Earlier this week you may have been following the Gigi Hadid drama in which the model was picked up by a strange man while leaving a Milan Fashion Week show. In defense against her attacker, Gigi elbowed the man in the face and he promptly let her down before running away.
In itself, this story is disturbing because it demonstrates the unwarranted comfortability some men have in their contact with women. The attacker, Vitalii Sediuk, claimed he picked up Gigi as a form of protest. He said he does not think Gigi and fellow model/friend, Kendall Jenner, represent high fashion well.
Whether you agree with his statement or not, you have to admit that that should not give anyone the right to invade someone’s personal space the way Sediuk did. What’s even more disturbing, though, was that Gigi was criticized for defending herself in a time of panic and struggle. One reporter from The Sun UK went so far as to call it “not model behavior”. In today’s society, women (specifically) have to be aware of their surroundings because it is more than possible that something like this can happen to any of us. To be on the defense like Gigi is only a way of preparing women to stand up to attackers, and it should not be condemned.
After the incident, Gigi took to Twitter to convey her thoughts on the confrontation:
The question is, why are high profile women (and celebrities in general) expected to act differently in situations like this? It’s as if they are excluded from the right to feel safe. In this case, some thought Gigi was overbearing and overreacted, while others supported her decision to defend herself. A situation like this shows how extreme rape culture has become. Although the attack on Gigi was not quite sexual assault, the actions of Sediuk are what will lead to more severe assaults.
Society’s response to Sediuk’s attack is what will define future circumstances. While the attack on Gigi may seem “small” or “just a prank”, we cannot forget how “minor” actions like these can encourage worse scenarios. I think it is also important that we do not discourage someone’s right to protect themselves. Imagine if this had happened to Gigi (or any other person for that matter) at night with less eyes watching. Sure, maybe Sediuk only picked Gigi up, but if the same thing had happened at night, this story would have gained ten times the amount of attention. So, why should we let “slight” attacks like this slip under the radar if they could lead to a more devastating outcome? The answer is we shouldn’t, and that everyone has the right to protect themselves within the means of necessity. Society should be promoting that instead of judging someone for displaying “not model behavior” in a moment like this.