FHRITP – a vulgar and dangerous trend
Trigger Warning: In addition to vulgar language, there are also references in this post that might be triggering for survivors of sexual assault. Nothing is spelled out explicitly, but there are some descriptions of feelings and thoughts that might be difficult for some. Proceed with caution.
The whole “Fuck her right in the pussy” debacle started as a stupid hoax set up by John Cain pretending to be a reporter who doesn’t realise he’s on live television while talking about a missing 20 year old woman. In the video he talks about how he’d “fuck her right in the pussy” – complete with a vulgar pelvic thrust – the camera then cuts back to the network host who apologises and moves on to the next story. Idiots everywhere decided this was the funniest thing ever and began harassing reporters with the vile phrase.
The most recent case involved CityNews reporter, Shauna Hunt, while she interviewed soccer fans after a Toronto FC game. Ms. Hunt was brave enough to confront the men on camera; they continued their disrespectful behaviour by saying that the phrase was “fucking hilarious” and that Ms. Hunt was “lucky there [wasn’t] a fucking vibrator in [her] ear” (a reference to another FHRITP prank in the UK).
One of the men from the Shauna Hunt video, Shawn Simoes, has been fired from his job, a decision that has provoked a lot of responses on social media. There are the usual “freedom of speech” arguments (and to those people, I invite you to read this comic), and “This is all PC nonsense – it’s just a joke.”, and false equivalency arguments like, “So, if my boss loves Stephen Harper and I don’t – and I say so publicly – does that mean I can be fired too?”
None of these arguments hold water for me. These are the arguments people make because they:
- Have no understanding of what free speech actually means
- Are incapable of sound arguments based on logic and reason
- Are guilty of the same behaviour – or encouraging others in that behaviour – and would rather defend it than admit they were wrong
- Are incapable of empathy toward others
But the responses that troubled me the most were the ones that simply read, “I don’t see what the big deal is.” I’d like to explain why I think this is a big deal; why this whole ill conceived FHRITP prank is, not only stupid and vulgar, but actually dangerous.
When I was 15 or so, I went on my first ever date with a boy from my art class. I don’t recall what we did – probably went to see a movie or something – but I do remember how nervous and excited I was to go out.
I remember waiting for him to pull in the drive to pick me up, and how I hoped I looked OK, and that I wouldn’t say anything too dorky or stupid. My big hope for the evening was for both of us to have fun. I tried not to think too hard about the end of the evening (kiss? no kiss? hug? handshake?). At this point in my life, I was still a few years away from my first sexual experience and I wasn’t even contemplating sex as a possibility for this date. Maybe some hand-holding, but not much else.
So, off we went, and after our date, as we walked to his car, another car came along; it slowed down as it approached us, and a guy about our age, leaned out the passenger window and yelled, “Fuck her, buddy, I did!”. Other people in the street turned and looked at us – at me – to see who it was this vulgar little shit had supposedly fucked.
I could have happily dropped dead on the spot.
He’d barely finished yelling the words before I got walloped with just about every negative emotion and thought a person can feel or have in a single moment: humiliation, embarrassment, degradation, shame, fear that my date would think it was true; that I was easy and a slut, anger that the night had been spoiled by his ugly words… it was overwhelming to say the least.
I had gone from being Art Boy’s date, to a thing that could be – and apparently had been – fucked and discarded.
The young guys in the car sped off, laughing and hanging out the window to see how I was taking it. I just stood there trying not to cry in front of my date. He asked if I was OK and then drove me home because I was obviously not OK. There was no kiss at the door; all I could think about was what they had yelled at me: “Fuck her, buddy, I did!”.
I wonder if those guys remember that night as well as I do. Probably not – they’re probably decent and contributing members of society now (though I wonder how decent a person really is if they find that kind of shitty behaviour funny). Maybe they are married and have daughters of their own. I wonder if they’ve had to comfort that daughter who’s maybe just discovered that a single moment can leave you feeling small, scared and vulnerable; that there are words and people who, in the time it takes your heart to beat, can make you feel cheap, dirty and worthless.
And of all the dozen or so people who turned to look at me that night, not a single one of them said anything to me. Their silence, the slightly embarrassed shrug of shoulders, or the sudden interest in their feet, their car keys, their purses – and the silly, surprised smiles on a few faces – seemed to say, “Boys – what can you do?”. The message was clear: Shrug it off. Don’t make a fuss.
Well, I’m making a fuss now.
I didn’t deserve to feel scared, small, vulnerable, dirty, cheap, worthless, humiliated, embarrassed, degraded, or ashamed. And if anyone reading this is thinking of making a joke that can produce all these feelings in a person, believe me when I tell you that the person you say it to will carry the memory with them always – and that they will always feel bad about it. Far better to keep your mouth shut.
The actual words of this meme require discussion as well:
The word “fuck”, applied in a sexual context, can have some pretty violent connotations. When these assholes say, “fuck her” – it implies violence, lack of consent, bodily harm, and the use of force against another. It brings up fear of being violated, of being used like an object for someone else’s pleasure so they can indulge a sense of control and power over a person and their body. To me, it seems like an encouraging invitation to rape – at the very least, it makes light of rape and even of sex.
And the words “in the pussy” – these words strip a person of all the things they are, all the things that make them them and zeroes in on a single body part: “the pussy”; with the implication that that’s all you are, all that’s useful about you, all that’s interesting – the pussy. The rest of you is just the bunch of rubbish the pussy is attached to. It turns a person into a mere thing in the crudest possible terms.
Just a pussy. Just something to fuck.
This is what people are defending as “free speech”. This is what we’re supposed to “lighten up” about.
I worry about how many people who feel OK about yelling things like, “fuck her right in the pussy” will graduate from saying shitty things, to doing even shittier things based on the implied encouragement and consent of other people’s silence. I worry that people who find things like FHRITP “fucking hilarious” see other people as just ‘other’ – that the people around them aren’t people; they are things to be used to further their own goals. That goal might be a cheap laugh, or getting laid, or feeling powerful and in control – whatever the goal, they stop caring that other people are being hurt so they can get what they want.
Laughing at “FHRITP”; yelling it at people, and being supportive of those who laugh at it and say it, is another step toward normalizing rape culture. This kind of crude humour and implied violence makes committing violent acts more acceptable which takes away from the seriousness of sexual assault; it makes it harder for victims of assault to come forward because they are scared they’ll be laughed at and not taken seriously. It makes it easier for rapists and their ilk to continue hurting people because they know their victims won’t report anything, and even if they did – well, hey, “fuck her right in the pussy.” – right?
That’s a scary world to live in.
It’s not OK to yell things like “fuck her right in the pussy” at anyone. Ever.
It’s not OK to say or do nothing when you see or hear other people doing it.
It’s not OK to look away from someone else’s humiliation and fear and laugh about it or shrug it off as “just one of those things”.
By saying and doing nothing, by laughing at the “joke”, the implication is that you’re comfortable with someone being humiliated or frightened – your silence is a pact with the people perpetrating the offence. You’re essentially saying, “I agree with what you’re doing.” You are helping them feel OK about hurting other people and making them feel small, shitty, and worthless.
If this is not who you are, if you can see why this is wrong, then speak up and say so. This is no time to be squeamish or cowardly – actual people are genuinely hurt by this “joke” – if you can do something about it, then I think you have an obligation to do it if you want to be considered a useful and valuable member of the human race.