"I got mad because she didn't even know what was going on, you feel me? And I just knew that was some fu**ed-up shit," the TikToker explained.
The kidnapping and death of Sarah Everard earlier this year once again spurred discussions about what men could do to be better allies and make the world safer for women. "Being an ally means standing up and saying: anything that deters women from going out and feeling safe is unacceptable," Al Garthwaite, an organizer of the UK's first Reclaim the Night marches, told The Guardian. "We want male allies to talk to other men and help them understand. That's the most important thing men can do." A TikTok user named Charlie Banga did just that last month when he noticed two men commenting on a young woman's body and smell as she exercised at a Planet Fitness in Florida.
Banga, who goes by the user name @charliebanga on the social media platform, secretly recorded the men when he realized what they were talking about and later confronted them with the video to show them what they look and sound like when objectifying a woman. The video — which was posted on May 24 and has over 1.8 million views — shows two middle-aged men looking at a young woman running on a treadmill in front of them and discussing how they saw her outside and were attracted to her smell.
"I wasn't even going to post this s**t but I was like man, people gotta know what be going on. People gotta see this s**t, you feel me?" Banga says at the beginning of the video. The video then switches to show two men, one seated across from the TikToker and the other standing. "Girl's perfume, man," the seated man says, to which the other replies: "Ripe for the picking."
"The smell of a woman walking by you..." the first man continues. "I was in prison for three years; all I smelled was dirty a** men. A girl guard walked by, you were like, 'Oh my god.'" The clip cuts off as the other man launches into another anecdote about a vacation — undoubtedly one just as distasteful. Banga then explains that although he usually minds his own business while at the gym, he couldn't help but confront the men after hearing their conversation. "I guess these men felt like they could speak freely around me, say whatever was on they mind," he says. "And at first, I wasn't even listening to them, but then they started saying some wild shit, you feel me? So I started recording them."
Banga revealed that he then played the recording for the men to show them what they look like while objectifying women. "After I finished recording, you know what I'm saying, I played it out loud so they could hear it. I was like, 'Y'all are nasty as f**k, man,'" he says. "I got mad because she didn't even know what was going on, you feel me? And I just knew that was some fu**ed-up shit." According to Daily Dot, the TikToker also described the men's responses to seeing themselves in the video. "They were looking all scared and dumbfounded, couldn't even say shit bc they knew they were dead wrong smh," he reportedly wrote in a comment.
Banga also explained that he did not alert the young woman to what had happened because he didn't want her to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable by the men's actions. He did, however, get the men to leave the gym. "I was like, 'Man, y'all better move the f**k from around here, and if I see y'all doing that shit again, I'm going to smack the shit out ya, straight up,'" he says in the video. "I don't care if I go to jail. I don't care if you tell, because y'all are in the wrong." Becky Zirlen, director of public relations for Planet Fitness, later said in a statement that the franchise owner revoked the men's memberships. "As home of the Judgement Free Zone, the safety and privacy of our members and employees is our top priority, and we take this incident extremely seriously," Zirlen said.