Street harassment not a marketing punchline

Dear Editor,

Upon the completion and opening of the roundabout at the Kitty seawall, the Ministry of Public Infra-structure released an instructional video to enlighten road users on the correct way to make use of the roundabout. The animated video, created by Tagman Media was excellent in terms of its creative structure, animation and clear narration of the instructional content.

Unfortunately, the delivery of information was tainted by the unnecessary, subtle insert of male aggression in the form of unwanted male pursuit, played out in dialogue by a red Mazda Axela (perceived as a female character) and a mini-bus (a male character). In the video, the Mazda Axela is ‘harassed’ by a (male) Minibus.

The dialogue reads;

BUS:

Whah!!! Look at duh Axela bai. I wish I could get alongside she! *honks horn*

AXELA:

Shush, you! Don’t honk on me! I have the right of way in this circle.

BUS:

Even though I gah go round dis roundabout at 30km, I goin straight behind she!

AXELA:

Oh, He winked his eye at me? Who is he?!

The narration of the video continues after this exchange, bringing us to the final scene where the bus pulls up alongside the red Axela and calls out; “Wam Redz!!” The Axela replies, “My name is Axela!”

This encounter between the male and female character is a play on a situation that is all too familiar to our women and girls of all ages. Why is it that such a display of unwanted advancement and male pursuit was seen as “appropriate” to be included in a public awareness video?

Dear Ministry of Public Infra-structure, street harassment is not a marketing punchline!

How is it possible that this degree of insensitivity occurred on so many levels? From the script writing to the publishing of the video, hadn’t it crossed anyone’s mind that this may be a big, fat, disrespectful slap in the face to our women? At such a sensitive time in our nation, how are we to be proactive against the issue of domestic and gender-based violence when a government office is pushing out this sort of content on its media platform?!

This act proves that those in authority are very much aware of the problem plaguing our society, yet it seems to be taken as such a minuscule issue, that an example of it can be jokingly used “for your entertainment” in an instructional video. As a young woman, I am disgusted and disappointed. This culture is failing our women and our men with the normalization of this loose behaviour. This cannot be taken as light humour. Those who choose to laugh at it, do so because they know exactly what it is. Those who are upset about it, feel so because they also know what it is. It is a clear and direct display of unwanted male pursuit and subtle street harassment which is a problem that cannot be ignored.

To my fellow Guyanese women; this behaviour whether bold or subtle, is never okay, it can never be justified and you don’t ever have to put up with it.

Yours faithfully,

Andrea S.C. King

 

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