Sunday, November 02, 2014

Videos, Social Media, and Power

I have become aware this week of two young women who put videos on the Internet that cause a lot of sensation and debate.

The first is the young woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Washington State to end her life.  At 29 and married but now, unable to live much longer and have children, she had decided to commit PAS on November 1.  However, as the day approached, she posted another video to say that she was still feeling fairly well and would not do it, yet. 

However, she has taken her life as of Sunday night, so I will edit out my original comments.  

I ponder why she chose to make the private so public.  We will never know.

A person who has exposed herself to criticism is the young woman, an actress, who agreed to be filmed walking through the streets of New York and being "catcalled" at for ten hours.  Less than two minutes of it is posted on YouTube.

Some of the video is proof of what she is trying to prove; some of it seems harmless.  No one says anything really demeaning or obscene.  Do the men have a right to say anything to her as she walks the streets in a t-shirt and jeans (which some might say are a little tight?).  Well, do they?  That is the central question.  One guy walks beside her for over 5 minutes; that's understandably scary but not the same as catcalls and he might be mentally ill, something you are likely to encounter in any city (I surely have in D.C. and Atlanta).

All women have been cat-called at, and sometimes it is really bad and not out of admiration, which is the case with the young woman in the video--the men obviously think she is "hot" and some of them want to get her attention.  Even worse, in the Middle East, especially Egypt, women are physically harassed and worse on a regular basis.  So, my point is, I don't think her video really shows how bad the problem is and therefore may give people cause to dismiss it.  They certainly do on the comments page on YouTube (along with being vulgar).

Not to excuse rude comments from men.  Men like women--in good and bad ways.  Great art has come from such.  In this day of poor upbringing, all kinds of media that demean women and diminish them into nothing but mindless body parts, and lack of male role models who treat women right, it is no wonder that the girl on the streets gets some admiration she doesn't want.    

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