This week we were both shocked and encouraged by two accounts of public shaming that were making the rounds on Facebook.
A Facebook post by Scott Sparrow described how he was sitting on the tube with a young woman, who happened to be wearing a revealing dress, to his right and an elderly lady to his left. A man opposite them, middle-aged and in business attire, addressed the young woman and told her that she should ‘have some respect when you dress yourself’. Scott described how the girl was left looking uncomfortable and suitably embarrassed when the elderly lady then spoke up in her defence. According to Scott, this was her response:
‘She can wear or not wear whatever the f**k she likes, even if she was naked with a sign pointing to her f***y and the sign pointed to her f***y which said ... PARTY CITY ALL INVITED ... then that would still be none of your bloody business now f**k off back to your bored wife!’
A pretty quick and warranted comeback that the young woman was so grateful for that she hugged the elderly lady. The man in question obviously promptly walked away.
Next up is an open letter which Lindsey Swift wrote to a man that had heckled abuse at her whilst she was jogging on the street in a bid to lose weight and get fit. Lindsey’s witty and inspiring response included this:
‘My fat legs have carried me up mountains on more than one occasion. My fat brain speaks languages you probably don't see the point of learning, which is why you spend your time hanging out of van windows since you have nothing better to occupy it with.’
In both these cases strangers felt that they were entitled to comment on the body and appearance of people that they didn’t know. Of course, nobody has the right to judge another person’s appearance or dress. These accounts of public shaming are clearly horribly degrading and unnecessary. It’s sad that Lindsey and the elderly lady had to even speak up in defence of these unprovoked attacks. Unfortunately, they will always occur but there are ways to deal with them.
If you are the victim of verbal abuse then it is important to remember that the opinions of one small-minded individual are of no significance. Focus on those, such as the elderly lady, who stand up for the good and don’t be discouraged in carrying on doing what you’re doing. Equally, if you see someone subjected to uncalled for abuse, speak up. You’ll make the world of difference. It’s also worth checking out the British Transport Police’s new Report It to Stop It campaign which is designed to tackle sexual harassment on public transport.