Click HERE to see the entire #He4Her photographic essay.
“ANYONE CAN GO WATCH A MOVIE,” noted Edina Skaljic, Senior Program Manager and Team Organizer of the 8th Annual Boston Muslim Film Festival. “The real question is: What are you going to do about the issues explored in the film?”
In a collective effort, Dominique Maffei, Maria Zahiri, and Skaljic molded a campaign. Its purpose was to confront some of the irrational “justifications” that perpetrators utilize as a victim blaming tool. With a number of ideas bouncing back and forth amongst the three, they came to the conclusion that male allies would help display their message. “It took us several hours, as a team, to discuss how to break away from the attributes societal assigned gender roles without offending anyone,” says Maffei,“ but ultimately, sexual harassment is a discussion that needs to be held by those regardless of gender identity.”
The campaign began with a photographic essay by Zahiri featuring a 12-shot series of men and women donning headscarves, makeup, and vulnerable poses. “As a photographer, I wanted to give the male allies the freedom of thinking and expressing their feminine side—no doubt, this was a learning curb for some of the models.” Kane DiMasso Scott, a male ally who participated in the campaign, agreed and added, “It was awkward for me but I realized that the whole point of the campaign was right there.”
Many of the male allies made comments throughout their photo shoot saying things like, “really? This lipstick is why women are being sexually harassed?” and “what’s so dangerous about wearing leggings? They’re so comfortable!”
“Still,” as Skaljic points out: “It was important for us to be careful not to imply that just because a man wears make up, or feminine clothing, that he would know what it feels to be sexually harassed as a woman.”
Additionally, some of the subtleties covered reach many beyond American society. It just so happened that the campaign launched the same week that Gaber Nasser, the Dean of the Cairo University Law School, attempted to justify the behavior of a group of men sexually harassing a woman by saying that her outfit was “a bit unconventional.” (Note: a pink sweater and black skinny jeans was what he deemed unconventional)
The campaign photos are complemented with text. For example, “‘My confidence does not justify sexual harassment; nothing justifies sexual harassment’;” or, “‘My laughter does not justify sexual harassment; nothing justifies sexual harassment’.”
Maffei states that, “if you deconstruct a classical narration of a sexual assaults, all of a sudden, the absurdity of the details can be overwhelming: tight pants, loud laughter, and many more are all—at this point—intolerable.”
The campaign remains ongoing and open to anyone to submit a photo, story or video denouncing sexual harrasment, via www.facebook.com/AICBostonCenter, twitter: @aicongress or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow the trending of the campaign at #HE4HER, and use the tag when making a submission.