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#MeToo: Celebs Come Together And Create Short Films To Increase Awareness of Sexual Harassment

Based on true stories, these short films take you through some examples of sexual harassment, from unwanted sexual contact by doctors to inappropriately sexual photo shoots.

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In light of all of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse and harassment cases, many women (and men) have come forward to share their own stories of abuse and harassment on social media using the hashtag “#MeToo.”

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I was so thrilled to see so many people speaking their truth and shedding light on a very serious issue; however, there was one story that truly stopped me in my tracks, which was of one woman’s reason why she felt uncomfortable posting #MeToo on social media.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t experienced sexual harassment, abuse, or rape in the past, but because she hadn’t necessarily faced the reality of those situations herself. Since her experiences weren’t of an extremely violent nature, and because she hadn’t felt “traumatized,” she felt that they were somehow unworthy of being called “sexual harassment” or “rape.”

This is an issue that I’ve seen so many people struggle with, including myself: We often try to justify other people’s actions, even when we know they’re “wrong.” We’re compassionate beings and we don’t want to believe that people could knowingly commit violent or genuinely mean or disturbing acts, and so we attempt to rationalize them, which in turn minimizes them.

I’ve listened to so many women describe situations in which they were very clearly sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, but they don’t use those words. And whenever I used those labels, they immediately started to question whether or not their experiences can truly be classified as such.

It’s not that they had difficulty communicating their experiences to others; the difficulty lay in calling it what it was, and admitting the reality of the situation to themselves. Sometimes it can be just as difficult to admit the truth to yourself as it is to communicate that truth to others (whether that “truth” be related to sexual assault/harassment or any other trauma/hardship).

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We create emotional blockages in order to protect ourselves and hide from the truth, and sometimes they run so deep that they genuinely blind us from recognizing the “wrong” in a given situation. We have these false belief systems surrounding unwanted or unsolicited sexual comments or contact, and society often perpetuates them. Most women (and many men as well) have probably experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault, from fear-inducing catcalling to unwanted grabbing of body parts in bars.

In my opinion, this stems from a deep-rooted, systemic issue regarding our sexuality, one that makes us blind to the ways both men and women are sexualized and exploited in the media, and one where we as women don’t even flinch sometimes when we’re in a crowded club and men squeeze our behinds. To a certain degree, sexual harassment and assault are normalized, especially in certain industries like the entertainment sector, and that’s not okay.

In discussing the “#MeToo” hashtag and the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society, I found the following series of videos. Based on a series of true stories, these short films take you through some examples of sexual harassment, from unwanted sexual contact by doctors to inappropriately sexual photoshoots.

Celebs Create a Series of #ThatsHarassment Videos 

The following videos were designed to increase awareness surrounding the prevalence of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment occurs so frequently that we’ve stopped calling it out for what it is, creating almost a veil of protection over it.

These videos illustrate precisely what sexual harassment could look like in a number of scenarios. Israeli-American director Sigal Avin wrote and directed these five short films, and with the help of David Schwimmer (who played Ross in the TV show Friends), they distributed the videos in the U.S. in hopes of increasing awareness surrounding sexual harassment.

Here’s one “That’s Harassment” video featuring a doctor and his female patient:

Here’s another titled “The Coworker” that plays out a scene between two people working at a bar:

Here’s another titled “The Photographer” which depicts harassment in the modelling industry:

Here’s one more called “The Politician,” starring a journalist and a politician:

You can check out more of their videos on their Facebook page here.

What was perhaps most disturbing to me personally about these videos is that, as I watched them, I kept asking myself: “Is this really sexual harassment and/or sexual assault?” I recognized that I had, at least in part, become so indoctrinated by society’s warped view of sexuality that I myself had difficulty using these terms.

Then, I proceeded to think about times in my life when I felt that some form of sexual comments, contact, etc. were clearly not okay, but I just internalized and justified them to myself. Though these experiences made me uncomfortable, I pretended or assumed that the individual(s) involved didn’t mean to offend or scare me, and so I brushed it off.

If something genuinely feels wrong, then listen to your intuition. Have you ever experienced a “gut feeling?” That’s your soul giving you a clue about what’s going on in your life. Pay attention to those cues, and don’t doubt your judgement or second guess your initial feeling, because your feelings are valid. The fact that you are feeling your feelings is “validation” enough, and you don’t need anyone to distinguish what’s right or wrong for you.

If someone is touching you inappropriately without your consent and it’s making you uncomfortable, whether or not you’ve said the word “no,” then that’s not okay. If someone is saying extremely sexual comments to you that’s making your skin crawl, then that’s harassment. 

Why Do We Have Difficulty Addressing Sexual Harassment and Assault?

Society often pities rape survivors, deeming them as damaged or even blaming them for what happened. Women are told their skirts were too high or that they must have somehow “been asking for it.” We don’t exactly create an “open space” for women and men affected by sexual harassment, assault, or rape to come forward, which is perhaps why so many people refuse to either come to terms with their experiences or share them with others.

It’s also rare for rapists or those who sexually assault or harass others to own up to their actions as well, in part because they’re ostracized and dehumanized, as society has so little compassion for them. No, these actions are never okay, but that doesn’t mean these people aren’t human. If we demonize them and treat them like they’re some sort of monsters, how can we ever get to the root cause of this problem in the first place?

It’s not like it’s this tiny problem that’s going to go away without some serious effort being put forth by society. The fact of the matter is, 1 in 16 men are rapists, so odds are that you’ve met someone or are even friends or related to someone who’s a rapist. Not to mention the fact that females can be rapists too, and that there are far more people who have sexually assaulted or harassed others.

Why do men and women feel that they have a “right” over another person’s body in the first place? Why do we try to rationalize our own actions or the actions of others when they hurt other people? Why are we so afraid of addressing our inner turmoil?

These questions cannot be solved if we do not face them head on, take responsibility for our actions, and call these acts exactly what they are. In my opinion, souls that succumb to violence are simply lost, so instead of judging them for their actions we need to help them see their actions for what they truly are. Although I’m not a fan of labels, it’s important that we call sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape exactly what they are in order to increase awareness and shed light on these serious issues.

These videos reminded me of an article I wrote earlier this year on a man and woman who gave a joint TED talk together. This TED Talk was a profound dialogue between the woman, a rape survivor, and the man, her rapist. Despite the horrific experience they shared with one another, they were able to come together and share their experience in order to create awareness about sexual violence.

Thordis found peace in forgiving her rapist, and her rapist, Tom, was able to truly come to terms with what he’d done by discussing it with Thordis and trying to forgive himself for his actions. The woman, Thordis, expressed how easy it is to blame yourself after being raped.

As Thordis points out, “the only thing that could’ve stopped me from being raped that night is the man who raped me.” At the end of the day, you cannot control another person’s actions. Yes, you have the power to manifest and create your own reality, but so does everyone else. There’s no point in over-analyzing or regretting your actions because the victim’s actions are ultimately never the cause of rape.

As Tom says, “Far too often the responsibility is attributed to female survivors of sexual violence and not the males who enact it. Far too often the denial and running leaves all parties at a great distance from the truth.”

You can read the full article and watch their TED Talk here.

Final Thoughts 

Although I believe it’s important to call these experiences out for what they are so both the perpetrators and the victims can come to terms with it, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we are not defined by one experience.

If you have been affected by sexual harassment, assault, or rape, know that you are so much more than just a “victim.” You should not have to wear your perpetrator’s shame, because it is their shame to bear, not yours. You are a human. You are a soul. You are deserving of love, compassion, and inner peace.

That being said, rapists and those who have committed sexual assault or harassment are humans as well. They too house souls, and they too deserve compassion. I am not justifying their actions by any means, but I am suggesting that one despicable, inexcusable choice should not have to define us indefinitely. I encourage you to reflect on why someone would ever choose to inflict harm on another, and how that must reflect the extreme inner turmoil they’re experiencing.

Whenever we feel that someone has “wronged” us, often times the best way to get over this experience is through forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the best ways to overcome anger or sadness, as it allows you to find the light within the dark. Even if you don’t think your perpetrator deserves your forgiveness, recognize that you deserve it.

Of course, this is easier said than done, and perhaps forgiveness is not a necessary part of everyone’s healing. I believe that one of the most important aspects of forgiveness is extending that compassion toward yourself, and so if you cannot forgive someone else, at least be gentle with yourself in knowing that you deserve forgiveness.

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New Billboards Aim To Raise Awareness About US Military Spending

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Just 3% of the annual US Military budget could end world hunger.

  • Reflect On:

    Is a world without war truly possible? Perhaps it's time this is a conversation we start to have and consider other ways of solving the worlds problems.

Sometimes the simplest things can have the most impact. In this case, it’s a billboard with a powerful message. Standing tall at the Southeast corner of Wells and James Lovell, across the street from the Milwaukee Public Museum for the month of February and again for the month of July, this billboard reads,

“3% Of U.S. Military Spending Could End Starvation On Earth.”

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately it’s true and it really shows where the priorities of those in charge of America’s worldly affairs lie. A group of Milwaukeeans and other US citizens have chipped in to put up billboards such as this one in an effort to raise public awareness about this huge elephant in the room that no one seems to be talking about or addressing — the insane amount of funds allotted to the US military budget. These billboards are certainly giving people something to talk about.

Let’s Talk Stats

In 2008 the United Nations announced that $30 billion per year could end hunger on the planet. As of 2019, the annual Pentagon base budget, plus war budget, plus nuclear weapons, plus the Department of Energy, plus the Department of Homeland Security and all other military-related spending totaled around $1.25 TRILLION. So if you are wondering where the 3% statistic came from, 3% of $1.25 trillion = $30 billion.

Organizations World BEYOND War, Milwaukee Veterans For Peace and Progressive Democrats of America have all contributed to the making this billboard possible.

“As veterans, we know that endless wars and the Pentagon’s corporate handouts do nothing to make us safe. We waste hundreds of billions of dollars that would be better spent on pressing needs like education, health care, and averting catastrophic climate change. Educating and reminding people of the true costs of war is a primary mission of Veterans For Peace. We are happy to be a partner in this effort by World BEYOND War.”–Paul Moriarity, President of Milwaukee Veterans For Peace

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There are billboards and other big ads going up in many cities across the world, including Limerick, Ireland, Alaska, Lansing, Michigan, Schenectady, NY, and Pittsburgh, PA. In the past ads were placed in Toronto, Canada, Syracuse, NY, Baltimore,  ML, Charlottesville, VA and many other places. This incredible organization has also put out ads through Facebook advertising all in an effort to get the conversation started about the possibility of a world without war.

World BEYOND War

This statement is from the World BEYOND War website:

World BEYOND War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.

We aim to create awareness of popular support for ending war and to further develop that support. We work to advance the idea of not just preventing any particular war, but abolishing the entire institution.

We strive to replace a culture of war with one of peace in which nonviolent means of conflict resolution take the place of bloodshed.

World BEYOND War was begun January 1, 2014. We have chapters and affiliates around the world.

While public opinion has moved against war, we intend to seize this moment to crystallize that opinion into a movement that spreads awareness that war can be ended, that its ending is hugely popular, that war should be ended as it endangers rather than protects — and harms rather than benefits — and that there are steps we can and must take to move toward war’s reduction and abolition.

War is not ending on its own. It is being confronted by popular resistance. But too often that resistance takes the form of denouncing one war as unacceptable (in contrast to theoretical good wars), or opposing a war because it leaves a military ill-prepared for other wars, or rejecting a weapon or a tactic as less proper than others, or opposing wasteful military spending in favor of greater efficiency (as if the entire enterprise were not an economic waste and a moral abomination). Our goal is to support steps away from war and to spread understanding of them as just that — steps in the direction of war’s elimination.”

Is A World Without War Truly Possible?

Of course! Anything is possible and the fact of the matter is that most of us would much rather see a world without war, but we do not believe that there is anything we can do to stop it. Given the fact that over 50% of Americans believe that 9/11 was an inside job it certainly makes one wonder, how is it that the US is able to justify the ongoing wars that essentially started because of this event? Fear plays a huge role in this.

The way I see it, war is an absolutely archaic practice, and it blows my mind every time I think about it. Is killing one another with bombs, drones and guns really the best solution to solve the world’s problems? Of course it’s not! But unfortunately psychopaths run our world and convince us using fear tactics that war is happening to protect us. As long as we believe and buy into these lies and fear one another, the more these heinous acts of senseless violence will continue.

As the saying goes, “fighting for peace is like f@*king for virginity.”

Thankfully organizations such as World BEYOND War exist, to at least get the conversation started about war. Hopefully, enough fellow humans will eventually stand up for what’s really right, put down their weapons, cease fire, stop enlisting into the military, and stop supporting it. We have a lot more power than we realize.

If you’d like to support the World BEYOND War movement, or purchase a billboard please click HERE.

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‘The Event’ – What’s Really Happening & What You Need To Know About It

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It is alleged by many in the spiritual community that something called 'THE EVENT' will play out that will either bring about a great awakening and the end of an era of struggle and captivity for humanity.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do we always hear of events that involve humanity sitting around and waiting for something? Why is it that we never have to take responsibility for our part in something? We are here, not to wait for a saviour, but to take action within the self.

You probably have been hearing about ‘The Event’, in articles, vlogs and conversation. All around the internet are preparing people for what some are calling the ascension event that will suddenly wake everyone up and end all of the cabal behavior on the planet.

There’s a lot to say about this, and a lot of helpful info we can consider to bring ourselves to a point of understanding as well as practicality, i.e. what we can do. My intention here isn’t to burst any bubbles about this, but to bring us back to an authentic place within ourselves and also back to our intuition.

One final thing, over the course of the past 10 years I’ve not shared much about where I get my info, what I’ve been tapped into since I was younger, the practices I use and how I’ve practiced to truly develop some of these skills. I’ve kept more quiet because I personally like to fly under the radar; simply be myself, remain quiet and live the change and my truth. I don’t believe in having to be loud about our abilities to convince others of who we are. Tapping into intuition, having a strong connection 24 hours a day to my higher self, hearing beings, ‘downloading’ or visually seeing and connecting with peoples lives, getting consistent info downloads etc, these are all a natural part of my life but it’s not something that makes me or anyone else special. It’s simply part of developing it. Some of us may start with different ‘abilities’ more activated, but we can always develop things. CE wasn’t built the way it was simply by using my mind to figure things out, it took diligent conscious practice and intuition to know what was most serving for humanity and when. To take complex conscious ideas and make them reach a mass audience and create virality.

I share this because, we seem to be at a time where confusion is high, disinformation is even higher, and many of us aren’t truly practicing the information we are hearing about or learning. So I share this as what I’m about to convey below is important and I don’t wish to reduce the content to simply ‘I’ve done research,’ these truths come from deeper places. The same places you can access through heart based living and a solid connection to your higher self.

I believe we need to ‘cut the crap’ when it comes to all the identification with “I’m an intuitive,” “I’m an empath,” “I’m a channeller” etc, and realize we all have those abilities within us if we choose to awaken by practice. It’s time for true empowerment 🙂

What Has Been Said About ‘The Event’

First let’s begin with what’s being said. It is being called a breakthrough for the planet that will cause a number of different unfoldments. Some say the defeat and arrest of the cabal, resetting of financial systems, disclosure of ET’s, aliens coming to the planet, revelation of new and advanced technologies, new governments and political systems etc.

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It’s being claimed that on the non physical plane: there will be a “big wave or flash of energy and light coming from the Galactic Central sun going towards the surface of the planet”. (The galactic central sun is an object in the Sagittarius constellation.) The energy from the Central Sun will stimulate a flash or special kind of light from the Sun that permeates the earth and humanity, raising the frequencies of all living entities on the planet.

It is said that it will not be a major negative event but one that is positive. Some are even suggesting to prepare with several weeks of food and supplies as it may knock out our current infrastructures. It’s also being said that this wave of energy will be soooo powerful that it will literally fry people’s brains and make them go crazy.

I have a lot to say about all of this.

First, A Note On Channeling 

From what I have gathered, most people are learning ‘channeling’ information about this from various sources or beings out there. This of course is a real thing and completely possible, but there are caveats that we often don’t consider. I’ve experienced some very good, very talented channellers who are tapped right in to authentic stuff, then again I’ve also seen the opposite.

In a lot of ways I have always steered people away from channeling. Mainly because it takes a level of mastery to truly understand and feel out what one is tapping into. Not only that, much of the time the information you can get from your higher self is more than enough to keep you rolling, and it has nothing to do with channeling. Your connection to your higher self is constant if you practice. The desire to jump deep into channeling can sometimes come from an egoic desire to want to see the future, know the future or even in some ways.. have a ‘super power’ of sorts. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but more so that this can be what pushes us to want it. Like I said above, of course there are many authentic channellers out there as well.

Over the 10 years I have been exploring and observing different channellers, I’ve noticed a lot of the same thing. Repeating the same stuff over and over again, repeating vague and often obvious things, noticing that the channelled info is simply coming from the mind of the channeller and not actually from another being or source etc. From a personal point of view, my message has always been about going within, instead of focusing so much attention on getting information like this from outside ourselves.

From a listener point of view, there is general curiosity which is a beautiful thing, but sometimes we also start jumping into the idea of wanting to know what’s going to happen, being aware of the future and what’s coming… so as to control things or be able to prepare. This can be helpful at times, but it can also be a source of getting us stuck or limited. It also resembles a faith based, religious-like mentality where we take word of what is to come, and then act on that, without ever checking how we feel inside. The way I’ve practiced over the years is, my primary source (85% – 90% of where I get my information like this) is from my own self or higher self, my secondary source would be corroborating information with various sources out there like other people, channellers, intuitives etc etc. I feel this is a more ideal course of action as it asks YOU to develop your own knowing and connection with & to your higher self. This is part of an authentic path towards shifting consciousness when we take action and make the necessary changes from within.

The Reality Of What’s Happening

I made a film several years ago called The Collective Evolution III: The Shift. It is all about the shift in consciousness taking place, what’s going on and where humanity is headed. It’s presented in a way that can be passed across any group; those that view things through science, spirituality or who are on the fence. The purpose of the film was to bring these understandings to a grounded and practical space, where much of the human experience exists at this time. In the film, I go into great detail about the cosmic ray portion of the shift, which much of The Event refers to. I’d recommend watching the film for further understanding, but will also elaborate below.

The shift we’re experiencing is ongoing. MANY waves have already hit our planet and are still coming. This has been happening for years and it is PART of what is causing so many of the changes we are seeing today. Shifts in the way people think, shifts in how our world works, insurgence of equality, the calls for changes in our financial systems, political systems and so forth.

These waves have been happening for decades and have been intensifying as we go. They are made up of cosmic bursts from our sun, the galactic sun, surrounding stars and so forth. All cosmic waves carry unique energies with unique signatures and information. This information carries the ability to evolve thought, ideas, DNA, change energy signatures and so forth. But it’s also important to note that this energy has be ‘throttled’ in a sense, through our agreement, and for good reason. More on this in a second.

THE EVENT is following the same path as many other claims like this. It makes this shift in consciousness about ONE thing, ONE moment and so forth. Much like we did with 2012.

How cosmic rays affect our earthly lives and conscious evolution. *From CE3: The Shift

Many claim “nothing happened in 2012” because they were looking for something physical and were looking for something HUGE to happen. Yet energies did in fact shift in big ways in and around the 2012 dates many were talking about. But they also shifted in ways prior to that, and after that as well. This shift is a process and one that will continue to unfold over time little by little. Yes many of us are wearing a bit thin as this intensifies, but this simply means we have work to do and it might be harsh to accept but if I’ve witnessed a prominent practice in the overall spiritual movement it’s not practicing what we preach. “I know that information already!” But are you doing it?

Continuing on here, yes, bigger events will continue to take place and mass ‘traumas’ will be experienced as we are challenged with big time change, but we won’t bite off more than we can chew. (I say traumas to describe what will feel like very tough times for many people as we realize, en masse, things like the existence of a cabal, how we’ve been systematically manipulated our entire lives, our spiritual connection hindered on purpose etc. This will be tough until we work through it all. Hence traumatic feelings.)

Humanity often feels like we are victim to things we experience. Energies, beings, events happening, other people etc, but we choose and agree to things and take them on as we are ready for them. This doesn’t mean that being ready for it won’t cause some pain, the idea isn’t avoiding pain. With pain we often get growth. Suffering comes when we choose to ignore the growth that can be presented to us through pain.

I know that idea doesn’t sit well with some of us but ask the question, where does sitting with pain and holding onto it forever lead us? Even from a logical perspective, the answer is to work past it and grow from it, as lingering only creates more suffering.

It has been 10 years since I founded Collective Evolution and began working in the consciousness space. During that time I have created a conscious media and education company (CE), 4 films in the consciousness space and have met many spiritual teachers from around the world for interviews, as friends and so forth. I also have diligently practiced exploring consciousness through sober means, developing my intuition and so forth. In my courses I spread the message of authentic change from within that is built around truly shifting your consciousness so your connection to self and your way of being is automatic, not built on acting from belief systems.

From this space I share simply that the overwhelming feeling points to the fact that humanity is on a journey, one that may be slow at times, but challenges US to be the ones that take action. We must take action from within to shift ourselves; it’s through that space within ourselves that we begin to take action to shift our external world.

Much like we see when we do EVERYTHING for someone and never challenge them to do their own work and suddenly they don’t quite learn and aren’t empowered in their own way, we are on that journey with the shift we face personally as well. Although it’s tempting to view a single event as something that will come in and do the bulk of the work for us, this isn’t going to happen simply because it doesn’t serve us. This is a gradual process.

We’re here to do the work within ourselves. Yes, energies will come in and assist with that process as the sun and central sun act as a purveyors of evolution, but it’s also up to us. Beings are already watching and assisting closely in slowing down many of the energies coming in due to the fact that they are a bit too intense for our consciousness at the moment. This is primarily because many of us aren’t actually practicing what we are learning. We read books, learn about things and then go on living in the same old ways. We don’t shift our diets, we don’t practice meditation or presence, we don’t disempower the ego and we don’t live from our hearts, even though we know this will lead us to a thriving world.

Partly this happens because our current world is intense. There is a lot of work being done to keep us stuck, keep us distracted and so forth. But this is simply presented as an added challenge, to help build our strength within ourselves. We CAN DO IT, otherwise we wouldn’t have bit off this much. Remember that.

Don’t Wait, It’s Now

More than waiting or focusing on a single event, look at what we have right here, right now – in our world and within ourselves. This is truly all we have to focus on, and as you have intuitive feelings towards other things, follow them. But remember to not get fixated on events, dates and promises that claim to come in and take care of everything for us. NOW is most important. Our financial systems, political systems, technologies and so forth will shift and evolve as we do.. it’s not one before the other. Remember quantum physics? We determine our external reality based on how our consciousness projects our world. How do we project a thriving world if we don’t do the internal work first to shift our consciousness? Our outside world simply reflects us. For it to shift, we must do so first.

Are you doing what you love in your life and living from a space where you follow your hearts desires? Are you practicing the observation of the ego and continually shifting from egoic consciousness to heart based living? Are you practicing meditation to reduce over-thinking and more presence? Are you treating others in a way you would want to be treated.. as much as you can, not just sometimes? Are you choosing to empathize and understand where people are at and why vs judging them and calling them names?

All of these things are ways to move towards living in the heart. It’s about going from the mind, to the heart.

Some Key Reflections

  • When it comes to beings/aliens, remember that in many ways they are just souls having an experience and they may or may not have had experiences as humans. Their advice sometimes may be missing some key details on what it means to be human.
  • Beings are not ‘above us’. Aliens are not ‘above us.’ We don’t need to bring the mentality in that humans are some primitive culture, as this brings about judgement most of the time. We are all just having experiences, and in many ways we teach things to these other beings just as they teach us.
  • What can you do right now to practice living in your heart and make that a daily state of being?
  • Getting or hearing information from outside of yourself is great, and it’s part of how we use one another to learn. Are you checking within yourself about whether or not things are true? How does it feel for you when you know it’s true?

 

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Pictures Showing How The Advertising Industry Exploits Women

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In recent years, the world of fashion and advertising has distastefully blurred the lines between right and wrong, creating a pronounced grey area of supposedly acceptable imagery which includes everything from BDSM and rape to abuse, aggression, and underage perversion. And this phenomenon can’t simply be narrowed down to ‘artistry’ when the symbolism is so blatantly sexist and even morbid.

I mean, is it appropriate for 4-year olds to have a lingerie line, never mind to be photographed in them? I have a 2-year old niece and while I think it’s adorable for her to have cute bathing suits, I would never allow her to wear something provocative in any way. It’s heavily insinuated that Americans are just uptight when it comes to sex, and in many respects this is true, but there is a line that must be drawn when it comes to children that culture cannot influence.

So while Luis Paredes, the publisher of The Lingerie Journal, may blithely assert that “while Americans may be shocked, the line of clothing wouldn’t cause a ripple in Europe,” the reality is that we are looking at the exploitation of children. We may have antiquated views about breastfeeding and sex, to be sure, but sexualized images of children are in a whole different ballpark, and considering the UK’s current heavy investigation into pedophile rings being attended by high government officials, maybe these ads should be causing some ripples.

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Kylie Jenner, an heiress of the Kardashian clan, has received heavy media attention over her recent lip injection (to each their own), but it was this particular photo shoot that brought her under major scrutiny. The cover image for Interview magazine features Kylie in a wheelchair. Why?

Kylie-Jenner

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Shot by Steven Klein, the shoot is supposed to be reminiscent of work produced by Allen Jones, a British pop artist famous for his controversial sculptures of half-naked women on all fours and in other submissive positions being used as human furniture. Quite objectifying. (You can view the full gallery here.)

These next few images highlight the absurdity of advertisements today, switching the sex of the subject (or should I say object) in the ad to underscore how ridiculous and demeaning their roles truly are. Thanks to Lauren Wade from Take Part for creating these images.

Sisley ad, photographed by Terry Richardson, 2006

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This isn’t the first time we’ve seen sexual abuse in advertisements and it definitely isn’t less upsetting when a guy takes her place. The disturbing tone of this ad is hardly surprising considering it was shot by the infamous Terry Richardson, who carries a string of sexual misconduct allegations with models under his belt. I mean the guy himself said, “It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow. I don’t have a hole in my jeans for nothing.”

Tom Ford for Men ad, photographed by Terry Richardson, 2007

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Well we certainly know that sex sells, but why is this appropriate as an advertisement, yet women are still being shunned into bathroom stalls to breastfeed their babies? It’s easy to see how much less appealing this is with men’s breasts instead.

American Apparel ad, 2010

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Wondering what the purpose of this ad is? You’re not alone, since this is a product that is clearly marketed to women. But these images really come as no surprise. American Apparel CEO Dov Charney was unceremoniously dismissed from his position in December of 2014 because of the A.A. board’s “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct”  — which includes (but is not limited to): holding an employee as a personal sex slave for eight months, sexually harassing multiple models and employees, assaulting a store manager, using ethnic and racist slurs with staff, and masturbating in front of a reporter in a 2004 Jane magazine article.

American Apparel ad, 2007

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If this really is an ad marketed to women, what kind of message is it supposed to send? This image is pretty standard for the company though, considering they once featured then-CEO Dov Charney in bed with models in one ad and having his crotch licked in another. How did it get this far to publication? Even with a male on display it’s pretty disturbing, but at least brings some humour. Interesting that one is sexy and the other comical.

Marc Jacobs ad, photographed by Juergen Teller, 2008

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What do you think this ad is trying to illustrate? Why would a brand use a wrinkled bag to market their products?

These images only provide a glimpse at broad the spectrum of degradation toward women present in advertising and if you think the images itself are enough to make you ponder, imagine what goes on at these shoots or even at the castings.

Charlotte Waters was a 19-year-old art student when she contacted Terry Richardson for a shoot, having only heard he was a good connection to make and work with. “He had me unbutton his pants, and he took his penis out, and it was all completely downhill from there.” She said in an interview with Vocativ. He even went as far as ejaculating on her face. 

Sara Ziff, founder of advocacy group Model Alliance, was also 19 when her agency sent her to Richardson. “It was supposed to be for a mainstream fashion magazine, but when I arrived, he unexpectedly asked me to pose topless,” she says. “I felt pressured to comply because my agent had told me to make a good impression because he was an important photographer who shot for all the major magazines and brands.” On HuffPost Live, Ziff exclaimed, “[Richardson] will ask you to take your clothes off at the casting, and in some cases, give him sexual favors.”

Model Alliance is Sara Ziff’s effort to establish fair labor standards for models working in the American fashion industry. She hopes to protect working models from exploitation, especially from sexual abuse, and to improve the lot of its members in terms of pay and working conditions. It has drawn up a “Models’ Bill of Rights.”

Model Alliance was inspired by Sara’s time working on the documentary Picture Me

Sara had this to say about the documentary in an interview with Fashionista:

[“Picture Me”] was on the festival circuit in 2009, and it was really at Q&A discussions for the film that we started talking about the need for a union, like the equivalent of the Screen Actors’ Guild, which is now SAG-AFTRA, for models. Models would come to these screenings and get really emotional talking about bad experiences they’ve had, and the film became this organizing tool to raise awareness publicly, but also within the industry. We wanted an existing union to extend membership to models, but when it became clear that that wasn’t possible, I was crazy enough to take it upon myself and start up from scratch, which people warned me not to do, but I also was studying labor and organizing in college.

The majority of models start their careers before the age 16, with most working unchaperoned and far from home. This creates an unconscionable environment of coercion, where the incentive to get hired (and remain employed) is enough to keep most girls quiet. Sara Ziff talks about her own experience with this firsthand at the age of 14:

When I entered the business as a 14-year-old schoolgirl, I was routinely asked to do topless shoots and pose seductively. To this day, in an industry dominated by minors, there is no policy of informed consent for jobs involving full or partial nudity. A recent survey shows that 86.8% of models have been asked to pose nude at a casting or job without advance notice.

Girl Model is another documentary exposing the terrifyingly young age at which some models start working. The film follows 13-year-old Siberian-born model Nadya Vall on her quest to become a model, accompanied most of the time by Ashley Arbaugh, the American modeling scout (and former model) who discovers her.

In my opinion, to be successful and thrive in the fashion industry, you need to have a sound idea of who you are as an individual and what you stand for, and unfortunately, most girls who are recruited at 14 or younger are still discovering who they are and what their place is in the world. This makes it easier for agents and scouts to shape them into who they think they should be, almost inevitably promoting a mental instability and dependency on those around them.

This article can only provide for you a different perspective on the reality that certain individuals in the fashion industry must face. Like with all things in life, there are great things about this industry and there are terrible, but it just seems that most of the ‘bad’ has been swept under the rug, with little to no attention being paid to the bigger fallacies presented by advertising companies.

Images like these allow us to see the toxic leaks that are trickling into our society, helping us to be more critical about what we are ingesting visually and more proactive in learning more about a massive money making machine that bombards us with a skewed view of the world from all sides.

Stay critical and stay aware, it helps to shift perspectives and ultimately the industry.

Sources

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/13/ugly-truth-fashion-model-behavior

http://www.takepart.com/feature/2014/07/09/what-if-fashion-objectified-males-same-scary-way-it-does-females

http://www.vocativ.com/underworld/sex/oh-god-whats-happening-close-personal-terry-richardson-model/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/fashion-ads-treated-men-and-women-same_n_5589243.html

http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2012/feb/01/sara-ziff-models-workers-rights-group

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/13/ugly-truth-fashion-model-behavior

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/06/terry-richardson-interview.html

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