The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has this week launched a new campaign that aims to tackle the “epidemic of violence against women and girls, committed by men” in the UK capital.
The female-directed video was created pro-bono by Ogilvy UK and Hogarth Worldwide. The campaign includes a poster campaign, social and a film, all of which address the ways that toxic male behaviour towards women can go unchecked.
This is demonstrated most powerfully in the film, directed by Molly Burdett, which features a young woman being harassed by a passing male, who is eventually confronted by his friend who talks to himself first in the mirror.
“I want all of us to be challenging sexism and misogyny,” says Khan. “Whether it’s on the streets or online in a group chat, at home or in the pub, we all have a responsibility to raise our voices to help keep women and girls safe.
“Male violence against women and girls can start with words. If you see it happening, have a word with yourself, then your mates. It’s time we kick these rotten attitudes out of our city and society for good.”
The new campaign is the latest in a series of projects currently running in the city, including a Transport for London campaign addressing threatening behaviour on buses and trains, which put the emphasis on male responsibility. This marks a significant shift in approach from previous ad campaigns, which have typically put the onus on women to protect themselves.
Many young women and non-binary, however, have expressed the lack of specificity that these TFL posters feature. None of the posters identify what can be defined as seuxal harassment and this may vary in opinion from one person to another. For example, consistant staring may be received as sexual harassment from the person being stared at but the starer may not be aware that this is making the other person feel uncomfortable.
Furthermore, the focus seems to be on women and girls solely, igrnoing the misogyny faced by non-binary and/or femme people.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see London trying to stir awareness surrounding the daily struggles faced by women in public.