‘I Went For A Night Out And Ended Up In A Voyeur Video – The Comments Made Me Sick’

The Manchester Nightlife trend is just another example of how men invade women’s privacy for their own entertainment.

Manchester nightlife on TikTok

by Alice Hall |
Updated on

Picture the scene. You spent hours glamming up at a friend’s house before heading out for a big night with the girls. You spend hours drinking, dancing, and getting the obligatory drunk takeaway, before waking up to realise there are videos of you plastered over social media – which you don’t recall being taken, and you didn’t consent to.

This has been the experience of many girls in the North-West of England thanks to a disturbing trend taking off on social media, with women describing feeling ‘unsafe’ on nights out. The viral trend involves people secretly filming women on nights out, before posting the clips on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram using the titles ‘Manchester nightlife’ or ‘Liverpool nightlife.’  The people filming appear to target young people wearing tight clothes or short dresses, and everyone featured in them is a woman.

As if it’s not disturbing enough that these videos are being filmed without women’s consent and racking up millions of views online, they also attract a slew of vile, misogynistic comments. On one video, a TikTok user commented ‘std town’ while a second wrote ‘slutts.’ Other users have invited sexualised comments and suggested they are sex workers.

Many people have taken to social media to share their opinions on the trend. One X user wrote ‘those manchester nightlife videos are sooo nauseating. imagine getting secretly filmed just for thousands of strangers to slutshame you.’ Another wrote ‘How have I just seen a tiktok of 'Manchester nightlife' where it's just exclusively young women being filmed going about their business on a night out? How is this completely normalised and not at all seen as predatory? Freak behaviour.’

Last year, Amy Adams, 23, a graduate business analyst and freelance model living in Manchester, addressed the videos in a TikTok video after she claims to have been featured in them twice. She tells Grazia she first came across the videos the morning after a night out, when someone sent her a TikTok saying she was in it.

‘The video had racked up hundreds of thousands of views. It felt creepy and voyeuristic to know someone was recording you and you didn’t know at the time,’ she says. ‘On the videos I was featured in, there were a lot of comments saying, “oh with what they’re wearing they’re asking for it” and “why do women in the UK dress like this.” But what someone’s wearing never opens the door for them to experience any hate or abuse.’

After speaking out about the videos on her TikTok page, Amy said she received ‘a mix’ of reactions from people online. ‘Some people thought “oh it’s just another woman complaining again” and “go cry about it.” But a lot of girls were glad that someone was finally speaking out about this.’

The trend has been reported on for two years by the Manchester Evening News, and in 2022, a similar account was banned for ‘violating community guidelines.’ However, the publication reported that at the start of this year, at least four similar accounts were active on the site. In February, the Manchester Evening News detailed how the trend had moved on to deliberately targeting drunk women. The videos, which are posted on YouTube, show a woman crawling in the road and another one being held by a friend while she is falling over.

The videos are inciting a disturbing amount of misogyny. While these types of slurs are nothing new for women online, they have the capacity to translate to real-world violence. A survey of 7,500 adults by the Open University last year found that 15% of women have experienced online violence, and 13% said that this progressed to offline violence. To understand the impact of online misogyny, you only need to look at kickboxer Andrew Tate, whose hateful views made him TikTok famous amongst a new generation. Research by Internet Matters found that almost a quarter (23%) of boys aged 15-16 have a positive impression of Andrew Tate.

The other issue here is consent, and how secret filming makes women feel unsafe on their nights out. While it is not illegal to record someone in a public place without their consent in the UK, it can become criminal if it constitutes harassment. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) told the BBC it is actively working to catch the people making the videos, and officers are being briefed on the situation ahead of their shifts.

‘It makes you feel unsafe. As a woman going out, you already have enough things to worry about and knowing someone is secretly recording you to post online just adds to it,’ says Adams. ‘I know recording in public is legal, but it’s the intent behind these videos, and the way women are sexualised in the comments without their consent.’

Hayyin Fan​​​​, Abuse Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp says while the videos present themselves as showing the ‘nightlife’ of a city, this hides their true intent. ‘The barrage of misogynistic comments these, often voyeuristic, videos attract also put victims at an increased risk of abuse and harassment,’ she says. ‘New laws need to be fully enforceable and further address misogynistic behaviour, to ensure women are protected and feel safe in public spaces.’

The Manchester Nightlife trend is just another example of how men invade women’s privacy for their own entertainment. Ten years ago, a viral Facebook group called ‘Women Who Eat on Tubes’ - which showed pictures of identifiable women on the London underground – sparked a huge backlash around collective shaming and objectification. In 2019,a year-long campaign by Gina Martin led to upskirting - act of taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, intending to view their genitals or buttocks – to be made a criminal offence. Yet as these videos show, there’s still much more to be done in the fight against this type of objectification.

Anthea Sully, Chief Executive of White Ribbon UK, tells Grazia that while most men do not believe themselves to be ‘violent,’ when we allow harassing and misogynistic attitudes, they become normalised.

‘These attitudes create a culture that enables men to commit violence and abuse against women online and offline. This is dangerous and plays into victim blaming, making women responsible for the abuse they receive,’ she says. ‘Men need to challenge and call out abusive comments and behaviour when they see it, whether that’s one on one, directly or by reporting to platforms.’ Sully adds that we need to see ‘more accountability’ and ‘a faster response’ to this harmful content from social media platforms.

TikTok and YouTube told the BBC they had removed a number of videos and accounts relating to this content for violating their guidelines. A TikTok spokesperson said ‘Misogyny is prohibited on TikTok. Any content found to violate these guidelines will be removed.’

The bottom line is that women deserve to go out without having to look over their shoulder because they constantly fear being filmed by a stranger – just in the same way women deserve to be able to eat on tubes without being mocked or wear short clothes without being judged.

‘Women shouldn’t have to go out and be worried about a video of them being posted online to then receive trolling. It can really affect people, and that’s what’s most damaging,’ says Adams.

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