These Intense Photos Capture the Sexual Aggression That Women Face Every Day
Whether it's being catcalled, groped or attacked, women know all too well that male entitlement often knows no bounds.
A new photo series from Brooklyn-based photographer Allaire Bartel is attempting to capture the aggressive male behaviors many women encounter on a routine basis. From sexual harassment in the workplace to being groped while walking down the street, the striking photos demonstrate how these situations impact women's lives in both public and private.
"I was particularly determined to express the idea that oppression of women does not just occur in extreme isolated incidents (violent rape and physical abuse)," Bartel wrote on her website, "but can also be felt in lesser forms during the day to day."
Bartel began the photo series as part of the 2014 Young Photographers Alliance Mentoring Program, which began just after the infamous Santa Barbara shooting last May. The massacre claimed seven lives, including that of the 22-year-old gunman Elliott Rodger, whose alarmingly misogynist comments prior to the event sparked a much-needed conversation about how toxic masculinity translates into violent behaviors.
"It was congruent with a time when there was prevalent, open online discussion about what it meant to be a woman in a man's world," Bartel wrote on her website. "Being able to read about the experiences of other women, and in turn share experiences with my female friends, made me feel connected, supported, and especially inspired to create work that interpreted this conversation in my own way."
Each photo focuses squarely on the action, featuring the woman with a blank expression. The man's presence, on the other hand, is indicated only by his hands in places they aren't welcome.
"The point isn't 'Men are bad people', it's ,'These intrusions are harmful.'"
Bartel told Mic that she and model Erin Cooper made this artistic choice to illustrate a larger point. "The reason that there isn't much personality attached to the male counterpart of the photos is that we ... wanted the focus to be on the action and not the person performing the action. The point isn't 'Men are bad people,' it's, 'These intrusions are harmful.'"
Bartel hopes the photos encourage people to think differently about oft-dismissed issues like street harassment and bar groping — actions she said are often taken lightly, despite their common threads with sexual assault and domestic violence. She also told Mic that she hopes men who see the images will consider their behavior more carefully in the future.
"That's really the perfect male takeaway from this in my opinion," she said. "We don't want people to feel sorry for us. We just hope it'll make them stop and think."