Abuse of Women in/by the Media – Leveson Inquiry submission


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.

In July, 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?

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, put downs in meetings and judgement of my capability based on the fact that I have a vagina (yes, that word again). 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.

Now as a General Manager for a film post production company, and having worked my way up the ranks, I still have to deal with the “don’t get emotional” comments when I need to manage a difficult situation at work. I call it when it happens, and I can change my work environment because I am the boss. This attitude, and the fact that men feel they can make comments like this, is perpetuated by the onslaught of soft porn and opinion-based ‘journalism’ we are bombarded with from the mainstream media today.

If you haven’t read them already, 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 denigration 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 feel that more responsibility is needed from the Media and its regulators.

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”.

Amazing women inspire me, it’s simple mathematics that there are no stories written about them in the media – those representations don’t interest the Editors, obviously, as they believe they won’t sell papers. The print industry is dying and they need to sensationalise and sexualise stories about women  to drive people to their websites.

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 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, we continue to perpetuate a society that condones the abuse of women. This type of behaviour is certainly 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 this weekend 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.

The Australian Newspaper published a story on 31 August 2011 detailing the “Frightening’ rise in domestic violence in Australia. According to the NSPCC, states that “Including all costs, the total cost of domestic abuse for the state, employers and victims is estimated at around £16 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 are increasing?

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 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.


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.

I welcome any questions or for more information.

With thanks,

Sarah Cloutier
(address/number sent but withheld from this blog)

(*This is not solely about News Corporation, though they are the most overt in their representation of women in their publications so are an obvious ‘out’ for this type of journalism.)

Brand New Day

The glorious sun rises, sometimes from behind clouds, but it is always there, reminding us of a new beginning. The sun feels like a reflection to me of the opportunity I have every day to re-set and make new choices.

Yesterday was my final day at work – as predicted, they couldn’t get me out of there fast enough and I am feeling relieved to be returning to London, and a little sad that the Melbourne journey wasn’t as I expected. I know I had very high expectations and was in illusion about what the position held and what I thought the job was going to bring to me, instead of the truth – which would be to see the job for what I would bring to it.

I reflected yesterday about a comment from a very dear friend that said “Love yourself a billion percent” – and I know that there is an opportunity for me to have another crack at that in the next job! I know that I will continue to have opportunities to bring another dollop of Sarah to the corporate world 🙂

In truth, in every moment, I can Love myself a billion percent – and with every new sunrise and in every moment, I have that opportunity to change how I see myself and give myself the grace to take the sunrise into my heart and feel that new beginning. And a sense of graceful urgency to begin each day with tender acceptance of change and my responsibility to be me a billion percent.

Yesterday, one of my female colleagues gave me a big hug and said, “I’m going to miss the energy you bring.”

London here I come!

Changes at Work

On Monday we were told that the business I manage has been sold. The new owners have been in the office for the last few days meeting with all of us and going through a consultation process to get more of an understanding of the business. This deal has been rumoured for many months so the first feeling was relief.

Since Monday’s announcement, I have experienced many different feelings and emotions which has posed the question for me – how much do I see myself as what I do?

There’s the obvious financial reliance on working, and the reflection on the excess in my life. But more than that, I have been contemplating on whether they will see me as a value to them or whether they will let me go.

Read – Will they like me or not?

The deep self-doubt – which I know is not real – has shown me that I still have a need for acceptance that drives how I am in pressured situations on which my livelihood depends. I felt anxious and nervous in one phone call in particular with the new MD and was “trying to say the right thing”. I was comparing myself to him without giving myself the space to see how far I’ve come and to honour my knowledge during the brief conversation. And it stayed with me after that and left me wondering if they were going to keep me on in the new structure.

That feeling of self-doubt is feeding from all the times I was hurt at work in the past. Yelled at, criticised, undermined, patronised, ridiculed – and the list goes on. There’s a battle scar from every one.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying – “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”

Once I got home, I realised I needed reassurance and a hug! With no hugs available, I had a little cry to release some of the hurt I was feeling, and phoned a friend. The support and clarity of true friendship is a God-send and the flow of that ‘let’s de-brief the day in 20 minutes’ conversation had us both laughing and realising that it’s only energy and I will be OK – I am already OK.

How the new business owners see me is their choice and I am not privy to their decision making or their master plan for the structure or my role within that. So today I will allow myself to be more ME and come back to the true knowing that I am OK and will be OK whatever the decision made in the boardroom. I have absolutely no control of that.

Another true friend responded in email to say that “If they are feeling the love you truly are, Sarah, they will either fight tooth and nail to keep you there … or get you out of the door as fast as they possibly can.”. How true is that! And still this morning the giggles over that comment keep a lovely smile on my face.

There is only one solution and that is to keep returning to love, no matter what. And to continue to keep counting my blessings and not my imperfections.

With Love, Sarah

Contemplation on Self-Sabotage

I’ve been contemplating the choices I have made regarding the complacency I have towards myself and the lack of self-honouring with my body, time and money.

When I rush into a decision it means there’s never any space for me to truly feel in my body where the impulse is coming from – from a need, or a lack or to be recognised in some way? (All of the above!)

Underneath there is a strong pull that takes me out of myself when it happens – what’s that about?

There’s part of me that absolutely knows truth, what’s true for me and what’s not – the Soul. And the part that is reckless and doesn’t consider the consequences and treats the body with disregard – the Spirit.

The arrogance of the Spirit part of me has taken me on many a roller-coaster ride of disregard over the years and interestingly, even though I know what’s going on, and can see it clearly – I still choose to be taken for a ride and end up giving myself a hard time for the errors I make when I don’t stop and listen long enough to make a TRUE decision that’s loving for me. It’s crazy!

So the consequences bite me on the arse and I then literally have to pay for my mistakes for years.

What is it that drives that complacent disregard? There’s a conscious decision to leave the wisdom and grace of my Soul to go for a ride on the Spirit’s heady wave of intoxication. I know the feeling and it’s charged with determination and a mind that wants to do whatever is necessary to get or do the ‘thing’.

My wardrobe is fabulous, no doubt about that. But there’s an excess in how I accumulate goods that far out-weighs the loving expression of ME required in a corporate environment.

The force I call in takes charge and uses me like a puppet to manipulate my life, finances, decision making and career and relationship choices. I choose to give my power away to that force and don’t take responsibility for where my energy is coming from. I blame the ‘issue’ I have created as the problem and the gooey mess that is self-created I then have to wade through, stuck with the consequences of not being me – really Sarah??

There was a huge painted sign on a fence in a field on the M40 from Beaconsfield on the drive into London and it said – WHY DO I DO THIS EVERY DAY?

Great question!

Why don’t I simply be the Soul-full Love that I am and stop all the other behaviour that causes me so much pain-full implications?

I have a squillion excuses that are wearing very thin but here are a few to break the ice –

  1. It’s hard to slow down in a corporate environment
  2. I had to respond to the email straight immediately, it’s urgent
  3. That person needed immediate feedback
  4. I ran out of time
  5. I really need that new car, it will be an asset
  6. The suit/shirt/shoes/scarf/lingerie is on sale
  7. I’ve always wanted a (insert a million items here) and I’m earning good money now so am going to treat myself
  8. What the heck!
  9. I don’t trust myself enough
  10. It’s always been this way, it’s just how it is
  11. It’s too late to change
  12. It’s too hard to stop when everyone around me is running a million miles an hour
  13. The world is harsh
  14. I’m not strong enough
  15. It’s like a runaway train I can’t control
  16. Blah blah blah

Serge Benhayon sent me a response to an “It’s too hard – what’s wrong with me?” email yesterday with the very simple “It’s time to count your blessings and not your imperfections.”

The healing I felt was then expressed as TRUTH …

So just to clarify, the choices I’m making to self-sabotage are not being driven by anything from the past? They are from choices to not be the love that I am now

So all I need to do is just be the love that I am and stop punishing myself for things in the past?

“Very correct” came the reply – That’s it? That simple?

Note to self Sarah – take time to contemplate on everything – what I eat, how I eat, what I spend money on, how I send that email and how I type – everything. Slow it down gorgeous.

So my journey deeper to my own Soulful-Self-Love begins and the decision to simply be honest with myself and stop the perpetual motion of the Spirit that has driven me.

A new day, a new beginning and an opportunity to explore how I express with grace, tenderness and deep kindness.

With Love


Energetic Responsibility in the Workplace

I completed a day of manager training on Anti-Discrimination and Equality in the workplace recently. The presenter was confident on the topic in relation to policy and the law.

The day-long presentation had a lot of role-play situations with actors brought in for us to see some examples of the topic in action. This made the day go faster, but I felt they missed a huge part of how we interact and the impact we have on our colleagues every day.

The presenter was adamant, and backed up by the law, that no matter what you think, how you behave, what you indulge in, or how you react at home or out with friends – you can’t bring this into work. For example, he said, “if I have an issue with people from a different culture, I leave it at the office door and not let it interfere with how I respond to people in the office”. I agree that this is great in theory …

I asked him (and the group) to maybe see it from a different view.

If everything is energy, then we are energetic by nature. So everything we think, feel and say, has an energy behind it. That energy is flowing through us constantly. I questioned whether that’s something we can actually ‘switch off’ as he proposed.

From my own experience, it’s impossible.

How I live my life is with me when I wake up, when I get ready for work, when I drive my car and when I walk into the office, all the thoughts that have been with me during that time I bring into every conversation, email I send and interaction I have during the day – it’s obvious isn’t it? And then the whole day is in that energy, unless I choose to stop and choose another way.

So all that I am is with me all of the time.

Law, legislation and policy are drummed into us in the corporate environment and there’s a definite need to have that as a benchmark. However, if we are not including energetic awareness in the discussion, there’s no true accountability or responsibility taken – it’s all just words.

I will be writing more on this topic