Hollerin' Back

[Trigger warning for sexual assault.]

So, there's this video going around the internets, which captures a woman who's been flashed/frottaged on a subway confronting the man who assaulted her. She gives him a look of utter contempt and yells, "That's it! Oh, you're getting fucking arrested! I'm not leaving your side. My plans are done for the night! I'm escorting you to the police station, okay? Oh yes. Oh fucking yes."

I'm not posting the video here, because the man filming the video says, with a tone that does not particularly suggest empathy, "Oh, this shit's going on YouTube, yo." There is no indication that it was uploaded with the woman's consent.

The video was nonetheless featured on Hollaback and on Jezebel, among other sites. A search was launched to locate the woman, who was being hailed as a hero.

Something that seems to have been lost, however, in the understandable desire to recognize this woman's actions is that she was sexually violated. It is considered, to put it mildly, bad form to publicly identify a survivor of sexual assault without hir consent, and, suffice it to say, trying to track down an anonymous survivor's identity is, um, somewhat problematic.

(Note: There is a difference between saying, for example, "If you're out there, contact me!" and "Twitter, please help me find her!")

I also wonder, if I'm honest, about the wisdom of widely celebrating a woman who makes a spectacle, and if that doesn't tacitly indict the women who don't.

I'm generally not one to suggest caution at the possibility of feeding into false frames—when it comes to political strategy, I almost exclusively advocate against cautiousness for a consideration of false frames—but that's because most progressive capitulation to false framing does harm, e.g. supporting a stupid war so as not to be erroneously cast as "soft on defense." In this case, the greater harm may be done by not acknowledging the demonstrable damage done by the rape culture narratives associated with s/he didn't scream and s/he didn't fight back.

Which is a long way of saying: I've seen the video, but it's not going to be posted here.

(Echidne, who does post the video with mixed emotions, also wisely expresses concern that the "bystanders seem to be busy taking videos and pictures but not actually helping her.")

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