Social Issues

Is MeToo Confined to a Bubble in London? by Lisa

Take a stroll around ⁢Ouseburn, Newcastle’s trendy nightlife district, just a short 10-minute walk from the bustling city centre. Here, in one of the eight bars and pubs, you’ll notice something unique about ‍the beer mats. They⁣ feature a‌ green-tinted pair of lips with three lightning bolts and the words‌ “Shout-Up!” ‌inscribed below. These beer mats, launched in December, are part of a campaign aimed at ⁤making Newcastle’s nightlife venues ⁣free from sexual harassment.

However, beer mats are just a⁢ small ⁢step in the fight against sexual⁣ harassment. The #MeToo movement has been widely covered in the media,‍ but beyond the media spotlight and the eye-catching beer mats, do the actions of Harvey Weinstein and Aziz​ Ansari frequently come up in everyday conversations? Are women outside the⁤ media world starting to feel empowered enough to ‍respond to catcalls and inappropriate comments, and report incidents that ⁤they would have previously ignored?

On a​ typical weekend in⁣ Newcastle, the city’s vibrant party scene is still very much alive. Stag parties, hen dos, and students can​ be ​seen hopping from one bar to another. ‌Men, emboldened by alcohol, chant and sing loudly, while⁤ groups of women​ in high ⁣heels navigate the streets arm in arm. However, amidst the loud conversations‍ in crowded bars and ‌smoking areas, there seems to be a significant shift in ⁤attitudes towards sexual misconduct in the ⁣post-Weinstein era.

Annie-Rose Mears, a social media strategist, shares a story that many⁤ women⁣ can relate ⁤to. She was catching up with a friend⁢ over drinks in the city when her friend recounted⁣ a recent Tinder date. They had gone to a stand-up comedy show,​ during which her date’s hand had⁣ inappropriately wandered towards her crotch. ​After the show, ⁣her ⁤friend felt⁢ uncomfortable and decided to ⁤leave in⁤ a taxi. Her date, however, wouldn’t let her close the door. It was only when the taxi driver threatened⁤ to call the police that he ‌let her leave. Despite this, he continued to harass her with numerous daily messages and voicemails, asking for another ⁣date ‌but never apologising for ⁣his behaviour.

Some of these discussions about bad dates are taking place in police interview ⁢rooms.‍ In‍ 2017, the central area of Newcastle recorded‌ 3,065 ‍crimes related to violence ⁣and sexual‍ offences. In October ​of that‌ year, the same⁤ month⁢ the New ⁤York Times published its explosive allegations of sexual ‌harassment by Harvey Weinstein, the number of crimes recorded by Northumbria Police‍ increased by 21% in a single month. Preliminary data suggests a post-Weinstein surge in the reporting of such​ crimes. In the nine months ⁤before the revelations, Newcastle police dealt with an average of 245 such crimes per month. In the three months following, the average rose to 287.

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MeToo: How Dating Apps are Evolving by Lisa

Natalie Durkin, a 28-year-old ⁣actress, has been using dating apps for over five ⁣years. She recalls an incident in January when ​she matched‌ with a man named Ricky on Bumble, a⁤ dating ‌app where women are required to initiate the ​conversation. However, Ricky’s⁣ response to ⁢her friendly greeting ⁤was sexually explicit and offensive.

Such experiences are not uncommon for Durkin,​ who often finds ⁣herself‌ being⁤ objectified by⁤ men⁣ on these‍ platforms. She admits that such ‌interactions ​make her feel devalued‍ and ⁢angry. However, inspired by the⁣ #MeToo movement, Durkin decided to take a ⁣stand against​ such behavior. She shared a screenshot of⁤ the conversation on Twitter, which prompted an immediate response ‌from Bumble.

Louise Troen, Bumble’s international ⁣brand director, asserts​ that the company is committed to protecting its users. ​She explains that⁣ Bumble has a stringent block and report function, and a‍ customer‌ service team that works round the clock to address any form of abuse​ or unsolicited comments. The company⁢ also has a ​zero-tolerance policy towards explicit images.

Since its inception in 2014, Bumble has positioned‍ itself as a female-first dating app. However, the #MeToo‍ movement has prompted‌ other dating apps to​ enhance their safety measures for women.​ The question remains whether men⁣ on these platforms have started behaving differently as a result.

Just six days after The New York Times published its exposé⁢ on ‍Harvey Weinstein’s alleged⁤ sexual assaults, Tinder introduced a⁣ new feature called “reactions”.‍ This feature allows women to send animations to men who behave inappropriately. However,‌ this is hardly a revolutionary solution to⁤ the problem of harassment.

Jean Meyer, ‌the founder‌ of dating app Once, believes that dating platforms need to take responsibility for what happens during the date. Since 2015,⁣ Once has been using real matchmakers to⁢ present users​ with one match per day. In February 2018, the app introduced new features to empower women.

Meyer explains⁣ that Once has launched a review ​tool to help women ‌avoid catfishes and ensure their safety. Similar to how one can review a⁢ restaurant⁤ on TripAdvisor, Once now allows women to review their ⁢dates and assess the accuracy of their pictures. Men, on the other hand,​ receive ​anonymous feedback to help them improve their behavior. Meyer asserts that⁢ creeps and ‌harassers will⁢ not be tolerated on the ‌platform.

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Racism is prevalent in gay communities: Eliminating ethnicity filters on Grindr isn’t the solution by Lisa

Over the past month, the⁣ Black Lives Matter movement⁤ has gained significant momentum, becoming‍ impossible to ignore. Sparked by ⁢the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, ‍and many others ⁣at the hands of law enforcement, millions of people worldwide have⁤ taken to ⁣the streets to protest against white supremacy and its associated institutions. The call to⁢ defund police ⁤departments across the‌ United States is growing louder‌ each ⁢day. Statues symbolising‌ brutal colonisers ‍and slavers, such as Colston and Rhodes, are being toppled. Marches are⁤ being⁤ held to assert the importance of Black trans lives ‌in New York. ⁤Abolitionist⁢ politics⁤ have ⁣become⁤ mainstream. The UK is​ also grappling ⁣with its historical and current injustices,⁣ rooted in ‍the exploitation and dehumanisation⁣ of ⁢Black ​people. The current climate is one of rebellion,⁢ and it has‌ shifted the Overton window, offering‌ a glimpse into a future where ⁢all Black lives are valued,⁢ regardless‌ of gender, class, or creed.

This pivotal moment⁤ coincides with Pride season, and companies worldwide​ are making efforts to show their support for both the BLM and‍ LGBT communities, often to protect their profits.⁣ Grindr, a gay dating⁣ app often⁤ criticised for fostering sexual ‌racism, has tried to avoid backlash by removing its contentious⁢ ethnicity filters.‌ These filters enabled users to sort‌ or exclude potential ⁣matches based on race,‍ a feature that has been widely criticised, particularly by white critics who view it as incompatible with their‌ vision of a colourblind society.

At first glance, the removal ⁢of these filters⁣ might seem like a victory, and ⁤a move that gay⁤ men of colour would applaud ‍as progress.⁢ However, ‌the reality is⁤ more nuanced. For ⁣many, this change complicates‍ the already challenging‍ task of navigating​ the intricacies of online dating, which⁣ is often rife with racism. For many Black gay men and ‍gay men ‌of ⁢colour, ⁤the ethnicity filters ​provided a way to find and connect with other men, creating a community free from fetishisation, othering, and the white ‌gaze. Many gay men of colour prefer to date other gay men ⁤of colour for this very reason. The ⁤ethnicity filters allowed them to tailor their experience to their ‍needs. Viewing the ‍removal of the ethnicity filters as a utopian solution implies that being​ desired by white men ⁤is a desirable end goal.

Jason Okundaye, a writer, cultural critic, and ‍Black gay man, believes that the ⁣decision to remove‍ the filters‌ is misguided: ⁤“Grindr hasn’t considered ⁣that many people ‍of colour,⁣ particularly those ⁢who live in majority ⁤white areas, rely on these filters to find‌ each other. Many have absolutely no interest in interacting with white ⁣men on the app and that​ should​ be supported.” ⁤Much like‍ the suggestion by New York’s mayor ⁢to erect ‍BLM⁢ monuments in front⁢ of Trump Tower ⁢(a proposal that no one asked for), removing the Grindr race filters is ​a superficial gesture masquerading as meaningful action.⁣ The world of dating apps is ⁤not only influenced by real-life‍ dynamics but ‍often serves to ​reinforce prejudices in ⁢explicit ways.

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