Too often today, you find feminist discussions and gender issues being belittled by the statement: ‘but men experience [insert social injustice] too!’
I have briefly touched on this topic before, but recently there has been new debates regarding the validity of womens issues, after this street harassment video was posted:
The footage was incredibly thought provoking and even hard to watch at times, especially when the lone woman is stalked for several minutes by strange men.
Catcalling is also something that I am sure many women know all too well, and the resulting dis comforting feelings of intimidation and fear.
However, recently another YouTube group, Model Pranksters, published a male version of the street harassment video:
As expected after initially reading the title – in which harassment is placed in quotations, as if to challenge the very justification for it’s use – the video degrades the very efforts of those that are trying to combat street harassment.
This video could have been very beneficial to society and even raised awareness for male victims of street harassment, instead it does not suggest that we take a genderless approach to the issue, rather it insinuates that street harassment ‘isn’t a big deal’ or that it doesn’t exist entirely.
The video even asks you to think critically as to whether this man is indeed experincing street harassment, which he so clearly is. It’s merely harmless compliments, right?
Wrong. It’s degrading, offensive and utterly terrifying, especially for women walking alone at night, to receive such objectifying abuse. Social behaviours, such as these, are what feminists and gender equality organisations are trying so desperately to challenge.
Feminism becomes a sensitive topic when others feel personally targeted by a movement or discussion. Perhaps, in the past, you have catcalled a woman – that’s fine; this project, and others like it, are not trying to make you look like an awful human being, but rather educate society into new ways of thinking.
Men catcalling women has previously been accepted as a mans coming of age passage, closely associated with what we consider to be ideal masculinity. This project is attempting to challenge this and get men on board, not embarrass them into silence.
Asking a feminist to draw more attention to mens issues is like calling a police officer to put out a fire – it doesn’t make sense. Of course men can be harassed and sexually/physically assaulted, and feminism isn’t about ignoring these issues to suit our own cause.
Experiments, like the original street harassment video, exist to spark debate and even provoke social change. There is nothing to stop men from doing similar things to raise awareness to similar issues – a very successful one being the male victims of domestic abuse campaign.
Though the project is far from perfect, it does accurately draw attention to their cause without completely undermining the feminism movement and women victims of domestic abuse.