A non-profit called Hollaback (a movement to end street harassment and is powered by local activists in 79 cities and 26 countries) teamed up with Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative to create a PSA to highlight the impact of street harassment.
In the video above, you can see Shoshana B. Roberts wearing jeans and a T-shirt walking through the streets of New York City. Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack and she walked silently with two mics in her hand. They recorded for 10 hours and Shoshana was overwhelmingly harassed by men of all ages and race. There was even one man who walked alongside her in silence for five minutes. The stunt, Hollaback says, ended up recording more than 100 instances of verbal harassment over 10 hours. That 10-per-hour stat does not include winks, whistles, and other less verbal forms. Many people are criticizing the video, claiming they edited out the White guys. Maybe Bliss did edit out the White guys, but in my experience, they aren’t the ones who are doing the cat calling. I hate to say it, but anytime that I am harassed, it’s usually by a man of color. There was this one time a Hasidic Jewish man followed me and told me that he was drunk and looking to have some fun that night. I quickly crossed the street and walked with a couple of teenage kids until I got to my block.
During filming, she told Bliss, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by White men, Black men, Latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.” Shoshana wasn’t wearing anything revealing (read: inviting) and she also wasn’t engaging with anyone, but that didn’t matter. That never matters to men who do whatever they can to get a woman’s attention.
The experience of street harassment is different for everyone. According to Hollaback, street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. Case in point, Mary “Unique” Spears lost her life because she didn’t give her number to a stranger on the street who’d ask for it. And this isn’t the only case of a woman becoming a victim of an overly aggressive and entitled man.
I often have anxiety on the streets of New York City when I’m catcalled and try my best to ignore. I’ve been told that I have a friendly face. I could be wearing headphones, or even enthralled in a book and someone will come up to me asking for directions. I realize that a friendly face often elicits warm hellos, smiles and lots and lots of harassment. At this point, I’ve grown accustomed to it, but it doesn’t make the harassment any less anxiety-inducing. When I ignore them and keep walking like Shoshana did, the harassment officially begins. I’ve heard racial slurs and the word b*tch spit at me like venom and there’s the ever-popular and more descriptive, “fat b*tch.” I go from being the object of adoration to the object of disgust in less than five seconds. Who knows why there’s so much aggression spewed at women who have a right to either say no or even keep walking? And honestly, what do these men think the result of their aggressive affections will be? A date?
Funny or Die released a parody video of a man walking down the street, getting harassed by the weirdest of pedestrians with even weirder cat calls. Some of it is laughable, but for the most part…I think street harassment shouldn’t be made into a joke.
What do you beauties think about this viral street harassment video? Sound off in the comments below!
Distract Yourself From Street Harassment With These Pretty Raheem Videos That Are Sure To Make You Giggle:
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