Tuesday, 15 October 2013

#50stories


Every so often I read an article that strikes a cord. One which, rather than peruse and pass over, encourages me to feel compelled to comment on the subject. One such article, which I came across yesterday, was entitles “Fight harassment by joining Twitter’s #50stories Movement”. The movement aforementioned consists of women, protesting (via twitter) at being ‘verbally harassed’ on the street. The support has allegedly grown so strong that it has ‘set Twitter ablaze with women tweeting about their experiences’. 

Right so, point one, everyone has the right to express upset over unwelcome attention and Twitter proves a highly successful platform in which to express such a distaste. Point two. Really? A wolf whistle is now being described as ‘verbal rape’?

I’m well aware that verbal harassment on the street comes in varying levels. And that one women's compliment is another women's offence, but, at what point in this politically correct gone mad world can we think that ‘walking past a group of builders who shouted comments about how big my breasts were’ can be even slightly categorised within the subject of rape. 

Apparently, ‘Street harassment is NOT about sexual desire. It’s about power.' that it's 'not a compliment, it's a human right's violation!' 

Give me strength. 

 I disagree, I think street harassment, as it’s so called, is about men being attracted to women and expressing it (albeit at times in a rather primeval way.) Men will always find women attractive and say so, and there’s not a Twitter campaign on earth that will stop that. 

To my mind, this isn’t feminism or empowerment it’s portraying women as whingeing attention seekers, ready to jump on the nearest faux feminist bandwagon to draw attention to a cause which would be much better tackled in ways other than a social media hash tag campaign. You genuinely feel you’ve been ‘verbally raped’ in the street by builders? Take it up with the firm, pursue it legally, do something serious and direct, then we’ll take you seriously, but to hashtag ‘he looked at my tits when I was coming out of Tesco’s’ Wow, that’s going to stir a revolution. 

These are, no doubt, the same women who shout sexual harassment when they’re told the look attractive at work or who go direct to HR when a male colleague tries to dance with them at a Christmas party. The very women that make eyes roll and businesses reluctant to reemploy then. 

Aside from anything else, I believe when any subject becomes part of a social media campaign, there is a risk of it becoming 'trendy' that is to say people are encouraged to 'join the fight!' 'share your experiences!', should we really aim for subjects like harassment or indeed, rape to 'start trending'? There are means and ways for important causes to attract awareness, I'm not sure 17 year olds hash tagging wolf whistles is one of them. 


Make no mistake, not for one-second am I suggesting that genuine harassment, be it physical or verbal should not be taken seriously, there is a place for that and every women should feel comfortable and confident in support when speaking out about it. But social media campaigns over wolf whistles, this doesn’t empower women it makes them look like wallflowers who aren’t strong enough to ignore or respond without the back up of other tweeting 'feminists' ...  how very un-empowering. 


I think it’s time feminists man-up a bit and stopped crying wolf over a bit of attention. You weren’t verbally raped, you were paid attention, albeit unwelcome, by a knob head on a building site or a couple of teenage boys. 
You want to stand up for women’s rights? Report it. But stop distracting from genuine harassment with attention seeking hashtags. 

4 comments:

  1. As a bloke I'm kind of at a loss with it all. I consider myself a progressive left leaning type, equal rights and opportunities for all, but at the moment it just seems like there's a kind of Mccarthyist witch-hunt determined to find misogyny and rape-culture absolutely everywhere. Surely that dilutes the whole issue and undermines the work being done to address the real problems in this area.

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    1. Yes, i absolutely agree, and i think this social media bandwagon culture is dangerous and damaging.

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  2. "These are, no doubt, the same women who shout sexual harassment when they’re told the look attractive at work or who go direct to HR when a male colleague tries to dance with them at a Christmas party. The very women that make eyes roll and businesses reluctant to reemploy then" (sic)

    Really? If your boss tells you that you look attractive and does so in a pervy way, and you thereby feel uncomfortable, or a colleague starts to dance with you at a work function and has his hands on your arse despite you trying to move away in a dignified fashion, shouldn't HR be your first recourse? And shouldn't you be protected from that, given that women are effectively a protected minority group, in that there is still a significant pay gap between men and women, and an even more significant seniority gap at board level of almost every company?

    I agree that a "twitter campaign" is a fairly limited way to raise awareness or take action, however if everyone hashtags Barratt Homes or whoever (I'm sure they're all perfectly polite, was just the only builders I could think of!) won't that get noticed? A formal company complaint tends to be private, unlike Twitter which is, by nature, public.

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    1. Great comment and i hear you, and i do think people, women, should have the absolute right to report genuine sexual harassment. Thankfully now there are places that women can do that. However, again is a social media forum really the place to do that?
      I'm pretty sure that tweeting about certain companies (Barratt Homes e.g.!) would be illegal, i.e. that one would not be allowed to make public accusations like that without having proof, e.g. court case etc before hand? on top of which the nature of a twitter campaign is that it encourages people to 'join' and 'share' it would have to be a pretty randy builder/building firm to get the exposure that #50stories has by just asking women to tell the world about their of 'verbal rape'!!
      #50stories *encourages* women to share stories of harassment with essentially very little end than that it starts trending and someone makes money out of the book which does not sit comfortably with my at all.

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