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Sexism alive and well in Australia 30 Sep 2010
A guest blog from Melinda Tankard Reist, first posted at ABC Unleashed.

Virginia Haussegger is right to lament the status of women in other
countries and the brutalities and indignities they suffer daily.

But attitudes towards women in our own so-called liberated western democracy desperately need an overhaul as well.

While I frequently write about the objectification of women and girls, this issue has been unrelenting of late. Sexism is alive and well. Is it really the 21st century?

Lynx sexual performance in Martin Place

Last Thursday global brand Unilever staged a 'Pop-up spadate' in Sydney's Martin Place to promote its 'man-cation' travel destination, the Lynx Lodge. Young bikini-clad women splashed about in a hot tub. The amply breasted models had shower gel splattered across their chests (a reference to ejaculation, for those unfamiliar with the porn genre).

Nina Funnell described the scene in the SMH yesterday:

"... Martin Place was transformed into something resembling a cheap porn filmset...The hot tub was placed on a raised platform, blocked off by rails. Male suits pulled out iPhones to take photos through the rails... Other Lynx models pranced around in tiny French maid outfits. Another had set up a masseuse table and was busy giving a semi-naked man a massage."

Unsurprisingly men ogled the women, slapping each other on the back, while making comments like "she's a bit of all right" or "I wouldn't mind a bit of that".

I felt like I'd walked into a middle aged man's seedy buck's night. It was
9am on a Thursday morning.

Did Sydney City Council and its female Lord Mayor approve this sexual display in the middle of Sydney city? No qualms about sending men off to work all aroused? No second thoughts about the message to boys that they are entitled to ogle women in public places?

The Lynx Lodge appears to be parent company Unilever's foray into the sex industry, with all the trappings of a brothel without identifying it as such. "Lynx Lodge - Get Laid Back" declares the website.

"The ultimate man-cation destination to get you back to your primal roots"
"Get laid back, as lodge staff pamper you with breakfast in bed and on-the-spot massages"
"Golf range: Grab your wood"
"Pool hall: Scared of being beaten by a girl? Some of our guests quite enjoy it."
"Ball Games: Teamwork is everything, so be sure to focus on your partner's backside to make out her block signals."

Women are advertised as ready to do a man's bidding and to entertain and excite him.

A video ad shows young women lonely and desperate for men to arrive at the lodge. Helpless and passive, they need a man to serve and give them attention. One girl wades naked into the lake waiting for him to arrive.

You can see just how mainstream sexism has become. Woolworths is in bed with Lynx, co-branding in Lynx promotion of borderline prostitution at the Lodge.

Yet Woolies claims a "high level of social responsibility".

How is supporting a view of women as subservient sexual slaves acting responsibly? Woolies the women-as-fresh-meat-people?

Does this look like one of your fresh food mums, Mr Michael Luscombe,
Managing Director and CEO?

Evidence of the Lynx Effect can be found on its Facebook fan page

About the spa girls:
"you no [sic] that you would ruin that all night long"
"nice PAIRsonality!"

The Gold Cost Turf Club: Parading women like animals

The Gold Coast Turf Club is planning a special summer carnival in which
women in bikinis take the place of horses. Herded into horse barrier stalls, they will be released to sprint down the straight for a prize.

The entry form calls entrants "mares and fillies". The club takes no responsibility for "injury or death" (150 women in how many stalls?). Women must wear a bikini and "acceptable running shoes". Of course, her feet must be supported but her breasts need be free to bounce around for the entertainment of male punters.

The responses from Women in Racing and the Brisbane Women's Club were lamentably weak. Women in Racing Director Jennifer Bartels said: ''We love anyone who will promote racing, but perhaps this isn't quite racing. Good luck to them though.'' Good luck to them?

Turf Club CEO Andrew Eggleston wants to see elite sportswomen take part. Just not in their usual sportswear.

Calvin Klein violent billboards

Then I was sent this billboard image from a woman in Sydney. Another example of violence against women being promoted as sexy, with intimations of the gang rape of an inanimate young woman. Where the hell is the Advertising Standards Board on this and others like it?

Yesterday my sister contacted me from Byron Bay about the three Wicked Campers she'd just seen with slogans: "Jugs" "Random Breast Testing" and "Shaved Pussy" across their vans. Sexism on wheels.

Everywhere they look, women and girls get the message that they exist for male gratification and pleasure. Their reason for being is to serve men and meet their every need. They should enjoy sexual harassment.

Fortunately there is a grassroots uprising against this. You can find it at We've had enough. Vive la revolution.

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, commentator, blogger and advocate for women and girls. Her latest book is Getting Real: Challenging the sexualisation of girls. She is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation.

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