So, it’s a Friday night and due to a sheer lack of motivation my friends and I have decided to take our night out to BaaBar. Yes, it was the lazy option as it is adjacent to our accommodation; however, we really could not be bothered to trek all the way into the city whilst the £2 shots were on offer locally. On that particular night the bar was a tad too full of both students and locals thus making it an operation just to get to the bar and making personal space an impossible concept. Even so, my friends and I made it to the bar, and were ordering drinks whilst doing some questionable dance moves, and then, a large hand grabbed a handful of my ass.
I can’t say this was the first time I’ve experienced sexual harassment. I’ve been cat called, followed, flashed and even once had someone attempt to pull me into his car. Unfortunately I’m not alone in this. According to Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition in 2012 nearly 43% of women aged 18-34 in London have experienced some form of sexual harassment and one in three girls aged 16-18 have experienced some form of unwanted sexual touching. Though, not the national average, it is startling how high one city’s statics are and brings into question what the national average is of reported sexual harassment.
Why did this guy think it was ok to touch me when I had given no indication of wanting him to? According to him and his friends it was an act of amusement as they stood laughing after I angrily, and loudly, berated them. Has society fallen so t it is now socail acceptable to invade another human being’s personal space for a laugh or to say to anyone it’s “too cold to rape”? Such a comment was shouted after a female student some weeks ago on her way home from work. Why are we as society putting up with this? The flippancy of such a remark drives home the terrifying fact that some believe that this behaviour “normal” or even flattering to women. FYI it’s not a civility its debauchery! Some will suggest that it was it me? That I sent off a telepathic beam begging to be groped. Funnily enough, no I didn’t. Some may think that what a girl wears can invite unwanted sexual attention but even if I was standing there in a mini skirt and 9inch high heels that still doesn't mean I’m some sex object waiting for my personal space and body to be violated.
If society is to blame then so is the media. Our society has become more dependent on the media and the images it present as a primary socialisation source. This means that from an early age it’s where we get our moral values from and what we think is and isn’t acceptable. Though we have internal filters which allow us to accept certain images as reality or not, the media is selling sex as the high value commodity that everyone wants and needs. From the infamous Cyrus/Thicke MVA performance this past summer, to adverts on any medium, everything seems to be selling us sex and objectifying regardless of gender. I could dedicate an entire article to why or how our media has done this but in short we are continuingly seeing objectification as a normal. Yes there’s sexual empowerment, which I am fully in favour for, but society has crossed the line, back into objectification instead of moving forward.
(Image rights:KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE, Tumblr and People.com)
There been some form of backlash since the Sexual Revolution, forcing us back into the 1950s. How many times as I heard people say “I don’t get feminists” or that the feminist cause is “irrelevant” or “outdated”. This anti-feminist sentiment is a contributing factor, as women don’t speak up enough about flippant sexism or stereotypes because they’re scared to be labelled as a “feminist". I’m sorry but if you’re in favour of equality, regardless of gender, then YOU ARE A FEMINIST! You don’t have to be a woman to be one as I am a feminist by nature, and most certainly by nurture, as both a feminist father and mother raised me.
So what do you do when you’ve been sexually harassed? There are many types of responses however the main thing to remember is to stay safe. If you feel that your safety is going to be jeopardised then confront them. Obviously the message that women are no longer sex objects hasn’t got out, and I’m afraid it’s our job to enlighten them. And guys, for God’s sake, it’s up to you too. If we are going to stand up to these individuals, it needs to be a group effort. To quote the Connecticut College Vmen video “this isn’t a women’s issue it’s a human right issue.”
Check out this video about street harassment and how to deal with it.
Cover image from:http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co...
Statics from: http://www.endviolenceagainstw...
Miley Cyrus image: Image rights:KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE and People.com found at http://www.people.com/people/p...