Flat White

It’s erotic if you use a feather. It’s only perversion if you use the whole peacock

9 June 2021

4:00 PM

9 June 2021

4:00 PM

Sensuality boutique Honey Birdette has come under fire for one of their video advertisements on display outside their stores in Australian shopping centres 

The video shows an attractive woman, wearing a black bra while playfully tugging on her choker. The advertisement (which is tame at best) has the pearl-clutching prudes in the suburbs breaking a sweat.  

Sarah Lalor, a Mum from Sydney’s Inner West has started a petition on change.org in a bid to remove Honey Birdette billboards outside stores in shopping centres where “children are inadvertently exposed to it”. The fact is, children can see women more scantily dressed on television or in bikinis at any Aussie beach.  

As far as the model playing with her BDSM choker in the video, it’s no different to a swimsuit model tugging on a beaded necklace in a photo spread. If the video featured a man’s hand around the model’s neck, I would understand the outrage, but this is merely a storm in a teacup and labelling it ‘soft porn’ is a stretch.  

In an era of sex tapes, Kim Kardashian’s butt cheeks, Instagram-celebrity and reality TV having your child see a video advertisement of a woman filmed above the waist playing with her choker is the least of your worries.  

But Christian groups and anti-porn feminists love this stuff, it’s fodder for their agenda. It gives them the opportunity to exploit female victims of rape and violence, cruelly using their tragedy to demonise sexual liberty, kinks and expression. 

Campaigner Letitia Shelton took it upon herself to go into a Honey Birdette store at her local shopping centre and talk to the retail assistant about the advertisement. “I asked the woman working in there if she was okay about working for a company that promoted and glorified violence against women”. 


Shelton later spoke to the manager and is quoted by Eternity News as saying: “I stayed calm and shared how triggering and traumatic this ad would be to women who have been in domestic violence”. 

With respect, as a survivor, this video advertisement of a beautiful and happy woman embracing her body and female sexuality is anything but triggering for me. What is triggering though, is the constant infantilization of women and survivors. We don’t need people like you talking on behalf of us. We have our own voices and can speak for ourselves. 

Were you aware that many survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse use BDSM and rapeplay as a form of healing within a controlled and consensual environment?  It is a way for us to try and regain control of an event that was uncontrollable.   

Sex educator colleagues of mine have written about it as have I.  It’s worth getting yourself sexually educated instead of making assumptions.   

When I was a kid.  I’d go out to the letterbox and collect the mail for my parents.  Often there would be Target and Kmart catalogues in the letterbox with women and men modelling skimpy underwear in provocative poses. Did this traumatise my childhood? No. Mum and Dad didn’t make a big deal of it, so I didn’t think anything of it. 

Attaching shame to the female sexual body is criminal. If your kid stops to look at billboards outside Honey Birdette stores, turn it into a positive experience for your child and say something like: “Look at the beautiful woman embracing her body.”And then keep walking. 

No need for theatrics. Your child will have forgotten the advertisement within two minutes and something else would have caught their eye. 

You’ll be pleased to know that the BDSM-styled video advertisement has now been removed outside Honey Birdette stores and replaced by an image that the wowsers consider “even worse”.  

Is it time to create another petition to take Australia back to the era of buttons and bows?   

So much for the stereotypical laid-back Aussie who loves nothing but a beer, the beach and a bonk.  Bring back the days of old!.

Vanessa de Largie has been the sex columnist at Maxim Magazine since 2017.  You can learn more about her work on her website.

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