Men using Mexico City’s metro trains got a shock when they sat down on a seat featuring a lifelike penis.
Campaigners against sexual violence placed the seat, which is moulded in the shape of a male body – complete with genitals, on public transport in a drive designed to show men the difficulties women face every day.
A note on the floor in front of the seat read: “It’s uncomfortable to sit here, but that’s nothing compared to the sexual violence suffered by women on their commute.”
A video promoting the stunt has been watched some 800,000 times on YouTube and is part of a UN Women campaign, alongside the Mexico City government, to tackle the problem of sexual assault.
In it, men can be seen leaping straight back up after trying to sit in the seat. Bemused, confused and disgusted expressions are seen on passengers’ faces as they catch sight of the moulding.
Mexico City moved in 2000 to make the first three carriages of metro trains women-only all day because of a surge in complaints about harassment, but it appears the problem remains.
This is a great idea, because it drives home the problem of harassment in a very real way, not only with the seat, but as you can see later in the video, the camera screens at the station were focusing in on men’s arses, much to their consternation and alarm. As a woman, it’s quite easy to laugh about the reaction of the men, because we spend whole lifetimes putting up with such shit, and it is always a difficult task to get the depth of the problem through to men. Here’s hoping this campaign does get more men to understand.
Holly Kearl, founder of the Stop Street Harassment campaign in the US, told the BBC: “Too often initiatives around women’s safety focus on what women should or should not do, so it is refreshing to see a creative campaign aimed at men.”
On YouTube, the reaction was not universally positive.
One angry male commenter condemned the video as “misandrist” and said it accused an “entire gender” over the actions of an “idiotic and uneducated percentage”.
A woman wrote under the video: “These misandrist campaigns make me angry. To other women I say, ‘Don’t you have sons, fathers or partners? Do you agree with generalising and demonising the male sex in this way?’”
As there has been little done to diminish centuries worth of generalising and demonising women, I’d say when that sort of shit stops, we can stop targeting those who commit the highest levels of harassment. Why is is alright to continue on with the “don’t do this! don’t do that!” garbage women and girls get from day one? Why is it not alright to target harassers and rapists? Those campaigns actually work. And the standard disclaimer: No, not all men harass, assault, or rape. All men do know other men who do those things. All men know other men who are sexist assholes, who tell very nasty jokes about women, who complain constantly about how evil women are, so it’s okay to do this or that, and so on. And the probability is very high that most men don’t tackle all those other men about that sort of stuff. Until men stand up to other men, we won’t get far.
Full story here.