A few days ago a video was released which has quickly gone viral. What is so special about this video? Is it a talking cat with a moustache? No, it is a video of a woman walking down the street, saying absolutely nothing. Sounds pretty dull right? Well, what is amazing about this video is it shows this woman who is minding her own business and does nothing to provoke anyone, and gets cat-called or comments about her appearance shouted at her more than 100 times by men she has never met. (The actress in the video for the organisation Hollaback! has since received numerous threats of rape online which only further highlights the issue they are trying to promote.)
This is not a new issue, but with social media this sort of behaviour is getting more attention paid to it than before. There is no denying that is having a positive impact – it is raising the profile of the issues women (and other parts of society) are facing on a day-to-day basis and rightly so. It should be brought to light. In 2014 it is ridiculous that someone, anyone, should face any kind of harassment for simply walking down the street.
By the same measure, this kind of thing is now more widely circulated and to my mind people are not nearly as ashamed as they should be about spreading material which is setting back mankind by about 50 years. What is most worrying to me is that it seems to be a younger generation who are circulating offensive material more than anyone else. This may be down to the fact that social media is most widely used by the younger generation, but I would expect it from perhaps an older generation who lived through a time when it was considered the norm (and I don’t mean to do the older generations a dis-service by saying this.)
One that springs to mind is the site The LAD Bible, if only because it is now popping up on my own Facebook newsfeed more often from people I know commenting or sharing what is posted here. Don’t get me wrong, I am not completely against this site because of what it’s called or the sites general content – it does from time to time post some amusing videos or stories. But what I do object to is the posts concerning women. They have a section titled ‘Girls’ with posts called ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Cleavage Thursday’. One could argue that boys will be boys, but when this sort of thing is reaching young men (or boys) it is giving them a skewed idea of women from the get-go.
A few weeks ago I had a post pop up on my feed that someone I knew had commented on and it was a picture of a woman doing her job. This particular woman was the Chelsea Football Club physio. The picture posted and the comments on it were all about how she looked and how much those posting comments appreciated her for everything but her professionalism. The comments under the picture are particularly tasteful: “that’s [sic] why drogba [sic] dives so much, he just wants i [sic] nice rub down off this lovely sort!” and “blowjob lips!”
Why do people still think this is acceptable? If it had been a non-white male in the picture, not a word would have been uttered. In fact I very much doubt a picture would even have been taken of them is that were the case, as the male photographer who took it probably wouldn’t have been all that interested. But as it is a woman who just happens to be attractive, then she is the lucky one who gets her face posted on The LAD Bible with such delightful comments attributed to her.
This is not a new argument or opinion, but it is something that needs to be repeated and repeated loudly until things start to change for the better, especially as I hear more and more cat-calling, or rape ‘jokes’ being made as though the speaker has just stepped out of a time warp. Do these people not have mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts? How would they react to someone doing this to a female family member? Do they feel their own female family members should ‘get back in the kitchen’, or laugh and make jokes if they had been sexually assaulted? I very much doubt it.
Let’s also not forget two incidents that happened recently involving same-sex couples – couple told they would have to leave a supermarket after a customer complained that a sex-couple had shared a kiss were ‘disgusting’, and the London bus driver who were told a couple that they ‘weren’t real men’ and should ‘fuck off’ when they got off the bus he was driving.
I rather suspect this might just be the tip of the intolerance iceberg – we will see many more of these incidents posts and videos highlighting these sorts of incidents. On a more positive note, these do appear to be reaching people and getting a reaction – just read some of the comment sections of some of the sites where this video has been reposted and you will find a number of comments expressing surprise at just how much it goes on. The sooner the extent of this behaviour is realised, the better.