SEX CENSORSHIP IN THE RETAIL INDUSTRY ATTACKED

– Fury over blatant ‘porn’ in the retail industry

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More agony for the beleaguered retail industry has recently hit the media, and as a commentator on all things sex and sexual, I thought I may as well share my two cents on it. I’ve included a link at the end for those who wish to read more about the  furore.

Here is the issue, for those who are not up to speed, or turned away as soon as they realised it was about the infamous Australian lingerie brand, Honey Birdette, again. Honey Birdette’s latest campaign has just launched, this one called Red Alert and it’s a bold confrontation to the censorship it has received over the years to its raunchy shop window marketing.

This new campaign, titled Red Alert for impact, involves the word “censorship” superimposed in bold print across the Honey Birdette models’ breasts, cleavage and nipples.

Honey Birdette founder Eloise Monaghan was quick to add a statement to the campaign: 

‘They are attempting to change the definition of what is acceptable in lingerie advertising to include almost any image, implying that it could be interpreted as sexual,’ Monaghan says.

‘Our bodies are not up for discussion; neither is how “appropriate” our breasts are for display in lingerie advertising. Nor does lace underwear imply consent to rape.’ 

The main culprit behind the censorship  attacks on their advertising in the past has been Collective Shout, a group that has encouraged consumer complaints to the Ad Standards board about Honey Birdette’s store advertising, in which it has commented: ‘Collective Shout continues to raise awareness about ways in which the sex trade imposes itself on the community.’

Direct accusations have included shoppers being accosted by “provocative” posters in Honey Birdette’s windows:  According to Collective Shout in the past, ‘shoppers who pass by these stores are held captive to porn-themed imagery and even more so the people who work in the centre itself. To force porn-themed imagery on a non-consenting all-ages audience, which includes children, is a form of sexual harassment. This also violates a child’s right to grow up free from sexual exploitation.’

Now I don’t know about you, but these claims seem pretty harsh. Honey Birdette is a very expensive, up-market lingerie store, and certainly not a sex shop or brothel. Perhaps because I work in the sex industry, the inside of a Honey Birdette store looks very different to the inside of a brothel, or a porn set in full “swing”, as it were. 

Firstly, the Honey Birdette campaign mentions rape, another entire can of horrifying worms which I absolutely don’t think warrant being part of this particular campaign at all. Now, it would seem to me that this issue tackles a topic that is very difficult to judge, because it involves something very subjective  – are the advertising posters too provocative for a shopping mall or not?

Some people may find the posters in question horrifying, whilst others wouldn’t bat an eyelid and walk past without even seeing them.  Maybe an authority needs to put in place some clear rules otherwise who knows what retail companies would come up with?

Needing, I suppose, a body part to put its focus on, rather than relying on being just metaphorical, Honey Birdette’s campaign has chosen “female nipples” since this is straightforward and banned by Australian censorship laws. In addition, Honey Birdette founder Eloise Monaghan feels nipples are imperative to their campaign, ‘just as you’ll find in male advertising of any topless kind.’ Except Honey Birdette’s lingerie sets include bras. Just a small point to make.

Now, which party will receive a fine for displaying advertising material that is against the law is clear, regardless of any new campaigns or Collective Shout collectively shouting.   Discussions about it on social media are inundated with angry messages from people with nightmares about previous campaigns that burned their eyes. I’m reminded of the joke about the old biddy complaining to the police officer about a man undressing in an apartment opposite. When the police arrived they said they couldn’t see any problem. The old lady replied: ‘Climb on top of the cupboard, officer, and balance on that chair, you’ll see what I mean.’

Personally I don’t see what the fuss is all about. I think all the noise is a waste of public resources  and we know we are living our best lives when there are complaints about lingerie store advertising being too sexy. 

Anyway, it would seem that all this talking about Honey Birdette is largely controversial, but all this talking in general is actually an advertiser’s dream

Image credits to @Honey-Birdette’s advertising campaign

http://www.adnews.com.au/news/lingerie-label-honey-birdette-says-it-will-fight-advertising-censorship