If you’re Irish and you were using Facebook or Twitter during the football Orla Cup Qualifiers in Copenhagen you’ve probably seen the HILARIOUS video of the Irish fans shouting at the woman leaving Victoria Secret. It’s REALLY FUNNY, a group of about 200 drunk men scream at a woman in a language not her own until she shows them the knickers in her bag. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?!
If you read that first paragraph with ever increasing blood pressure then congratulations you’re a decent human being. If you think I’m a “f*****g shrew” or “in need of a good ****.” then head on over to Facebook and join the hoards of men and women telling me just that. (Screenshots at the end.)
The video isn’t funny. I’m horrified and disappointed that people think a group of men forcing a woman to behave in a sexualised manner is entertaining. Let’s put it in context by looking at facts:
- Several hundred men
- They are drunk
- They are white
- They are Irish
- They speak English
- They shout at a woman
- She shows them her underwear
Now let’s reimagining the scene and change one or two of the adjectives above and see if that makes a difference;
- A group of several hundred Muslim men shout at a woman in Arabic until she shows them her knickers
- A group of several hundred drunk black men shout at a white woman until she shows them her knickers
- A group of several hundred drunk able bodied men shout at a disabled woman until she shows them her knickers
- A group of drunk straightmen shout at a gay man until he shows them his knickers.
- A group of several hundred drunk travellers shout at a woman until she shows them her knickers
- A group of several hundred drunk men shout at one of the teens who shop in VS until she shows them her knickers.
- A lonedrunk in dirty clothes shouts at a woman until she shows him her knickers.
- A well dressed man in a bar whispers at a woman until she shows him her underwear.
Which one is funniest? Not ONE of these scenarios is funny. Not one would be shared all over social media. Not one of those men would be hailed a ‘legend’.
The video currently doing the rounds is only funny because the assailants are white, affluent males (and I’m not interested in their earnings – if you can buy a match ticket, travel abroad and drink all day you’re affluent). Their status as white, Irish, wealthy males sanitises their behaviour.
ANYONE I know who has suggested that this video is anything other than hilarious has had abuse hurled at them.
Why? Why can’t men’s banter tolerate even the slightest query?
The reason reveals the sexism and disregard for women that lies at the heart of major Irish sporting organisations. Women are STILL expected to indulge male humour and whim without a voice. They are still expected to comply. They are still expected to make public what should be private. They are still expected to allow their bodies or that representing them to be used for public consumption. And they are expected to laugh about it.
This was my issue with the Me Too movement, while it was powerful and shocking to see so many statuses and encouraging to see women expressing solidarity for each other, it felt wrong to me. It felt like another way that women were expected to present their private lives for consumption, their trauma and fear and the isolation of having been ignored for so many years was not relevant as we indulged another societal deman on our behaviour. When the world at large decided to hear what women had been saying for decades women were once again expected to play by the rules and speak up in a way that could be managed.
Is this a world where our daughters are safe? Is this a world where our sons become men we respect? Is this a world of equals?
For the record I do not think the reaction of the woman in questions matters, I won’t be congratulating her on ‘handling it so well’ or ‘getting into the spirit of things’. A group of drunk men shouted at a woman without any knowledge of her background (1 in 5 women has experienced sexual violence) or her temperament until she did what they wanted. Hilarious. THIS is why only 15% of assaults are formally reported.