Men at these wedding ceremonies constantly violate her space, sexually harass and attack her while doing her job.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of sexual harassment that some readers may find distressing
The onus of women's safety should be on men because more often than not, they are the perpetrators. A woman photographer is calling on men to take responsibility for not just their own actions but also talk to other friends who are men about sexual harassment. Kim Williams is a wedding photographer and videographer living in the UK and roughly does 40-50 ceremonies per year on average. As much as she loves her work, it's the men at these ceremonies that constantly violate her space, sexually harass and attack her. Williams made it a point to document every instance of harassment in 2021 and she posted them, highlighting just how much a woman has to endure for just existing in a public place and the entitlement of men over women's bodies and will.
"Things men did to me at weddings in 2021," she started out and listed instances where she has been harassed by everyone ranging from guests, vicars and DJs to photographers, venue owners and suppliers. That's pretty much everyone she meets on her assignments. "I know my clients will be mortified to know any of these happened at their weddings, which is why I’ve never spoken about this on Instagram before. I take great care in making sure you would never know it’s happened. But I feel it‘s a conversation that needs to be started," she wrote.
She pointed out that men, and especially cis-het men, were the ones always harassing her. "Working a job that requires you to be around large groups of cis-het men and alcohol means that this kinda stuff happens at about 80% of the weddings I shoot. I am friendly, smiley, approachable, chatty, and I get stuck into a dance floor. This is not an invitation for any of the above," she wrote.
She also explained that men simply didn't regard her as a professional photographer, often mansplaining photography and talking to other men photographers who accompanied her. "Last year I had Tom or Victor with me for around 25 weddings (my video shooters). The men who were patronizing to me, touched me and mansplained. Tom, in particular, witnessed a lot of the behavior I have to experience and had his mind blown somewhat as to how aggressive it can get," she wrote.
Williams recalled one horrific incident. "I was grabbed around the neck on the dance floor after two guys had been increasingly harassing me all day, I ran outside, breathed through a panic attack, returning to shoot the rest of the night five mins later with a smile on my face and no one any the wiser…'what can I do?' I went away and spoke to my girlfriends, my non-binary pals, and decided: 'It's not our problem to fix.'"
She urged men to take responsibility to make women feel more comfortable, and exist. "Men: go away and talk to each other. Share this post with them. Call it out when you see it. Ask the women and non-binary people in your life what their experiences of this are. Listen. Engage actively. It’s not enough for you to be ‘one of the nice guys.’ If you aren’t actively helping to solve the problem then you are a part of it," she wrote. Williams pointed out the same was applicable to white people with regards to racism and cis people with regards to transphobia. "I freakin’ ADORE my job. I love every wedding I work. I just wanna do my job in peace. 🙏🏼" she concluded.
Many users lauded Williams for speaking up and women echoed her thoughts and called on men to take responsibility. Sam Docker, a professional photographer himself rallied around Williams' post. "THIS IS A MEN'S ISSUE," he wrote, before describing her experiences as "shocking." Docker said he was stunned by the scale of abuse she suffered. "Misogyny is not a women's issue," Docker reiterated.
"It's time to start calling this out, no longer turning a blind eye, no longer ignoring inappropriate comments passed off as 'banter'. It is not banter, it has never been banter. It's time to start breaking the silence and to no longer be a bystander to such peer culture. This post is to encourage men to recognise this behaviour, to change this behaviour and the impact it has on all of us, not just women. We, men, also need to be a much bigger part of the conversation, in response to Kims post, it was far too noticeable that the majority of comments and shares came from women," he wrote.