EFA apologises for 'sexist' anti-filter site

EFA apologises for 'sexist' anti-filter site

Summary: Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has apologised for any offence caused by its latest campaign asking people to "tell mum" about the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.

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Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has apologised for any offence caused by its latest campaign asking people to "tell mum" about the Federal Government's proposed mandatory internet filter.

A screenshot of the timetotellmum.com website

A screenshot of the timetotellmum.com website
(Credit: Ben Grubb/ZDNet Australia)

The "It's Time to Tell Mum" campaign launched by EFA last week encouraged people to talk to their mothers about the proposed filter and what the implications of it might be. EFA worked with agency Fnuky to come up with the campaign and the site contains a video starring comedian Akmal Saleh speaking out against the filter.

According to the website, over 40,000 people have "told mum" through the website's various Facebook, Skype, SMS and email sharing methods.

Over the weekend, a number of bloggers raised concerns that the website and its Twitter counterpart were promoting sexist stereotypes of mothers.

Feminist blogger and mother Mary Gardiner told ZDNet Australia that she essentially agreed with the EFA's reasons for opposing the internet filter, but said that the message was lost by the Mum campaign promoting stereotypes that "mothers are only interested in technology for the sake of their children" and "parenting is and should always be women's business". She said the social media portion of the campaign also resorted to stereotyping.

"The Twitter feed is using very stereotypical and well-worn images of lamb roasts and mothers helpless in the face of a DVD player as its main punchlines," she said.

EFA vice-chair Geordie Guy took to his personal blog over the weekend to respond to criticisms but has since removed the entry.

"By focussing on mums, the campaign is just targeting a group with a very special sort of connection to their families — the type of connection that gives rise to phrases like 'maternal instinct' instead of 'paternal instinct'," he said in the now-deleted post.

Guy told ZDNet Australia the responses he received to his blog forced him to delete the entry.

"A couple of the comments that came in response to that were really abusive and I didn't want to start or continue a fight, which is why the article was removed," he said.

"We sincerely regret that the campaign offended some people," Guy said, explaining that his personal musings on the blog were superseded by the apology from the EFA board. He said it was inevitable that the different approach to the censorship debate — and getting a comedian involved — would offend a few people.

"Needless to say, we didn't set out to upset anyone and we don't think mums are stupid — we think some mums are being treated as such by the government, who is playing on their fears without giving them the full story," he said.

Guy said the next phase of the EFA's campaign is in development and will be announced soon.

Topics: Censorship, Broadband, Browser, Government AU, Tech Industry

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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Talkback

15 comments
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  • EFA don't appear to be apologizing at all for their campaign, according to EFA.org.au (they pointed to your article and said it wasn't true). Looks like there still fully supporting it?? no??
    dbellapal
  • This just in: EFA in trouble for assuming and pointing out the obvious. Stay tuned!
    Tj-3016e
  • Why waste time addressing some nitpickin wingers about a non-issue? To 'tell mum' is sexist? Thats when political correctness has gone way to far. What next, will it be filtered too? Society has come to a bad point when rational has been thrown out the window.
    nissy-2f939
  • I'm guessing my mum who lives in a farm in the middle of nowhere and only just learnt how to use email does not know anything about the proposed internet filtering scheme, but my dad who lives on the same farm in the same middle of nowhere who knows how to use email certainly does. This is like saying adverts for children's toys should feature adults too because some adults might want to play with kids toys. I'm sure there are some very technically knowledgable mothers out there, but there is also a huge proportion that aren't, and clearly this campaign is aimed at spreading the word to them, not the ones that this has supposedly offended.
    DamienJ
  • This is getting a bit much. I'm not for police states at all, but if we all have to walk on eggshells and watch what we say then we may as well all be zombies and lock everything down. Honestly, who cares if someone gets offended? Some people are getting a bit too sensitive these days. I say, let people get offended, because they like it! As a matter of fact, I think it's quite funny when people get offended like this. Hahahaha!!!!
    thestudios
  • Hi debellapal,

    We're sorry if there was confusion over the wording. However, we felt it was very difficult to say that that you regret offence without being apologetic. Either you regret it or you don't.

    Suzanne Tindal, News Editor
    stindal
  • I'm sorry Suzanne, but as a fellow member of the media, I think you have really taken the easy road here - misrepresentation. I think everyone knows there is a difference between regret and apologising. One can of course regret the results of an event but not regret or apologise for the actual event itself. Which I do believe is what the EFA was saying here. Don't you agree?
    Amyo-d6cda
  • Haha, I think Mary Gardiner needs to stop having an attention seeking cry and grow up. Its not sexist, your just someone who likes complaining.
    Presjar
  • So hypothetically if EFA launch their site as "tell dad" will they still be labeled as sexist? And if I say "my mum packed my lunch and gave me a kiss" will I be branded as sexist? Maybe we should define political correctness as it's own religion.

    You were born from your mum and you should be ashamed of yourself for committing such sexist sin... why weren't you born from your dad? Now publicly apologise and lick my foot.
    gluon-ddb3e
  • Maybe it should have been tell your parents, oh wait there are single parent families, then perhaps tell your parent or parents about the filter. Wait someone might no longer have parents and be offended.

    Seriously, people need to get off their high horses and stop being so politically correct, because at the end of the day it is impossible to please everyone so perhaps people should be a bit more accommodating and understanding. Not everything that is said is aimed at offence, and it is often the truly ignorant that take offence when none is intended.
    deonast
  • @deonast I wouldn't joke, that campaign 'name' has been put forward by some of these bloggers along with many others. My favourite suggestion was 'tell a registered voter with children'. Very catchy.

    Politically correctness gone totally mad.
    abbacas
  • Oh feminists... If only they would spend their spare time contributing to society.
    THE@...
  • Meanwhile in the real world, there are real issues, real people... And this thing we like to call humour. The ultra-femanists (the sexist ones who think we should abolish men) need to grow up, shut up, and recognise that they are not as important as they think they are.
    tin-6e4b9
  • Feminist blogger and mother Mary Gardiner told ZDNet Australia that she essentially agreed with the EFA's reasons for opposing the internet filter, but said that the message was lost by the Mum campaign promoting stereotypes that "mothers are only interested in technology for the sake of their children" and "parenting is and should always be women's business". She said the social media portion of the campaign also resorted to stereotyping.

    Some people have far too much time on their hands.
    coconutdog
  • Do not smear the efa's name. i do not know what endorsements you get from the goverment, but you are only angering the people of the internet. the people who support freedom. and by spreading lies, specifically against the efa will only lead to you being boycott. Aaron.A.B.Long@gmail.com. feel free to talk to me about this.
    mynameissteve