‘Smart dress’ shows how women are groped over a hundred times in club
30 Nov 2018, 15:21
Produced by the Brazilian agency Ogilvy Sao Paulo, in partnership with Schweppes, the dress tracks how often women get groped. It’s the latest example of post-#MeToo brand wokeness.
For the campaign, three women wore the wifi-enabled dress to a nightclub in Brazil. When the women were subjected to unwanted touching, the area of dress where they had been touched lit up on a screen in a control centre outside, reports abc.net.au.
In a little less than four hours the women were groped a total of 157 times.
This is not surprising — a video that accompanies the campaign starts with the statistic that 86 per cent of Brazilian women have been harassed in nightclubs.
This is from a 2016 survey of sexual harassment in public places in cities. Thailand was also at 86 per cent, India at 79 per cent, and England at 75 per cent.
Australia wasn’t in that survey, but a 2017 ABS survey shows half of all Australian women say they have been sexually harassed (including catcalling and staring) by a man.
The point of the Schweppes-Ogilvy campaign is presumably to show that women were right all along. ‘I think it’s just complaining about everything!,’ a man outside the club, with a blurred face and disguised voice, says at the start of the video.
‘It will be interesting to see and show it to people, so they’ll be aware of this and stop this behaviour,’ says one of the models wearing the dress in the video.
After the women go into the club (and are touched more than 40 times an hour, so that the dress on the screen lights up with bruise-like colours), the doubting men with the blurred faces from before are invited to see the results.
They are all suitably horrified and convinced. ‘Oh my god!’ one exclaims.
But is wearables *really* the solution?
The campaign proposes that, in the best Silicon Valley tradition, disruptive technology can help solve the insidious, entrenched problem of sexual assault.
That idea has been met with skepticism.
Other examples of woke-wearables include a Bluetooth-enabled sticker that alert the wearer’s emergency contacts if an assailant takes their clothes off by force.
Another is a bracelet that tracks blood alcohol levels and alerts prospective sexual partners if the wearer is too drunk to provide informed consent.
The criticism of this technology is that its premised on the idea of devices policing men’s actions, instead of men themselves.
It also shifts the onus from the men to the women, who now have the extra responsibility of getting kitted out with wearables.
Despite what the Schweppes-Ogilvy campaign might suggest, the problem with addressing sexual assault isn’t a lack of hard data, but systemic attitudes towards violence against women.
As it happens, this was illustrated again on Friday, with the release of the National Community Attitudes toward Violence against Women Survey.
The massive survey carried out once every four years revealed ongoing ‘concerning’ attitudes that explain away women’s experience, deny there is a problem, and shift the blame away from men.
For example, 1 in 8 Australians believe that if a woman is raped while she is drunk or affected by drugs she is at least partly responsible.
One in 7 believe non-consensual sex is justified if the woman initiates intimacy. Non-consensual sex, by the way, is the technical term for rape.
It’s going to take more than a wearable and a lemonade to fix that.