My comment on JK Rowling’s Leveson Inquiry Response

I’m disappointed that Mr Cameron is submissive to the press and not able to stand up and do what is right for the people of the UK. He is the elected leader of this country and he is not taking responsibility for the whole, but bending to a few ‘in power’ to not be the true leader we need now.

The Leveson Inquiry was an expensive, time consuming exercise intended to support the ALL the citizens of the UK, with no bias. The outcome should be for the benefit of the whole and a true leader would see the impact on every individual and not the profits of a few. These few have too much power, are unaccountable and Teflon.

It’s appalling that the recommendations are not being fully considered before being rejected. I agree that all people should have the opportunity to hold the press accountable for lies, intrusion, manipulation and harassment of ordinary citizens.

Mr Cameron could have used this as an opportunity to be strong and decisive and make a stand for truth. We will have to wait to see if the PCC is dissolved – and what then will hold the press accountable?

Response to the Letter from 10 Downing Street

November 13, 2012

Susan Alleyne
Ministerial Support Team
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

Your Ref: 218392/SA/01

Dear Ms. Alleyne,

I am very disappointed that the Government’s stance is that they will wait for the recommendations from the Leveson Inquiry.

The contradictory advice that the Press Complaints Commission is the recommended avenue should a complaint need to be raised against a publication; “However, the Code does not cover matters of taste and decency because what is offensive to one reader may be utterly innocuous to another” is an inadequate response. We have already submitted a complaint to them about the Evening Standard and were told that there’s nothing they [the PCC] can do. Which is why I felt to write to David Cameron in the first place. The PCC are inundated with complaints about sexual images in newspapers – and they have no power to act on them. What are you as a Government going to do about that?

Further, when you say “We know that some people find some of the content of newspapers and adult magazines offensive, and I can assure you that the Government if particularly concerned that children should not be exposed to inappropriate material of any kind.” Really? We are NOT talking about adult magazines; we are talking about daily newspapers. You are allowing abuse of children by colluding with the press.

The question that urgently requires a response is; why are you continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?

Adult magazines used to be on the top shelf, with a cover. Now they are on every magazine rack in every supermarket – Nuts, Loaded, Esquire, FHM – all have semi-naked women on their covers. Objectification is rife. Where are concerned citizens to go when we need to raise a concern? Your recommendation is to go to the police, who are already overwhelmed by alcohol related violence and increasing domestic violence. That’s your solution as a Government? To overload the police force by not taking responsibility to change an archaic system that allows the press to remain unaccountable?

The Obscene Publications Act 1957 you mention brings up no results on the Legislation.gov.uk website. Could you please advise where I can access a copy? The Wikipedia page has some information that deems it a useless act as only one person, on appeal, was convicted in the history of the act since 1957. So this doesn’t seem a relevant option to use in a case against a newspaper. And the recommended fine is only £100, hardly a deterrent.

I would like to know the details of the out come of the meeting Ed Vaizey had on the issue of the representation of women in the media. Great that they devoted a meeting to the issue, but from your letter, no decisive outcome was achieved. What is the status of the Communications Review? It is blatantly obvious that existing regulation is not a fit for the modern media environment.

Unfortunately, the truth is that no one is taking responsibility. The supermarkets are not stopping putting the sexual images away from the eyes of children, the papers, and it now the Government, are allowing this to continue and claiming a “body confidence campaign” will somehow build self-esteem. Yet every day, young children see semi-naked women on magazine covers while their parents are buying the groceries. Their parents are bringing home newspapers that have sexually graphic images of women and it’s accepted as the norm.

The NSPCC has just released a report on the qualitative study of children, young people and ‘sexting’. It makes for shocking reading about the state of our children’s lives and what we have created. We are out of control – following numbly in the footsteps of the press. I recommend you taking a few minutes to review the chilling information it uncovers.

From the report: Brian McNair (2002) has argued Western society has become a ‘striptease culture’ preoccupied with confession, revelation and exposure. This is connected to an ongoing breakdown or renegotiation of the boundary between public and private, which is itself the outcome of multiple, intersecting factors including the partial success of the women’s and sexual liberation movements, shifts in media regulation away from censorship and towards ‘an informed consumer model’ (Bragg & Buckingham, 2009), and the possibilities opened up by rapid technological change.”

“Perhaps the broadest level at which sexism operates in the young people’s lives is to be found in the deeply rooted notion that girls and young women’s bodies are somehow the property of boys and young men.”

Would you like this to be your daughter? Gang raped at the age of eleven by a group of ten or more fourteen-year-old boys outside her school? This is happening every day somewhere in London. And still the Government is taking no responsibility for the images our innocent children are seeing every day. The men that ogle are fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and professionals and are seen as role models to our young men – those boys are upholding that behaviour as normal.

Why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?

ENOUGH.

Seriously. Enough with our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society by the Media. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.

We have a dossier that’s growing every day. Please let me know if you would like to see examples of the trash we are allowing – it’s too big to post.

Yours truly,

Sarah M Cloutier

Leveson Inquiry Submission Three

 

November 13, 2012

 

The Leveson Inquiry
Royal Courts of Justice,
Strand,
London
WC2A 2LL

 

 

Abuse of Women in/by the Media – Leveson Inquiry Submission Three

 

 

“ANY FAILURE WITHIN THE MEDIA AFFECTS ALL OF US”

 

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

 

I call on the Leveson Inquiry to establish a monitor for the Abuse of Women in/by the Media and to create a platform for this type of journalism to stop as part of Module 4: Submissions on The Future Regime for the Press.

 

With no response to my first two letters, I will continue to send updates on the state of the Press in the UK with the hope that you will take the responsibility given to you by the Government. In a recent letter I received from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport, they will not act on any of the concerns I have brought up with your Inquiry and the Prime Minister. They said they are going to wait to see what your recommendations are.

 

In the absence of any true leadership from the Government on the denigration of women in/by the media, we are left with the option of going to the police to stem the flow of obscenity from our Press. The Obscene Publications Act 1959, which was quoted by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport letter as the avenue to raise a complaint, it appears has had only one conviction since its inception. This doesn’t bode well for concerned citizens like myself who are seeing the erosion of value and the explosion of how women are sexualised in/by the Press.

 

The denigration has become so mainstream that we no longer see it. We are numb to it.

 

We made a formal complaint to the PCC on 22 October 2012 in response to the continued objectification of women in the London Evening Standard. We spoke with them yesterday and were informed that there is no part of the PCC that deals with complaints about the soft porn images in the print media. We are now investigating further as they keep a log of these complaints and share this with you. They did advise us that they have shared this information with the Leveson Inquiry so I am very keen to know what you are planning to do to stop this insanity. The set-up in it’s current form means that concerned people of the community have no where to go to stop the out-of-control press. They are unaccountable for their actions in this regard.

 

The Government’s response “However, the code does not cover mattes of taste and decency because what is offensive to one reader may be utterly innocuous to another” is unfortunately a stock standard response to the whole subject of sexualisation and objectification of women in the press. Are we not to be supported in our aim to reduce and remove the denigration of women in our newspapers, in print and online?

 

You must do something. For if not you, then who will, if the Government are unwilling to take any true responsibility here?

 

Or are we as concerned citizens, being forced by this unsupportive legislation, to go to the police and make a formal complaint when we see this abuse? Are the police not busy enough without having to deal with a Press that have created a system in which they are not held accountable? How convenient.

 

The question that urgently requires a response is; why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?

 

The NSPCC has just released a report on the qualitative study of children, young people and ‘sexting’. It makes for shocking reading about the state of our children’s lives and what we have created. We are out of control – following numbly in the footsteps of the press.

 

From the report: Brian McNair (2002) has argued Western society has become a ‘striptease culture’ preoccupied with confession, revelation and exposure. This is connected to an ongoing breakdown or renegotiation of the boundary between public and private, which is itself the outcome of multiple, intersecting factors including the partial success of the women’s and sexual liberation movements, shifts in media regulation away from censorship and towards ‘an informed consumer model’ (Bragg & Buckingham, 2009), and the possibilities opened up by rapid technological change.”

 

“Perhaps the broadest level at which sexism operates in the young people’s lives is to be found in the deeply rooted notion that girls and young women’s bodies are somehow the property of boys and young men.”

 

Would you like this to be your daughter? Gang raped at the age of eleven by a group of ten or more fourteen-year-old boys outside her school? This is happening every day somewhere in London. And still the Government is taking no responsibility for the images our innocent children are seeing every day. The men that ogle are fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and professionals and are seen as role models to our young men – those boys are upholding that behaviour as normal.

 

Why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?

 

ENOUGH.

 

Seriously. Enough with our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society by the Media. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.

 

Attached is a comprehensive dossier that has been compiled over a five-week period up to 11 November 2012. You will see that there is a pattern of language used and repetitive images proving we have an issue with the treatment of women in the UK press. Please let me know if you would like to see more examples of this trash we are allowing – there’s plenty more where that came from.

 

ENOUGH.

 

Seriously. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women and children.

 

I welcome any questions or for more information.

 

With thanks,

 

 

Sarah Michon Cloutier

 

PS. I’m reminded of the Library at Shawshank Prison and Andy Dufresne sending a letter every week to the state body asking for books and funding – and they gave him what he wanted to shut him up – let’s hope that works for us with the Leveson Inquiry …

 

Second Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron

October 31, 2012

Mr. David Cameron
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Mr. Cameron,

“ANY FAILURE WITHIN THE MEDIA AFFECTS ALL OF US”

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

In your own words printed in The Times on 25 October 2012, “What matters most of all is we are going to have a regulatory system in which the public will have confidence, that if mistakes are made there are proper corrections, that if newspapers do the wrong thing they can get fined, there is a proper investigation when things go wrong”.

You show a clear support for the Legal system, and NOT the people who voted you in. All lawyers will be wringing their hands with glee, knowing they will be filling their coffers in no time. You have shown no regard for the innocent person, who is lied about, vilified, attacked, abused and denigrated by an out-of-control Media juggernaut that is rarely held accountable. How could one man or woman ever feel that they have the money or time available to sue a monolith such as The Times, for example? There is no support for the average person to feel they can stand up to that force.

Your comment also very clearly shows that you are only interested in the end result of the abuse from the Media, litigation. You are not seeking to PREVENT it from occurring in the first place. Why is that? Unfortunately, we exist in a society that waits for something terrible to happen BEFORE we act. There is an obvious pattern of abuse, yet we allow it to continue and to be acceptable. Let’s turn the tables.

By using the word “mistakes” you are lessening the charge against the press. What they did and continue to do are not mistakes, but systematic and calculated abuse to create a story.  This is why the Leveson Inquiry was set up.

It is your responsibility as leader of THE PEOPLE’S ELECTED GOVERNMENT to stand up for the people and say ENOUGH to this abusive power held by the Media.

Your full responsibility is needed now and the dismissive hope that “there is a proper investigation when things go wrong” is unsubstantiated with the current reflection of justice.

How can a Nigerian national only now be sentenced to trafficking young orphan girls out of Nigeria, through England and into Europe on fake passports for sex slavery, when it had now been proven that he’s been doing it since at least 2009? This is not a ‘mistake’ – this is criminal collusion.

How can people have known about the predator Jimmy Savile for over 50 years and still stand by and do nothing? The recent statement from the BBC that he was banned from the Children in Need charity OVER A DECADE AGO because the charity’s executives found him “creepy” and wanted to prevent him having contact with youngsters. This is not a ‘mistake’ – this is criminal collusion.

Both these examples prove the FACT THAT we have become so complacent to the abuse of children that authorities are using ineffectual legal mumbo jumbo instead of truth to not be exposed in their criminal collusion.

Mr Cameron, will you be the one that stands up and says ‘ENOUGH’? Or does it have to be one of your daughters that has porn on her phone and is exposed in the press about her sex-tape before you will look at the ROT we live with as a society every day? Or will you be the one to hand the keys to the perpetrator, like they gave them to Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital?

What about holding those police accountable who dismissed the complaints against Jimmy Savile? And the BBC staff that knew what was going on ten years ago? The customs officials who let those orphan girls be trafficked into sex slavery? No one is being held to account. Why is that?

We know that sex slavery, pornography, domestic violence and sexual abuse of children are big issues that are seemingly complicated and tough to stop. In truth, we have allowed all these to become normal, expected and commonplace. Are we really simply going to allow these to continue unabated because no one has the guts to stand up and do something about them?

And so to return to the current abuse of people in/by the Media …

If you allow this current situation to continue, we are allowing the endemic abuse of ‘powerless’ people; children, orphans, women, men and low-income earners. You are choosing to support the ‘powerful’ in society to continue to crush the ‘powerless’ and seemingly taking pride in the fact with your comments in The Times. Are you not in criminal collusion by not making this behaviour unacceptable?

Governments all over the world have brought in regulation for the Finance industry to stop greed and theft, so you must for the abuse of people in/by the media. Or is it that the men affected by the greed and theft by the banks had more sway than the average person who is assaulted by the dismissive, abusive and invasive nature of the Media. As a society, we are no longer numb and submissive and we need your support to dis-engage the Media’s deceptive illusion.

Granted there are some traditional reporters that expose truth. However, there are many more that have no accountability on their vile trade of abuse. A very decisive line needs to be drawn and it’s your responsibility to make a stand.

Here is a real opportunity for you to choose to go with real change and truth and be seen in history as a true leader.

In November, we are launching our campaign Enough! – Stop the Abuse of Women in/by the Media. Attached is the press release, a dossier (growing every day) of some examples of recent front pages, letters to the Leveson Inquiry and to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. This is a real issue that we have researched extensively to show that there is no longer the option to ignore this damaging pattern of systematic, calculated abuse.

Enough.

I welcome your questions and would make myself available to meet with you or one of your team to discuss this further.

Yours truly,

Sarah Cloutier
London

Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron

October 8, 2012

Mr. David Cameron
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Mr. Cameron,

“ANY FAILURE WITHIN THE MEDIA AFFECTS ALL OF US”

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

I call on the Leveson Inquiry, and you as the Head of our Government, to establish a monitor for the Abuse of Women in/by the Media and to create a platform for this type of journalism to stop as part of Module 4: Submissions on The Future Regime for the Press.

In your own words from the Andrew Marr interview on 7 October 2012, “We need to have a regulatory system that works.” I know you were particularly referring to members of the public directly affected by phone hacking – but there is a bigger remit called for, as a matter of urgency. There is a greater need for the Government to harness the complete picture of the media and its need for regulation.

In July 2012, London lit up with the opening ceremony of London 2012. During the event, the Suffragettes were wheeled out to show how far we had advanced as a society and how far we’d come as a western civilisation. Have we really?

The recent allegations against Jimmy Saville, and the revelations that Radio 1 boss knew about his behaviour towards girls, show that we allow impropriety and abuse without question. We are continuing to allow the abuse of women in our society by not challenging and questioning it. These allegations have started an out-pouring of honesty of sexually abusive treatment of women within the BBC, including Liz Kershaw and Sandi Toksvig. Women’s silence perpetuates the behaviour at the BBC experienced by Ms Kershaw and Ms Toksvig and that experienced by many thousands of women, including myself.

There are some male dominated industries, journalism is one – and I have worked in film and television for over 25 years – I know all about the aside remarks about my arse, snide comments, stares at my breasts, sexual innuendo, groping, put downs in meetings and judgment of my capability based on the fact that I am a woman, not on my experience or tertiary degree. I have endured the whistles from builders, groping in nightclubs and pubs and the inevitable judgment on my appearance, comments on the length of my skirt, the tightness of my jeans/t-shirt etc, etc.

Having worked my way up the ranks to General Manager for a film post production company, I still have to deal with the “don’t get emotional” comments when I need to manage a difficult situation at work. I expose it when it happens, and I can change my work environment because I am the boss. The men on the Executive can still be condescending and inappropriate. This attitude, and the fact that men feel this behaviour is acceptable, is perpetuated by the onslaught of soft porn and opinion-based ‘journalism’ we are bombarded with from the mainstream media today, and the denigration of women as a result.

“For women working in [the showbusiness] industry, sexual harassment was something you just had to ignore every day of your working life” said journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter, writing in the Daily Mail. “To understand a male mindset that considers fondling, groping and worse as perfectly normal behaviour in the workplace, look at what was broadcast at the time, and how women were portrayed.”

Nothing’s changed.

Please feel free to review the links here from recent ‘stories’ about Kristen Stewart, Geri Halliwell, Page 3 Girls, and you will see that we have not evolved one iota – the Media continues to treat women as play things and mindless twits who allegedly hug teddy bears, seek spiritual support – or better still – just get their kit off and act like a porn star. These three examples took me all of two minutes to find on The Sun* online – and these are accessible to young women all over the world. Is that how you would like your daughter, niece, granddaughter, girlfriend, sister or wife portrayed? Or are you OK with the continued degradation of women on a daily basis? We have reduced women to objects (again) and technology has brought it onto the phones of our children – I strongly recommend that more responsibility is needed from the Media, its regulators and Heads of Government.

Now I know most men will say – “Love, if you don’t like it then don’t read it, you sensitive little thing.” With a patronising tone aimed at belittling any feeling of objectification these stories/publications have on women. And I know there are some women who would discount this opinion with “Don’t be a prude – you just need a f*&k/vodka/chocolate”.

The barbed response by The Telegraph’s Brendan O’Neill to the Campaign to Stop the Sun’s Page 3 was revealing in his attitude towards women simply as a “daily serving of boobs” – Seriously?! – Is there no end to the feminist nagging about Page 3? Yet another censorious campaign has been launched to try to rid Britain of the alleged scourge that is the Sun’s daily serving of boobs.” Very revealing is the attitude of men in England from responses to this article, with the majority supporting his view. Begs the question – Is showing bare breasts ‘news’?

Two comments to Mr. O’Neill’s ‘article’ are more close to a healthy societal view –  “I am a Father and a Doctor, I have been observing the continual rise of violence especially sexual violence against women. The facts are out there, continual exposure to pornography turns the female into an object there for the gratification of desire, whether it is The Sun or an advert. It is time for our society to grow up and behave responsibly to its children, I fear for my daughters. I am disgusted and disappointed with the trite, childish comments in this article.” And, “[The Sun is] a family paper that will be left around the house and on trains, on benches. Children can pick it up and see that apparently it’s entirely normal for a woman to have bare breasts in this family newspaper. They grow up thinking this is normal, that porn belongs in the mainstream, rather than on the top shelf. That’s the difference. It normalises women as sex objects. Hear that? Normalises it. Places it in the mainstream.”

There’s nowhere to hide anymore.

These all highlight the lack of responsibility taken by people (predominantly men) in power to act when they are aware there is wrongdoing. As a society, we have made this behaviour acceptable. As individuals we feel we have no power and no voice against the establishment of large organisations, headed by men. These women are our sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, wives, mothers and friends.

How long are men in power going to allow the abuse of women to be ‘normalised’ to the level that it is today?

We are supposedly in a modern western society, where women have the right to choose what we study, where we work, where we live, whom we marry, what we wear, whom we date, what we eat and the life we choose to live. There are other women in the world who do not have these freedoms and are still subjected to witch hunts, stoning, slavery, forced marriages and lives of abuse.

Through lack of responsibility and passive acceptance, we continue to perpetuate a society that condones the abuse of women. This type of behaviour is legally not allowed in the workplace and, after studying UK and Australian HR law, this behaviour regularly gets employers and perpetrators into a world of litigation. Yet we allow it every day in our press and media. Why is that?

The Australian press (Courier Mail, News Corp*) has made claims recently that women who seek truth and a loving way of life are gormless, mindless followers and that we don’t have the intelligence to choose how we live. The blatant approval of sexual abuse in the article is simply shocking. The author states that one of the healing techniques offered by female practitioners caused women “to not allow their partners to touch [their breasts] without permission”.

There in-lies a deep fracture in the Media and how it portrays women as a whole. Less concerning is the drivel of two men’s opinion thinly veiled as ‘journalism’ – more devastating is the impact of this tirade of derogatory and misogynistic attitude towards women by mainstream media.

According to the NSPCC, “Including all costs, the total cost of domestic abuse for the state, employers and victims is estimated at around £16 billion per year”. Though further independent findings by London Metropolitan University estimate it to be £23 billion per year.

The Crown Prosecution Service (UK) released a transcript – Domestic Violence: the facts, the issues, the future – Speech by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC (posted 12 April 2011) – it states some chilling facts:

  • Nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year
  • At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence
  • Two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner
  • 54 per cent of women victims of serious sexual assault were assaulted by their partner or ex-partner
  • Victims of domestic violence are more likely to experience repeat victimisation than victims of any other types of crime
  • 76 per cent of all DV incidents are repeat
  • Women experience an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting an incident to the police
  • 19 per cent of women have experienced stalking since the age of 16

These statistics are our sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, wives, mothers and friends.

His closing statement is one for reflection, “The steps that we and our criminal justice partners are taking to tackle domestic violence risk limited success unless this complacency is tackled head on. A change in attitude is clearly needed.”

Where are we headed if all the rates of domestic violence, violence towards women is increasing year after year?

Rudi Giuliani’s decision to have a zero tolerance for crime when he was Mayor of New York City was welcomed by residents of the city. From 1993-2001, crime and related violence dropped 56% in the FBI Crime Index. New Yorkers wanted to remain living in the city and it became the “safest large city in the nation”. With decisive action, a message would be sent to everyone that order would be maintained.

How amazing would our society be if the Government were to boldly establish zero-tolerance to the Abuse of Women in/by the Media? If you set a zero tolerance to the abuse of women in our daily papers, it will have profound affect on home life. And the £23 billion we are spending on the results of domestic violence could be joyfully redirected.

The Leveson Inquiry, and you as the head of our Government, have a responsibility to consider guidelines, recommendations and regulations on the Abuse of Women in/by the Media to ensure we arrest this momentum. We need to leave a foundation for our children and our future generations that respects women and shows that there is another, more caring way to treat women that will inevitably benefit men and our society as a whole.

ENOUGH.

Seriously, Enough. Our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society by the Media has to stop. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.

This issue is not going away – daily revelations about the treatment of women are becoming the norm and it cannot be ignored any further. Please advise me on receipt of this letter and I would appreciate any update on the progress in seeing these real concerns through.

Inaction on your part will clearly show collusion and acceptance that the current state of affairs is acceptable for you, your wife, your daughters and women everywhere.

I welcome your questions and would make myself available to meet with you or one of your team to discuss this further.

Yours truly,

Sarah Cloutier

Letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard

October 10, 2012

Dear Ms. Gillard,

The Australian High Court passed a law on August 14, 2012 to remove branding from cigarette packets. This has created a foundation for how we legislate for true change, which is to be applauded. Nicotine related lung cancer costs the Australian Community according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare A$107m per year. Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual Abuse cost the Government A$8bn per year – an immense difference that we choose to ignore. And the A$8bn a year does not include the costs of ongoing counselling and healing – and the emotional costs for victims is unfathomable.

Why isn’t the Government addressing the Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual Abuse as fervently as it has lobbied for the removal of branding on cigarette packets?

Your recent exposé of misogyny and sexism relating to the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbot, is the earthquake that has cracked a chasm of truth about the appalling treatment of women and you have an obligation as leader of the Australian Government to do something about it.

Alan Jones’ consistent denigration of you is tiresome, and personally extremely hurtful and offensive, yet, by everyone not standing up to this, and as you so clearly pointed out, we are accepting it as the norm and allowing it to continue. We have allowed it to creep into our everyday lives so that when it happens we make an excuse to stay silent and collude with the abuse.

There are some male dominated industries, journalism is one – and I have worked in film and television for over 25 years – I know all about the aside remarks about my arse, snide comments, stares at my breasts, sexual innuendo, groping, put downs in meetings and judgment of my capability based on the fact that I am a woman, not on my experience or tertiary degree. I have endured the whistles from builders, groping in nightclubs and pubs and the inevitable judgment on my appearance, comments on the length of my skirt, the tightness of my jeans/t-shirt etc, etc.

I have worked my way up the ranks to General Manager for a film post production company in Melbourne. While there I had to deal with the “don’t get emotional” comments when I needed to manage a difficult situation at work. I expose it when it happens, and I can change my work environment as the manager. Men on the Executive could still be condescending and inappropriate. This attitude, and the fact that men feel this behaviour is acceptable, is perpetuated by the onslaught of soft porn and opinion-based ‘journalism’ we are bombarded with from the mainstream media today, and the denigration of women as a result.

The recent allegations, now over 120, against Jimmy Saville in the UK, and the revelations that Radio 1 boss knew about his behaviour towards girls, clearly show that we allow impropriety and abuse without question. We are continuing to allow the Abuse of Women in our society by not challenging and questioning it. These allegations have started an out-pouring of honesty of sexually abusive treatment of women within the BBC, including Liz Kershaw and Sandi Toksvig. Women’s silence perpetuates the behaviour at the BBC experienced by Ms Kershaw and Ms Toksvig and that experienced by many thousands of women, including myself.

“For women working in [the show business] industry, sexual harassment was something you just had to ignore every day of your working life”, said journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter, writing in the Daily Mail about her experiences in the 1980’s “To understand a male mindset that considers fondling, groping and worse as perfectly normal behaviour in the workplace, look at what was broadcast at the time, and how women were portrayed.”

Nothing’s changed. And these instances are not isolated to the UK or Australia – they are a global issue. And the honesty will overflow as women everywhere begin to feel their confidence in speaking out.

Do children see their fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, fathers and grandfathers treating women with disdain every day? And as a society, are we making it OK for snide comments and put-downs – absolutely. Have we then created and exacerbated a society that makes the Abuse of Women mainstream?

Is there a link between pornography and violence towards women and children? Worth mentioning in the very least, and it’s an area that our society does not want to address because men are in positions of power to make change and they like the accessibility of it on supermarket and newsagent shelves.

Reviewing the FACTS of the figures, should it be soft/pornography that is removed from the shelves as well as the brand labels on cigarettes?

According to Cancer Research UK (updated 10 May 2012), there were 48,417 new cases of breast cancer in the UK in 2009 – and that doesn’t include the cases already being treated. In the news on Monday 8th October 2012, it was reported that in Australia 37 new cases of breast cancer get diagnosed a DAY and this is expected to rise. Consider for a moment that the MCG holds 100,000 people – fill it up with those ‘new cases’, and top it up with the husbands, children, parents and siblings of those women and every year you have that many NEW people affected by our rot in society and the complacency in our treatment of women. Sure, we are seeking a cure to the symptoms, but how deeply do we want to address the cause?

“Pear shaped” and “tits up” are expressions commonly used by men and women expressing when something has gone wrong. Our colloquial language reveals that the denigration of women is part of our psyche. A woman’s anatomy has been commoditised to parts denoting something bad.

You have a responsibility, as well as a great opportunity, to consider guidelines, recommendations and regulations on the Abuse of Women to ensure we arrest this ill momentum. We need to leave a foundation for our children and our future generations that respects women and shows that there is another, more caring way to treat women that will inevitably benefit men and our society as a whole.

By choosing to ‘let this slide’ we are choosing to allow it to continue – and we have for many, many years. We need to clearly underline that we will not allow this to continue to give the opportunity for future generations the opportunity to see there is another way. On Tuesday 9th you stood up in the Parliament and gave that 15min speech which has been echoing throughout the World. It was a concise exposé on misogyny, backed up by facts, that Australia needed to hear. And not just Australia. I congratulate you on opening this can of worms. However, let this not be your final act in the long overdue need for change to our attitude to women.

This constant barrage of degradation and abuse of Women is having an impact on the lives of our children.

We are now experiencing the most accessible soft/pornography of all time and children all over the western world as young as 10 are “sexting” images of themselves to each other – they are our sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, nieces and nephews. The deepest concern for us all as a society is that these children think it’s normal to behave sexually with each other.

The United Nations UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child states that, “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.” And, “It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences …”

Do we then have a LEGAL OBLIGATION to protect our children “from harmful influences”?

There is nowhere to hide anymore.

These all highlight the lack of responsibility taken by people (predominantly men) in power to act when they are aware there is wrongdoing. By inaction, we are condoning and colluding with the Abuse. As a society, we have made this behaviour acceptable. As individuals we feel we have no power and no voice against the establishment of large organisations, headed by men. These women are our sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, wives, mothers and friends.

How long are people in power going to allow the abuse of women to be ‘normalised’ to the level that it is today?

We are supposedly in a modern western society, where women have the right to choose what we study, where we work, where we live, whom we marry, what we wear, whom we date, what we eat and the life we choose to live. There are other women in the world who do not have these freedoms and are still subjected to witch hunts, stoning, slavery, forced marriages and lives of abuse.

Through lack of responsibility and passive acceptance, we continue to perpetuate a society that condones the abuse of women. This type of behaviour is legally not allowed in the workplace and, after studying UK and Australian HR law, this behaviour regularly gets employers and perpetrators into a world of litigation. Yet we allow it every day in our press and media. Why is that?

The Australian press (Courier Mail, News Corp) has made claims recently that women who seek truth and a loving way of life are gormless, mindless followers and that we don’t have the intelligence to choose how we live. The blatant approval of sexual abuse in the article is simply shocking.

There in-lies a deep fracture in the Media and how it portrays women as a whole. Less concerning is the drivel of two men’s opinion thinly veiled as ‘journalism’ – more devastating is the impact of this tirade of derogatory and misogynistic attitude towards women by mainstream media.

Your speech has been so well received and celebrated throughout western world (USA, UK), but it is getting ‘frosty’ reception by male journalists in Australia.

The Crown Prosecution Service (UK) released a transcript – Domestic Violence: the facts, the issues, the future – Speech by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC (posted 12 April 2011). His closing statement is one for reflection from a global perspective “The steps that we and our criminal justice partners are taking to tackle domestic violence risk limited success unless this complacency is tackled head on. A change in attitude is clearly needed”.

Where are we headed if all the rates of domestic violence, violence towards women is increasing year after year?

Rudi Giuliani’s decision to have a zero tolerance for crime when he was Mayor of New York City was welcomed by residents of the city. From 1993-2001, crime and related violence dropped 56% in the FBI Crime Index. New Yorkers wanted to remain living in the city and it became the “safest large city in the nation”. With decisive action, a message would be sent to everyone that order would be maintained.

How amazing would our society be if the Government were to boldly establish zero-tolerance to the Abuse of Women? If you set a zero tolerance to the abuse of women in our daily papers, it will have profound effect on home life. And the £8 billion we are spending on the results of domestic violence could be joyfully redirected.

How amazing would it be if you created legislation that made it illegal for a woman to be paid less than a man for doing the same job? How empowering for a community to feel that support and know that we have a voice and that Abuse will no longer be tolerated?

As the head of our Government, you have a responsibility to consider guidelines, recommendations and regulations on the Abuse of Women to ensure we arrest this momentum. We need to leave a foundation for our children and our future generations that respects women and shows that there is another, more caring way to treat women that will inevitably benefit men and our society as a whole.

ENOUGH.

Seriously, Enough. Our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society has to stop. And, we need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.

This issue is not going away – daily revelations about the treatment of women are becoming the norm and it cannot be ignored any further. Please advise me on receipt of this letter and I would appreciate any update on the progress in seeing these real concerns through.

I welcome your views and questions and I have colleagues in Australia who share our zero tolerance attitudes on sexism and misogyny and would be available to meet with you or one of your team to discuss this further.

On Tuesday you expressed beautifully: “And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.” Let us see you put these words into practice and live up to your powerful and just assertion.

Yours truly,

Sarah Cloutier
Dual Australian and UK Citizen currently living in the UK

Abuse of Women in/by the Media – Leveson Inquiry – Submission Two

“ANY FAILURE WITHIN THE MEDIA AFFECTS ALL OF US”

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

I call on the Leveson Inquiry to establish a monitor for the Abuse of Women in/by the Media and to create a platform for this type of journalism to stop, as part of Module 4: Submissions on The Future Regime for the Press.

Following my previous submission and scores of responses to the posting of it on my blog, what has been revealed to me is that women (and men) have just accepted the abusive treatment of women by the Media as ‘normal’.

This is a clear reflection of the statistics from my first Submission; quoting The Crown Prosecution Service (UK) transcript – Domestic Violence: the facts, the issues, the future – Speech by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC (posted 12 April 2011) – that Women experience an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting an incident to the police”.

It shows that as a society, we rarely stand up for what is clearly a breach of our human and civil rights until it simply gets too much and we can’t see another way out. The Suffragettes were jailed (consistently) for deigning to want the equal right to a vote.

Women (and men) have become so complacent and conditioned to believe that abuse is normal. We make excuses and about the facts and the reality of what we have created as our western ‘civilisation’:

  • We have the right to vote, that counts for something
  • At least we don’t have forced marriages here
  • That’s just how men are, they’re rough
  • It’s just the way it is, nothing will change

An article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “An Allegory of Journalistic Decline” from Aug 29, 2012 details the experience of a reporter who was on Rupert Murdoch’s, The Canberra Times in the late seventies. He gives detailed accounts of Mr Murdoch’s comments on the daily news – one point valid here is – Signed KRM, it says: “I think the worst fault was that the opening sentence was comment. By all means let’s have interpretive reporting but not until we have told the facts first.”

If, quoting Lord Justice Leveson,any failure within the media affects all of us” – what a slippery slope we are on.

The decline in the treatment of women in/by the Media has become accepted to such an extent that today, we are numb to the reality of the situation.

And the 2012 US Republican ticket has a deeply concerning party line that will further impinge on a woman’s right to choose. Mr Romney has said that employers will have the right to fire any women known to be taking the contraceptive pill and that abortion will be criminalized. And Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment has exposed the Republican Party’s true agenda and anti-women policies of the last several years.

We are derailing.

Today, the mainstream media splashes pictures of women celebrities in bikini’s on holiday, passes it loosely as ‘journalism’ and objectifies and opinion on their thighs, cellulite and god-forbid any tummy that is not a six pack – you will be crucified.

Simple mathematics again reveals our double standards and show that we do not have photos of men who have ‘let themselves go’ on the cover of tabloid magazines – its always women who are vilified and criticized for their physical appearance. Why not men? Why not a Page 3 man?

Male homosexual pornography has stayed in the licensed sex shops because we deem that to be a minority, which it remains, and some would still say ‘debauched’ (or worse).

Male and female pornography has always been around. Since Roman times, people have used external stimulation to connect in their numb existence. It used to be top shelf publications like Penthouse and Playboy – magazines sealed and sometimes only accessible in licensed sex shops of from behind the counter. Now soft porn is considered ‘normal’ and magazines with semi-naked women are clearly visible in all newsagents, petrol stations and supermarkets.

There’s no denying there’s a huge amount of revenue generated by the ‘trashy’ magazine market – supported largely by women who are in comparison and jealousy of other each other. Most girls are are brought up to pour over OK! and Hello magazines and judge other women by their figure/relationship/house/child/hairstyle/career/wealth. This is a deeper issue and will need re-education for all women to return to the harmonious, inclusive way of living we all crave.

This constant barrage of degradation of Women in/by the Media is having an impact on the lives of our children.

We are now experiencing the most accessible soft/pornography of all time and children all over the western world as young as 10 are “sexting” images of themselves to each other – they are your sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, nieces and nephews. The deepest concern for us all as a society is that these children think it’s normal to behave sexually with each other.

The United Nations UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child states that – “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.” And, “It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences …”

Do we then have a LEGAL OBLIGATION to protect our children “from harmful influences”?

The mark of a broken society is illness in women. We are rotting.

The Australian High Court passed a law on August 14, 2012 to remove branding from cigarette packets. Nicotine related lung cancer costs the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare A$107m per year. Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual abuse costs that same Government A$8bn per year – an immense difference that we ignore. And the A$8bn a year doesn’t include the costs of ongoing counseling and healing – and the emotional costs for victims is unfathomable. From personal experience, having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I can honestly say, it’s a long process of true recovery. Is there a link between pornography and violence towards women and children? Absolutely – and it’s an area that our society doesn’t want to address.

Reviewing the FACTS of these figures, should it be soft/pornography that is removed from the shelves and not the brand labels on cigarettes?

According to Cancer Research UK (updated 10 May 2012), in 2009, there were 48,417 new cases of breast cancer in the UK – and that doesn’t include the cases already being treated. Consider for a moment that Wembley Stadium holds 90,000 people – fill it up with those new ‘cases’, and top it up with the husbands, children, parents and siblings of those women and every year you have that many NEW people affected by our rot in society and the complacency in our treatment of women. Sure we are seeking a cure to the symptoms, but how deeply do we want to address the cause?

“Pear shaped” and “tits up” are expressions commonly used by men and women express when something’s gone wrong. Our colloquial language reveals that the denigration of women is part of our psyche. A woman’s anatomy has been commoditised to parts.

The Leveson Inquiry has a responsibility to consider guidelines, recommendations and regulations on the Abuse of Women in/by the Media to ensure we arrest this ill momentum. We need to leave a foundation for our children and our future generations that respects women and shows that there is another, more caring way to treat women that will inevitably benefit men and our society as a whole.

By choosing to ‘let this slide’ we are choosing to allow it to continue – and we have for many, many years. We need to clearly underline that we will not allow this to continue to give the opportunity for future generations to see there is another way.

Yours truly,

Sarah Cloutier