So simple, even your mother will be opposed

My four month old has explained a lot of things to me. To date it’s been things like “it’s been four months and you still can’t tell the difference between tired and hungry? HERE LET ME SHOW YOU.”

But I confess that I was surprised last night by his cogent explanation of reasons to oppose the Federal government’s proposed Internet filtering scheme, thanks to Electronic Frontiers Australia’s It’s Time to Tell Mum campaign, which enabled him to simply explain things like even mums want an internet connection that’s faster, cheaper and more secure, if mums begin to rely on the filter to keep their children safe, rather than monitoring their children’s internet use themselves, children will actually be less safe than before the filter was in place.

And I have to thank him, and Electronic Frontiers Australia, because that was a lot clearer than the confused mother-logic authored by some mummy bloggers I know around these parts.

Seriously, is there some kind of bingo card for “getting mothers involved” yet? Here some squares to get you started, thanks to “It’s Time to Tell Mum”: mothers are late technology adopters, mothers are uninterested in technology and toys for their own sake, mothers are solely responsible for the moral welfare of children, (which is lucky because) mothers are pretty much only interested in the moral welfare of children, (which is also lucky because) fathers and co-parents might as well not exist. Any more?

See also discussion in the previous Open Thread.

Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism, parenting, technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhh!

  2. Their Twitter account is even more “delightful”, if by delightful you take my meaning to be “offensive and full to the brim of stereotypes”. :p

  3. Hugely disappointed by this blatant stereotyping. Poor show, EFA.

  4. Don’t forget to mention laundry and cooking when talking to your mother as well. That will make it even more awesome.

  5. OK, so I’m a long term Hoyden reader, occasional poster, etc – and I’m also on the EFA board, so this puts me in a quite difficult position.
    The campaign was created by an external agency, who used a comedian. Both agency and comedian had more creative input than EFA directly. That isn’t an excuse, of course — the board could have rejected the campaign, or voiced more concerns. I personally don’t believe in boards micro-managing creatives too much, but I do think we could have dealt with the issue much better here without losing the basic concept, and I’m not personally happy about some of the campaign follow up in particular.
    Future campaigns will have a different focus. This is our first try at a campaign like this. We need to broaden awareness of the issue beyond those who are already very well informed about the issue, like the bloggers here at HAT, and other people who already know who EFA are and our stance on the issue, and that means using more traditional media tools (and external agencies, etc). We will have to make some compromises (for a start, we can not afford to have our pick of creative partners, but have to work with those sympathetic to the issue), and we are new at this, and we will make mistakes – and I agree we have made mistakes in this campaign. We will try harder, and hopefully learn more about what we are doing.

  6. Utterly extraordinary. It was hard to pick, but this was my favourite bit:
    “What your mum isn’t aware of is that the filter won’t stop R and X rated pornography, it won’t stop people making child pornography.”
    It won’t? So mums are moral crusaders but can’t comprehend censorship 101?

  7. Dave C, you probably grasp this already, but if you want to try and take a single message to the board or future creative collaborators etc, my choice would be that the campaign seems to assume that mothers aren’t reading. I wouldn’t say that it would be perfect even if it did show some awareness of this (the invisibility of co-parents in these kinds of things is nearly universal and extremely annoying and sexist) but if there was some kind of “mothers (better, all child carers), talk to your friends” talking points, I think that would be a vast improvement.
    I think it also lacks insight into the way that non-techie non-political (or not in this way) mothers use the ‘net: there’s sophisticated adult-to-adult discussion of reproductive choices, sex, and parenting difficulties in the “mommy blogs”, the idea of restricting adult-to-adult speech would concern this group too. It might or might not be a good target for the EFA, but that’s a second example of mothers who this campaign misses.

  8. “even mums” !!!
    For some reason it’s the word “even” that makes me grind my teeth. Seems to imply lesser intelligence, thoughtfulness, tech-savvy-ness.
    Bad choice of words.

  9. This is the ad agency responsible.
    It’s frustrating that given it’s about a campaign the basic direction of which I agree (having made my mind up about it quite a while ago WITHOUT MY SON EXPLAINING IT TO ME (Sorry about all caps) I can’t express my anger by not buying the product!
    I’m not letting EFA off the hook, though, as they bought the message so thoroughly (Not you, Dave C, you seem to grasp what’s wrong with it.)

  10. Oh, yes, a link might have been nice. Now I suppose this’ll be taken by drive-by trolls as proof of my motherly incompetence.

  11. Wow, there are some really insecure females out there who have somehow taken a brilliant political strategy and turned it into a ‘sexist dig at woment’.
    I hate Akmal, I can’t stand the guy, and I don’t find the video the least bit funny. But I’m smart enough to realise this campaign is clearly not about ‘mum’s’, there is clearly the work of a brilliant political strategist.
    Conroy has been using ‘Mum’s’ as his pawn in the fight for the filter, and for the first time an organisation has used this against him.
    When GetUp launched their campaign last year, the Christian’s arced up, now it’s the feminsts.
    My god, are you people just plain stupid? Finally the EFA has created a mechanism for parents and people to raise awareness for those who are uninformed about the filter, and because there are a small minority of females who are educated and informed you are all taking it as a personal dig against yourselves.
    For christ’s sake. Grow up.
    Every approach that can be taken to see this filter not going ahead is a good one. Stop being petty, support the cause and perhaps try and ignite a part of your brain to function so that you can realise this campaign is a very positive and strong political strategy against the filter and against Stephen Conroy.

  12. I’d missed the very beginning of the twitter feed:

    I’m sure you’ve explained more complicated stuff to your mum before. How the DVD player works, what happened to that vase… #openinternet

    Dave C (or whoever else is reading), who’s on the other end of the twitter feed? Can they please be either rapidly re-educated, or unplugged?

  13. I’m up (or down) in Canada and childless, yet I find that shit stupidly offensive and sexist. It’s like they’ve rolled back a few decades.
    Can you add rel=”nofollow” to the It’s Time to Tell Mum link? I don’t think you should be helping its PageRank.

  14. “because there are a small minority of females who are educated and informed ”
    Kate, you’re part of the problem. Go away. Or come up with a better strategy to stop the filter going ahead that doesn’t erase the very large number of educated women and mothers that exist.

  15. a small minority of females who are educated and informed…

    This right here is a fair bit of what we’re complaining about. If the bar for “educated and informed” in this context is “is familiar with the detail of the filtering proposal and the major technical and political arguments for and against” it’s a small minority of… everyone. And yet we see this campaign, and I suspect we are not going to see a “it’s time to tell Dad” or “it’s time to tell Teacher” or “it’s time to tell Bloke at the Pub” campaign along the same lines.
    In answer to the general point: “the pro-filter argument targets parents so the anti-filter one should target parents too” insight is a sensible political strategy, but I wouldn’t call it ‘brilliant’. Target the same groups your opponents target, fine. It’s not the focus on parents I object to, it’s the (a) unnecessary focus on mothers and mother stereotypes (in the case of the Twitter feed, relying heavily on other ad campaigns like the roast-for-dinner one of more than a decade ago, not exactly cutting edge) (b) unnecessary invisibility of other parents and carers, most obviously fathers (c) near complete reduction of mothers to “has no other interests or objectives aside from welfare of children.” None of that is necessary to target parents or people who have a special interest in the welfare of children.
    Restructure!, good point re nofollow, thanks.

  16. @Mary Have you noticed that the defence of the campaign by Geordie Guy which is linked on the Geek Feminism wiki has been removed?

  17. Every approach that can be taken to see this filter not going ahead is a good one. Stop being petty, support the cause and perhaps try and ignite a part of your brain to function so that you can realise this campaign is a very positive and strong political strategy against the filter and against Stephen Conroy.
    It really isn’t. This approach alienates mothers and doesn’t actually target a specific group that has been identified as lacking knowledge (i.e. the general public) – instead it relies on outmoded and outdated stereotypes that are actually offensive while simultaneously offering pats on the back to kids patronising their mothers by being all ‘educational’ about it. It’s a negative strategy (actively accuses mothers of ignorance and actively encourages people to act on that assumption of ignorance) and it relies on some really shitty arguments. It assumes that ‘kids’ are informed about the internet filter as well, no to mention dads/grandparents/teachers/coworkers/siblings. By targeting mothers are particularly ignorant it buys into the stereotypes even as it’s attempting to mock them.
    And seriously, what the fuck do you think we’re doing when we comment on this shit? This is working against the filter, this is supporting the cause. Because I can tell you right now, patronising bullshit doesn’t win you supporters and that is something the EFA has to deal with and is something Conroy plays off.

  18. Is it really that difficult to make the jump from ‘tell mum’ as being euphemistic for everyone that you wouldn’t normally talk to about this stuff? If you are a technically savvy well-read mum – have you told your mum about it? What about your uncle that only turns the computer on once a week to see if there are any emails? Your Dad, your brother, your cousin?
    Some women are very happy and proud to be spending their Saturday taking the kids to soccer, do ask their kids to help them work the DVD, and don’t have a clue about this issue. My mum is one of them, but just because she doesn’t know anything about this issue doesn’t make her, a research academic, stupid or uneducated – and I resent your implication that she must be one of ‘those uneducated women’ because she didn’t know about this issue.
    I for one support any effort to encourage people to engage in cross-generational dialogue on any political issue. EFA is right to identify that there is a generational gap in terms of awareness of this issue, and that gap is similar to the offline/online gap between parents of 14-20 year olds (clearly being the target of this campaign). The research data I’ve seen does show that 45y.o.+ women are considerably less informed than older men on this issue, so targeting Mums rather than Dads or the far less effective ‘everyone’ is also the right move.
    The intent is good and the targeting is sound, and little bit of humour helps the message go down.
    Humor is always in the eye of the beholder, and I’ve never been a big fan of Akmal, but his jokes in this campaign are no different to what you could expect from him on any subject… I guess feminism is in the eye of the beholder too, because carrying on as though this campaign is some kind of massive affront to women to my mind severely demeans women and the feminist cause.

  19. Bingo! What have I won??

  20. I resent your implication that she must be one of ‘those uneducated women’ because she didn’t know about this issue.

    It’s not clear to me who “you” is, Kathryn, no one has used the exact phrase “those uneducated women”. As best I can tell, only Kate, who is also a supporter of the “It’s Time to Tell Mum” campaign, has said anything close to that, namely she wrote that “there are a small minority of females who are educated and informed.” I presume she meant “on this issue”, the phrasing is ambiguous. I do not endorse Kate’s words. If you feel someone else has maligned your mother, please quote their words.
    These, explicitly, are my claims about the campaign and similar campaigns: (1) it is not justified to trade in sexist stereotypes even in a good cause (2) there’s a set of stereotypes about mothers in particular that need challenging and instead this campaign is playing to all of them (3) many mothers are activists about anti-filtering, in particular several mothers who post to HaT including our founder and our other most regular blogger, and playing into these stereotypes is in particular an insult to the work that these mothers have done.
    I am not claiming anything about the intelligence or political engagement of mothers, women, parents or anyone else who is not familiar with the filtering issue, not am I suggesting that trying to persuade your mother or anyone else of your opinion is a bad idea or a wrong thing, or that the EFA shouldn’t run campaigns with the message “get the word out”. That said, I don’t know that they could target just mothers without these problems, but if they wanted to try they could do worse than consult some of the mothers here who have been active and passionate filter critics since 2007 at least.

  21. @mimbles, I hadn’t seen that, but I’ve updated the wiki entry to note the deletion of the blog entry.

  22. Geordie’s original post is in Google’s cache – you can’t unpost things on the Internet, people!

  23. I for one never take seriously anything anyone says who begins sentences with I for one. But that’s just me.

  24. Nice fauxpology been posted. Thanks for the heads up on that, lauredhel.

  25. Janet: The EFA has now clarified that what ZDNet called an apology was nothing of the sort. They were just trying to take a risk (which is well debunked in comments by Stephen Dann). Colin Jacobs concluded (after accusing Conroy of being the one not “giving mums the respect they deserve”:

    So contrary to reports elsewhere, like this piece in ZDNet, we aren’t apologising for the campaign – we’re happy with the way it turned out. Of course, we’d rather nobody was offended, and sincerely regret it. But offending nobody is only possible without any risk-taking, and a risk-free campaign is unlikely to break any new ground.

    In followups, he also remarks that the EFA is unable to win or constructively engage in a conversation about sexism, so they’re moving on.

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