Trigger warning for humiliation and forced undressing.
Sometimes, you see things which are almost too chilling to put into words.
In this video, a young woman protester wearing a tent as a costume is surrounded by police. We cannot see much of what happens; we see what appears to be a knife being passed along and the woman shouting “this is not consensual, don’t take my clothes off”. She is then left in her underwear, clearly distressed, sitting on the grass.
It is a genuinely horrifying scene. A woman is forcibly stripped and humiliated in public by people with more power than her. Most people who watch this video will surely be disgusted and appalled by such behaviour; it appears to be such flagrant abuse.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where victims of such abuse are blamed for what happened to them. People are frightened of the notion that the police are not exactly a benevolent protective force, people are frightened that they might find themselves victims of humiliation or abuse. And so the circus of victim-blaming for this woman began.
A local news article is careful to point out that the police asked her politely to undress first. This is hardly surprising coming from a Murdoch-owned rag, yet it is mild compared to the bile that came from self-professed feminists. Apparently she should have worn more than just underwear under her costume. Apparently she was “entrapping police”. The poor police cannot be to blame for forcibly stripping a woman in public.
No. What the police are doing here is utterly unacceptable. Any feminist should understand that it is never acceptable for some powerful people to strip a woman in public. Any supporter of the police should know that police guidelines involve them not making people strip in public. There is no justification for this whatsoever. It’s abuse, plain and simple.
I don’t want to live in a world where the police can forcibly tear my clothes of if they think my outfit is a bit silly. I don’t want to live in a world where people seek to justify that in any way.
This is wrong, thoroughly wrong. It must never happen again.