Dismissal of “Boobs” campaign complaints’ undermines women’s worth

Last month the Advertising Standards Board dismissed complaints from the public about Bond’s “Boobs” campaign. The ASB’s decision to dismiss all complaints regarding the campaign was unsurprising given that in the past year the self-regulated body has dismissed most complaints it’s received from the public. Of the 3,640 complaints made to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) the board looked at 473 and only 68 were found to have breached its Code of Ethics. There is an obvious difference of standards between the ASB and the community – the Advertising Standards Bureau is not in line with community expectations and one of many reasons why the ACL believes government should regulate outdoor advertising to make sure it’s G-Rated.

However, what was surprising though, was the title of their website report on the dismissal of all Bonds “Boobs” complaints, “Storm in a B cup”. The campaign should not have been labelled in such dismissive terms; the concerns regarding this advertising campaign were serious and worthy of respect. The advertiser, Bonds underwear, was certainly treated seriously. In fact, Bonds was quoted in this report as intending to change their name to “Boobs” during their campaign to demonstrate how seriously they take the product of bras.

This is not the first time Bonds has had to defend its product and marketing. In 2010, after public outcry, Bonds withdrew their range of bra-like products for girls from 6 years old. In this current case, the common complaint from women was to do with objectification; women are tired of marketers promoting them as body parts. The fact that Bonds then linked this campaign to breast cancer is poor taste. Breast cancer survivors are outraged. The last thing a woman who has just had a mastectomy needs is for billboards to be highlighting the body part they’ve just lost. Women are more than body parts. Marketers need to start seeing each woman in the context of being a whole unique person.

This blog post was first published at http://www.acl.org.au/2013/11/dismissal-of-boobs-campaign-complaints-undermines-womens-worth/

Every freedom has a form

In an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph this week www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/standing-up-to-the-politciallycorrect-bully-boys/story-fni0cwl5-1226757595694 author Ross Fitzgerald said that “freedom of speech has never been more threatened in Australia”.
He drew attention to the current Queensland government inquiry into sexualised outdoor advertising: “If you’re trying to get a message out in Queensland via outdoor advertising, don’t say anything even vaguely sexual. As a result of pressure from the Australian Christian Lobby, the Queensland government has ordered an enquiry into whether there is too much sex on advertising billboards. If our democratic system is to survive, the right to speak the unvarnished truth needs to be nurtured, even protected.

He is referring to my campaign to make outdoor advertising G Rated in Queensland and the current inquiry on this topic. Whilst I agree that freedom of speech is an important value in a democratic society, it is not an absolute right. It carries with it responsibility and boundaries. Children deserve to be protected from material in public that is likely to harm or disturb them. Freedom of speech should not override the freedom of the community not to be confronted by sexualised imagery or advertising that demeans others – mostly women.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA), The Australia Institute and even the Advertising Standards Board all agree that sexualised advertising is on the rise. The Australian Medical Association has identified that increasing numbers of children are focusing on an inappropriate sexualised concept of body image and that this impacts on their growth and physical functioning, including a reduced ability to think and learn. The AMA affirms that marketing and advertising contribute to this problem. The Australia Institute research found that this sexualisation contributes to an increased risk of sexualised and attention seeking behaviours at an earlier age. They conclude that “the sexualisation of Australian children in advertising and marketing is increasing and involves a wide range of risks to children”. It is clear that the welfare of children should take precedence over absolute freedom of speech in this context.
And if it’s the unvarnished truth that Ross Fitzgerald is after, then I would think he should join my campaign to remove the photo-shopped images of unrealistic women from our outdoor advertising.

we don’t have to work to the world’s agenda

The men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do. 1 Chronicles 12:32
What are our times? And what should we be doing?

There is much in this generation that aligns with the description in Philippians 2:15 of “a crooked and perverse generation”. What we once deemed only a short time ago as a society as immoral, we now celebrate. But in this generation, as in all previous generations, God’s children are called to shine as lights. This involves remaining IN the world, but standing out against darkness – that’s the calling and the purpose of light.
James 3:13 tells us to do good works, live humbly, and learn wisdom. And if that was it, living in Australia as a Christian would be a pretty good gig. But God has not called us to be merely spiritual philanthropists.
I believe that God expects us to engage with our culture, whilst remaining uncompromising with the truth.
The Apostle Paul devoted time and attention to studying the culture of the place where God had placed him – he formed a good understanding of the underlying world views which informed and shaped the culture of the Athenians. He engaged with the culture of the day as he spoke to the members of the Areopagus and as he used their pagan poets to explain to them the deep things of God.
But Paul’s message was always focused on the Gospel message:
• The identity of Jesus
• The reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
• The necessity of repentance and faith
…true Christianity starts from the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us that is objectively true…Neither did Paul compromise on truth. Because true Christianity starts from the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us that is objectively true, regardless of how anyone feels about it. And so Paul challenged sin and the rulers of the day. As a result, history tells us he was beheaded by Nero. Because his generation, like ours, was repelled by Paul’s claim of an absolute and exclusive Truth.
…tolerance is not about accepting everyone else’s beliefs, but rather being willing to listen to those beliefs…
Absolute truth is utterly distasteful to our postmodern world which wants to dictate their own truth, often arrived at through a ‘consensus’ with the voices they hear most often in the media. This translates to the followers of Christ who claim to know The Truth often being accused of being intolerant. But tolerance is not about accepting everyone else’s beliefs, but rather being willing to listen to those beliefs. And this is important, because Christ’s followers should be ready and willing to discuss their faith and accompanying beliefs, without compromising on the truth. And that truth is found in the person of Jesus who said, I am the way, the truth and the life.
So how did Jesus engage an oft time hostile culture with the truth? As with Paul, Jesus participated deeply in culture. He joined in feasts and wedding celebrations. He attended funerals. He involved himself in people’s lives – a woman mourning over the death of her son, a woman at a well, a woman lying in the dust after being caught in adultery. He fished. He engaged in culture to the extent that he was accused by his enemies of being a friend of sinners and a party-man! At the same time, Jesus who is truth personified, never compromised on truth for the sake of fitting into culture.
When a rich young ruler addressed Jesus as, “Good teacher”, Jesus clarified that only God was good, knowing that the full truth was vital for his eternal welfare. At that, the young man changed his greeting to “Teacher”, stopping short of acknowledging Jesus as God, making it possible for him to reject the instructions Jesus then shared with him. If you acknowledge someone as God, it’s not easy to ignore what they say!
Shortly after this meeting, Jesus headed to Jerusalem, welcomed by an adoring crowd as he arrived on a borrowed donkey. Once in Jerusalem, it was late in the afternoon and Jesus went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left, returning about 3 km to Bethany for the night with the twelve disciples.
…there is no kingdom without the cross…The next morning Jesus went back to Jerusalem, entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers, the chairs of the dove sellers and stopped the Temple being used as a marketplace. Jesus was angry but he was in control. He, the essence of Truth and integrity, stood in stark contrast to the priorities of the temple merchants who were more preoccupied by their commerce than in living out relationships in the way that God prescribed. This was not a rash reaction, but a considered deliberate action which would have dire consequences, not just for him but for all of his followers and for his adoring fans from the previous day. They had been ready and willing to follow him to his kingdom. But Jesus knew what they didn’t – there is no kingdom without the cross.
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. The following day, as Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders approached him and demanded to know by what authority he was doing all these things and who had given him the right to. Jesus answered with a question, “I will tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question – did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” The religious leaders talked it over among themselves and ended up pragmatically saying they didn’t know. To which Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.””
Wisdom demands that we don’t have to work to the world’s agenda.
Paul and Jesus understood the times. They engaged enthusiastically in their culture. But they did not ever compromise on the truth.
Likewise, we must be faithful to guard the treasure of truth that has been entrusted to us. 2 Timothy 1:14
Taking care to “Speak the truth in love”. Ephesians 4:14-15
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13