You’re walking down the street by myself, minding your own business, on your way to work.
You walk by a building site, where a group of men (some double your age) start shouting at you, approaching you, whistling, gesturing, laughing…
How would that make you feel?
Today the news of 23 year old Poppy Smart, calling the Police after being in that very scenario, has made headline news. She reported the men at a construction site in her home town of Worcester for sexual harassment, after being made to feel uncomfortable everyday for a month on her way to work.
She told BBC Newsbeat that at first she’d tried to block out the cat calls and wolf whistles,
“I started wearing sunglasses so I didn’t have to look at them. I started putting headphones on so I didn’t have to hear them.”
“Eventually it got to the day where I had enough.”
She contacted the construction firm and police the same day.
West Mercia police have confirmed they followed up her complaint as a possible incident of anti-social behaviour but were not taking any further action. As for the firm, she received an apology from it’s owner, who basically said he can’t control his workers all the time…
Nor should he have to. These are fully grown men, perfectly responsible for their own actions. So why were they taking it upon themselves to make a young woman, who was clearly intimidated, feel so uncomfortable and for such a long period of time?
If you’re looking for an example of everyday ‘lad culture’, then this is one of them.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been minding my own business and had a man, or worse group of men, shout something or whistle at me in the street. Now that’s not me trying to big myself up in any way, I’ve seen it happen to tonnes of women – and before we go down the route of wearing provocative clothing will obviously get attention, I’ve had this on my way to the gym. I mean c’mon, grow up.
It makes you feel like a piece of meat.
And it happens all the time.
Poppy explained how common and seemingly ‘normal’ this kind of behaviour is in our society pretty perfectly –
“It’s a thing I’ve become accustomed to, as many women have.
I think its incredibly old fashioned. The fact it’s happened to so many of my friends, it obviously happens to a lot of women and we’ve learnt to deal with it as second nature.”
Why should anyone, man or woman, have to deal with what is quite frankly is most definitely harassment, in the street, as though it’s just a normal everyday thing?
Simple, they shouldn’t.
But of course, as with basically anything that ever happens, anywhere, ever – Twitter has erupted with criticism for Poppy’s police call and the hash tag #PoppySmart is getting nasty.
‘Wasting police time’ seems to be a major theme here.
Even Philip Davies, who is looking to be re-elected as Tory MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, said:
“I would have thought the police have better things to do.”
“I don’t know how many burglaries there are to investigate in Worcester, but there are probably quite a few.”
“I’m sure the public would feel safer if police devoted more time to investigating them.”
Last time I checked harassment was a crime?
With the negatives, of course there are positives though, and thankfully as I scrolled through Twitter earlier I saw a refreshing amount of encouragement.
Shouting at someone, who you do not know, in a sexual and/or aggressive way is not only disgusting, but it is just not OK.
That means it shouldn’t be a normal thing to do.
If it’s not normal, we shouldn’t stand for it, encourage it and most importantly, do it.
& as for Poppy Smart – you go girl!