The Australian government’s new sex education campaign has come under fire because of the use of metaphors such as putting milkshake on a person’s face to depict consent and abuse. The campaign includes a series of informational videos posted on the online education portal The Good Society. The Good Society, an online resource for teaching respectful relationships in Australian schools, is an important part of the Australian Government’s Respect Matters program. The website contains playlists of media content, videos, animations, podcasts, stories, slides, PDFs, and web pages that can be viewed in the classroom or assigned to students for individual study.
In one of the videos with the title “Moving the Line” from MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a male and a female figure were sitting and drinking milkshakes when the female figure offered the male figure her milkshake. When the male character tells her he prefers his own milkshake, the female character used her hands to pick up her milkshake and smeared it all over his face. At the end of the video, the female character said cheerfully, “It’s just a fun game. I know you really like my milkshake.” The video then shows how someone can “move the line” and impose their decision on others without their consent.
According to multiple media outlets, including the BBC, some other videos dealing with the issue of consent and respecting the choices of others contain examples of a woman worried about swimming on the beach because sharks and a man convince her to get into the water to go and use other foods like pizza and tacos to demonstrate the importance of consent and respect.
The campaign caught the attention of the equality group Fair Agenda, which has drawn up a petition to the government to review the video series. In their call for petitions, the group said that young people deserve consent and training in respectful relationships that will practically and explicitly help them understand how to be ethical with relationships and that they will recognize and feel armed to Challenge unacceptable or forced behavior.
“Instead, the government has unveiled bizarre online resources that include videos about milkshakes, tacos, and an ocean that may be filled with sharks. These materials fall short of what experts expect to actually change behavior and prevent abuse.”
Fair Agenda ‘s petition, which has 1,247 signatures at the time of writing, urges the government to hire violence prevention experts to replace the consent modules and overhaul the entire Good Society website to ensure “it does.” works “to promote respectful relationships and prevent violence. It also urges the government to invest in experts to train those it seeks to use as educators and voices of authority for consent and respectful relationships.
“Sexual consent work with students who have experienced sexual violence without first ensuring the safety of survivors and engaging in challenging discussions about the guilt of the victims can do immeasurable damage. Educators must be properly trained and armed to deliver effective content.” , added the Fair Agenda Declaration.
The videos on The Good Society not only drew the wrath of the equality group, but they also didn’t go well with internet users. One internet user, expressing confusion, asked who wrote the script, while another suggested hiring an advertising agency to succinctly set out the issues the government wants to raise.
This is really terrible. Who wrote that ??? And why is the girl the attacker? And what do milkshakes have to do with it? And … so many questions.
– Vicki Kyriakakis (@VickiKyriakakis) April 19, 2021
Hey #gruentransfer, could you get one of those clever ad agencies to make a consent video that (a) talks to the target audience and (b) actually makes sense in explaining the problem? I don’t know how anyone could have guessed that.
– The Cathy Wilcox (@ cathywilcox1) April 19, 2021
How do teenagers know what sex is? You can just say sex. Surely you would think that if we were trying to stop people from rape and sexual assault we could just use the words.
– Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) April 19, 2021
Meanwhile, another internet user said the government could have used gender to address the issue directly. “Surely you would think that if we were trying to stop people from rape and sexual assault we could just use the words,” she added.
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