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Who is really behind A Glittery March for Consent?

Saturday 27th January 2018

A British news agency denies being involved in organising the march. One of the women fronting it has said otherwise. 

 

#MeToo poster in London. The movement to demonstrate the prevalence of sexual harassment has gone worldwide.
#MeToo poster in London. The movement to demonstrate the prevalence of sexual harassment has gone worldwide.

Photo: duncan c/Flickr

UPDATE: The woman who has become the public face of "A Glittery March for Consent", which aims to raise awareness of issues of consent, sexual harassment and assault, now says a British news agency is only providing her with “advice” on the march.

When Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller first answered questions from The Wireless about the march, soon after it was announced earlier this month, she said she had "signed herself over" to Caters and the agency was also "founding" the march.

A screenshot of the conversation between Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller and Wireless Editor Marcus Stickley on Facebook Messenger.
A screenshot of the conversation between Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller and Wireless Editor Marcus Stickley on Facebook Messenger.

When asked who the agency was, she said: "Caters is a news agency that is helping put together the march."

Anello-Kitzmiller said all questions relating to the march needed to be made via Caters.

A screenshot of the conversation between Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller and Wireless Editor Marcus Stickley on Facebook Messenger.
A screenshot of the conversation between Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller and Wireless Editor Marcus Stickley on Facebook Messenger.

Caters has confirmed it will shoot video and still footage of the march in Auckland tomorrow. It is likely to sell images on to international media outlets. Stories and images from the agency regularly appear in British tabloids, as well as outlets such as the Telegraph and The Guardian.

But the possibility that the agency is in any way involved in the organisation of A Glittery March for Consent has raised questions about the motives behind it's alleged involvement, including that the marchers would be exploited for financial gain.

The march was planned in the aftermath of an indecent assault on Anello-Kitzmiller at Rhythm and Vines festival on New Year's Eve.

Footage of the assault, which went viral on Facebook and was picked up by media across the globe, showed a young man sneak up behind Anello-Kitzmiller and grab her glitter-covered breast as she walked by, topless, with a friend. The man then ran away.

When asked if she was paid by the company for what was sold on to other media outlets she said: "We have an agreement that I've worked out with them."

Since those comments were made public earlier today, Anello-Kitzmiller and her co-organiser Jolene Guillum-Scott released a statement to The Wireless saying her earlier comments about Caters’ involvement in organising and founding the march were a “misunderstanding”.

“When I said they were helping me organise the event, I simply meant I was asking for their advice. They were not organising it with me.”

Anello-Kitzmiller said Caters had supported her through the RnV incident and helped her deal with the media attention. The only legal involvement she had with Caters was that her initial response video was licensed by them.

"Jolene and I have chosen to keep in touch with Caters simply for their advice but ultimately they have no say, nor does any other news outlet, on the march."

At the end of her statement Anello-Kitzmiller said she would be “answering no further questions”.

When approached by The Wireless yesterday, Caters Australian news editor Tui Benjamin denied any involvement in founding or organising the march.

"We're not involved in founding the march at all - we're just covering the march like any other media organisation."

She asked that further questions be sent via email, but is yet to respond.

As well as providing photos and videos to media outlets, Caters buys stories, and offers PR services.

When first contacted earlier this month, Benjamin said photos and videos of the march would be available for a fee.

"All our content is rights managed on a revenue share agreement with the copyright holders, we would need to agree on a licensing fee prior to any usage."

Once paid, the company would also provide statements from Anello-Kitzmiller "for no additional fee".

Anello-Kitzmiller spoke to The Wireless directly via email and Facebook Messenger, free of charge, and never asked for money. She declined to be interviewed over the phone.

Responding to questions put to her earlier this week via email, Anello-Kitzmiller said the march was not originally her idea.

"After the video at RnV was posted and I released my response video, I was approached via Facebook and asked me to walk down queen street alone wearing nothing but body paint," she said.

"I felt that they were trying to make me out to be their pet excibitionist [sic] and that they purely wanted to do that for the media attention. I told them that if they really wanted to make an impact, they would get a lot of people involved."

She wanted articles posted that stood up for victims, rather than have clickbait headlines containing the words "naked woman" published, she said.

Anello-Kitzmiller said she was also asked to do a nude walk with "a couple of friends", which she declined.

"Again I told them no, that their intentions didn't correlate with my own. That if they truly wanted to make a difference there would be a march or a protest.

"That's how the idea came about."

When asked who had approached her, Anello-Kitzmiller declined to say.

"I just want to avoid naming and shaming because it just brings on more attention," she wrote.

Anello-Kitzmiller told The Wireless the aim of the march was to bring people together with "a mutual feeling respect for one another, understanding, empathy, empowerment".

Guillum-Scott's business, Gypsy Fest, will "glitter" attendees for $15, with between 60 and 80 percent of the proceeds going to charity.

Anello-Kitzmiller said she hoped the march would make make those who have been victimised feel "less alone.

"I hope to encourage those who have remained quiet about their own abuse to speak out, to share their stories in an effort to continuously raise awareness and enforce understanding. I hope we inspire people to stand up for themselves and others, to teach their children consent and respect. I hope people are inspired to be activists in their own way," Anello-Kitzmiller said.

"When we go home after the march, our job is not done. We have to keep speaking out, to keep making ourselves heard. We have to take care of one another and make each other feel safe. I hope people hear this and know that it is never there fault and they always deserve to be listened to."

But leading Auckland PR firm owner Deborah Pead says that if it was true that Caters was involved in organising or founding the march, people attending had the right to know.

"I fear that this young woman may have been exploited," she said.

"It's people's right to protest, but it should be done for transparent, genuine and authentic reasons, and not be motivated by profit."

Massey University journalism academic Dr James Hollings also questioned the motivations behind the protest.

If the news agency was indeed involved in organising the event, that made things "murky," he said.

"These young women should be applauded for sticking up for this issue, and I admire their guts and enterprise in doing so," Hollings said.

"But they really need to be aware that the organisers risk turning a lot of people off if anyone other than the named charity is profiting financially from the general public giving up their time and money to show their concern about an important issue like this"

Hollings said that if Caters was profiting from the march in any way, it would damage a good cause and that would be a shame.

Attempts by companies to profit from the #MeToo movement, which has been used online to help show how widespread sexual assault and harassment is, are not unheard of.

Two weeks after the New York Times first published allegations that led to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, cosmetic company Hard Candy applied to trademark#METOO.  

The company's CEO told TMZ that it was "not a straight cash grab," but was intended to be used to "give back to women worldwide".

Another company, Fuzzy Logic, has tried to trademark #metoo for use on silicone wristbands. 



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Susan Strongman is an Auckland-based journalist at The Wireless. She is interested in social issues, human rights and people, but prefers to spend her spare time with her cats.
Marcus joined RNZ to set up The Wireless. Before that, he slugged away as the Night Editor for Stuff and booked punk shows.
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