What would you do if you were groped in public?
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) October 16, 2014
Imagine you’re walking down a city street, minding your own business. You notice a guy following you. As you enter a store, you feel a hand groping your butt. What do you do?
If you’re 28-year-old Julia Marquand of Seattle, it’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“There was absolutely no reason for him to be standing that close, and absolutely no chance he just bumped into me on accident,” she said.
She yelled at the man, who “nervously” apologized before quickly walking off, she said.
Marquand, the owner of Seattle Wags Dog Training, walks almost everywhere. She said not a day goes by that someone doesn’t yell out something inappropriate to her or make a comment about her body.
“I get harassed on a daily basis, and it’s getting old,” she said.
So when she saw the man later near Westlake Center, a downtown Seattle shopping mall, she took his picture. And yelled at him again. He apologized and begged her not to take his picture.
There was a reason for that.
It was her FIRST tweet:
— Julia Marquand (@JuliaMarquand) October 13, 2014
What happened next?
The Twitter-shame worked. It led to a story in the Seattle Times and an interview on KIRO radio. Then Marquand started hearing from other women.
Women who recognized the man because he had groped them, too.
@JuliaMarquand Oh. My. Goodness. When I saw the article I thought of this guy- and its him! He got me a few weeks ago outside the gyro cart.
— SoundSeattleMom (@SoundSeattleMom) October 15, 2014
SPD investigators were Twitter-shamed into action, too, and realized that the photo looked like a 36-year-old level 3 sex offender who was wanted by the Department of Corrections for violating parole.
Aside: Level 3 offenders are considered to have a high risk to re-offend. They usually have one or more victims and may have committed prior crimes of violence. They may not know their victim(s). The crime may show a manifest cruelty to the victim(s) and these offenders usually deny or minimize the crime. These offenders commonly have clear indications of a personality disorder.
Sunday’s violation landed him back in jail.
— Jamie Tompkins (@JamieQ13FOX) October 16, 2014
Prior to this incident, the suspect in this groping had been convicted of fourth degree assault (grabbing a woman’s butt, 2003) and third degree assault (grabbing a woman’s breast, 2012) as well as “harassment-domestic violence and violation of a protection order.”
Ask yourself: what would you have done? And what if Marquand had not pursued the digital commons when rebuffed by the police? The guy would still be on the streets, more than likely.
1. Keep your head.
Marquand did not take a photo in the heat of the moment, although I bet she might should there be a next time and her phone is in her hand.
Instead, she had time to think about what had happened. She kept an eye out for him and was surprised to see him. When she got close enough for the photo to have detail she started taking pictures. She was in a public place, in daylight — a situation she decided was reasonable risk.
2. Your smartphone is a powerful recording device. Use it.
On an iPhone, look for the camera icon in the lower right of the lock screen.
Tap there and swipe up to reveal the camera.
When you’re finished, press the home button to make the lock screen reappear.
This would be a good time to have sound muted.
3. There’s power in digital networks.
Marquand set up her Twitter account in order to share the word about her experience. Think about that for a moment. Gutsy.
But she was still thinking things through.
The event happened on Sunday; she tweeted Monday. And she included the Twitter accounts for Seattle media that might be interested. Generally speaking, people don’t take actions like this lightly. Libel (defamation of character) is a serious risk: the injured party can file a lawsuit.
Digital networks led to old media which led back to digital networks.
Yet it feels like we are approaching a tipping point regarding how women are treated in the U.S. — at work, socially — and portrayed in media.
This week, U.S. Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that severely restricted the number of abortion clinics in the state.
Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella backpedaled/flipflopped after advising about 8,000 women that they shouldn’t ask for a raise.
And #gamergate has brought the issue of online misogyny to mainstream media.
I dream of a world where these words represent ancient history.
A complicated hashtag that grew out of a discussion of game industry journalism and morphed into death threats against women. Some journalists frame it as a battle over the future of gaming culture.
Multiple specific threats made stating intent to kill me & feminists at USU. For the record one threat did claim affiliation with #gamergate
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014
Because of the classic dismissal of a woman’s experience evident in a comment, I am adding two screen captures from the YouTube clip below.