Honey Birdette hits back: 'There will be nipples. And plenty of them'

Honey Birdette hits back: 'There will be nipples. And plenty of them'

Multinational lingerie brand Honey Birdette has launched a new "Red Alert" ad campaign to fight against increased censorship it has received following pressure from a conservative lobby group.

With the hashtag #notaskingforit, the Australian company's new campaign features censorship banners across the front of every image.

Honey Birdette claims the ad is in response to recent claims the Australian and Victorian Government have caved in to the radical views of the conservative group Collective Shout.

Honey Birdette founder Eloise Monaghan says Collective Shout has successfully captured the attention of the Australian Government in order to enforce repressive censorship focused solely on women's bodies, which would limit lingerie advertising in all public spaces.

"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 and therefore causes violence against women," says Monaghan.

"The reality is that the campaign lead by Melissa Tankard is dangerous to women and society. She is a real-life version of the Handmaid's Tale.

Monaghan says in the new campaign "there will be nipples. And plenty of them. Just as you'll find in male advertising of any topless kind".

The #notaskingforit petition against this kind of censorship now has 20,468 signatures.

On 11 June, Collective Shout appropriated imagery of two women abused in a homophobic attack on a London bus to promote its message on Twitter, although it is not clear whether this was published with the women's consent. 

In the tweet, which we will not re-publish here, the radical group asked how Honey Birdette "who routinely broadcasts pornified 'girl-on-girl' imagery, contribute to this view of lesbians as existing for men's use and enjoyment?" 

The lobby group has also tried to shame Westfield for including Honey Birdette stores in its shopping centres, and points to Ad Standards' investigations of claims against 56 individual Honey Birdette ads since 2010, of which it has upheld 31.

Collective Shout campaigns manager Caitlin Roper says the harms of the everyday sexual objectification of women have been well documented, including links to men's violence against women.

Last year the group partnered with Women's Health Victoria to prepare a report on the issue, and found the sexualisation and objectification of women in advertising is increasing and has a negative impact on women's health and wellbeing.

"This routine treatment of women as sexual objects existing for men's use and enjoyment, as always sexually available, contributes to a culture of sexism," says Roper. 

"The NSW Government further maintains, in line with the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, that such stereotyping contributes to attitudes that support or justify violence against women and girls," she says.

"This notion that women are empowered by advertising that degrades and objectifies them is a myth. Honey Birdette's floor to ceiling pornified images of women have real-life consequences for women and girls."

Monaghan says her company is gearing up to create a movement with contemporary women and men around the world.

"If Collective Shout think they have a voice, mine will be a viral speaker phone to every person out there. I have avoided this action, but they are now threatening what we stand for."

Clarification: The original story referred to Collective Shout as a Christian group and included Monaghan's claims the group is anti-abortion. These references have been removed as Collective Shout has since contacted Business News Australia clarifying the group is not a faith-based organisation and does not have a stance on abortion. It should however be noted that leading members of Collective Shout are affiliated with Christian groups and have held vocal pro-life/anti-abortion positions in the public domain. 

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