Posts Tagged ‘Sexual Harassment’

  1. Three’s A Crowd

    September 28, 2012 by The Kraken

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    You know what? I’m still thinking about tits. Even though I’ve splashed my bile over the whole Kate Middleton debacle I still have baps on the brain. God knows why because I’ve had my very own pair for the last 41 years. Then again, it’s precisely because I have funbags of my own that I am obsessing over the subject. That and the No More Page Three campaign that’s making me want to lob burning tyres into any given newsagents.

    What is with The Sun’s page three? I’m comforted by the fact that thousands of other people have spluttered the same question as they signed the campaign petition, yet I get the raging vapours when I realise that right now, in 21st Century Britain, I can actually show my four year old daughter pictures of tits in a national newspaper. A newspaper. Not a wank mag. Not an anatomy text book. A newspaper.

    I just don’t get it, the whole notion of checking a paper for the news, a crossword or TV listsings just to be confronted by the norks of Chantelle from Chelmsford. In fact it makes me sick up into the back of my throat. The whole thing leaves me so bewildered that I swear to fuck someone’s been feeding me rohipnol. Quite possibly the type of someone who leers over page three in the first place.

    And as much as this offends me as a woman it sends my rage into space when I view it as the mother of a little girl. There I am showing four year old Kraken Junior that she’s strong, determined, intelligent, inventive and capable of changing the world while page three shows her that her value lies solely in the tits that she hasn’t even grown yet. What a delightful start to any little girl’s life. And there I was fretting over her wanting to be a princess. What I should be worrying about is whether she one day compares herself to these laughable examples of femininity and starts slashing at her own body with a knife just to relief herself of her thundering lack of belief and self-esteem. I’ll send the bill for her psychiatric treatment to editor Dominic Mohan shall I?

    Yet even if I never expected better of The Sun, you’d have thought that it would expect better of its own readers. You see, even though the paper thinks of itself as a rag that stands up for the common man it’s happy to piss all over the other half of the population. It’s also happy for the common man to one day see his own daughter gurning back at him from page three. What a lovely thought for all of those page three supporters, that one day their daughter may get her kit off and submissively stare out of a newspaper while some stranger gets a stiffy and splashes his spooge all over her picture before balling up the sodden page and chucking it into the bin. How’s that for respect for women? But then again I really don’t expect page three supporters to think that far ahead in the first place. Not when there’s a quick woody to hand.

    More than that, is this really what a newspaper wants to look like in modern Britain? Opening The Sun to page three is like setting a flux capacitor to 88 mph and finding yourself back in a workingmen’s club in 1971. It’s such a dated notion from such a dated age that you’d think that any decent editor would back off faster than David Cameron from a benefits claimant. So exactly what is The Sun trying to achieve by clinging onto it? Perhaps it’s actively trying to die out which it will when the last leering, 70′s-stuck, daughterless reader finally kicks the bucket and takes the entire paper’s readership with him.

    Which is why the NMPT campaign isn’t just women defending women. It’s also about women defending the daughters and wives and grandaughters and nieces of any given tit-ogler, although it’s a big shame that we’re having to do this for them. If you fancy being generous, though, you can sign the petition here or you can tweet or you can nip over to Facebook. Go on. Even if your day’s been a bastard here’s your chance to turn it around.

     The Kraken is a ‘furious and ranty ex-freelance journalist’. She has a wonderfully rage-filled blog, with the excellent title, ‘The Kraken Wakes’ and you can find her on Twitter right here

  2. Not even Lads harass – that’s left to the morons

    May 28, 2012 by Mr_Fitzgerald

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    There is one trending issue which really riles me up. One which doesn’t affect me directly, one I’ve never witnessed first hand, one which I have hitherto apparently let go un-noticed. And one I feel near powerless to prevent.

    Street harassment has been around for a long time. Forgive me my disgraceful naivety here though, but I had assumed that the wolf-whistling builder was just a cliché. Nowadays, with women MPs and CEOs, no average Joe Bloggs still shouts “nice tits love” at women in the street, right?

    According to this, 43% of women would disagree. It’s a shocking statistic, made worse by the fact that if you spoke to enough women you’d be expect it to be higher.

    For any right-minded bloke, the thought of harassing an attractive woman on the street never crosses his mind. What may well cross his mind is “sweet holy Jesus, she’s gorgeous”. Especially in summer, when skirts are shorter, tops lower, and all women seem to look a billion dollars. He will then probably tell his male friends about this ethereal vision of a female, probably in fairly insensitive terms, fantasising about what sex with her would be like. Which is fine – physical attraction is natural, and that sort of banter between male friends is part of male bonding, never intending to directly involve women or risk causing any offence. It is, to use that awful word, “banter”.

    It takes a special kind of moron to act upon that thought, and/or act upon that woman.

    It’s the kind of moron I cannot begin to comprehend. And trust me, I have tried. They’ll call themselves “one of the lads”, rejecting criticism to their behaviour a humourless over-reaction.


    I know lad culture. I went to university in Durham, a tiny city crammed with rugby and football teams, which, when combined along with a dose of cheap lager, produces a potent laddish cocktail. I’ve been part of it, on club socials and tours. I grew up in Glasgow, chav capital of the world. I’ve been there, seen it, done it, got the “Lads on Tour” t-shirt.

    Laddishness is about knowing your audience. Discussing women in physical terms purely as a group of ‘lads’ is the right side of the line of acceptability. Where you step over that line is when you start to involve women in your audience. That is when it stops being banter and becomes harassment.

    Just to be clear, I hate what the word ‘lad’ now means. It legitimises shitty behaviour to others purely on the basis of ‘being a lad’. Similarly, ‘boys will be boys’ does so on the grounds of being one of a whole gender. On both counts, I call bullshit. Why should possessing a penis be a valid excuse for being a cunt? Evolving behaviour to be more socially acceptable is a key part of an evolving civilisation – one which includes everyone – valuing and combining their different contributions, to improve the overall machine and maintain forward momentum. I thought we were at a point where we men had realised how much women can bring to the party.

    Yet there remains a minority, apparently not the tiny one I was expecting, who aren’t quite fully socially evolved – the child at the back of the class, who gets a kick out of both the social unacceptability and the resulting reaction of flagrant misogyny. That kick is the only motivation I can think of to explain what they do.

    So what can we do?

    Sadly, few people seem to have a workable solution, though not for want of trying. The Council of Europe’s Convention on Violence Against Women is a good start. But there’s a long way to go before the law catches up with the crime. And as with other forms of discrimination, the law can only ever go so far. We need to hit this from both sides, with legislation at the top matched by action at ground level. We cannot ignore it and expect laws to do all the. We need to reinforce the unacceptability of this behaviour every day, every time we see it.

    And, gentlemen, some of it needs to come from our side.

    What these children really want is a reaction from those at whom they direct their ‘compliments’. It’s what makes their game ‘fun’, so they continue. Like all trolls, if you react they never stop, if you ignore them they ratchet the game up a level until they get a reaction, but if you engage them properly, and show them up in front of their peers, they quickly stop bothering.

    I’ve seen this sort of thing happen online – a sexist comment is made by some imbecile, women react, imbecile argues back and continues to conduct his audience. What I’ve seen that they can’t handle is men calling them out as the impotent, pathetic infants they are. This steals the kick they get from female attention, and the feeling of a taboo broken. So they vanish.

    Essentially, our response to street harassment needs to be equivalent to this. Priceless.

    This is my rallying cry to my fellow men. If you witness some dickless wonder harassing a woman, help her out. Anything from a quiet “are you ok?” to “I don’t think she’s into virgins, mate” would, if nothing else, show the victim she’s not on her own. Judge the situation, be careful, but for god’s sake don’t stand by and do nothing when you can do something. We’ve left the women to fight this battle alone for far too long.

    After all, if things continue this way, women will give up and start wearing the burqa. Then we all lose. You’ve seen London in the summer sun, right?! It’s like a goddamn lynx advert. And who knows, if we stand by our women, we might even get laid. Now wouldn’t that be nice.

    Jack is a twenty something manboy. He writes a blog about London life (check out The London Lad here) and has the largest collection of empty gin bottles I’ve ever seen. You can often spot Jack exploring news bars and haunts for his blog, or on Twitter. Go forth and make friends. Just don’t try and make him watch Twilight. 

  3. Street Harassment Goes On Tour…

    March 26, 2012 by CJMortimer

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    Breaking the trend of the last few days, my tale of harassment happens on a train rather than on the street.

    Although I’ve had my fair share of leery, creepy men and their unwanted attention, I’ve never experienced the kind of verbal abuse that lots of women were talking about last week. My story is not about drunk men, dark evenings and inappropriate banter. It happened on a commuter train, silently, in the middle of the day.

    It began relatively innocuously. I was minding my own business, nursing a (slight) hangover on a Virgin train between Birmingham and London at around five o’clock on a cold December afternoon in the window seat of a carriage full to the brim with businessmen (quietly) conducting their business on their laptops, (loudly) discussing their next meeting on their iPhones and Blackberries and (probably) texting their mistresses the time they were coming over that weekend.

    At Rugby a man came and sat next to me. This in itself wasn’t all that remarkable as there were few free seats left on the train and despite my slight claustrophobia and dislike of people I don’t know near me it did not bother me too much. For half an hour nothing happened, I looked out the window, listening to my iPod and thought about the night before while he read the Daily Star or some other tabloid that I wasn’t really paying attention to.

    Then he decided to ‘fall asleep’.

    I didn’t noticed much at first until his fingers started to graze my thigh slightly. I shifted uncomfortably so they’d fall off, yet the hand remained. I coughed loudly so he was jolted awake and his hand moved as he stirred. Thinking it was innocent I looked out the window again. A few minutes later I felt the hand again this time they were edging a bit closer to my crotch. Then I realised his eyelashes were flickering the way my little sister and I’s used to when we were little and were trying to feign sleep to my parents.

    Horrified that this was deliberate I trying edging closer to the window but, as anyone who has ever been on a Virgin train will attest that, this did not make much difference.

    So I was stuck. Of course what pass through my mind was forcibly pushing his hand away, telling him to piss off or standing up and asking one of the other passengers to swap with me. But I did nothing. I squirmed and I wriggled and I squished myself up against the window until he got off the stop before I did. I think it went on for another half an hour in all.

    And I did nothing. That’s the worst. Out of everything that has happen in my life, this particular incident doesn’t make the top ten on its own. It’s not what happened, or that horrible guy, it’s how I reacted.

    I wanted to say something but I was too scared of what other people would think. I was scared that I was overreacting. Because he didn’t try to grope me fully and because I was wearing jeans I tried to rationalise it and told myself that if I screamed everyone else who just think I’m being over dramatic. The other businessmen might have sided with the guy or thought I’d made it up.

    This is why I want to tell this story and why I decided to publish it under my own name even though I’d rather my parents didn’t find out about it. My mother told me a story years ago about being groped on the Underground in her twenties as part of her ‘don’t trust strangers’ speech at around ten or eleven but as I was already becoming a nascent feminist I assumed that this sort of thing didn’t happen anymore, especially not to girls like me. The Queen of standing up to the boys, feminist rhetoric and answering back.

    To paraphrase a bad* eighties movie; nobody puts me in a corner.

    And yet I let this happen because I was scared people would think I was a silly little girl. In hindsight, those men probably would have rushed to my defence if I’d protested but I was too afraid to test that theory because there are so many occasions where women are told we’re overreacting to sexism and abuse; its harmless or just ‘a bit of banter’.

    So in a way I suppose this is my call to arms. We’ve won a lot of battles over the past hundred years, we can vote, think and say what we like; we have options to fight back against this sort of thing we just have to use them. Just because we can shrug it off doesn’t mean we should or that men like that should be allowed to get away with it.

    When it comes to sneaky abuse like this its time women fought back because when we do will probably find everyone is already behind us.

    Caroline is a student at Birmingham University. She’s also a freelance journalist and blogger, providing insights into political, social, and economic news from around the world. You can follow her on Twitter here, or you can check out her superb blog here

    *AWOT does not support the theory that Dirty Dancing is anything other than cinematic brilliance.