The XX Factor

Comedian Films Himself Having Simulated Sex With Unsuspecting Women. Isn’t That Simulated Rape?

French comedian Remi Gaillard in “Free Sex.”

Via YouTube

The Internet has brought us many great innovations in media, socializing, and cooing at cats. Sadly, it also seems to be innovating the art of sexual harassment.

The Daily Dot reports on French comedian Remi Gaillard creating a smash YouTube hit called “Free Sex,” in which Gaillard simulates sex with unsuspecting women on the street. The new video already has more than 4 million views. Here’s how EJ Dickson at the Daily Dot describes it:

In the video, Gaillard (who, from the looks of it, is France’s version of Dane Cook, which for some reason actually sounds way worse than Cook himself) sneaks up behind a series of attractive young women, simulating fellatio, cunniligus, and sex with them without their knowledge (emphasis on “without their knowledge”—although he’s pantomiming sex, the joke is that he’s doing so without their consent). When they catch on, he scampers away.

I hate to be nitpicky, but: Since the point of the joke is that the women are nonconsenting, then it’s not really simulated sex so much as simulated rape. Funny!

Next up: CNET Australia reports on an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a smartphone accessory called a Peek-I spy cam, which in theory will help anyone take sneaky, undetected photos of anyone else, but, as per the original marketing on the Indiegogo site, is clearly aimed at men who want to more easily take invasive photos of women in public. CNET reports that that original fundraising page was heavy on images of men taking photos of women’s breasts and legs without their knowledge and had language like, “Want a picture of your secret crush? You can make that happen and your crush won’t even think you are stalking him or her, because you will be looking in a different direction.” When I went to the fundraising page itself, it seems that the developers have responded to the attention by editing the page, removing the pro-stalking language and the images of men taking sleazy pictures, but the cached version is still available for verification. Here are some photos:

Promotional image via Indiegogo
Promotional image via Indiegogo

Street harassment has long been a way for some men to exert power over women, so it makes sense that such men would use technology to further their ends. These innovations have their upsides, though. It’s definitely scary for women to think that men who harass now have a way not only to preserve the moment in perpetuity, but also to share it with a large audience. On the other hand, by sharing their triumphs online, sexual harassers are revealing to the world at large how gross and violating their behavior is and inadvertently raising awareness. (And as my colleague Mark Joseph Stern wrote in Slate last year, tech also allows women to create tools to chronicle harassment and expose harassers.) It’s become much harder in the era of upskirt photos for apologists of street harassment to write it off as no big deal or even pretend it’s a compliment.