminating to examine how Collective Shout christians identify themselves in the broad spectrum of feminist politics. Collective Shout leader Melinda Tankard Reist has obviously given it some thought and chooses to describe herself as a “pro life feminist” and to present the conservative christianity of her lobby group as ‘radical feminism’. Her publisher Spinifex Press is aligned with feminists who call themselves ‘radical feminists’ or radfems in twitter speak. Tankard Reist quotes, appears with and endorses various radfem activists and the entire Collective Shout team fall into line behind her, also identifying as radfem.

Radical Feminism doesn’t appear particularly radical, rather it looks like a socially conservative and authoritarian sect of feminism on the right of the political spectrum. They’re typically anti transgender rights, anti sex worker rights, typically taking an abolitionist or prohibitionist stance on sex work, anti ‘pornography’ with a wide definition of depictions of sex and nudity in media and art, and anti individual women’s choices, sometimes anti abortion. They oppose what they call Liberal Feminism, Choice Feminism, or Leftist Libfems, for being supposedly too focused on individual women’s rights instead of focusing on changing the system, on dismantling the power base of patriarchy. Meanwhile some other feminists refer to radfems as SWERFs – Sex Worker Exclusionary Rad Fems, and TERFs – Trans Exclusionary Rad Fems. Radical Feminism is seen as frequently opposed to other women’s choices that don’t fit their ideology. Just like christians. There seems to also be a generational alignment, with radfems more likely to be older second wave feminists harshly judgemental of younger third wave feminists who apparently aren’t doing it right.

This post at everydaywhorephobia looks at the radfem claim that they are the only ‘true’ feminists.

https://everydaywhorephobia.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/swerfsterfs-the-westboro-baptist-church-of-feminism/

This excellent blog post interrogates the RadFem construction of ‘Choice Feminism’ “We’re used to being told that ‘choice feminism’ serves power by facilitating the co-option of feminism into neoliberalism, but I’m struck by how ‘choice discourse’ often seems to be used by women with more power writing about women with less power

https://glasgowsexworker.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/638/

Collective Shout have aligned themselves with ‘Radical’ feminism because the conservative biblical christian ideology they share to greater or lesser extent is typically anti-abortion, anti-trans rights, anti-sex worker rights, against expressions of sexuality in media and the arts, opposed to the sexual freedoms brought about by the sexual revolution, and is dismissively critical of other women’s choices. Naturally the only feminist group their politics mostly fit are RadFems, so it’s a handy banner to wrap christian intolerance and conservatism in. Of course as christians they can hardly claim to be fighting patriarchy while they believe in a deeply patriarchal religion and submit themselves to the patriarchal structures and male leadership of their conservative christian churches. They certainly do not support women’s choices to do with their sexual freedom or reproductive rights.

Choice Caitlin

Caitlin as a member of the the Mormon church of Latter Day Saints is required to support the system of male supremacy in an intensely patriarchal, male dominated church. In Collective Shout she can comfort herself with the idea that she’s doing feminism tho.

liberal caitlin.jpgChoice feminismtrans Caitlin

Collective Shout especially support, quote and promote radfems opposed to sex workers’ rights including Julie Bindel, Rachel Moran, Caroline Norma, Meagan Murphy and others. They are quick to attack those who do not share their ideology, and there’s apparent rivalry in their interactions with other feminists on social media at times.

MTR WhiteRibbonMTR WhiteRibbon2Jameson Terf

Collective Shout SWERFs joined other right wing christian and prohibitionist anti sex worker groups to campaign for months against Amnesty International supporting sex worker rights through decriminalisation. They took on the language of radfems and prohibitionist groups, insisting that sex work and trafficking are intrinsically linked, despite the evidence. By the end of the campaign they were calling the world’s most trusted Human Rights org pimps.

Amnesty

You don’t get an impression from Collective Shout’s social media branding how important fighting sex worker rights is to them, but about half of all their submissions to government have been about criminalising sex work, and they campaigned for months against Amnesty International on the issue. In context policing other women’s choices starts to look like core business for Collective Shout.

CS submissions

Collective Shout leader Melinda Tankard Reist released a new anti sex worker book in April 2016. Using her habitual style of anecdote for emotional outrage and titillation it is advertised as a collection of 20 prostitution ‘survivor’ stories, co-edited with RMIT academic Caroline Norma. Norma is vocal on social media in opposition to gay marriage/marriage equality, the safe schools anti homophobia program, transgender rights, and in support of extreme right wing christian bigot Lyle Shelton from Australian Christian Lobby – to give you an idea of where she’s coming from.

norma-acl

 

With an obvious and extreme selection bias Tankard Reist and Norma apparently “scoured the globe” for anecdotal tales supporting their anti sex worker ideology, producing a work with little relevance to Australia where they are advocating for the stigmatising and punishing legal regime romanticly refered to as the Nordic Model – which research has shown to endanger and be harmful to sex workers, diminishing their rights to legal protections, antagonising their relationship with police and effectively criminalising them in other ways. They held a sex work prohibitionist conference in Melbourne as a launch stunt, with Julie Bindel and Rachel Moran. As always it’s enlightening to follow the money, and question who has the power – Tankard Reist intends to profit from the business of attacking legal protections for sex industry workers in Australia, it’s not just a crusade of conscience, she does have a book to sell and a media profile to promote which will increase her political power. And in a move emblematic of the ideological nature of her campaigns and her contempt for credible research and journalism she includes a chapter written by Collective Shout Perth coordinator Caitlin Roper. What’s Caitlin’s qualification to write about the sex industry, what research has she conducted? She appears to have no research training, background or experience of the industry to draw on. But she does agree with Melinda Tankard Reist uncritically.

abolitionist

And the first opinion piece to appear in mainstream media about the book was of course a glowing endorsement by conservative Anglican theologian Michael Jensen. Jensen displays a stunning lack of reason and a glaring ideological bias, praising the work of fellow conservative christian, editor Tankard Reist. You can tell a lot about a group by who their friends are, who their message resonates with – Collective Shout are always supported and cheered by conservative representatives of the exceedingly wealthy and powerful religion industry. The Queensland Director of fundamentalist group Australian Christian Lobby, Wendy Francis, attended the conference and also published her approval online.

It’s no surprise that the sex worker prohibitionist campaign is cheered on by christian leaders, the religion has a historical attachment to the Scarlet Woman Trope originating in bible stories of Jesus socializing with women who sold sex. Christians need the idea of sex worker redemption and repentance. They judge them as so thoroughly sinful, corrupted and damaged that if any can be saved it just proves how powerful their god is. When former sex work ‘survivors’ agree with them they can feel justified in standing in harsh judgement on other women’s choices. Their self righteous judgement feeds on the penitent’s testimony and self judgement. And that is the purpose of Tankard Reist’s book – stories of women who now agree with christian and RadFem judgement of sex workers. Of course they conveniently ignore the many sex workers who aren’t women, because for RadFems it contradicts the assertion that sex work is 100% about female oppression, and for christians like Tankard Reist it doesn’t fit the fixation on women’s bodies & sexuality as the location of sin. They dogmatically deny women can possibly consent to sex work, refusing to acknowledge anyone else’s experience that doesn’t fit their trope, because there is nothing more threatening to the christian world view than women who choose or even enjoy sexual activity outside of the strict moral boundaries set by religion. There was significant online protest against the anti sex worker conference from current sex workers and others supporting their rights. The Collective Shout team, supporters and RadFem allies were angrily abusive and attacked sex workers asking for their voices to be heard in discussions about their legal rights, for their choices to be respected, and for their work and identities not to be stigmatised and criminalised. Several women reported feeling traumatised and bullied after the sustained online attacks and abuse of Collective Shout and their supporters.

Anyway here’s Jensen’s fluff piece –

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-28/jensen-with-prostitution,-when-is-consent-not-consent/7363782

And here’s the Australian Christian Lobby endorsing Jensen’s opinion piece opposing marriage equality for same sex couples, in case you were wondering what kind of conservative he is. He conveniently erases millenia of history, and multiple cultures with the outright nonsense that hetero marriage is some kind of eternal truth  “Now, I didn’t pluck this definition from the sky, nor is it simply a piece of religious teaching. It is the meaning of marriage that emerges from all human cultures as they reflect on and experience what it is to be male and female. It is only in the last 15 years that anyone has seriously thought differently.”  This assertion can only be made by ignoring indigenous and other cultures that have legitemised same sex unions for untold thousands of years, and also biblical accounts of god’s chosen rulers having hundreds of ‘wives’, priests being given large numbers of virgins as the spoils of war and holy leaders producing offspring from incest or rape with god’s approval.  Mr Jensen will not be remembered as one of the great minds of our time.

http://www.acl.org.au/2015/06/why-michael-jensen-opposes-same-sex-marriage/

Collective Shout give Saatchi’s misogynist violence a Free Pass

 Charles Saatchi’s violence against Nigella Lawson

There was a lot of voyeuristic coverage of Charles Saatchi’s very public physical attack on his then wife Nigella Lawson in mid 2013, and their subsequent divorce and the details of his abuse. There’s no need to repeat it all here. After initially dismissing the incident as a “playful tiff” Saatchi admitted to assault and accepted a police caution. Naturally there was a lot of public support and sympathy for the celebrity chef and naturally the usual misogynists felt the need to weigh in. Collective Shout didn’t join the discussion about violence against women, but they did protest a local radio station indulging in unhelpful victim blaming.

CS Nigella

Two years later, during the week of White Ribbon Day, the campaign to prevent and end violence against women, Collective Shout promoted Charles Saatchi’s latest book of outrage titillation over advertising of the C20th. A subject dear to their hearts…

coralie Saatchi

Hypocrisy anyone? Collective Shout campaigned hard against Chris Brown, Floyd Mayweather and others because of their past violence against women, but Saatchi wrote a book about sexist advertising so they conveniently erased his violence and promoted his sales. (Not very successfully, judging by the lone retweet.)  What kind of commitment to ending violence against women does it show to promote an abuser on White Ribbon Day?

To show the double standard even more starkly, the Collective Shout team don’t mind telling White Ribbon Day to join their selective campaigns against misogynists who fit their interests.

Coralie White Rib RSD

Not surprisingly, when football sleaze Ricky Nixon had a book out Collective Shout spokesperson Coralie supported the petition to boycott, because of….. yes, his past violence against women.

Petition Nixon

This is what followers might expect from Collective Shout. But Charles Saatchi was exempt, obviously his book about advertising was considered more important to their campaign than his violence. He got the same Free Pass as misogynist hate preachers Troy Newman and Mark Driscoll

Collective Shout give a free pass to evangelical sexist Mark Driscoll

This is another example of Collective Shout’s silent refusal to join campaigns against prominent male leaders from the Christian Right guilty of rank sexism and inciting violence against women.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/keep-out-us-pastor-mark-driscoll-hillsong-warned-20150606-ghi5py.html

Evangelical Christian preacher Mark Driscoll was invited by Hillsong Church to talk at their 2015 Australian conference. In June 2015 the White Ribbon Foundation and Feminist group Destroy The Joint campaigned to have him refused a visa and for Hillsong to cancel his appearance because of his incredibly sexist and misogynist statements about women being ordained by ‘god’ to exist for the sexual use and service of men.

“He is already being put in the same category as world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather and self-proclaimed pick-up artist Julien Blanc – barred and kicked out respectively.

US pastor Mark Driscoll, invited by Hillsong Church to its Australian conference, is under increasing fire for statements including preaching that women were created to house a man’s penis.”

“Libby Davies, chief Executive of the White Ribbon Foundation working to prevent violence against women, said his comments objectify women and position women as unequal…

“His words perpetuate the attitude that very much is behind the perpetuation of violence against women. To do that hiding behind a Christian framework is very concerning.”

An online petition was started

https://www.change.org/p/hillsong-remove-mark-driscoll-from-hillsong-europe-conference

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hillsong-church-cancels-pastor-mark-driscolls-australian-visit-after-backlash-20150607-ghijl9.html

After the public backlash Hillsong head Brian Huston lied that they had cancelled Driscoll’s appearance, then showed a pre-recorded video interview on a giant screen anyway, demonstrating contempt for the concerns of the public and feminist critics.

http://www.mamamia.com.au/hillsong-preacher/

There was mainstream media coverage of the campaign, and a lot of mention on social media, including the petition. Collective Shout are monitoring media constantly for the chance to insert themselves into any feminist campaign getting coverage and use it for self promotion. But they had nothing to say about Driscoll – not a single tweet, not one word. Compare this to their campaigns and hundreds of social media statements to stop Australian visits of pick-up misogynist Julien Blanc in November 2014, boxer Floyd Mayweather in February 2015 and artists Snoop Dog, Eminem, Chris Brown and Tyler The Creator.  Collective Shout have been very active in campaigns to refuse visas to prominent men guilty of violence against women, or of promoting misogynist attitudes in their opinion. But nothing to say about #penishouse Driscoll? A remarkable exclusion – closely followed by their refusal to join the campaign against Troy Newman. Followers on social media were puzzled, because they were lacking the crucial piece of information that Collective Shout wont disclose.

The Collective Shout team are all conservative christians so of course they were not going to oppose Hillsong. ‘Director of Operations’ Coralie is a Hillsong fan and team member/spokesperson Deb Malcolm was employed by the discredited and fraudulent Hillsong backed Mercy Ministry.

Coralie Hillsong

The comments from Libby Davies of the White Ribbon Foundation, that hiding misogyny behind a christian framework is concerning,  may help to explain why Melinda Tankard Reist and her team of christian women are so critical of White Ribbon – not their kind of feminist. Collective Shout are the kind of feminists that ignore misogyny when it hides behind christianity.

Collective Shout & Troy Newman – pro-lifer preacher inciting violence against women

Troy Newman

Troy Newman is an American christian and anti abortion extremist, the head of ‘pro-life’ group Operation Rescue. He is one of the small category of extremely dangerous religious misogynists who incite others to violence. He called for the execution of medical staff who provide safe and legal terminations, and calls women who have terminations murderers. His group campaigned against a Dr George Tiller, Newman boasted about sharing his photo and incited his followers to publicize personal details. In 2006 an active member of Operation Rescue shot Tiller dead. This is not just right wing christian rhetoric, it’s domestic terrorism and murder. Mamamia give a good overview of the case here –

http://www.mamamia.com.au/troy-newman/

Newman was also responsible for the faked ‘undercover’ videos falsely alleging that Planned Parenthood were selling parts of aborted fetuses, which resulted in a Republican political campaign to defund the sexual health clinics, vetoed by President Obama. Newman’s spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger had been convicted of attempting to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s and spent two years in prison for the crime.

http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/07/21/the-extreme-and-violent-background-of-the-group/204519

In september 2015 Newman announced he would be visiting Australia for a 10 day speaking tour organised by anti abortion christians Right To Life. There was immediate protest and a petition was started to have his visa cancelled –

https://www.change.org/p/australian-immigration-minister-peter-dutton-keep-u-s-anti-abortion-campaigner-troy-newman-out-of-australia

Labour MP Terri Butler also called for the Immigration Minister to cancel Newman’s visa

http://www.terributlermp.com/advocate_for_executing_doctors_should_have_visa_cancelled

Newman’s visa was cancelled, but he travelled to Australia anyway and was detained and deported. Collective Shout’s friends the Australian Christian Lobby started an unsuccessful petition to have his visa reinstated.

Shelton TroyNewman

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/oct/02/court-to-rule-whether-on-anti-abortion-activist-troy-newman-will-be-deported

Where was Collective Shout on this? People on social media asked the same thing. Compare this to their two campaigns against Tyler The Creator that stretched over months – for his ‘incitement of violence’ against women by portaying fictional acts of violence in rap lyrics. Tyler fans understood his lyrics as the words of characters in works of fiction depicting difficult and violent material, the same as in film or literature. He has publicly stated he doesn’t share the views of those lyrics, and is opposed to sexual violence, and they should be understood as fiction. Regardless of your stance on depiction or descriptions of violence against women in works of art the man himself was not guilty of any violent acts, and spoke out against them. Yet Collective Shout mounted massive campaigns against two Australian tours, to have his visa cancelled. They ran similar campaigns against other Rap artists including Snoop Dog and Eminem, guilty of fictional accounts of violence. Yet when faced with a man who advocates actual violence against doctors and women, and whose organisation has been complicit in murder and attempted bombing, and who has harrassed, abused and traumatised real women attempting to access medical care and advice – Collective Shout were silent. Numerous people asked them directly to support the petition against Newman

CS on Troy NewmanCS Troy Newman anonAnti choice no answer anon

Despite retweets by many people asking the same question NONE of these tweets were answered.  The last one is particularly relevant. No Collective Shout does not support pro choice for women. Their founder and leader Melinda Tankard Reist is known for her anti abortion stance and has published books about it. She has been associated with and supported by Right To Life, the christian extremist hate group who invited Troy Newman to Australia.

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/where-is-the-outcry-against-antiabortion-activist-troy-newmans-australian-speaking-tour-20150928-gjwwee.html

Collective Shout ‘director of operations’ was prepared to state she is personally opposed to calling for the murder of doctors, but that’s as far as she went, no official Collective Shout statement, no mention of Newman inciting violence against women. Bizarrely she used the excuse that it’s not a Collective Shout issue. Inciting hatred and violence against women and trying to deny their reproductive rights is automatically not a Collective Shout issue when a prominent member of the Christian Right is involved.  They identify as feminists, but it is a very selective feminism which excludes women’s reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and the right to be free from violence, threats and intimidation from Christian religious extremists. Where women’s rights clash with the rights powerful Christian male leaders give themselves in the name of god, Collective Shout are not on your side.

Understandably they lost support over the blatant hypocrisy.

Newman convo anon

Why is it not a Collective Shout issue? They gave no answer, because the answer is that Collective Shout is lead by a pro-lifer. They will NOT articulate a public position on abortion because their leader shares the anti women’s rights position of the Christian Right, and it would lose them (more) followers.

When inciting hatred and violence against women is perpetrated by a ‘pickup artist’ or, allegedy, by rap artists it most definitely IS a Collective Shout issue tho. You can see why people get confused by the contradiction.

MTR VAWCoralie VAW

Newman gets pass

For the record Lydia Turner, one of the Collective Shout founders, not one of the active christian team, made a statement against Troy Newman. Her main concern was to maintain that Collective Shout has NO stated position on abortion, which is technically correct, but evasive. She remained a lone voice. She also stuck to the party line that it is not a Collective Shout issue and they don’t have the ‘resources’. They didn’t have the ‘resources’ to retweet a link to the petition when asked by followers. How many ‘resources’ do two clicks to retweet take? A couple of seconds when you’re already on twitter. Two seconds is more ‘resources’ than Collective Shout are prepared to give to support women’s reproductive rights and safety.

Turner Newman

Meanwhile there is an inevitable link – The Catholic Women’s League of Tasmania was one of the groups planning to host Troy Newman. They also promoted an appearance by Collective Shout founder Melinda Tankard Reist. No surprise.

CWL

Collective Shout – Why?

collectiveshoutcensor

Does it Matter that Collective Shout is run by Christians? Do they fight sexism, misogyny and objectification, or do they fight S*X?

On some things I agree with Collective Shout. I agree that sexist, exploitative and objectifying advertising is sexist, exploitative and objectifying. I agree that misogyny is offensive and should be named and argued against.  It’s also clear the best credible research has established that unrealistic body expectations do long term damage to developing minds.

Feminism Makes Sense, Duh

Separate from the campaigns of Collective Shout, and sometimes at odds with them, I agree with what I understand of the foundations of feminism – that women are equal to men in every way and should have equal power, status, legal rights, pay, respect and the right to control their own bodies and reproductive rights.  It’s obvious that we live in a patriarchal society with repressive traditional gender roles that harm everyone.  Daily expressions of misogyny aren’t just ‘a bit of fun’, they are evidence of a patriarchal society, institutions and power structures that oppress, subjugate and do violence to women, while maintaining male power and privilege. I think it’s blatantly obvious that physical, verbal, electronic, structural and systemic violence against women is a form of daily terrorism more real and far more damaging than any imagined or real threat from a foreign power or disenfranchised minority. This violence is an ongoing national emergency as important as climate change, a gross injustice that demands a range of real, effective, evidence supported responses right now, thank you very much.

I disagree with Collective Shout in a number of ways, because I don’t believe they are fighting patriarchy or sexism so much as sex. They’re not just campaigning against sexist and misogynist advertising and pop culture. They are also fighting sexual images and representation, sex workers, assertive female sexuality, confident sexual body display, consensual adult sexual fantasies and games, and almost any cultural expression or depiction of human sexuality in real or fictional form, in any genre or art form.  I think the christian religious faith of the team motivates their campaigns and they argue from dogma and inherited religious prejudice, fear, and christian sexual repression. They use common fears about sexual exploitation of children, and progressive disgust at sexism, as wedge politics to push for a tightly restrictive censorship regime of all cultural material dealing with sexuality, for adults also. You can read their submissions to Government on censorship here…

Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?

We broadly agree as a society that sex and sexually explicit material is for consenting adults and should be restricted from underage audiences. Collective Shout use this agreement to argue that children will inevitably be exposed to sexual material so it should not be available to anyone, including, of course, adults who most of us believe are able to make informed choices.  Their core business is as a pro-censorship anti-sex lobby, looking for an acceptable angle to get public support for more authoritarian and theocratic style policy.

Collective Shout blame ‘porn’ for it’s harmful effects on children and want to ban any sexual material they define as ‘porn’ – which has included not just sexually explicit media but sexual humour, sex toys, sexual lyrics, depictions of sexual activity in films, television, print, games, animation and on the internet, sexual innuendo and themes in advertising, and lingere advertisments with no nudity or sexual themes. And yes women’s magazines that discuss sex are on their radar too, despite their role in sex education and frank discussion of sexual politics for many women –

Cosmo

Interestingly these christian women & parents are not advocating for more responsible parenting, but for total censorship. They aren’t arguing for ideas that parents & schools around the country put into practice every day – like not giving your child an internet connected smart phone, or unsupervised internet access, or unfiltered internet at home or school. Ideas like giving young people a framework to understand age restrictions on sexual material and to navigate it safely. No they are arguing for tighter restrictions on all content, for all ages, all media, all platforms and devices. It seems responsible parenting is impossible in their view. They peddle an old-fashioned, revival tent style, christian moral panic in which your child WILL be exposed to violent porn that ruins their relationships forever, you can’t stop it, you better panic and over-react.  The only solution they can see is a nation wide, impenetrable border fence of mandatory IP filtering and censorship bans that would return us to the 1950s. Oh and lingerie advertising should not show women in lingerie apparently.

There’s always been censorship in Australia, we have no constitutional right to free speech or an equivalent like the USA. For what it’s worth I’m in favour of the kind of censorship we have in place in relation to film. I think it reflects community standards well – age restricted access to sexually explicit material and impactful violence for adults only, and total bans on the small amount of media we currently ban for things like pedophilia, holocaust denial, incitement to racial hatred and the glorification of violence etc.  The internet has made that kind of restriction practically a lot more difficult. Net filtering at a home and device level may be effective enough if it can be done in a way that tech savvy kids can’t get around, and if kids are also educated in why adult material is not appropriate for them.

Some commentators claim the only way to protect children from exposure to hardcore porn and violence will be to have some kind of filtering at an ISP level which can only be unlocked by effective Age Verification Technology.  The contentious and tricky part of that proposal is whose definitions will get used to decide what gets blocked. That discussion will always be political and needs to be based on sound research, and reflect community standards not sectarian ideologies and religious dogma. Collective Shout are engaged in that political discussion. They want a very wide censorship regime going far beyond what’s needed to protect children, in keeping with the christian values they do not disclose to the public. The censorship they advocate would ban outright huge amounts of important, challenging and inspiring culture, film, TV, literature and music, and some shitty sexist advertising. And this is the point that’s conveniently missed out of their arguments – they want to filter the internet for adults and children. That’s the whole point of arguing for ISP filters, to put in place a legislative and technical censorship mechanism which seems innocent enough at first, we’re just saving the children, but once in place it can later be adjusted to meet the sexual and political paranoias of whichever groups can get access to power and political influence.

 

Christianity as a Patriarchal Institution… the Bible is pretty shit for Women.

  • The Collective Shout Team are conservative Christians
  • Claims that religion is personal and private are disingenous when you are trying to influence government to make laws that affect all citizens. I believe their Religion is relevant because they campaign for political and legal restrictions on public morality and culture. They want to regulate public and private behaviour and sexuality. When you campaign on public morality your moral values are always going to be relevant.
  • Their religion is relevant because the bible is a foundational document of Patriarchy and misogyny in our culture. It seems to me that the bible contributes more to rape culture and promoting violence against women in our culture than any rap artist like Tyler The Creator possibly could. And yes I have read it, all of it.
  • The bible that the women who run Collective Shout  believe in is full of horrific and systematic violence and sexual violence against women. The violence is sanctioned and sometimes commanded by ‘god’ and the appointed (always) male leaders of his chosen people. The bible is full of justifications for male power, and also for rape and slavery. Look it up.
  • Biblical literalist Christianity is fearful of sex & portrays women’s bodies as a location of sin and temptation beginning with the Genesis story of the woman Eve bringing sin into God’s paradise and causing the man to sin also. This is an allegorical attack on female sexuality that has formed the basis of church misogyny and sexual repression for millenia. There is a long and excellent history of feminist criticism of biblical christianity which I admire for it’s insight and relevance.
  • Of course there are progressive branches of christianity that advocate equality of women, LBGTQI rights, Indigenous rights, women’s reproductive choices and that don’t accept a literalist interpretation of the Bible. For example the Uniting Church in Australia has had women ministers and in leadership roles for decades and has a strong social justice commitment. Those are not the branches of christianity that the Collective Shout team apparently belong to.
  • The evangelical and traditional Churches that Collective Shout team members attend typically do not allow women in leadership roles over men. The highest station a woman can achieve is usually to be the Pastor’s wife. Women are allowed to lead ministry to women and children, but they do not exercise authority over men because the bible does not permit it. Several members of the Collective Shout team run ministry to women and children in their churches. This must be frustrating as hell for capable, intelligent women who know they are equal to the men running the church but are denied that role by the central teachings of their religion. It would be even worse being Catholic or Mormon.
  • 1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence
  • 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.  If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”  If you choose to believe the Bible is the literal word of ‘god’ you are making a decision to be a massive sexist, or to be massively in denial about the truth of your religion.
  • Of course if CollectiveShout disclosed they’re effectively a conservative Christian censorship lobby they wouldn’t get the same support from the public and media. The influence of Christianity is fading, and many people question the relevance of arguments from a position of dogma that seeks evidence to justify it, rather than a reasoned position from the available evidence and research. When you become a christian you are expected to adopt a pre-existing set of beliefs, values and judgements, the world is prejudged and those judgements are inflexible as they are supposedly the word of god. It’s the very definition of prejudice, beliefs handed down before you were even born are not beliefs you arrived at by reason and evidence, they are an inherited ideology.  So the Collective Shout team don’t disclose their shared ideology, and when questioned they argue it is personal and not relevant. That’s spin of course.
  • Collective Shout are a Political Lobby group.  They are funded and backed by the Christian Right, but they consistently fail to disclose the religious ideology of their team, and of their backers. In a democracy like Australia we expect the highest levels of transparency and disclosure from groups trying to influence politics and legislation. We want any citizen to be able to examine their claims, their allegiences, who is paying them, who their friends are, and what they believe. This is crucial for the public to have faith in the integrity of government and the political process. But magically if you are a ‘grassroots’ campaign you are not required to disclose, uh, anything. That’s handy.  Collective Shout get supporters on a campaign by campaign basis, people who are sick of sexism and objectification. They are exploited as a human sheild to protect the christian team from scrutiny and proper disclosure.
  • We already know censorship and prohibition doesn’t work, there are enough very well documented historical examples of this. We also know misogyny, gendered violence, sexism and objectification existed even before the invention of the printing press. In fact the evidence points to many cultures gradually improving women’s rights over the centuries, rather than going to hell since the invention of the TV and internet etc.  I think we need to address the causes of misogyny not the expressions of it. Repressing or banning the cultural expressions of misogyny won’t stop it, it will just make it taboo and cool to some people.
  • One of the central causes of misogyny is traditional gender stereotypes and roles, and gender inequality. Historically one of the most influentual sources of those traditional, unequal gender roles in our society has been the christian religion and its Churches. Christianity is still a dangerously sexist religion, in most of its branches. Collective Shout never question the traditional gender roles and sexist gender politics of their religion or their churches. They do not fight the causes of misogyny, just its cultural expression – separate from religion.
  • There’s a whole other argument about the causal influences of cultural works. Do song lyrics, games or films cause violence, sexual violence, peadophilia, or attitudes that lead to them? There’s no definitive research to support that so far. The PMRC hearings in the U.S. in the 1980s showed there’s no evidence song lyrics influence fan behaviour, and censorship only served to increase sales. That’s a question I don’t have time to look at just yet. I want to see the evidence for those claims, and I haven’t so far. Collective Shout, like most right wing christians, love arguing from anecdote, stories, testimony, and the more shocking and emotionally motivating the better. That’s not going to cut it if you want to censor popular music, you’re messing with my community and we’re going to examine your claims very closely. David Gauntlett writes about the failure of the ‘media effects’ model and research here – http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm
  • While there is a lack of investigative journalism in political discourse in Australia citizens, including artists, sex workers and feminist women who advocate for reproductive rights, will do that important work in defense of everyone’s rights when they are attacked by powerful groups like the religious right. This blog is a project of citizen investigative journalism, in the interests of transparency and uncovering the astroturfing and incrementalist wedge politics of the Christian Right. In the USA where freedom of speech enjoys different kinds of legal protections this kind of information is more readily available. Australian political apathy and the artificially engendered short memory of the 2 minute news cycle online means there is little effort to collect and share information over a longer time period, to build a more illuminating bigger picture. We love backstory and origin tales in cinema, but we forget about it in democracy. I’m collating just some of the backstory on Melinda Tankard Reist’s lobby group Collective Shout here, for the public record. Knowledge is power, and hiding relevant information, or neglecting to disclose it, is intended to rob the public of the power of an informed view.