Ann J. Simonton (born 1952) is an American writer, lecturer, media activist, and former fashion model. She founded and coordinates the non-profit group "Media Watch", which challenges what they see as racism, sexism, and violence in the media through education and action. Simonton has published two autobiographical chapters, I Never Told Anyone and Her Wits About Her. She has also written and produced two educational videos, one of which, Don't Be a TV: Television Victim, received a Silver Apple Award from the National Educational Video and Film Festival in 1995.
Simonton began as a fashion model in Los Angeles and vaulted to the top of the modelling world in New York City in the early 1970s. On June 24, 1971, she was gang raped at knifepoint in Morningside Park on her way to a modeling assignment. This event informed her activism to help end sexual assaults on women.
|Simonton's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from January 28, 1974|
Simonton became a radical feminist activist, and has been arrested and jailed 11 times for committing acts of non-violent civil disobedience. In the 1980s, she and Nikki Craft led the "Myth California" protests, a series of counter-pageants which accused the Miss California pageant of contributing to "the objectification of women and the glorification of the beauty myth." Simonton wore various meat outfits in these protests: one of baloney in 1982, skirt steak in 1985, and turkey slices in 1987. In 1987 she shaved off all her bleached blond hair in front of the pageant venue in San Diego to protest "racist attitudes" in the pageants. The protests garnered international attention, and were partially responsible for the Miss California pageant relocating from Santa Cruz to San Diego, California.
Simonton lectures nationally on university campuses with a presentation entitled, "Sex, Power and the Media." She has been a guest on Dr. Phil, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Entertainment Tonight and CNN's Crossfire.
Chapters in books
- Simonton, Ann; Smith, Carol (2004), "Who are women in pornography?: a conversation", in Whisnant, Rebecca; Stark, Christine (eds.), Not for sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 352–361, ISBN 9781876756499
- De Mellow, James (2010-07-01). "A Picture and 1,000 Words". Columbia Sports Journalism.
- Lieber, Jill (1989-02-07). "The Woman Warrior: Ann Simonton fights for feminist issues--and against the SI swimsuit issue". Sports Illustrated.
- "A Beauty Bristles" (PDF). Life Magazine. September 1987.
- Spearnak, Catherine M. (1989-06-10). "Here She Comes: Pageant Still the Object of Protest". Los Angeles Times.
- Faludi, Susan. (April 1988). "Miss Teen Covina's revenge". Mother Jones. 13 (3): 32–34, 52–55. (Responses by Nikki Craft and Ann Simonton, Mother Jones 13(5):4,7 (June 1988).)
- Media Watch
- Media Watch channel at YouTube
- Radio Interviews by Ann Simonton
- Slow Sex: Moving Toward Informed Pleasure by Ann Simonton, CommonDreams.org, February 9, 2008.
- Sports Illustrated cover, January 28, 1974.
- "The Woman Warrior" by Jill Lieber, Sports Illustrated, February 7, 1989.
- "Radical Body Politics for Women" by Kirsten Anderberg, 2003.
- "Getting results with low-budget media activism" by Michael Stoll, Grade the News, January 21, 2004.