See what women feel

“The key to getting people to change their behavior, in other words, sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation. The Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.” Malcom Gladwell

mexicosubway Mitsumasa Kiido/Screenshot by NPR

In 2016 it was reported that nine out of 10 women or girls who use public transportation feel unsafe while doing it, (NYT). The transport system in Mexico City was rated the second-most dangerous for women out of the 15 world capitals. Around three million sexual attacks – ranging from groping to rape – were committed in Mexico between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Statistics Institute. (The Guardian)

The Mexican government and UN Women teamed up to create an experimental campaign called #NoEsDeHombres (“this is not manly”) to raise awareness on the dismal statistics outlined above. The tables have turned in what used to be the formula for raising awareness about sexual harassment toward women. Traditionally, women have been  the target audience for such campaigns, advising them guard their drinks, pretend to talk on the phone when walking home at night, to not drink too much, to dress appropriately, etc. For this campaign, men are the target. In their video (2 million view of YouTube) “Experimento Asiento,” in English “an experiment with a seat,” passengers come across an anatomically correct representation of a male torso. Men accidentally came into contact with the protruding parts of the seat and their discomfort and frustration registers immediately on their faces. Below it, a plaque says, It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes.

In a second video “Experimento Pantallas” in English “experiment screens,” involved strategically placing cameras on a subway platform that zoom into shots of male buttocks and display them on screens for all to see. You could see that a number of men are shown expressing disgust and embarrassment.

“In order to generate change, you need to create empathy,” Yeliz Osman, a program coordinator with the Mexican UN Women office, said. “The idea is that men can get a sense of what it is all like. By creating empathy, we hope that this might change their behavior.”

In the comments section of these two videos, I see users refer to it as FemiNazi propaganda and question what the big deal is if a man finds a woman attractive why can’t they catcall. In similar fashion, women who have stood up and reported their sexual assaults have been threatened with rape and death.  I am reminded about Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point and his theory on the power of context. Will such campaign be able to shift generational notions of gender and entitlement?

Experimento Asiento Incómodo (Uncomfortable Seat Experiment)

Experimento Pantallas (Experiment Screens)

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2 Responses to See what women feel

  1. sydhavely says:

    Interesting post, Lisette. I had never heard of that before.

  2. nicolebford says:

    I love to hear that they are flipping the switch! This reminds me of a recently published piece about the dangers of women running alone. Instead of telling women to “get a buddy” – why aren’t we focusing on the fact that men shouldn’t be harassing them?

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