Objectification and rape go hand in hand—it's easier, after all, to take advantage of a person if you don't see her as a person. But what if you catch a glimpse of yourself in the act of objectifying someone? Would you like what you saw?
A recent spot from India titled "Dekh Le" (meaning "look" or "see" in Hindi) suggests that maybe if men saw how creepy (and stupid) they look when ogling a woman, they'd try to be less creepy.
The video, already viewed nearly 2.5 million times, was uploaded by Whistling Woods International Institute, an arts and film school in Mumbai, on Dec. 16. That date marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal Delhi gang rape that touched off a firestorm of protest all over India, a country that has some of the worst violent sexual crime stats in the world. (Just this past New Year's Eve, a woman in West Bengal was set on fire and killed after filing charges against two men accused of raping her on two consecutive days.)
It's key that Whistling Woods isn't just showing matronly women being ogled, but a woman in a short skirt on a moped and a woman with a tattoo over her butt, which we in America like to call a "tramp stamp." The progressive ad suggests it's not OK to perv, even if ladies choose to dress provocatively or tattoo their lower backs with butterflies.
So will this video make a difference? It's hard to say. It's a worthy cause, but it's also up against a deep-set, worldwide issue that many men will continue to believe is harmless. In a similar effort, U.S. photographer Hannah Price tried the same tactic of showing men how foolish they look when they cat-call and made headlines by turning her lens on the same men who made her feel exposed. But as headline-grabbing as the stunt was, Price has said she doesn't think it will make any of the men change their behavior.
As for Whistling Woods' piece, I'm surprised at the fact that the only kind of unwanted attention depicted in the ad is creepy staring. There's clearly something wrong with my perspective and our culture if these guys seem fairly harmless to me in the face of the cat-callers and the booty-grabbers. I guess it's not just those guys who need to look at themselves; it's all of us
In one way, it's successful because it brings up so many questions. Why do we accept sexually aggressive behavior on a daily basis? Why is it so prevalent in our society? And do I really look that stupid when I stare at dudes with nice abs?