One of the interesting hypocrisies of
Christian Collective Shout’s anti-porn crusade is their ongoing need to feed their moral horror and outrage, and that of their followers, with peverse titillation, re-publishing evidence of the shocking and offensive sexual content they scour the internet for. This is the same technique used by clickbait sites. Shock or outrage generates page views and gutter ‘journalism’ that exploits human interest in sex and transgression always appeals to a wide audience.
Collective shout’s twitter feed exists as a curated gallery of sexism, objectification, misogyny, sexual insults and threats, and of soft porn images. Their thousands of followers can browse this transgressive content as outrage porn, and be inspired to act by the strength of their shocked moral feelings.
The hypocrisy of course is that Collective Shout consistently argue that such content harms because it promotes misogyny, contributes to rape culture, is dangerous for children, influences boys and men to act abusively towards women, and is disastrous for the mental health of girls exposed to it. Yet they republish it to an unlimited audience on twitter that is not age restricted. Somehow their publishing of the very same content is NOT harmful and they and their followers can obsessively mine the internet for sexual content and misogyny but magically not be affected by it.
Behind this unspoken assumption is a typically christian moral superiority complex. Perhaps unconsciously they believe they are able to consume supposedly degrading and desensitising sexual content without being affected by it, but other adults cannot be trusted with it. While they are confident in their ability to make moral choices to not be influenced negatively they do not believe anyone else is immune. They believe in the power of sexual content to corrupt people and cause them to act badly, EXCEPT when it comes to them. In this way they insultingly erase the choice and agency of other adults. This condescension shares similarities with the unreflected assumptions of colonial mind sets. This is also clearly a delusion. You can’t argue both ways – either the content is harmful or it isn’t.
If some adults are able to process sexual and misogynist content without being harmed, because of their more enlightened understanding and values, then any adult can.
If it is harmful then why are you re-publishing it to reach an even wider audience of people who most likely wouldn’t have been exposed to it? Why are you even viewing it?
Their arrogance is an assumption of moral superiority about the special nature of their choices, as opposed to anyone else’s. It is on display in their campaigns against sex workers’ rights and the dogmatic belief that no woman can freely choose sex work, even if she says so, erasing the agency of other women and denying their voices.
Collective Shout objectify women by using their images as campaign advertising, and actively denying that models are able to make their own choices.
They treat the models in advertising images as examples, as visual objects for their use, without permission and disconnected from the real women appearing in the images. In this way they are no different to the companies they criticise.
Here’s just one example of Collective Shout’s ‘director of operations’ exploiting women on twitter…
Presumably Jafeel paid the models whose images they used, Collective Shout did not. Who is more exploitative?
December 2015 – Collective Shout objected to magazine Harpers Bazaar being on display in supermarkets where children might see a mostly naked, but modestly posed, Miranda Kerr on the cover. Except they don’t name the model, she’s simply “naked woman” without a name, a voice, a choice, without reasons for the photographic shoot… she is reduced to a campaign object, not a person but an object symbol of the christian fear of nudity and its imagined terrible effects on the children.
2 days after I tweeted about this erasing of another woman’s identity to objectify her Coralie finally started using Miranda Kerr’s name. It clearly wasn’t her first impulse.
Collective Shout argued for at least 3 years from 2012 that Zoo magazine was ‘pornography’ despite being classified as ‘unrestricted’ by the Australian Classification Board, and containing no nudity. CS claimed the content of Zoo was harmful to children and should be categorised as porn and restricted from view by minors. Then they re-published huge amounts of it to an unrestricted audience online. Repeatedly. I’m not going to follow CS in republishing sexist and objectifying content from Zoo, it’s still on their website for anyone to view. The magazine is no longer being published – except by Collective Shout who have ensured that what they think is the worst and most damaging content remains available for anyone to view – including children. This is world-record beating levels of hypocrisy if ever there was.
all this and more available on the Collective Shout website…
If a Collective Shout staffer emailed their Zoo Storify to employees that would be sexual harassment…
from the CS website, they publish examples of what they call “explicit content”, as moral outrage pornographers.
Zoo was a publication that the Australian Classification Board rated as ‘unrestricted’ for a general audience. CS continuing to call it pornography shows how out of touch with community standards, and how driven by dogma they are. The magazine contained no nudity or depictions of sex, just women in bikinis – like you might see at the beach or your local pool. It was certainly sexist and the campaign could easily have targeted that, but they insisted it was pornography. Most people would not define it the same way. To drive the point home they cherry picked examples of sexist and misogynist posts from Zoo’s facebook page, and from the magazine in the UK. The UK publication was a different publication with different content, but Collective Shout followers would not be aware of the differences. Only after being repeatedly called out on this apparent deception did CS admit on twitter that some content they republished was not from the magazine in Australian supermarkets they were campaigning against.
The Australian edition did have ads for phone services that may have featured more adult and explicit sexual content. They could have made a case against allowing these ads in an unrestricted publication, but their main focus was on the harms of ‘porn’. They were particularly vocal about the cover being on display where children could be exposed to women in bikinis. This points to the Christian unease with sexual display, discussion and innuendo. Christianity is a religion of sexual repression, it is one of the elements of emotional and psychological control it shares with many organised religions. Sex and sexuality is a minefield of guilt and projected moral judgement, and Collective Shout campaigns often display this moral panic about sex. The traditional position of most Christian churches is that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful, morally wrong, corrupting for your soul and spirit. That’s the starting point.
It’s also worth noting that the Collective Shout campaign against Zoo began in 2010 when they made mildly obscene fun of recently minted Australian Catholic saint Mary Mackillop. Melinda Tankard Reist took offense and came to the defense of religious sisters.
This unleashed an holy wrath that lasted 5 years.
In a publicity stunt to really ramp up the shock value Collective Shout sent children to purchase a magazine they claim is pornographic and harms children just by being on display. Even their own supporters questioned the ethics of exploiting children for campaign outrage. Susie O’Brien at the Daily Telegraph wrote a scathing article raising many good points “If you are trying to keep sexist material away from children then why deliberately send two young boys in to buy copies?”
Another example of Collective Shout’s willingness to exploit children as emotional currency for shock value and to objectify them as campaign images is this post by spokesperson Melinda –
I have blurred the image of the child a lot more, the original only blurs her face a little. Mel did not answer my question if she had permission to take this girl’s photo and publish it on the internet. This is more than a little creepy. Collective Shout had been campaiging against this christmas themed advertising for a couple of weeks, they had already published photos of the same window. So was Melinda lurking outside the store waiting for the chance to photograph a child, or did she pose the child there for effect? This is an excellent example of Collective Shout wowserism too, they’ve attacked this chain store in the past for selling sex toys for women, and have decided to call it a ‘sex shop’ for that reason. This advertising features a woman in lingerie in a confident, dominant pose, standing over a man dressed in a santa suit. She’s not faceless, reduced to body parts, posed in a sexual way, treated as an object or an unwilling participant. She appears to be in control in some kind of humorous, christmas themed role play. Do Collective Shout expect an underwear store to advertise underwear without showing images of women wearing underwear? And how is viewing a picture of a woman in underwear harmful to children exactly? What does this have to do with the corporate ethics of the shopping centre? If Collective Shout disapprove of even this advertising the only solution that will be acceptable for them is to return to the prudish censorship of the 1950s when you could not show actual women wearing women’s underwear, you had to use plastic dummys.
CS attracted further criticism for their campaign against Chemist Warehouse selling a rubber ‘virgin’ vagina sex toy on an age restricted section of their website. The toy was not on public display in stores and to view the listing you had to pass this clear legal warning
Collective Shout then republished the adults only content on twitter to an all-ages unrestricted audience, for outrage and campaign publicity. In doing so they showed less regard for public standards and for age appropriate restrictions on sexual content and themes than Chemist Warehouse. (yes, I have a screen grab, no I’m not putting it up). They also posted a more explicit image than the covers of Zoo Magazine they claimed are so harmful.
I’ll leave the last word to Jennifer Wilson who writes incisively about Collective Shout and Melinda Tankard Reist’s double standards in republishing content they claim should not be published. Perpetrating abuse to fight abuse?