Saturday, December 21, 2013

Musings: Ethical Messages

The Solstice night, made darker by rain, was good for sleeping, for burrowing deep into dreams, the vastness of the collective unconscious. And when the dawn arrived, late, it marked a time to wake up, start a new cycle of awareness.

Which makes it the ideal moment to begin a series of posts that hone in on some of the blatant BS that's surrounded the whole Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 movement. 

Let's launch with some of its most visible, self-promoting proponents: Babes Against Biotech. These wahine used that tired old standard, T&A, to draw attention to the anti-GMO cause, while also conveniently drawing attention to themselves.

But as reports, two new studies from Queensland University show that “using sexualized images of women reduces support for ethical campaigns.” And why? Elementary, my dear Watson:

Intentions to support the ethical organization were reduced for those exposed to the sexualized advertising, and this was explained by their dehumanization of the sexualized women, and not by increased arousal.

Research has shown that sexualized women are dehumanized, specifically being seen as more animal-like than non-sexualized women. This subtle form of dehumanization, called infrahumanization involves seeing another as lacking uniquely human characteristics such as rationality, refinement, and culture. Dehumanization can have damaging consequences for its targets. For example, men who dehumanize women by associating them with animals or objects are more likely to sexually harass women and have a higher rape propensity.

Sexualized advertising could therefore backfire for ethical causes by eliciting responses that are antithetical to such causes.

And that seems to be what happened here in Hawaii.

Though Salon and the studies used PETA [People for Ethical Treatment of Animals] as an example, Sophie Cocke at Civil Beat localized it by focusing on the Babes, using Nomi Carmona's topless calendar photo to illustrate the story. Anyone who has followed 2491 is familiar with Nomi, an Oahu resident who frequently jetted over here to shake her stuff in front of the County Council. I really began to lose respect for Councilman Gary Hooser when I saw his "hubba hubba" reaction the first time she testified.

While Gary apparently fell for her schtick, others who supported the movement expressed dismay. Indeed, a number of people told me they thought the Babes were actually working for biotech because their behavior and tactics were so over the top. An Oahu woman who attended the Legislative hearings on GMO labeling bills said she couldn't understand why all these scantily clad “girly-girls” were flaunting themselves and making outrageous, inaccurate statements. Her impression: I wanted to tell them to leave because it seemed like they were intentionally trying to discredit the movement.

I don't know if that's what they intended, but as the Australia studies confirm, sexual exploitation is a crappy strategy for building support among ethical, thinking people.

Curiously, Ohana o Kauai aligned itself closely with the Babes, as you can see from this KITV clip of Ohana leader Fern Rosenstiel and Nomi, who launches the interview with this typically inane comment: 

“But Fern is a scientist, she should tell you more about why it's horrible to spray poisons on children and community members.”

Which leads us back to the Australia studies:

In sum, our findings indicate that organizations promoting ethical causes should be especially concerned with communicating their message ethically, specifically in ways that do not dehumanize women. They also show that dehumanizing women not only has negative consequences for women but also for the ethical causes that traffic in them.

Hmmmm. Communicating ethically. Seems that would exclude flat-out lies and wild exaggerations.

Or as the Salon article notes:

This new research supports the nagging feeling many of us have held for years – that rather than filling people with warm helpful feelings, the true byproduct of using women’s bodies as window dressing appears to be boners. Advertising consultant Jane Caro tells the Canberra Times, ”Sex only sells if you are trying to sell sex.” You want to sell ethics? Try using ethical behavior.

Unfortunately, though the movement continually criticized the biotech/chemical companies for unethical behavior, its leaders/spokespersons too often failed to take the high road and instead engaged in the unethical antics and messaging themselves.

I don't know about you, but it was a huge turnoff for me.


Anonymous said...

Not only did we see sexual titillation from some of the 2491 "supporters" - we had intimation of violence as well from images and verbiage...

Double whammy against a movement I'd like to be sympathetic to but in the end has alienated me horribly.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@10:50: Insulting or degrading a woman's body/appearance is just as disingenuous and dishonest as BAB's messaging. There's plenty to attack without stooping to their level.

Anonymous said...

@11:00 Hypocrisy comes in many shapes and sizes. It's still hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Can we say here, "don't shoot the messenger" or the "emperor wears no clothes"?

Using T & A and what else can you call it....environmentalism...? Perhaps this appeals to the cigar smoke infused "back room" policy makers? Mixing beer and soda pop?

The bottom line....manipulation with titillation.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

The Intent is a good one....but perhaps we should "shoot the messenger".....

Pesticides and children do not mix. These are large corporations with billions of dollars and fancy marketing strategies (brain washing) keeping this "status quo" and taking advantage of people's lack of education in Hawaii.

Jobs, and "mo money" is another form of "titillation" and manipulation that gets people making the wrong decisions.


Anonymous said...

66325686The nude body is beautiful for me but not sexual. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder - so does titillation.

Anonymous said...

It's called titillanipulation.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, the Babes were a little too provocative in their approach.
There is no way to control a public debate. This movement embraced all sorts, nut-jobs, serious thinkers, glory hounds and the Babes.
The Core Values of the movement were sketchy at best. There never could be any realistic conversation with the Chemical Companies with the
likes of Hooser and Bynam at the helm. These two leaders have a long history of being anti-business, period. If your leaders have no ethics, then the followers will have no boundaries.
The Babes may have inspired a little diversion, but the center of the movement was angry, threatening and chaotic.
For true negotiation and results, Hooser, the big fist of the million fisters could have shown truthfulness, sincerity and fairness.
Hooser/Bynam forgot that Kauai is one island made of many people. And now, the Babes are gone, the mob is gone and Kauai people are left, to pay for a poorly written law that becomes more confusing as each day passes.
But I have faith, Tim and Gary and Kauai in its new standing as the epi-center of the universe regarding Bio-Tech will solve all problems with herbicides, GMOs and wind drift.

Anonymous said...

Although I understand your point to a degree as well as the commenter's biases I fail to see how their style of drawing attention to their organization is anything but above board. You all have your slant on things. So do they. You all are interpreting it as sexualizing. I'm sure they aren't. The way they are drawing attention to the GMO debate is as ethical as anything I know of. I don't see anything more then young women who got together to do their part. If you notice they are attracting the young males. These are a group that are hard to get onboard anything as a rule. As they say in the media...Any press coverage is good. These women are using what they can to bring attention to the movement not themselves. The calendar helps bring in money. What they're doing is far more ethical than what the Biotech industry is doing. Look around. Open your eyes. Read the news. The world is waking up to these companies and what they are doing. Meanwhile the knitting circle here continues to throw out the manini nonsense using words like titilate, Hypocracy, manipulation, projecting all kinds of nonsense to please you the blogger. I don't see much dialogue in here. Just talking shit. Why don't one of you actually say something productive? You're all so wrapped up in griping you say nothing but pilikia and pat yourselves on the back. Those women are doing something useful. They got off their asses and did something. All I see here is a bunch people hiding behind the word anonymous. Oh I know who a couple of you are. You're as bad as the rest but your styles are to talk shit and have these inane conversations in here. I don't see anything but empty words meant to inflame and detract. I'll post as who i am when I see some real names in here. That in itself is disingenuous. This a back room full of unhappy people with nothing to do but talk shit. Joan I like the way you write sometimes and you have your opinions which is fine but to foster this is probably feeding your ego to have a bunch of yes people but what are you accomplishing by this other than some self serving agenda. Try writing a balanced piece. I'll bet you can't. And why did you remove the one comment? Didn't like it? Whatever it was was free speech but it didn't fit your agenda so you bagged it. I didn't see it but it seems it was degrading to women. So what let it stand. Otherwise all it is in here is a bunch of back patting followers of your biased and off the mark opinion. Those women aren't doing anything worse then you are in fact they are doing better because they are out there front and center for this group of whatever you are hiding behind the word anonymous. I'll put my name up when I see all yours. I 've already been slandered in this blog by anonymous attack dogs (used literally) so I'm not really wanting it again but come on change your style Joan. Show us you're intelligent not opinionated and divisive. There you all go. Something to jump on. I'm just sticking up for people who are actually doing something not bitching in a back room blog.

Anonymous said...

Holy Smokareenies, fantastic kvetching.

I do not agree with most of Joan's positions, but she sure do gets da folks to listen and worser yet, even the Council people have da fear that Joan will pencil their deified names in this blog, if they do a bad No-NO. Right on, Joan, it is your blog (if you like your blog, you can keep your blog). Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Mahalo for putting that post up Joan. I respect you for your writing talent and story telling as well as mediating a blog. I don't agree with what I see going on in here but it's only my opinion. I'm not trying to detract whatsoever from the fact it It is meant to be illuminating and reflective. This is your blog. I tried to be as frank as I could but I have little respect for the words being bandied about in here nor the actual content of most of these discussions. Lots of what I'd call "sniping" going on in here. That being said. You can all think what you want of me. I mean no harm. I'm waiting to hear the snipers have a field day on that post. Let's have some productive discussion. Not daytime soap opera dialogue....;-)

Anonymous said...

well i agree with you Joan, wtf is Nomi thinking? I'm sure she knows the surfer boys and old men may drool a bit, but that does not and has not added anything to the discussion. And Nomi dear, next time you want followers, and no one else to judge, raise your level of inquiry, and keep your boobs put away, then ppeople may show some respect. Otherwise act like one Ho, be treated as such.

Anonymous said...

Joan , the truth telling and writing like it is must stop. Joan please get on board writing what the Babes want you to, they have bigger boobs.

Anonymous said...

@5:44pm: you've LITERALLY been slaughtered by anonymous attack dogs from this blog? joan is far more powerful than we all thought!

Anonymous said...
Right Said Fred in his video says it all.
I count my lucky solstice stars that more of the Million Fisters didn't wear their small things while exercising the right of speech. That would be prove the need for real GMOs.
The real problem is how will the law move forward. The Babes might be the correct deciders of the who, what and wheres of the various steps toward implementation. The Council has already shown they are mentally under-dressed for the challenge.

The County needs money and resolve.
But, never mind, the 2014 election may denude the existing Council and some newly frocked lawmakers may either dress up the law or disrobe it completely.

Anonymous said...

The nude human body is beautiful. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. So is titillation. It is our choice. Which do we choose - beauty or titillation?

Anonymous said...

The Babes might be the correct deciders of the who, what and wheres of the various steps toward implementation. Dream on

Chuck Lasker said...

Fern's a scientist? When did she get her PhD? The last I heard she claimed to have a BSc (bachelor's degree). I have a Bachelor's of Science degree, and even I know that does not make me a scientist.

Anonymous said...

No Chuck Fern isn't a scientist. Just more BAB BS.

Anonymous said...

what degree does fern have? bachelors in what?

scientist my @$$!!

Anonymous said...

Having a bachelor's or graduate degree in science actually does qualify you to call yourself a scientist. On the other hand, an arts degree (B.A., M.A., etc.) doesn't make you a scientist. A Ph.D. confers the title of doctor, not scientist.

Anonymous said...

Quite fascinating how myopic (not necessarily limited to eyesight, but also insight) people are to defend the content of #2491 and the process by which it was passed. The intent of the bill is worthy, that is, to bring attention to the wide use of chemicals in our society. Yet, we are all hypocrites. We all want the comforts and joys of "modern living" and "better living through chemistry," but we all participate in the "chemicalization" of society. We take pills (drugs=chemicals) for every ill, and they inevitably are flushed down the toilet, either firsthand or secondhand. When we have termites or bugs in our home, we call the pest control operators, or worse yet, try to treat them ourselves, very often now knowing what we are doing or really using. The use of triclosan is ubiquitous--in our soaps, shampoos, toothpaste,cleaning products, deodorants,plasticware, paints. Where do they all end up? Either in our bodies, or in the waste stream, which end up in the groundwater or the ocean. The foods we eat are nearly all produced with chemicals, and you'd be surprised to find out that even supposedly "organic" foods are produced with synthetic chemicals, knowingly or unknowingly.
To now target five agricultural companies of use of pesticides, is like trying to target the large auto makers for the use of oil. Or perhaps to target the human population for the participation in our daily activities, such as eating, driving, having the comforts of technology.
Pope Francis said it best: "Who am I to judge?"

Anonymous said...

This Saturday 2-4pm, Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Association meeting is hosting Council Vice Chair Mason Chock.

Are you going Joan? Would be nice to do a piece on that. Also wondering how Mason could vote for himself after claiming he looked up to all the other councilmembers for guidance, including the much more experienced Mel Rapozo.

Want to ask him how he can base all his decision making around the welfare of children, is he not willing to look at what is legal and what is not? as long as it has to do with children he'll vote in favor, even if it is illegal.

Anonymous said...

Whom am I to judge? What would you have us do, just blindly consume? You have fallen into the trap that powers that be want you in. Nothing is important except the bottom line, and there is nothing we do about it. You are totally locked into the matrix with eyes wide shut. You will be first in line going into the FEMA camp when this system comes crashing down. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Myself, I'd have you fight for a worthy bill, not one that will make bad law and be indefensible in court. I have a higher standard than you, and believe the red shirts got played or are playing , the pass the bill group got a lousy bill passed.l

Anonymous said...

12/23/13, 6:02PM, yes, precisely, you are right--we ALL just blindly consume. If you drive a car, you are burning GMO derived ethanol. If you have any health issues, you will likely be taking a GMO derived drug. The issue is not chemicals/pesticides used by just five chemicals. It is the ubiquitous use of chemicals for our convenience. Indeed, we have met the enemy, and he is us.
And if we do not see this, then yes, we are myopic. Nothing wrong with that, except ignorance and hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

This is just gettin' started, folks! You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Anonymous said...

I got turned off to their tactics early on and refused to post their crap on my facebook page or sign anything they were behind, just on principle. I made a comment about it a while back and was thinking Iʻd get attacked and called jealous.

No, they turned a real and valid debate into a circus and so did the pregnant woman with NO GMO painted on her belly standing on the side of the road. Bunch of hippie transplants and poor ʻlil Kauai is getting pukier all the time, even the ones with money are nothing but a bunch of opinionated old hippies.

Anonymous said...

Isnʻt Nomi a Mexican?

Joan Conrow said...

If anyone would like to read Nomi "BAB" Carmona's long-winded, error-filled, repetitive, tedious, condescending, self-justifying rant in response to this post, it can be found here:

As an example of its idiocy, it starts with this:

It is my generation that has been fed GMOs practically since birth, which your generation allowed, and fed to us.

Uh, Nomi, GMOs were not introduced into commercial farming until 1996. I'm pretty sure you're older than 17. Plenty of folks in my generation, including me, were speaking out against GMOs years before you sashayed onto the scene. So don't be lecturing me on an issue about which I am far better informed than you.

If you want to be taken seriously, get your facts straight. Especially since you claim "The bulk of our work is in policy and political research."

Fern said...

Aloha everyone, first of all Joan my married last name is Rosenstiel - but I think that was just a typo in your post :)

Calling yourself a scientist is a pretty vague statement to be honest and I don't generally do it.

For your, and the interest of those who have commented, I have a bachelors of science with majors in marine biology, wildlife management and environmental science. I did every class offered at my university as I am interested in a wide array of the sciences.

I have held the titles of Environmental Scientist and Environmental Officer over my 2.5 years professional experience in the field prior to coming home. Through that time most of my experience was based in ecology. I have also worked on some contaminated land projects, marine water profiling and environmental monitoring projects and major environmental impact statements. If you are ever interested in knowing more about my experience or have any questions about me, please feel free to contact me directly either through facebook or email at


Joan Conrow said...

My apologies for misspelling your last name, Fern. I've corrected it on the post.