An article on the BBC News website regarding female performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival being the victims of sexual harassment brought to mind an incident I witnessed at the start of this years Festival.
Whilst waiting to meet a friend for lunch I spent some time watching the street performers on the Royal Mile and taking some photographs of things that interested me. As I walked I noticed the girl in the photograph and made enquiries with one of her colleagues regarding the show they were performing at the Festival.
As I watched the girl, bearing in mind this is an actor, a small group of males came over having reading her sign and politely asked “well what do you want ?” to which the actor quickly shouted “Some fucking respect”. Needless to say the youths made off rather quickly after that without taking a flyer for the show.
As I reflected on what I had just witnessed my initial thoughts were about how the actor was correct in her response though, as the day passed I thought about it some more.
Yes, it was shouted in the context of an actress trying to sell tickets to a show about female directed sexual harassment by men but it also struck me that there had been an opportunity lost for a dialogue with the men about the show and the issues it was highlighting.
At the end of the day, the men were not being rude and appeared to be genuinely asking a question about a show that, up to that point, they knew nothing about having simply seen an actor standing with a sign above her head.
Respect works both ways, the actor deserves respect but the men also deserved respect and certainly didi not deserve to be shouted and sworn at in the street regardless of the fact it was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Potential ticket sales were lost, the men still know nothing about the show and the chance to enter into conversation was lost by the actor and her friends.
Info: The show was called Coming Home With Me by Brighton based theatre group Girl Code and is billed as ‘a night exploring the grimy underbelly of a girls night out’. Using completely verbatim material from 15 female-identifying students aged between 18-23, two girls who run an initiative called Consent In Clubs , a member of a prominent anti-harassment charity and a Brighton Bouncer.
Girl Code do point out that it is not all men who engage in inappropriate, and often criminal, behaviour in clubs though their research highlights that every female they spoke with during research has had to deal with this in some form or another on nights out.
It’s also important to highlight that this kind of unwanted harassment also happens, possibly to a lesser extent, to men perpetrated by females. It is not an exclusive one way street though it is important that people realise the behaviour is wrong and completely unacceptable regardless of who the perpetrator is.