After the mobile app against street harassment, here is the next one: this time against sexism in the media. Based on the idea that the consumer makes the ultimate choice in our society by voting with her money, Missrepresentation.org believes we have the right and opportunity to talk back and influence the media we buy. Can we teach the media a lesson and demand a change in how women are represented? Can we together put pressure on certain companies and make them produce different ads? And if at all, will a mobile app help in this?
The NotBuyingIt app is a project initiated by the people behind Missrepresentation who are are partnering with body image experts at Emer.ge to create a mobile app to fight sexist and damaging media and celebrate the positive. It is asserted that 3 out of 4 teen girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after spending just 3 minutes looking through a fashion magazine. (These seem to be the US stats – but surely cannot be far from the European ones. If we have stats on this at all.)
So how did this idea came about? During the 2013 Super Bowl (the most watched and tweeted about media event of the year in the United Stated) the #NotBuyingIt hashtag was used by thousands and it became a trending topic on Twitter.
For the skeptics, here are some of the past successes from the MissRepresentation website this hashtag has had on Twitter:
- Pressured Amazon.co.uk to remove a line of t-shirts promoting rape in under 24 hours
- Forced America’s leading Halloween costume seller to change how it markets girls’ costumes
- Pressured a solar company to rescind a sexist ad campaign and delete their Facebook page
- Helped get Hallmark to remove a sexist greeting card in under 24 hours
- Helped get two children’s books that promoted gender stereotypes removed from the shelves of Harrod’s in London in under 24 hours
So how will the app work? “Using GPS technology we will pinpoint where the worst advertising is coming from and which communities are most active in fighting back. You’ll have the ability to document all the billboards and posters impacting your local community, putting pressure on brands and local officials to respond. Our scoreboard will keep track of progress in real time, ranking which products are deemed most sexist by the community and which ones we support.”
MissRepresentation has launched a campaign on Indiegogo, where you have 7 days left (till April 28) to contribute to the making of the app. Doubtful? Here is a quick motivational video 🙂
A few days ago I wrote about Hollaback! (and its leader Emily May), the non-profit organization the mission of which is to end street harassment by empowering the targets. They recently hit the news in connection with a sofware application, namely a smartphone app called ‘Not Your Baby‘. This is a free app that is hoped to initiate dialogue around sexual harassment before they happen, but also during and after they happen. This unusual app was developed by Metrac, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, which prevents violence against diverse women and youth. Hollaback! was their partner a few years ago when they worked together on an online survey on responses to sexual harassment.
The app came out in September this year and got quite some media coverage. This is a screenshot from the app and there is more here in a Huffington Post article:
To be able to give an opinion I downloaded this app, but to be honest, I have doubts about whether it can work. You can type in where and from whom you are experiencing harassing behavior and a tailored advice pops up (along with a “random fact”) that suits the users needs, which derives from the above mentioned survey (200 people), but as the app grows, potentially more. However, to me it is unrealistic that in the actual moment I can just get my phone out and say/do something smart when I’m lost for words or simly, I’m too scared/bitten/hurt/embarrassed.
Nevertheless, I think such an app (or rather, incentive) can be useful for sharing information on what legal actions can be taken if harassment happens at the workplace, or what qualifies as harassment, or simly exchanging experiences and letting others know that they are not alone.
As this is my 4th or 5th post about street harassment, I need to say that I am very happy that I finally found a quote that touches upon a crucial thing when discussing this topic with others – Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, said: “Many people tend to think of it as not particularly serious, with victims being told they are ‘overreacting’ or should ‘take it as a compliment’.” This, sadly, many times comes from our friends, parents, etc. Harassment is not a compliment. Anything that makes someone scared or uncomfortable, cannot be a compliment.
Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency is a feminist media critic who initiated a successful Kickstarter campaign to examine sexism and representations of women in video games. (Kickstarter is a fundign platform for creative projects.) Apparently, little did she know what this will bring out of some of the members of the gaming community. Shortly after, she fell victim to (cyber) harassment, and there was even a game developed where users could punch a photo of Sarkeesian.