Take a room of females over the age of 13 and ask them to call out if they’ve never been honked or yelled at by a guy driving by.
Take a room of females over the age of 13 and ask them to call out if they’ve never been honked or yelled at by a guy driving by. Most likely, the room will be so silent that you can hear a pin drop. Have they only had it happen once? Twice?
I know, personally, that it would be too many times to count. It makes you wonder. If behaviour like this is so frequent, does that make it okay?
Turning the tables
Leah Green, a video producer for the Guardian, wondered the same thing when, after complimenting a shop owner on a chair in an antique store, she was met with the reply, “Thanks. Have you two ever made out with each other?”
Using comments like this as ammo and inspiration, she took it upon herself to venture out into the streets of London and film herself approaching random men armed with the same cat-calls and comments many women experience, and deem as sexual harassment, every day.
The video, which was released on the Guardian’s website 4 April and has garnered nearly 3,000 comments and almost 80,000 YouTube views, has been received in many different ways. Many (presumably males) were offended and commented that “no normal man talks like this to a woman,” while some suggested the lack of reaction on the men’s behalf is synonymous with a lack of offensiveness, and therefore sexist remarks aren’t a big deal.
I can say with full confidence that I have personally experienced ‘sexist’ actions including, but not limited to: being whistled at, beeped at and yelled at, being asked to “come back to my place” (this literally happened last night), upon declining said offer, being asked, “Oh, are you a lesbian?” and, yes, I’m fairly sure I have indeed been asked to “get my arse out.”
Most of the time I just choose to laugh it off and reply with a “righto, mate.” Of course, some women are horrified and give the men a piece of their mind, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of females I know have accepted this as a fairly normal occurrence that just comes with the territory of having a uterus.
Drop the double standards
We choose to grin and bear it. To us, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, but the shocked and quizzical faces of most of the men in the video suggested otherwise. In particular, I was struck by the men who reacted by saying “You can’t talk to us like that,” and “Why are you asking us that?”
They were completely taken aback by a woman who exhibited out-of-the-blue sexual advances. To me, they demonstrated offence at the comments they had been subjected to. The men were offended, but are women allowed to be?
Sure, these men might not form part of the ‘sexist’ male demographic this video aimed to represent, but it’s a sad reality that many of their male counterparts do. So, fellas, step up. Drop the double standards. If you won’t cop a girl telling you to get your arse out in public, make sure the women in your life don’t have to either.
How effective do you think the video was? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Mace Ojala / Flickr