How not to prevent sexual harrassment

Silhouette of a woman whose breast is being grabbed by a hand

This graphic was taken from an Egyptian website for a campaign to stop sexual and street harrassment. The campaign itself I’m all for (despite some rather interesting wording, which may be a translation issue) but this graphic does a terrible job of representing the campaign.

First of all, the woman (who is represented by a black silhouette with a voluptuous chest and butt) appears to be naked. She also appears to be almost pushing out her breasts at the silhouette hand that is reaching out to grab her.

This might be this most victim-blamey “prevention” graphic I’ve ever seen. Also probably not the most effective.

Via Kathleen Hanna

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9 Comments

  1. Posted October 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    On the other hand, can you read the image as saying ‘no matter how someone looks, dresses or acts, it’s still sexual harassment’?

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Maybe that is an unreasonably charitable reading!

  2. Posted October 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Please get over yourselves. Egyptian feminism isn’t modeled after Western feminism and they don’t have to take their cues from you. Furthermore, there are women FROM THAT CULTURE who do, in fact, exist on the internet (see: Muslimah media watch) that you could’ve asked for their opinions on the matter before bitching about how Arab women are Doing it Wrong. Who knows: maybe they would’ve agreed with you 100%, maybe not — but the point is, when Americans tell the rest of the world how to handle their shit, it’s patronizing as hell.

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, it’s really condescending when Americans tell the rest of the world how to “handle their shit,” but where in Miriam’s argument does she pretense to tell Egyptian feminists how American feminists would do it better or should take cues from Americans? She doesn’t. You’re misrepresenting her argument; she presents criticism, sure, but not from some imperialist saddle. And debasing her argument solely because she’s an American feminist – though we definitely need to constantly check ourselves for our privilege – eviscerates her very valid criticism; that’s ad hominem, homie.

      What do you think of the logo, Sam? Do you disagree with Miriam’s criticism? Do you think the logo originates from Egyptian feminism that, because of that origin, the reasons behind the aesthetic choices in the logo are unrecognizable to American feminism? Would you call the logo “victim-blamey”? Why not?

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      I had a similar reaction to Sam, here. First off, the idea that the silhouetted figure looks naked seems silly. Silhouettes always look naked unless they’re wearing stylized little skirts like the ladies on the bathroom symbol.

      Also, the statement that, “She also appears to be ALMOST [emphasis mine] pushing out her breasts at the silhouette hand that is reaching out to grab her” is meaningless. What does it even mean to say that someone “appears to almost” be doing something? I think it means the same as “not” doing that thing.

      I’m also curious how you can justify manufacturing outrage at a group of women struggling against sexual harassment in a country even more patriarchal than our own when this very website features a voluptuous silhouette of a woman, without evident clothing, and with her back arched, appearing to -almost- be pushing her breasts out to the -unseen- hand of sexual harrasment. Come on!

  3. Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    That`s a volumptuous chest and butt? Wow I guess alot more women then this site says have bodies like that then. Seems pretty normal to me.

    I do agree she looks topless though, but on the other hand might be hard to convey the message without showing breasts so clearly, so I get why they did it.

  4. Posted October 28, 2010 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    The logo seems to imply that all sexual harassment is groping, or that all women are a certain body shape (and unclothed, especially without a head covering). It also conceals that street harassment can be very different; things that are said, stalking, groping, unwanted exposure, to much worse. Considering the harassment I’ve seen on the streets here there’s a lot of educating to be done – don’t confound the message if you don’t have to. I also agree that it’s “victim-blamey”. In the graphic she’s “asking for it”: breasts out, clothes off and hands down. If you can avoid the implied negative message…shouldn’t you? Egyptian feminists and gender activists have already got the cards stacked against ‘em!

    • Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      I think the sign is just pointing out that groping is one type of sexual harassment, and that it is not allowed. I don’t think it’s trying to be an all-encompassing single sign against all harassment.
      I think the sign could be better though. focusing on the person doing the groping, rather than the woman being groped would be a better message that it’s the groping that’s the issue, not the fact that a woman has nice looking breasts.

  5. Posted October 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Well, I confess I kinda giggled. At least somebody’s trying to get some kind of message across. Sort of. I think? At least you can’t go wrong with the big red circle and the horizontal bar! Now that’s universal. “Hand reaching out to grab breast = no no”. It’s a start.

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