The Girl Who Went Viral

by ionarosemccabe

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I’m sure you have all seen the video ‘Drunk Girl in Public’ on Youtube by now. I mean, it was pretty shocking to find that one of my friends was going viral with many of our mutual friends reposting the video all over Facebook. My initial thought was, ‘Wait, this is my Jen who’s getting millions of views and a huge recognition all over the globe? The Jen who was one of my first friends in Hong Kong back in 2012?’

After watching the video, I felt so proud of her for spreading a positive message against date rape culture. Then, a few days after it went viral, it came out that the video was fake and Jen was portrayed as a cunning young actress/model who would do anything for her 5 minutes of fame.

Now, I know Jen well. She is extremely ambitious and works extraordinarily hard at whatever she does, but by no means, is she an evil mastermind that would ever have wanted the men in that video to risk losing their jobs or damaging their relationships. That just isn’t what she’s about. Never would she have okayed the video being released if she knew the full extent as to what the producers were trying to convey.

From knowing her personally, she is someone that attracts a lot of attention. She has a sweet, bubbly personality and of course, her model looks help too! I also know that after working as a PR, which involved bringing models and clients into some of the best clubs here in Hong Kong, she reached a point where the constant unwanted male attention had become too much and she wanted to leave HK for good. It must have been hard working in a predominantly male environment and it is a shame to hear that people Jen had worked with for over a  year, felt they were not obliged to be respectful to her. That’s what I love about Jen though. She has such a positive attitude towards everything and whilst she brushed off these incidents, I could tell they irritated her. The rare moments I have seen her explode, it’s been for very good reason.

I will quickly delve into one occasion where we went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant with two of her male friends who were in town for the week. I felt a bit awkward because one of them loved the sound of his own voice and was constantly asking me questions. Every time Jen tried to contribute to the conversation, he would talk over her with another question or irrelevant comment, Seeing Jen suddenly go very quiet, I thought she was angry at me. Leaving to visit the toilet, I didn’t realise that Jen had followed me in. What, followed was an eruption – luckily not directed at me! Jen was furious at this man for disregarding her opinions. Furious, I tell you.

I found it astonishing seeing so much anger come from such a tiny thing. We laughed about it, walked out of the toilets and stupidly agreed to take him out to a club, where he thought it would be funny to tell the door girls I was his ‘lover’, I barely knew the man! That would have been very quick work considering we had met 2 hours prior! He continued to make outlandish comments to anyone who crossed his path, which resulted in us washing our hands of him and enjoying the rest of our night.

The real reason I am  offering my opinion on the backlash of this video, is because Jen has written a very interesting blog post (see bottom of the post) where she gives her side of the story on it. She describes how it feels to be judged everywhere she goes, for something she had little control over. Being silenced by her agents after the video emerged as a fake, also made the situation more complicated. I think a lot of people who are quick to judge her, may not understand that models or actors have many different clauses and conditions in their contracts that make it hard for them to say or do as they please, regardless of the situation.

Personally, I think it brave that Jen has done a follow up Youtube video and the blog post, explaining the situation. Speaking out could only attract more attention to the matter and possibly more haters, but the fact that most of the written account highlights the dangers of date rape culture, makes the content even more valid.  I will now further describe my experiences and thoughts on this topic.

Out at a bar a few years ago with a friend, I was approached by a man who appeared to be alone.  I distinctly remember him asking me to come to a pool party with him and after politely refusing his offer, he offered to  buy me a drink. As my friend was walking over to the bar to join us, she saw him put something in my drink while I was looking elsewhere. Unperturbed, I drank it and seconds later, I was forcefully taken to a taxi by my friend who was in shock from what she had just witnessed.  In the taxi, I grabbed my bag back from her, and tried to leave the taxi. All I was thinking about at the time was going to that pool party. I mean, who has pool parties in the middle of winter in Bristol anyway?! The man was still lingering outside and saw this as an opportunity to take me off up the street. Luckily, we were on good terms with the bouncers of the bar and they kindly, but firmly took me away from this man and pushed me back into the car, insisting I needed to go home. The next morning, I awoke to find my wallet had been stolen and realising I had his number on my phone, I called to question him, only to be met with a load of lies, called ‘babe’ and  asked on a drinks date. How ironic right?

To this day, I am psycho about watching my drinks and although I was fortunate to have several people helping that night, a lot of people are not so lucky.  After hearing horror stories of things much worse happening from a fair amount of girls, I am surprised at how often and how real the problem is.

Another time, I was at a club in Guangzhou, China, where it was early and the club was near empty. I had just got to a table with my roommate and had not realised an old, Russian man had followed us. He kept coming closer and closer to me, slurring things that were incomprehensible, but no doubt, derogatory. When I say close, I mean, next to my face close. Moving away from him, he kept following me. Several seconds later, he pulled out 100RMB and  pushed it into my chest. I was speechless, shaken up and infuriated, What had I done to deserve this? I wasn’t a streetwalker, nor did I look like one. Even if I was, I would hope that I am worth a bit more than a mere 100RMB!

That particular night I was wearing a mid length black dress which was form fitting, but the only skin I had showing was about 3 inches of my legs. I don’t dress provocatively in the daytime or when I go out, I also rarely wear dresses. Even if I did, why does that give anyone the right to touch, leer, or harass me in such a way? What was most shocking from the ordeal, was that the workers there were nearby and watched the whole thing, chuckling to themselves, Did he get barred? No. Unfortunately, he was allowed to stagger freely around the club whilst I was left on edge for the whole night. But I guess in the eyes of the workers, this Russian man had money so it made it okay.

I barely went out after this – not just because of that one incident, but because the club was one of the creepiest places I have ever set foot in. It was dated, dingy and disgusting,  Every man in there was only there to look at models and spike their drinks and believe me, I am not being dramatic. It really was quite something.

The handful of times I went out, it was to have a couple of drinks with my Brazilian, Dutch and Russian flatmates, but throughout the evening, a number of lecherous men with sunglasses (think vintage Versace circa 2000) would approach with glasses of champagne, trying to lure us to their tables. Even after profusely refusing their champagne, they would push it into my hand causing me to immediately pour it away. Unfortunately, a roommate of mine spent a lot of time at this particular club, as she enjoyed the party lifestyle her first modelling trip brought. She could always be found at the table of one of the shareholders of this place, and would frequently talk about him fondly. One night her drink was drugged, supposedly by him, but luckily, she also had a support system that brought her home and looked after her.

It really goes to show that these things can be done by anyone, even those that we trust. It tends to be done by people who are in a position of power, whether it be wealth or authority. They seem to feel the need to abuse this power, taking what they want, when they want it. Jen also explains her experience of having her drink tampered with in her blog post which was done by her club owner ‘friends’.

Even catcalling, which may be seen as innocent by some, can make women feel victimised. My family home in the UK is located near to a large building supplies store, and I get stared at every time I walk past. It ‘s not  just me either. My mother also gets leered at, and I’m pretty sure anything else wearing a skirt. I was even asked at age 14 by an older builder there, ‘Why are you wearing trousers today? You usually wear a skirt!’ whilst on my way to school. I hate having to walk past this ghastly place when I go back home as it does make me feel intimidated. Why should we, as women, be made to feel like that? This behaviour in certain men really does need to change (please note that I saId CERTAIN MEN and not ALL MEN).

Hopefully,  I have been able to shed some light on the more important issue surrounding the video and I really commend Jen for speaking up and drawing attention to it too.

Jen’s Blog Post

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