The federal government has dumped a widely condemned consent education video that compared sex to milkshakes and put a woman as the perpetrator, a day after publicly defending the video.
The video formed part of ‘Respect Matters’, a new government campaign that aims to teach children about sexual consent through education resources for schools.
The resources are massed on The Good Society website, which is funded by the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and launched last week.
More than 350 videos on sexual education for foundation-level to Year 12 students are found on the website, including many that utilise ridiculous analogies to sex.
Instead of talking about sex, the milkshake ad analogises it: a woman smears a milkshake over her boyfriend’s face while a male narrator questions whether the boyfriend should repair the relationship.
Despite 97 per cent of sexual violence being perpetrated by men, the ad uses a woman as the perpetrator who breaches consent.
While it has been deleted from The Good Society, the milkshake ad is still circulating on Twitter.
This is the government's new video to educate teenagers on consent… and honestly, I think I actually know less about the issue after watching this. What's going on?
Originally reported by @samanthamaiden
— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) April 19, 2021
In other videos on The Good Society, rape is compared to eating tacos and coercion is discussed by using the metaphor of entering shark-infested waters.
However, more damaging is that only one of The Good Society’s resources attempts to discuss pornography, according to Deanne Carson, chief executive at Body Safe Australia.
In the ad a young woman explains how watching porn led her to be a victim of childhood sexual abuse, before she learns that “real love is something worth fighting for”.
“This is tucked away in the year 10–12 content under ‘technology’,” Carson wrote on social media. “Even though most kids have been exposed to porn by 12, there is no discussion of porn until 15 and what there is reinforces victim blaming and doesn’t examine gendered use of porn.”
According to multiple reports, taxpayers paid nearly $4 million for the consent education campaign—dished out by the federal government to digital media agency Liquid Interactive, the creator of the campaign.
Both the milkshake and shark ads have since been removed following backlash from sexual assault prevention groups, federal and state parliamentarians, and adlanders.
However, just a day prior to the milkshake ad being removed from The Good Society on Tuesday, the government defended it.
“Content on The Good Society website was created by experts and reviewed by a Resource Review Group of subject matter experts,” a Department of Education spokesperson told multiple outlets on Monday.
“Community members, teachers, and school leaders were also consulted to ensure the content was engaging for students and consistent with community standards.”
Victoria’s Acting Premier and the state’s Education Minister, James Merlino, said he would not recommend Victorian schools use the now-deleted milkshake consent video.
“[The video] was confusing, it was cringeworthy,” he said. “It just did not hit the mark and, from my perspective as Education Minister, I won’t be recommending schools use that resource in Victorian schools.”
Merlino added that the federal government should acknowledge it got the campaign wrong and redo it.
“The feedback I’ve heard from students is they’re just confused about what it is even trying to say,” he said. “I just think it is a big fail.”
“This is possibly the worst piece of government funding advertising I’ve ever seen. It’s hilarious but it’s not funny,” Thinkerbell founder Adam Ferrier wrote of the milkshake ad on social media.
The education department has said that it will “update and refine content as required” on The Good Society.
It added that the material is not compulsory and that schools would “ultimately decide which resources are appropriate for use in their individual classrooms”.