Last month, American discussion site Reddit banned an online community that glorified and incited violence against women. The subreddit is believed to have had up to 40,000 members or “incels”, which stands for ‘involuntarily celibate’.
A recent article offering men advice about how to proposition a woman wearing headphones – encouraging them to block her path to prevent her from ignoring them – rightfully provoked a major backlash. But the backlash also brought a certain phenomenon to wider public attention – the fact that women sometimes wear headphones as a way to avoid unwanted approaches in public.
The public conversation on violence against women tends to focus on sexual assault and domestic abuse. We talk less about the routine intrusions women experience from men in their everyday lives, even though this is the most common form of sexual violence.
My recent research looked at how women navigate interruptions, intrusions, and harassment from unknown men in public. What was most surprising was how all 50 of the women I interviewed significantly underestimated the amount of work they were putting in to avoid intrusions by men in the street, and the impact this had on them.
They recognised that they were making certain decisions about routes home, or where to sit on public transport. They spoke about using sunglasses or headphones in order to create a shield – a way to give the impression that they didn’t hear that man making a sexual comment, or didn’t see that other man touching himself as he walked behind them.
Many categorised their clothes in relation to safety. Scarves were seen as safe – handy for covering your chest. The colour red was, for some, seen as unsafe – too bright, too obvious, too visible. Some even adopted particular facial expressions, trying to balance “looking tough” against the desire to not be told to “cheer up” by a man they’d never met before.
The women I spoke to knew they were doing some of these things but other behaviours were less conscious. They hadn’t really reflected on how much energy went into avoiding unwanted contact below the surface and how their freedom was affected.
Image: The FederalistRead more
With your support, Collective Shout has continued to challenge sexploitation at every level during 2016. It is because of our supporters all over the country (and overseas) that our collective voice and impact continues to grow so thank you and here's to keeping up the fight in 2017!Read more
We love to hear positive stories of men taking action on the sexploitation of women. That is why we were so encouraged when Laurie chose to speak out after seeing the sexualised imagery on Makita's home page.Read more
A Sprite ad saying ‘she’s seen more ceilings…than Michelangelo’ has been branded “sexist and degrading” by an advertising standards watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) upheld complaints about a number of slogans used as part of Sprite’s #BrutallyRefreshing campaign.
A UK gym has been called out for sexist billboard advertisements depicting a woman's backside alongside the slogan "There's better things to be stuck behind than the car in front."Read more
Most Australians wouldn’t consider the links between sexism, objectification of women and sex trafficking in sport, or even think about it at all.Read more
Man is fully clothed, woman wears body paint and yet “The Board noted that the woman’s nipples are sufficiently covered by body paint . . .”Read more
Clothing retailer Gap has been accused of sexism over their latest kids collection. The advertising campaign features a little boy, labelled 'the scholar' wearing an Albert Einstein t-shirt, and a girl, the 'social butterfly' whose outfit is the 'talk of the playground'.Read more