When I was in high school, I had a classmate named Andrew. One day, my teacher had me check my classmates’ attendance by calling their names one by one. When I arrived at Andrew’s name, I pronounced it as /ˈændruː/ (en-dru), and I had the whole class laughing at me. Apparently, it was because they had been accustomed with pronouncing Andrew as /ˈɑːndɹə/ (an-dré) like in Andre. I was like, “Umm, wut?” because for me, Andrew would always be “en-dru”…
…but even Andrew himself pronounced his name as “an-dré”.
So be it. Que sera, sera. Although I was torn between calling him “en-dru” and “an-dré”, somehow I managed to call him “an-dré” because it was what he wanted his name to be pronounced.
Anyway, I learned that what “normal” meant to me wasn’t necessarily what “normal” meant to others. I also learned that “normal” was just what was acceptable by the majority in a society; meaning “normal/acceptable” doesn’t always mean “true/correct” and vice versa, “true/correct” doesn’t always mean “normal/acceptable”.
So when an Indonesian comedian thought it was funny to make a prank video in which he asked random girls about their bra size, it wasn’t surprising to see that there were still a lot of Indonesians tolerated that kind of joke. A friend said that we should be able to talk about sexuality with an open mind, but I personally still think that the video was a rude joke.
I agree that we should talk more openly about sexuality and I support early sex education, but asking random girls about bra size (there were even minors in that video) and then uploaded it on YouTube without any disclaimer or consent (from the girls) is really a bad idea. In the video, the comedian claimed that he did it for research purpose, but I have watched the video and I doubted it—and this is why I found it disgusting.
The video was about a guy asking random girls about bra size. Had it been a girl asking other girls about bra size, or a guy/a girl asking random guys about penis size, would we still have seen it as a sexual harassment? (It should be.) Had the comedian truly done it for research, would he have asked his female family members the same question in the same video and would he still have uploaded it on YouTube?
However, the internet went mad, and I couldn’t help but think, have we been over-reacting? I see the prank as a sexual harassment, but do the “victims” also think that way?
A person underlined that Indonesians’ ignorant response to the video was an indicator that we only have little awareness about sexual harassment. I agree. The girls in the video—no one stated their objection to the question, and no one seemed offended being asked about bra size by some random guy. No one realized that they didn’t have to answer the question, or that they had every right to punch the guy in the face. Even the girls thought it was funny!
That brought me to other questions. Why do some of us think that being asked about bra size as a sexual harassment, and why do some of us not? Why do people in the West feel offended being asked about their age, and why do Indonesians not? Why do Indonesians feel offended being asked about their virginity, and why do people in the West not? What makes things acceptable and what makes them unacceptable?
By personal observation, I conclude that a question from a stranger is unacceptable if: (1) it is a private matter, or (2) it makes us uncomfortable, because (3) there will be prejudices following the answer. For example, if we ask an Indonesian about his/her virginity, we might have positive/negative prejudices about him/her based on his/her answer, but Western people are less likely to judge someone based on their virginity, so they don’t mind being asked about it.
In my opinion, asking random people about their bra or penis size ticks all the points above. Even if according to the law, a sexual harassment only happens if the victim feels harassed (or if the victim is a minor and cannot give consent), but it is still sad to see a lot of people are okay with this kind of insensitive joke. Perhaps there will be a time in which asking a random person about bra size is considered as casual as asking them about their shoe size and such kind of prank will be okay—but now isn’t the time yet. We are indeed lacking of sexual harassment awareness and sex education.