Wednesday 22 January 2020

OPINION: Why this 'motorboating for breast cancer' video is the worst idea ever

Clare Cullen

YouTube channel 'Simple pickup', famous for their videos harassing women on the street, have hit a new low with a video where they promise to donate money to breast cancer charity for every stranger that allows them to motorboat her.

I'm not a fan of 'Simple pickup' as some of their past sketches border on harassment for me- in particular, the one in which they walk up to women, strip naked in the street and attempt to get their phone numbers.

However, this new video hits an all-time low.

The videos premise is simple- they're "saving boobies" by donating $20 for every strange girl that allows one of them to place his head in between her breasts, press them together and shake their head.

The problem with this is that there is a casual justification of objectification and harassment by the promise of cancer donations. This would place these strangers in a very uncomfortable position - allow themselves to be sexually harassed by a stranger or look like you don't want to help fight cancer?

Many of the women feature in the video look visibly uncomfortable with the transaction, with some refusing even to look at the camera.

You can argue that they agreed to it, however, when presented with the argument 'but it's for cancer!', many people would find that an argument very difficult to repel.

For too long, breast cancer campaigns have been sexualised. Most recently, there was a campaign for women to go 'bra-less' for a day, in honour of breast cancer research. There is so much wrong with this. Not wearing a bra, for many women, is cause for discomfort including chafing. (not to forget the discomfort of having people staring at your bra-less chest all day long.) What's worse that the idea was the name of the campaign- "Set the Tatas Free'.

What the people behind that campaign and this video are missing is that it's not about "saving boobies"- it's about saving the women behind the "boobies". This is a fact that was also missed by Twitter users who lamented Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy by tweeting their upset over the loss of a "cracking" set of breasts.

I worry that videos like this (which has now been flagged as mature adult content on YouTube) will spawn copy-cat videos. That for every million that watch, there will be a couple of hundred thousand that think that sexual objectification is OK as long as you justify it with a cause. That even ten thousand out of every million might take away the message that women are somehow separate from their "tatas" and their feelings, their personality, their goals and ambitions can be treated as superfluous.

For women that are as tired of this attitude as I am, there is a Twitter account highlighting incidences of everyday, casual sexism with over 90,000 followers and is available here. This account tweets accounts from female and male users highlighting everyday sexism in an effort to combat the problem by raising awareness, sometimes with a dash of comedy.

Other websites aiming to highlight the issue are 'Said To Lady Journos', chronicling things overhead being said to female journalists and 'Facebook Sexism', chronicling the casual sexism in Facebook comments.

 

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