In Jan of 2021 I posted a blog: Things Men Did to Me at Weddings in 2022. It gained a lot of traction, but most importantly it opened up conversations for me to have both in and out of the Industry. What could we do to make this a safer space for women?
It's now January 2022 and I want share the actions I took, that though small, meant I had an almost completely incident free year over 60+ weddings. The issue is still there, but I do believe we are making waves.
We all know it happens. We all experience it. And have started the conversation. What do we do next?
Made themselves known
Most of my 2022 clients spoke to me before their wedding day about designating a ‘safe person’ for me to speak to if needed.
A lot of the time this was the couple, sometimes a best men/bridesmaids or other members of their wedding squads/I-Do Crews
At a good handful of weddings a Dad, Groomsmen/Best Man approached me at the wedding asking me to let them know if anyone was giving me any hass. It made me feel seen and listened to and safe.
At a couple of weddings I experienced guests who, after drinking all day, starting getting more confident and were teetering on inappropriate behaviour. On both instances the Groom stepped in and gently asked them to step away, leave it, let them know I wasn't interested etc
They did it so discreetly, and I'm not even sure those Grooms know that I witnessed it. I hope they read this and know, and I hope other men saw this action and will be the one to step in next time.
Check in on the day
At several weddings either the designated person, groom or male guest checked in with me again either midway through or at the end of the day when I was leaving, to ask if everyone had been ok.
It gave me an opportunity to let them know without feeling as though I was burdening them. Fortunately I never needed to report anything, but having that chance to should I have needed it was wonderful.
Mentioned it in his speech
One of my fav speeches this year (he knows who he is!) included a section in his speech where he mentioned:
'Not telling the un-married couple at the table it's their turn next, not asking the married couple at the table when they are gonna get pregnant and not standing next to the photographer and telling her you can take better pictures than her. You can't.'
Called behaviour out
One guest who decided to get handsy with me was bluntly called out by another in front of a group of men including the line: 'Ffs she literally just did an instagram post about this.'
Another guest took his drunk friend away who was getting very close to me and repeatedly asking me to take a selfie with him saying 'You absolutely can't do that, it's not ok.' He either sent him home or put him to bed as I didn't see him again.
Were called out by me
I made an active effort this year to not be afraid of 'upsetting a wedding day' and calling out behaviour as I would outside of my workplace.
One man was aggressively telling me his iphone photos would be better than mine and pointing in my face. I calmly said 'you're being really rude' and he backed down immediately.
Another was very drunk and when I tried to move away grabbed both of my wrists and held me in place. I calmly asked him to 'please take your hands off of me' and he looked at me with absolute horror at what he had done.
Had a dialogue
With me, with other guests, with groups of mates, with each other.
At almost every wedding in 2021 I had an incident with male harassment on some level or other. In 2022 (after I had steps in place) I had a tiny handful, and whilst that is still too many, all of them resulted in meaningful dialogue. I saw men learn in the moment that what they were doing was wrong, men call each other out and educate where they needed to, one man ask me if a guest was mansplaining how to use a camera to me (he wasn't, it was his vintage Polaroid and I'd asked him how to use it!)
I saw none of this in 2021.
Got away with it
I shot one wedding directly after my insta post last year 'Things Men Did To Me At Weddings In 2021' and before I had any steps in place to combat harassment.
One man spent the entire evening getting really close to my face and insisting we take a selfie together, grabbing my cameras, grabbing my arms and persistently asking even though I kept walking away and telling him to stop. Several people saw it. No one intervened.
This was my norm in 2021, and is still the norm for many people right now.
This week the misogyny has been present in the industry. A 'top ten' list was released made up of ten men, which (rightly so) received push back.
It was the comments sections and private facebook threads that showed a lack of listening. A lack of awareness. A distinct lack of recognition of privilege. Day to day misogyny is just as harmful to us as harassment.
The men who were my allies this year were not ones within the industry. I call upon you again to step up.
- I have a clause within my contract to protect myself. You can find it here and are welcome to install it in your own
- Have a small section in my Wedding Guide (sent to all clients when they book) directing them towards my original instagram/blog posts
- Have space for a designated safe person on the pre-wedding questionnaire I send to my clients 6-8 weeks before their wedding
- Promising myself that I will treat any situation the same that I would if I wasn't working. Knowing that my clients are on board with me allows me to have the same respect for myself that I would for anyone else.
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