shoutingoutthewindow

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Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Gorillas in the (red) mist

I’ve been playing with a few ideas for blog 2 over the last week but nothing was quite working; maybe the weather was making me too happy, maybe one blog had got it all out of my system, or perhaps I just hadn’t had quite the right thing to rail against. But fear not, this evening I paused at the supermarket on my way home and came face to face with (brace yourself) a man wearing a t-shirt which appeared to show a young woman being raped by a gorilla (or possibly a man in a gorilla suit)… Just play with that visual image for a minute… Got it? Now put it on a t-shirt, in broad daylight, on a normal looking man. Anyone else feeling the need to have a little yell with me out of the window?

Let’s just break that down for a second or two before we all run for the gin…

So, the first thing that happened there is that a t-shirt designer took an image of a gorilla and an image of a beautiful woman bent over with a pained look on her face and put them together. Without thinking “Too rapey for a t-shirt? We’re okay with the bestiality are we?” or if they thought it, they answered “no”.

Next a retailer saw that design and thought, “that fits a gap in our product range, we’ll buy some” and that’s what they did and then stocked them in their stores. Without thinking, “is this a little bit offensive?” or if they thought it, they answered “no”.

Then someone walked into that shop (let’s assume it was the man wearing it) and looked at the slightly rapey/definitely bestiality inspired t-shirt and thought, “haa haa haa, look at that gorilla and the pretty girl he’s fucking, that’s hilarious, I need that t-shirt” at no point did he stop and consider if it was at all inappropriate or vile or sexist or just not a nice t-shirt, or if he did think that, he answered “no”.

And then he wore it… He wore the rapey/bestiality t-shirt…

For those out there who question the concept of a rape culture and its impact on the victims of sexual violence, I point you towards the comedy rape t-shirt. I’m not going into the whole rape joke thing here, that’s for another day. My point is that if you can treat rape so casually that you put it on a t-shirt, what hope is there?

Dear T-Shirt Designer/Retailer/Man Wearing T-Shirt

Please, go and look at http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/ see what an amazing thing they are trying to do. Women are subjected to the worst possible violence in the name of war and we’re just starting to tackle it.

Now, how do you feel about that t-shirt? Because I know how I feel and it’s furious.

Kindest regards

Sarah

My First Blog

Today I finally reached my Network moment, as I read the Indie’s article on public harassment(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/catcalls-whistles-groping-just-another-day-for-a-young-woman-7786185.html) I could think of nothing better than yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” from the nearest window. So, rather than terrifying my parents’ neighbours, I thought I would use the internet as my window and write my first blog. Brace yourselves…

I might be outside of the study’s age group, but my experience as a woman living/working/playing in London is all too familiar. Here are some things that have happened to me in public (this excludes bars/nightclubs as that’s a whole other blog): 

  • Subjected to verbal harassment by a group of about 10 men for around 20 minutes on the Tube, the only way off the train was passed them, they blocked the exit so that I had to squeeze passed, at least 2 put their hands up my skirt – this was a Saturday afternoon
  •  Followed home by a man who was angry that I hadn’t responded to his comments to me on the bus which I genuinely hadn’t heard. I had to walk away from my front door as I was so worried he would find out where I lived, he eventually got bored of walking round in circles and just yelled what a bitch I was at me as I walked away
     
  • Conversations along these lines are frequent:

Him:               Where are you going?
Me:                *stony faced silence*
Him:               Bitch

Or

Him:               Where are you going?
Me:                Home
Him:               Where’s home?
Me:                *Look that says, ‘none of your business’*
Him:               Bitch 

  • Eyed up and obviously talked about by two young guys on the platform. I get into a different carriage on purpose. They walk through the train to sit in my carriage so that they can carry on discussing me.

 Those are on top of the almost daily staring, whistling, gesturing and commenting that we all live with.

 Which is what is making me so angry today (despite a rather wonderful massage this morning), that women in London and I suspect the rest of the UK have just learned to live with this bullshit. We sigh, we roll our eyes and we tut at the lower level stuff and then I hear stories of women changing how they dress, travel and socialise in order to avoid the bigger stuff. Did you notice that, it’s the women changing their lives to accommodate men’s bad behaviour?

I completely understand why any woman would choose to protect herself from the harassment she suffers while out and about, but to all my friends and family who might be reading this, I’m not going to be one of those women. I will not accept this as the way life is and I will not change what makes me happy in order to avoid it – I might keep having massages to calm me down though.

Maybe I am over-reacting; a lot of women enjoy a compliment… But if it’s okay to stare down my top on the Tube, does that mean that you don’t believe I deserve your respect? If I don’t deserve your respect, then why do I deserve equal pay? Or the right to do with my body whatever I want? Or how about protection from unfair government cuts? Because if my gender gives you licence to treat me differently than a man while I just happen to walk passed you, then why not treat me differently everywhere?

So, that’s my shout out of the window today. Do I feel better for having a shout? Not really, but I’m working on it.

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