Sunday, 9 November 2014

Not Laughing

I was a teenager in the 70s when it wasn't uncommon for young women to be treated as little more than meat in a world that seemed almost exclusively catering for men. But even as builders hung off the scaffolding shouting "Show us your tits" to anything vaguely female and male drivers slowed for a good leer as they passed the girl's cross country team sweating their way back up the hill to school, women were breaking out of their moulds and becoming economically, socially and educationally free of history's traditional constraints.



The 70s wasn't a perfect time to grow up in by any means, but at least at the time it felt like chauvinism and misogyny were modern day dinosaurs on the verge of extinction.Which makes it all the worse that my daughters are still having to battle those dinosaurs today.

The latest manifestation comes in the shape of Dapper Laughs, an 'Internet Personality' whose real name is Daniel O'Reilly. He found his questionable fame on the video-sharing website Vine making six second videos and currently has his own TV show on ITV2 called "Dapper Laughs: On The Pull." 

He has a range of distasteful catchphrases that he deploys on his show and social media: #sheknows, #moist, #propernaughty. He has also recorded songs with edifying titles like 'Take It To the Base' and 'Proper Moist.'

Dapper Laughs
Daniel O'Reilly aka Dapper Laughs
In the show he takes teenage boys, invariably describing themselves as "players," out on the town and teaches them how to "pull a bird" generally with little regard for the intended "birds" opinion on the matter at all.

His methodology perpetuates the myth that unless a girl has a boyfriend she is fair game for any interested male. That a woman can't simply say: "No thanks, I'm not interested" and be left alone. It's an attitude that TeenTwin2 has to deal with every weekend in the nightclub where she has a part-time job to finance her way through university: 

"I work in a nightclub. I'm 18, female and I put an effort into my appearance when I go to work, it's expected by the club and I like to feel good. I don't do it, believe it or not, for male attention. On the way from the staffroom to the bar, I hear "She knows"  or someone telling his friend: "She'd get it." And then someone will ask what time I'm working until and offer to give me a "seeing to" as they see me home. I get touched, pinched, grabbed and groped until I am safely behind the bar.

Or not. You see, some men seem to think they're allowed to walk behind the bar and grab my bottom or squeeze my breasts. As I stand at the till ringing their drinks through, they take 'selfies' with me, they take pictures of me, they film me. I ask for money for their drinks, they ask: 'Can I pay for it with kisses?' 'Does your number come with it?' 'How much does it cost to get you as well, sweetheart?' and more of the same.

I hand their change back, they grab my hand and pull it to their mouth or some put their hands behind my head and pull my cheek towards them and, countless times, I've had to turn and pull myself away to avoid a sloppy, drunken kiss straight on my lips.

They stand at the bar asking for my name, my number, my Facebook, my Snapchat and a 'No' just isn't sufficient. Inevitably they ask if I have a boyfriend and so now I lie automatically just to get them to leave me alone though more often than not, they will ask if he's there and if  I answer no, they still think I'm fair game.

Earlier this year I was punched in the stomach so hard he left a bruise by a man literally twice the size of me because I politely turned down his offer of a kiss. Lots of times I've left work at 3.30am to find a boy waiting outside for me after he's been standing at my bar all night and I'm stood in the dark trying to find an excuse to make him leave. I shouldn't feel unsafe leaving my place of work, no female should, but I do."

We both think Dapper Laughs has to bear some of the responsibility for what she and a lot of young women have to put up with on a daily basis these days. He neither invented misogyny or sexism but he is giving it a new legitimacy with a modern generation. Teenagers and young men today are using his catchphrases, copying his banter and buying into his 'beliefs,' all of which have nothing to do with having respect for women and much to do with everything that was wrong with the 70s.

ITV2 has to bear some of the responsibility too for giving Dapper Laughs a legitimacy as an entertainer and comedian when everything he does and everything he says is simply not funny, At all.

Something has to change and one of the first steps in the right direction is to remove Dapper Laughs: On the Pull from the television and luckily there's a petition asking for that very thing, you can sign it here Cancel Dapper Laughs: On the Pull


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