What does street harassment look like?

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An ever fascinating topic for me is that of feminism and social media. When I wrote the draft for this post earlier this week, I found this video, 10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman, buried at the bottom of the BBC website. Three days later it has been lauded and criticized, commented on and parodied, notably by the comedy site Funny or Die, showing 10 hours of walking in NYC as a man, which entails getting job offers and free food. The original video has also been called out by Hanna Rosin at Slate.com for predominantly featuring scenes where black and Latino men are the ones doing all the harassing.

Street harassment is my go-to battle of choice within the realm of problems that affect women today. It’s an interesting fight in that it seems insignificant when placed alongside rape, reproductive rights, or even equal pay, but I think it is fundamental to altering a cultural acceptance of violence towards women. It’s a difficult thing to explain to someone who doesn’t experience it on a regular basis, and so I was excited to see a video that really captures the additional burden that this kind of harassment can add to the simple but mandatory everyday task of walking from one place to another. It is more than just burden however, it is the dehumanizing nature of the interaction. The video captures some of the persistence that occurs despite a total lack of response from the woman. I do agree that the lack of white men in business suits (a fair percentage of men who catcall, in my experience) allows a large swath of the population to remove blame from themselves. While I do think social acceptance for street harassment is shaped in part by location and street culture (how many people are walking or socializing on the sidewalk), it is certainly not confined to certain races or socio-economic groups.

Produced by Hollaback!, a very active anti-street harassment campaign, this hidden camera follows Shoshanna B. Roberts walking the streets of NYC for 10 hours.

 

-Caterina Gironda, Southern Editor

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