Sexual assault: who really needs their awareness raised?
What happens when a woman is repeatedly groped on the London Underground? Well, if the scaremongering about sexual assault is anything to go by, you’d expect fellow travellers to sit idly by and ignore the incident out of nonchalance, fear or social awkwardness. But when this theory was tested on the Tube this week, things panned out differently.
Prank-come-protest group Trollstation filmed a male actor pretending to grope a female actor in a Tube carriage. And, as we would all hope and expect, members of the public stepped in. Three commuters went up to the ‘offender’ and physically separated him from the actress. It was only the intervention of the cameraman and the actress that stopped a fight from breaking out.
Great, you might think. Faith in humanity restored, right? Wrong. This feelgood ending was, unfortunately, not the result that Trollstation was hoping for. Even after it was all revealed as a hoax the female actress still felt it necessary to educate the commuters on the prevalence of sexual assault. ‘We’re trying to raise awareness about sexual assault on trains, because, a lot of the time, people see it happening and no one says anything’, she said.
While the sincerity of Trollstation is hard to gauge, its little stunt clearly hoped to tap into the feminist assumption that members of the public are lethargic, uninterested and ignorant about the plight of women and use it to generate a viral hit. However, the group got to witness firsthand how detached from reality these miserabilist assumptions are.
The idea that we all need our ‘awareness raised’ regarding sexual assault is patronising and insulting. As this ‘social experiment’ demonstrates, members of the public are more than capable of dealing with these situations on their own. After all was revealed, one commuter labelled the stunt ‘fucking stupid’. Clearly it’s the likes of Trollstation that need their awareness raised.
Guy Pierce is a writer and researcher based in London.