Catrin Williams' Viral Tweet About Sexual Harassment Proves That No One Is Ever Asking For It, Online Or In Real Life
When women are sexually harassed, people frequently claim that they upped their own chances of facing harassment through their appearance or behavior. But as a tweet by Catrin Williams shows, the responsibility for sexual harassment is and always will be on the harasser. By sharing an experience she had with online harassment, she reveals that people will find a way to objectify women if they want to, and it has nothing to do with that woman's behavior.
Williams, a student at Hereford Sixth Form College living in Newport, Wales, shared a screenshot of a private message she received after posting a photo of headphones on Snapchat. "You wearing those, and nothing else, that would be heaven," it reads. The message was from a guy she didn't know, she tells Bustle over Twitter direct message. "Boys wouldn't send weird messages if you didn't put up such slutty photos," Williams captioned the photo sarcastically in her tweet.
This tweet makes two important points: One, that advising women to dress modestly to avoid harassment and assault doesn't work because people who want to harass or assault someone will do it anyway, even if they've got nothing but headphones to work with. And two, this victim-blaming approach distracts us from addressing the real issue — that people like Williams' Snapchat follower are targeting women — and absolves the perpetrator of responsibility. "If [women are] posting photos that are deemed 'revealing,' then people think that gives them the right to send them inappropriate messages," Williams tells Bustle. And that's the problem — not the photos themselves.
Women, she elaborates, "can post hardly anything without facing the risk of having sexually harassing messages sent to them. And I get stuff like this fairly often, as do most the girls I know." Indeed, a Norton survey found that over three quarters of Australian women under 30 have experienced online harassment. And a Pew Research poll found that women were more likely to be sexually harassed and stalked online.
Now that her tweet has gone viral, Williams hopes it changes the way people view sexual harassment both online and offline, she said. "If they see others receiving messages like this, or if they receive them themselves, they should stick up for themselves and say something about it."