There seems to be a sickening and abusive culture surrounding women, especially in cities. You may remember the 2014 video of a woman walking around NYC for 10 hours and experiencing numerous advances and harassment. The woman walks behind a person wearing a video camera on their back. She is then harassed numerous times while walking around different blocks of downtown NYC. The video was created to raise awareness.
However, a new video highlighting this issue is circulating the web just this week, wherein a woman is verbally harassed and then punched in the face.
The video points out important cultural norms that reinforce the abuse of women.
In the video, (and later validated in an interview) the harasser walks past Marie Laguerre, makes a comment about her, to which she responds "shut up." More words are exchanged and the two stop walking and turn around to assumably continue exchanging words. Importantly, the harasser walks back to the Laguerre, throws an ashtray, and then hits her in the face. She is shaken but does not fall or retaliate.
What's most sickening about this is that the man felt that he had the unquestionable right to hit Laguerre just as he had the right to harass her. This may be a common attitude among some men based on the harassment experienced presumably on a daily in urban areas, which has been documented in places like the city metro, where it has been reported that over 267,000 people, mainly women, have been sexually abused over a two-year period.
Thankfully witnesses were there to help Laguerre after she was attacked. Those witnesses saw what happened and immediately came to stop the man as he was walking away, letting him know just how unacceptable that was, and ready to take action if the man's violent outburst was not over.
After the security footage went viral, Maire Laguerre was ready to share her story.
Translated into English: "Because I responded to his harassment, a man hit me in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day, in front of dozens of witnesses. Unacceptable. Stop street harassment. #Noustoutes #Metoo #balancetonporc #harcelementderue @marleneschiappa"
The message has resonated with many as the story continues to be shared in an attempt to bring further awareness to street harassment. France's Gender Equality Minister also took a moment to recognize the issue and commented on TV about the attack.
Again Translated into English: "'This video illustrates the continuum of sexist and sexual violence. It starts with obscene noises, then cries and then insults and threats and then a blow. We must stop it from the beginning, which is why we put to the vote the verbalization of street harassment' #BFM"
Schiappa has an important point here when she discusses the runaway effect of verbal abuse leading to violence. If the culture is allowed to continue then it makes sense that it will evolve.
Luckily, France is in the process of creating more laws like fining cat-callers so that women like Laguerre no longer have to suffer in silence. The trend seems to be moving in a positive direction. Although, culture might take more time to change.
How do you feel? Where were these laws 10 or 15 years ago? Why do you believe the times are changing so much right now?