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Women's groups call for a boycott of Australian Consolidated Press publications, following the publication of a degrading cover on a `People' magazine

RICHARD PALFREYMAN: Kerry Packer's publishing empire, Australian Consolidated Press, has become embroiled in a row with women over a racy cover and poster for his People magazine. The cover and poster depict a naked women on all fours with a collar around her neck - under, the words: `Cover girl - woof, more wild animals inside'. Earlier this week, in Adelaide, a shadowy organisation calling itself WARS, or Women Attack Rampant Sexism, threw a brick through the window of a newsagent displaying the offending poster. And now it's been revealed that a well attended international women's day lunch in Adelaide, this week, condemned People magazine and called on the women of Australia to boycott prominent Packer magazines.

In Adelaide, Peter Rapp's talking to a co-author of the resolutions passed at that meeting, Heather Crosby, a member of the Women's Electoral Lobby and a former Executive Director of the YWCA.

PETER RAPP: Well, Ms Crosby, who was at the lunch? What was that about?

HEATHER CROSBY: It was a wide representation of women's organisations around South Australia to celebrate international women's day, and we do it traditionally with a luncheon.

PETER RAPP: And how many were there?

HEATHER CROSBY: Up to 300, we think.

PETER RAPP: And what resolutions were passed?

HEATHER CROSBY: Well, the first resolution was this: that we congratulate the women who, despairing of the law to do anything, have taken action against those purveying demeaning images of women, including that of a naked women posed as a chained dog; and that was passed unanimously.

PETER RAPP: And another one.

HEATHER CROSBY: Yes, then we had to decide what we would do about it, so I put these two motions, that we should exercise a boycott of the publications of the Australian Consolidated Press, particularly those magazines that women are likely to buy: Women's Weekly, Woman's Day, Bulletin, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Dolly, Mode, House and Garden, Elle and Belle.

PETER RAPP: So you want the women of Australia to stop buying Australian Consolidated Press magazines?

HEATHER CROSBY: Publications. That's right. And the second part of the resolution was that this would go on until Richard Walsh makes a public apology to the women of Australia.

PETER RAPP: Richard Walsh being...

HEATHER CROSBY: He's the publisher of the .. he's the managing director, I think of Australian Consolidated Press, which is Kerry Packer's thing, you know.

PETER RAPP: I've heard the comment: I wonder how Kerry Packer feels, feeding his polo ponies on the proceeds of People magazine?

HEATHER CROSBY: Yes, I heard that.

PETER RAPP: Is that a general feeling?

HEATHER CROSBY: I think that's a general feeling, yes. I was talking to the woman from the Status of Women Committee, this morning, who rang me, and she said: I'm interested in that whole question of tolerance; how far we're expected to tolerate this. I mean, we are half the population, and how long are women going to have to put up with that kind of thing?

PETER RAPP: Are you really saying enough is enough, are you?

HEATHER CROSBY: I think enough is enough, yes. This is the straw that broke the camel's back.

PETER RAPP: Why is it demeaning, though, I mean, there are these sorts of images .. we're perhaps bombarded by them, both male and female everyday? Why particularly pick on this magazine and its cover and poster?

HEATHER CROSBY: Well, I think it's just that it just hit people, you know, as it did, the two young women who threw the brick. And they had tried other ways of bringing about or getting recognition that this was not to be tolerated and it didn't work, so they threw their bricks. But I think it's not .. I mean, we would feel the same way if it was a man being depicted like that.

PETER RAPP: What real harm does it do?

HEATHER CROSBY: I think it does harm to children. I mean, it's displayed on the pavements; it's displayed in pictures of newsagents; often displayed quite, you know, obviously, in the shops. I have objected once to girlie magazines being so prominently displayed in newsagent shops because children see them and they get the wrong picture of women, of how they're seen in society.

PETER RAPP: Well, are you doing anything in particular to organise the boycott?

HEATHER CROSBY: Well, we're discussing ways and means here, in Adelaide, at the moment, but what I'd like to see is that the national headquarters of all the women's organisations in Australia alert their members and suggest that they exercise this boycott.

PETER RAPP: Do you think, though, they will take it up, I mean, do you know if there is a feeling within feminists, within women's organisations around the country against this sort of display?

HEATHER CROSBY: Oh, yes, very much so. The Office of the Status of Women did a survey on how women are portrayed in the media, about two years ago, and the results of that were really quite horrific.