Reimagining a World Where People Are Liberated From Fears of Sexual Harassment
By: Madi Callahan, Logan Ray, Addy Holmes.
Our Multimedia project aims at imagining an alternative reality where sexual harassment is non-existent. Globally, the majority of people have experienced or knows of someone who has experienced stalking, sexual assault, and/or harassment. In this day and age, sexual harassment statistics have spiked quite significantly amongst all genders. In a recent study, results showed that 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault or harassment (Patrick, 2018).
Due to the unfortunate wide scope of this issue, and the time constraints of this project, our group decided to focus on the issue as it affects people in the United States. However, as a group we think it is crucial to mention that the severity of this issue extends far beyond the U.S. Regardless of location, sexual assault and harassment impacts the daily lives of those who live in fear of their safety.
A constant fear has led to women in the U.S. changing parts of their daily routine just to feel safe, from changing their schedules, checking under their cars, carrying weapons and more (Williams, 2020). Our group believes no individual, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc, should ever live like that. It is important to address these socially incapacitating issues through education and action.
Our project is a “Mockumentary” style video production. This project incorporates an imagined alternative reality to display what could be achieved possibly in the future of America.
The purpose of creating such a video is to inform viewers that a reality like this isn’t so far-fetched. Being able to present a country that is liberated of these social fears helps gain perspective on the negative encounters in America.
The comedic nature of this “mockumentary” calls out the irony of being fascinated with someone living a normal, peaceful, life. Showing a woman doing normal things without living in fear and having a documentary crew consider it to be exotic is only funny because it’s rooted in the sad reality that many women don’t have this luxury. Being able to properly display an alternative reality in a realistic way can help drive society’s views on the current issues into social change and advance towards a more equal and peaceful utopia.
Are You Getting This “Mockumentary” Video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X13DKGCh4s
- Inspiration for the editing/ concept:
The main inspiration for the way we presented the content was to use comedy to shed light on a more serious issue in a way that is easy to digest. Similar to The Office and certain episodes Documentary Now, we took something that is mundane but relatable, and found a way to make it interesting.
- Presenting an important issue in a short amount of time:
*warning, this video may be upsetting to some*
This video was brought up in our discussions on how to present the scope of a serious issue with the time constraints of this project. While we ultimately opted to not show any content that would be upsetting in our project, the way that this video calls attention to something serious by first situating it in something normal, was an inspiration for our video
- Jackson Katz’s research on things women do to keep themselves safe
Jackson Katz is a researcher, feminist, and author who aims to shed light on different problems women face and how men can play a part in helping. In his book The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, he includes this insightful graph on things women do daily to stay safe. Our project shows the “exotic” life of a woman who doesn’t have to do anything on that list.
- Highlighting Harassment
This video is another example of calling out an issue women face every day while they are just trying to live normal lives. Catcalling/ street harassment is so common it’s almost expected/ normalized. The video even goes as far as to mention what the woman was wearing, to counteract claims that the clothing women wear contribute to the harassment they face. Our video was inspired by a desire to show a woman actually living a normal life, in a future where catcalling is a thing of the past.
- Using Comedy To Highlight An Issue
As a group, we were concerned about the appropriate way to highlight the very serious issue of sexual harassment using comedy, without it being insensitive. This SNL sketch does it well, by highlighting issues women go through via making fun of how ridiculous it is that they have to go through it, not making fun of the women or the scenario. That was crucial to our project as well. Having a woman in our group to guide the narrative helped keep perspective during the creation of our project.
The purpose of pursuing a project with the chosen topic of sexual harassment/ violence stems from each of our experiences with the issue, whether we had experienced it firsthand or know of someone who has. Sexual harassment is a huge issue that corrupts the well-being of men and women and puts social boundaries on everyday life by creating fear from past trauma or systemically creating the culture that has been built in America.
We decided to come up with a “mockumentary” to use visuals to communicate the message. This was chosen because we felt it would be more powerful than other options if created right. When formulating this project, we set up specific filming locations and actions that cause the most fear in daily situations for women. We created a “Mockumentary” on these daily activities to display the fears while providing a subtle underlying message in the alternative reality that could help inform the viewers without it being too depressing or formal. Although this is a serious problem, the style of video helps relay the purpose more subtly.
Sexual assault and harassment is a humorless issue that is all too common. It is a shadowy underworld that creeps into all corners of the globe, and quite literally changes the spaces we live in. It’s a sickening spectre that haunts our lives and ceases to subside.
Our project is an attempt to demonstrate how its real-world effects are, on some level, quite absurd. Many men wouldn’t think twice about going to the gym, and they’d be supremely confused if offered assistance with their groceries. We wanted to highlight how the pervasive nature and constricting implications of sexual assault and harassment create a wildly expansive and hidden world right before our eyes — yet many people fail to realize it. And though our analysis retains a mostly “fundamental” portrayal, imagine how different the world would be if women were empowered to live without fear of assault.
This work came out of the class Multimedia Production and Digital Culture (COM 367) in the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University in spring 2021. Check out other works from the class here:
Anna Roberds, Charles Walker & Grace Sieck, ENVI Magazine
Sara Trudan, Erin Migneco, & Clio Maxwell, UNNAMED Magazine
Madison Callahan, Addy Holmes, & Logan Ray, Are You Getting This Mockumentary
Parker Mitchell, Drew Hickland, and Maura Estes, NC Sta-y with the times
Ray Youman, Adam Suddarth, and Matt Norris, Movement of the Future: Piezoelectricity
Ballard, J. (2019, March 28). 61% of women regularly take steps to avoid being sexually assaulted. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/03/28/women-safety-sexual-assault-awareness ]
Williams, V. (2020, December 16). Here’s a running list of things women unconsciously do to protect themselves from assault. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.scarymommy.com/how-women-protect-themselves-sexual-assault/
Book article references: Katz, J. (2019). The macho paradox: Why some men hurt women and how all men can help. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.]
Vavra, Kassidy. “Women Fear Everyday Life Scenarios More than Men, Study Shows.” Nydailynews.com, New York Daily News, 12 Feb. 2019, www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-news-women-fear-life-more-men-20190208-story.html.
IPSOS. “International Women’s Day: Global Misperceptions of Equality and the Need to Press for Progress.” Ipsos, www.ipsos.com/en/international-womens-day-global-misperceptions-equality-and-need-press-progress.
Patrick, J. (2018, February 21). 81% of Women and 43% of Men Experience Sexual Harassment and Assault in the United States. GlobeNewswire News Room. https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2018/02/21/1372573/0/en/81-of-Women-and-43-of-Men-Experience-Sexual-Harassment-and-Assault-in-the-United-States.html.