Women in Smiths Falls: We do not consent to oppression!
It was a happy and restful Christmas Eve afternoon. I was catching up on some group work when I saw the notification that a post had been declined in my Facebook community group. It was a video from a man with a camera claiming to be oppressed. The video was of an interaction he had with a mom at Walmart. I clicked up the video to see how this was possible.
He was recording for what he called a privacy audit, but he was not recording a public building or employee. He was recording private businesses and private citizens. The purpose of these audits is to intentionally make people, mainly women feel unsafe so they will phone the police. The interaction with police is the actual audit, where typically a member of the dominant, privileged class will attempt to demonstrate how they are being oppressed.
As the mom drove close to the store, the man was standing on the sidewalk, recording traffic. He wasn’t just catching cars as they passed by, however, he was holding his camera right up to their windows as they slowed to turn into the Walmart parking lot, getting close-up views of their faces. The mom rolled down her window.
“No thank you,” she said as she passed, “Please don’t.” He smirked and held the camera closer. She parked and walked over.
“Could you please tell me what you’re using this for?” She asked.
“I’m an independent journalist,” he replied. She asked him again what publication was going to use these images. He refused to answer and started telling her that he is allowed to record in public.
“I don’t give you my consent to use my image,” she told him. Realizing he wasn’t willing to dialogue, she went back to her vehicle. You can see other women in the video being recorded, looking uncomfortable. Targeting women with the intent of making them feel unsafe is gender-based violence. People who have their rights violated do not need to go to these lengths to capture it on video. Oppression knocks on your door uninvited. It pulls you over without cause. It threatens to sue. It finds and exploits you. Women in Smiths Falls have had enough. We are uniting and raising community standards. Consent matters. No means no.
(adapted from a previously published article, re-written from my perspective)