Saturday, 18 June 2016

To Fire with Enthusiasm - On Sexual Harassment

Things are  dark. The problem with following mainly feminists on Twitter is you get a LOT of depressing news stories about rapes, and the reasons given for not punishing a perpetrator found guilty. Every thirty seconds spent scrolling through one's Twitter feed is another story of a criminal being let off pushed into one's face. The reasons for not punishing men who commit violence against women are usually something along the lines of, "Because he has a job", "Because he is really, really good at swimming", or "Whatever. The four guys raping a terrified girl in a ship's cabin didn't technically prevent her from leaving, so it wasn't a real rape".

We are illustrating this post with consent images.
All consent images from the awesome Föreningen Tillsammans Twitter account, unless otherwise stated.

Sometimes one has to work very hard to see the bright spots. But they tend to be there, if you squint hard enough. Friends, fortunately, are good sources of light.

As Shewee Fiend Friend said, "But there was this success story this morning! It's not all bad! We will win!" Or, as another friend of ours remarked, "One has to be happy just to be alive". (This is a person who has left everything behind to flee a war zone, so she must know what she's talking about.) Also, our friend Rebecca Nice started talking very loudly about the sexual harassment she was subjected to by her History Programme Leader at Winchester University, which is awesome on so many levels.

"Consent - it's simple as tea." You can make someone a cup of tea, but if they don't want it, or if they're unconscious or asleep, you can't force them to drink.
Image from rockstardinosaurpirateprincess

And we went to Copenhagen Airport to talk to one of the managers about the steps they have taken to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the security check ever again!

You may remember us venting our fury at reporting sexual harassment at the airport, and having absolutely sod-all happen, back in October. The internal inquiry took so long that, by the time we got around to making a police report, the CCTV footage had already been deleted, leading to the police investigation being closed due to a lack of evidence.

The customer service team sent us an apology, which we found woefully inadequate. We weren't interested in being apologised to - we wanted the airport to bloody well prevent its staff from harassing women!

Harassment is intended to intimidate. According to a study conducted by the FRA, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, in 2014, over 50 % of Danish women have been subjected to physical or sexual violence, and between 70 and 80 % have been sexually harassed. The Everyday Sexism Project Denmark bears witness to the physical, sexual and verbal violence that women in Denmark are subjected to, every day. The constant exposure to threats and violence means that women's freedom of movement is reduced, and thus constitutes a threat to democracy. Basically, if you're scared to step out the door, or voice your opinion, or get on a plane, due to a fear of being harassed, you may find it challenging to exercise your democratic rights and duties.

Physical and sexual violence is not a women's problem. It is a human rights problem. The UN recognises sexual harassment as a form of violence against women. The EU recognises the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex (according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union), and further demands that its member states ensure the right to equal treatment between men and women in all areas, including employment, work and pay, vocational training, and access to goods and services. This means that all forms of sexual harassment are a breach of human rights as defined by the EU and the UN.

However, it seemed to us that Copenhagen Airport were perfectly happy to let their staff sexually harass women with impunity.

Kick-arse quote by Maisie Williams

But. The article in Politiken by Anne Lea Landsted, and the subsequent flood of complaints from other women claiming to have been sexually harassed, did cause the airport to review its routines.

A friend of ours, who works at Copenhagen Airport, got us a meeting with one of the managers. The manager in question explained that the airport has implemented three changes to its procedures, intended to protect customers from sexual harassment, and make sure that it is enquired into properly if a complaint is made. The changes are:

1) Only female staff will conduct body searches on female passengers. Copenhagen Airport formerly had a policy of letting both male and female officers search both male and female passengers. We think it would be wonderful if such a policy were possible, as it would mean that men and women were able to interact without harassment happening. However, due to there being an uneven power balance between staff and passengers (most people are not very likely to react when sexually harassed, and especially not when they've just handed their passport over and are being subjected to a humiliating ritual involving strangers touching their armpits), we don't think that kind of arrangement is feasible. So well done, Copenhagen Airport, for facing the facts and not letting male staff do body searches on women!*

2) The airport is storing CCTV footage for a month, not two weeks as previously. The airport recognises that a person subjected to sexual harassment in the security control may wait until he or she gets home before filing a complaint. This means that by the time you do, the footage may already have been deleted, or will be by the time the police get around to investigating. Storing the footage for longer means that inquiries will be facilitated, and that police investigations will hopefully not be closed due to lack of evidence.

3) An amendment has been made to the internal notification system, to ensure that a complaint made isn't lost in a sea of messages on a busy day.

Also, we have been assured that if a member of staff is found to have harassed someone, they will be fired immediately. Obviously, keeping CCTV footage for  longer will help in this matter.

We find the procedural changes at Copenhagen Airport to be hope-inspiring. As we commented to Tudor Friend,

"If nothing else they have an economic incentive to prevent harassment - they don't want to be known as the pervy airport!"

Tudor Friend promptly replied,

"Yes, 'Welcome to Denmark, home of the PervPort' doesn't really encourage tourism."

Going off on a bit of a tangent, she continued,

"'PervWorld Airlines: Come Fly the Friendly Skies. And we really mean the Friendly'."

At this point we felt the need to interrupt Tudor Friend before we both suffered irreparable damage to our respective psyches.

Hell, this is supposed to be a bog blog - let's have some toilets! Some hope-inspiring toilets!

The below pictures are from one of the restaurants at the Tivoli in Copenhagen, the capital of what used to be everyone's favourite toilet country, Denmark. One used to be able to access these fancy toilets through the café opposite the central train station, which we have enjoyed gorging on cakes in on many occasions, for instance with Intellectual Friend and Danish Friend. However these bombastic bogs have, we discovered on a subsequent visit, been made inaccessible to hoi polloi. One can no longer just stroll down from the café to use the loo - one has to be a guest at the actual Tivoli restaurant. Access denied. The way is shut. Bugger off.

Let us think of the Tivoli restaurant toilets as a metaphor for women's bodies - ACCESS DENIED UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEN GRANTED ENTHUSIASTIC PERMISSION.

Mere consent is not enough - don't settle for less than rampant enthusiasm!
Image from Buzzfeed
Right? Let's move on.

These toilets are so fancy we die a little inside. (But not before huffing at the subjunctive tap.)

We note the spare bog roll with approval, but scorn the non-covered toilet roll holder.

A flush button console doubling as a mirror - what's not to like?

Only two words cover this situation, and those words are HUBBA! HUBBA!

A stylish and functional coat-hook - our favourite kind!

A soap promising actual resurrection? A bit too high-brow for us.


We had intended to make today's Festive Video a feminist anthem. But then we came across this absolutely kick-arse video of Dolly Parton imitating Elvis, and lost all sense of proportion. We have realised that THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO. HOW CAN WE FIND A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING DOING ELVIS COVERS - WHILE DRESSED AS DOLLY PARTON?

(Do drop us a line if you figure out a way.)

Festive Video - Dolly Parton, All Shook Up

Australian Friend came to visit us recently, and passed safely through the Copenhagen Airport security check, without being harassed. Hurrah!

*In case you feel inclined to go off on one of the highly unproductive and short-sighted "not all men" rants: 98 % of all acts of sexual violence are committed by men. Most of these acts of violence are directed at women, some at men. But only 2 % are committed by women.

Related Reading
Our account of the struggle to get sexual harassment investigated: On Violence Against Women

A follow-up post, where we were still waiting to hear from the police, and were applauding Shewee Fiend Friend's kick-arse antics: One Battle Won, But the War Ain't Over

Anne Lea Landsted's leader article in Politiken, about being fed up with being sexually harassed in the airport security check: Er Københavns Lufthavn ude i sikkerhedstjek eller sexchikane

Rebecca Nice's public Instagram post announcing her intention to talk loudly about sexual harassment: I WAS SEXUALLY HARASSED

An awesome blog about sexual harassment: Feminist Killjoys

An excellent article on sexual entitlement from Everyday Feminism:  How Male Sexual Entitlement Hurts Everyone

Another rant of ours about the patriarchy: Love, Politics and the Revolution

A post about one time when we visited the Tivoli wih Australian Friend: Sing If You're Glad to Be a Dane

All posts featuring Shewee Fiend Friend

All posts featuring Tudor Friend

All posts featuring Intellectual Friend

All posts featuring Danish Friend

The problem with Subjunctive Taps

We usually feel compelled, when ranting about the patriarchy, to point out that we have many male friends who would never dream of acting in a sexist or boorish manner. Some of them may be found featured under the following labels (in alphabetical order):

Bogsley Hansson Friend
Czech Mate
German Friend
Intellectual Friend
Mr Smith
Obsessive Emmerdale Fan Friend
Semi-Intellectual Friend
Uncle Sean

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...