“I find this advert pornographic in nature and highly inappropriate to be placed in a shop front in a shopping centre that has a high volume of children and families in attendance. Young children and others faced with these images have their innocence threatened,” one complainant wrote.
In its finding, Ad Standards noted that section 2.2 of the industry code of ethics states: “Advertising or marketing communications should not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people”, and that section 2.4 reads “Advertising or Marketing Communications shall treat sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant audience”.
Blasting a perceived double standard by gender, Ms Monaghan said the guidelines said that portraying a man and woman kissing was deemed appropriate by the guidelines, but a lesbian couple embracing was not. She also said that high-cut body suits and G-strings would no longer be able to be advertised without breaching the guidelines.
She continued: “The changes to these guidelines are a frightening development for the modern woman and Ad Standards should be ashamed of themselves. These standards are highly archaic and repugnant to all women not just across Australia, but globally.”
Petition nets thousands of signatures
Through the Honey Birdette website, Ms Monaghan has launched a petition alongside the hashtag #notaskingforit, seeking 100,000 signatures to “protect women from outrageous double standards in advertising”.
As of 10:24am on Friday (5 July), the website recorded 62,062 signatures on the petition.
Ms Monaghan also lambasted suggestions that depicting women in lingerie encourages violence against women, with the petition page featuring a male model wearing Emporio Armani underwear under the heading “Does the following ad lead to sexual violence against men?”
“We need a revolution which allows women [to] reclaim sexual independence, and the gay female community freedom to express themselves as they wish, where they are not objects of gender-bias rules, ridicule, shame or the patriarchy.”
A spokesperson for Ad Standards denied there had been any change to advertising standards around lingerie, however, stating the AANA Code of Ethics continues to be “the standard applied in Australia”.
“Ad Standards routinely publishes ‘Determination summaries’ for issues under the Codes we administer, which are a guide for advertisers on the types of material that is appropriate or not in advertisements,” the spokesperson told My Business.
The spokesperson admitted that “lingerie advertising in shopping centres is a current issue of concern in some parts of the community”, and stated the body has been “working to provide additional guidance on what type of content the Ad Standards Community Panel considers is acceptable under the AANA Code of Ethics in media which is available to a broad audience including children”.
“Advertisers are free to use whomever they wish in advertising, and featuring same-sex couples in an advertisement is not an issue that would breach any section of the Code,” they said, citing past examples where complaints were dismissed, including a Swarovski television ad featuring five couples, including same-sex couples, embracing and giving each other jeweller, and another for Magnum ice cream featuring two brides on their wedding day.
High cut, sexualised poses behind ruling
Ad Standards stood by its decision that Honey Birdette’s advertising had breached the code, and said that the garments themselves as well as the poses in which the models were photographed were behind the ruling, not the models’ gender or sexual orientation.
“The Community Panel found that the body suit was extremely high cut and exposed a large amount of the woman’s groin area and this, in combination with the sexualised pose of the women, was a highly-sexualised image which did not treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the broad audience of a shopping centre,” the spokesperson said.