Laura Pintur is a force to be reckoned with. This young woman was the driving force behind a successful campaign to remove Zoo Weekly from Coles supermarket shelves in August last year. A month later, publisher Bauer axed the magazine due to declining sales.
What motivated you to agitate to get Zoo Weekly off the supermarket shelves?
I grew up in the era of smartphones, Facebook and an internet porn epidemic. Life became a whole lot of partying, working the dream job in marketing, and constantly feeling the need to be hooking up with boys. I ‘had it all’ but at the end of the day I was unhappy.
I eventually landed in the UK where I found myself living in Brighton and being confronted by my ongoing self-centredness. I finally exchanged my will for God’s will, realising that so much of who I believed myself to be had been totally manipulated by both social media and the marketing juggernaut.
One year ago on my return from the UK I met Collective Shout activist Melinda Tankard Reist, whose slide show showed an image taken from the Zoo Weekly Facebook page depicting a women chopped in half, asking viewers to rate which half they would prefer and why.
This was the clincher for me—no wonder there are so many women who think of themselves only as sexual service stations and so many boys who are being groomed to think that women are only their bums and boobs.
When one in three girls are sexually abused in their life, we have to ask ourselves what are the cultural drivers behind this.
How influential do you think the magazine was, and for which demographic?
Zoo Weekly was read by 36,000 boys aged 14–17 every week. It called itself ‘The Men’s Weekly Bible’.
Zoo Weekly wrote, ‘If the object of your affection is drinking, that’s already a point in your favour…you want to pick the “loosest/skankiest” one of the lot and fetch her a drink…separate her from the flock. You’re off alone, boozed-up and charming—these are three green lights!’
A British university study compared ‘lads’ mags’, including Zoo, with statements from convicted rapists. Zoo Weekly used language practically indecipherable from that of sex offenders.
How did you get the magazine removed from supermarket shelves?
We ran a campaign on change.org that generated 40,000 signatures and inspired one 20-year-old Coles’ employee to take action. She complained to her union saying she was so sick of selling Zoo Weekly to young boys, so with the backup of the petition she asked for it to be removed. Coles did so and just a few weeks later due to ‘catastrophic sales’ the magazine went under completely.
But when you go up against a $130 billion porn industry you’ve got to be prepared to get some negative responses as well—which swiftly came flying my way! But I believed in what I was standing for and God did the rest.
How does your own faith underpin the causes you take on?
My faith is at the core of what I do. As a Christian I believe we are called to live counterculturally.
It’s a David and Goliath battle. No army, no great campaign, no great laws, no great person is going to solely take down pornography, but I have hope that love, given to us by God, can ultimately defeat this beast. We need love that is pure, patient and good, that goes beyond our understanding—God’s love.
Where do you go from here?
Since running my campaign, I have had a number of doors open. I’m travelling with Melinda, speaking in schools around the country as well as developing my own material with other young adults.
We want to engage youth in a conversation about what we as a society have normalised in relation to porn, sex and relationships. By challenging them to think critically, and using personal stories of young people affected, we want to equip youth with the right tools to make healthy decisions rather than harmful ones. We aim to give them a platform to be heard.
Laura Pintur is speaking at conferences, youth groups and schools right around Australia on sexualisation issues, and collecting young people’s stories on www.whatsnormal.co.