I saw the fupping #safetypin thing pop up again. My eyes almost rolled into the back of my head! Ouch!
One thing you need to know.
The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.
I hope you never have to see harassment, I hope you don’t have to take action. But I hope we all know when it’s time and what to do.
Know this – a pin isn’t going to help or prepare you.
Just don’t think it’s going to make anyone but yourself feel better. And this really isn’t about you.
Will it help you overcome THE BYSTANDER EFFECT? Probably not.
Imagine a noxious vapour that paralyses people when they are in crowds. Especially crowds. The more people the worse it is.
Your body tells you it’s not your place to do anything, surely someone else is going to do something?? And no one does. Even the most well-meaning people can suffer from it.
The bystander effect has been repeated experimentally. It takes an enormous effort and courage to just take action. Sometimes the action required is blocking someone, or distracting someone. And effective action starts with empathy.
We need to listen to people who are vulnerable about how they feel about it. Read “Why I don’t care about your safety pins”
View story at Medium.com
No I can’t know what it feels like – but I couldn’t help trying to imagine how I would feel. It occurred to me it would be condescending somehow. It instantly bugged me when I first heard about it around Brexit. Why should vulnerable people and supporters have to develop a secret code!! Support should be obvious and effective.
Another problem is Moral Licensing. This is why you start in groceries shops in the veg aisle and leave by the sweeties. Moral licensing is why when people donate even meagrely to some massive international campaign, other campaigns find they can’t get anyone to cough up the cash. Ugh it’s bad.
Someone said Hey! These things aren’t mutually exclusive!
And no – more symbolism will NOT help. Symbols, signs, slogans are narrow. Why wear a t-shirt or slogan which only supports one vulnerable group and not another!
How many badges do you have to wear anyway??
We need to know how to take REAL action and what to do.
You don’t have to put yourself in harms way.
You need to be aware and CALL IT OUT when you see it. And even if you don’t see it, take action locally to make it safer.
Maybe you think it will be a sign! People will see! Most likely know the heat of a stressful moment they aren’t going to see your tiny safety pin. And what if they aren’t close enough?
In this thread, Naomi Parkhurst describes two different situations where she was able to take positive action. In one the crowd was overcome with the bystander effect. In both there was so much physical distance and symbol would not have helped. This is the start of the thread:
This example article in Slate probably got thousands of shares and eyeballs. And there isn’t one bit of constructive advice about how to overcome the incredibly powerful bystander effect, how to safely intervene, and deescalate.
I’m disappointed in Boing Boing by sharing this meme and not offering any constructive advice AT ALL.
This article in Huffington post shows loads of people “raising awareness” but not educating themselves or others on what to do.
Here’s a good list of resources
Share this: Some Hard Truths and Ally Resources
^ Actually useful!
Oh and another problem: easy to mock and abuse
Someone said it was started by an “SJW” spoof or troll. And I thought: what a honeypot.
I’m not going to link to the stupid alt-right threads where people joke about abusing the symbol to trap and divert people. Trust, many people find it really funny to say they will wear it and then “SURPRISE”!
Why does that matter? Sticks and stones, right? Who cares what those goofballs think?
Well the point is that if we spent THE SAME amount of effort educating people about the bystander effect, why it happens and how to over come it… imagine.
This stupid pin is supplanted raising awareness of what you can actually do! And dividing us more.
The beauty part of knowing what to do v wearing a symbol: you can’t mock the techniques used to intercept harassment and bullying because they are designed to intercept things like mockery!
It’s distracted us.
It is totally inneffective in offering REAL help.
What can we do??
I love this post I saw shared on FB by a friend of a friend on the same discussion. It’s by Middle Eastern Feminist and although it’s about how to respond when you see Islamophobia, the same techniques work no matter WHO is vulnerable! Way better than wearing safety pins or a t-shirt with ‘I support X group’ on it.
I also like it because of the comments by people who took action. They talk about what happened. And they give advice about what could have been done differently.
We can get better at this.
In all cases – when more people know what to do the response is more effective.