Breakfast with MTR

*This post contains one example of soft-porn. Please make sure no children can see it as you're reading this post.

This morning it was nice to see the early morning for a change! Normally, I drag myself out of bed at 6:45am, stumble up the hall to wake everyone up for their quiet time and lay in bed for a while, doing my own quiet time.

Not today - today I'd decided to attend a breakfast organised by City Women about the link between pornography and domestic violence. For years, I've been really busy - and with pretty important things like having babies and raising a family! - but I'm really tired of sitting on the sidelines.

Plus......y'know.....breakfast cooked for me.....sitting in one place for the entire calling my name every five seconds.........who's going to pass that up?

Melinda Tankard Reist (MTR) is a blogger, author, advocate, co-founder of Collective Shout and media spokesperson on issues about sexualisation of women and children. Her blog is well worth a read if you think pornography is sold from 'behind the counter' and that it's harmless fun.

I arrived at the breakfast this morning on a mission to find out more about MTR and what she stands for. You can tell a lot about someone by hearing them speak - not everything, granted - but I wanted to get a sense of MTR's heart. I am supportive of MTR and Collective Shout but I take a grain of salt with their philosophy, which tends towards tarring all men and boys with the same brush on occasion. I happen to know a large cohort of amazing men and boys who love and respect women. So, with Collective Shout, I sign their petitions and totally support their lobbying, but stop short of being a fully-fledged Collective Shout sister, if that makes sense.

Feeling rather swanky and chic (I'm easily pleased) out with the business folk this morning, I walked into the function room with anticipation. Familiar faces greeted me which was great since I was feeling a bit lonely going on my own. Letitia Shelton, CEO of City Women was there, as were her helpers, one of whom I know personally! There were men and women wearing the very familiar blue uniform representing Queensland Police Service as well. Mayor Paul Antonio was there, amazingly - given that it's election week for local councils in Queensland this week.

My anxiety was pretty high this morning, not anything related to attending the breakfast, just a combination of sleep deprivation and a big day yesterday - so I sat at a table by myself. There was a banner up for Channel 7 and a video camera which was a little unnerving.......I had the sudden feeling that I was out of my depth, being a worn-out homeschooling mum from a little village outside Toowoomba with the mayor, QPS and other community leaders!

People came and joined the table and I chatted to a lovely Buddhist lady about MTR and the issues surrounding pornography. I did a double-take and went to stand up with excitement as I saw Bishop Cameron Venables rock up to our table and greet people standing near my table. Bishop Cam is a creative, down-to-earth and godly man who is now the Bishop of the Anglican Western Brisbane Diocese. He also happened to marry my husband and I in 2001! I bided my time then tackled him with a hug - it was so fantastic to see him and his wife again.

Ps Sam Jackson, from Toowoomba Community Baptist Church (TCBC) was MC. Funny that......his wife and I went to playgroup together with our children in Brisbane! As anyone who knows me personally would be familiar with hearing - knowing these people is 'So Toowoomba!'

Once I'd finished profiling my social situation, the breakfast got down to business - breakfast was served and we heard from Brooke, a victim of a porn-fuelled boyfriend. She has endured multiple beatings, an enforced diet of cigarettes and coffee only to make her the same body size as girls in the porn movies and other humiliations, abuse and suffering. Honestly, I had to stop eating my breakfast. It was difficult to fill my stomach while it was turning whilst hearing the realities of pornography.

Ps Sam introduced MTR, who turned out to be a straight-talking woman with a wry sense of humour. She congratulated Bishop Cam on engaging with porn on his birthday - I'm not sure I'd have the guts to joke with a Bishop about porn on his birthday, but she did! Because Bishop Cam is a fantastic human being, he along with all of us, cracked up laughing.

Soon, we were knee-deep in statistics about pornography and how it relates to violence. Women are experiencing violence in all forms in different ages and stages of life at staggering levels - and it's rapidly increasing.

MTR praised the efforts of the government, having a National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children. However, the underlying problem of violence is the culture of erotification (yes, that's a word - now we've both learned something!) of children and sexual objectification of women. In other words, we have to tackle the problem at the cause!

The new group, A City Free From Porn showed us their new clip, which states the facts about pornography. The fact that stood out for me is that it emits the same chemicals in your brain as cocaine! That means that pornography is highly addictive and highly destructive. That's biology, by the way.

MTR made a brilliant point about those who accuse her of wanting a 'Nanny State'. Aren't nannies meant to care for children? What's so wrong with looking after children? The government, who seems to only be interested by money, has no motivation to get rid of porn. It is a $100b-a-year industry. $35b of that is made from child pornography. Brothels pay registration fees and taxes. Pornography makes money for governments. Not surprisingly, MTR recommended we chat to cabbies in Canberra. When parliament session, there is a drastic increase in cab trips to Fyshwick. A former prostitute known to MTR used to service politicians and high-profile journalists.

This means that there's only one way we can stop pornography - our children and us need to speak up. We need to share the facts about pornography with those in parliament, church, social groups and families.

Thankfully, with the efforts of Collective Shout, the media is starting to pay attention to the dangers of pornography. Natasha Bita, a journalist with The Australian newspaper, has published a piece titled, "Porn Turning Kids into Predators". If you have an account with The Australian, you can view this piece.

The media is not all positive, however. MTR recounted appearing on ABC2's program "Australians on Porn" during December 2015 as her worst media experience ever. She told how the panel was shutting her down and stopping her from speaking as well as interfering with due process during the ad breaks. The producers tried to remove a letter that MTR had brought along to share with the panel from Di McLeod, who works at the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence. MTR had to sit on the letter - hide it under her backside - to get it on air. Reading that letter should tell us all we need to know about pornography!

With all this publicity about pornography, a lot of people wonder, "Is it really that bad?", "Boys will be boys...." (one father to a high school principal in attendance at the breakfast, when his son was found looking at porn on his phone during a lunch break at school), "It's just a bit of fun.", etc. The truth is pornography is everywhere. It has spilled out into our shopping centres (Typo, City Beach, etc), into our exhibition halls (Sexpo), onto school buses (Sexpo advertisement - YES, on a school bus!!!!!), computer games (Grand Theft Auto 5, where you can choose a weapon to kidnap, rape and murder a prostitute and RapeLay, a game from Japan about raping a mother and her two daughters, aged eight and ten) and billboards (nightclubs - most famously those in Brisbane across the road from Brisbane Boys Grammar!). Those of us who aren't pornography users are assaulted with it each and every day.

Pornography changes our perception of what normal is. MTR has twelve-year-old girls putting up their hands after her talks and asking, "How can I say no to him without hurting his feelings?". No, they're not just asking about him asking them to have sex - they're asking about saying 'no' to bondage and S&M. Twelve years old. Just think about that for a minute. What were you doing when you were twelve years old?

Pornography is extremely dangerous and it should be illegal. It poisons people!

MTR generously offered to take questions and one person asked about the Safe Schools Program. She said she is against bullying against everyone, including homosexuals. She then pointed out that the resource 'Minus18' has links to sex shops. Sex shops sell pornography! MTR also mentioned that the links are now gone, but they were taken down after a big outcry from the public about this program - all of which she has safely cached, of course. She says that anyone who maintains that Safe Schools doesn't promote pornography is being "dishonest".

So, our government has programs to deal with the fall-out of pornography while funding programs that promote it.

It's insane. It's unacceptable.

What can you do about this?

I'm glad you asked!

1. Pray. Pray for the women trapped in the pornography/prostitution/human trafficking industry. Pray for the conversion of pornography film makers and users. Pray for boys caught in the merciless trap of pornography. Pray for their girlfriends. Pray for unaware and ignorant parents. Pray for MTR. Pray for Collective Shout. Pray for A City Free From Porn. Pray for City Women. Pray for The Vault - management and staff. Pray and pray and pray. Don't stop. Ever.

2. Join Collective Shout. Send them funds. They stop (some) abusive and violent filth entering our shores - Tyler the Creator, Jeff Allen are just two. Read the info on the links and you'll see why!

3. Join City Women. Send them funds. They work at the roots of our society, strengthening young girls and working with boys to fight against pornography and objectification. They're so amazing and we are so incredibly blessed to have them in our city!

4. Attend breakfasts with MTR, read her blog and buy her books.

5. You can check out this resource by Liz Walker - a story book for children about staying safe online and to seek help when they see upsetting adult images. Liz is also on Facebook.

6. This is a big one. I haven't been brave enough to do this yet! But if you see pornography magazines on the rack in the newsagent or service station, politely ask them to remove them to where children can't see them. MTR showed photographs this morning of where porno mags are right next to children's magazines! Don't go in raving and shouting - be polite but firm. If they refuse, you can always drop their head office an email. I'm still getting up the guts to go into Bras 'N Things and ask them to keep their photo-shopped sexy photographs for inside the store!

7. If you see a pornographic billboard or advertisement then drop an email to the head office of the business. Or you can report it to the Advertising Standards Bureau. Now, the ASB sounds official, but it's not. The advertising industry is 'self-regulated' which means, 'We can use whatever type of images we want.' But a registered complaint counts towards an inquiry which can force advertisers to remove the pornography from public view.

8. Get educated. Read all you can on the effects of pornography so that you're informed and able to explain why pornography is so dangerous.

9. Get geared up, spread awareness with no effort - buy a t-shirt from City Women, Collective Shout or any other organisation against pornography.

10. Email your MPs about this. Keep it short and polite.

In response to what I've heard this morning, I'm launching a new Facebook page. It's called PoliticaMama. It's a place to pool resources about life issues - based on John 10:10 - and having life to the full. Pornography, abortion, euthanasia, politics, values, ethics - we're going to pray and be informed about them all!

I'd love it if you could join me.........

Until next time :)


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