The clip, published on YouTube yesterday by a group called Hollaback!, is designed to call attention to the everyday sexual harassment endured by women.
The problem certainly exists — to an extent — but is it really as bad as the video makes out?
The woman, Shoshanna Roberts, told ABC News she was catcalled more than 100 times during her 10-hour stroll around New York.
“It was all types people,” Roberts said. “All colors, shapes, sizes [and] ages.”
Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that raises awareness about street harassment. It’s now using the clip as part of a public service announcement titled “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman.”
“I wanted to give it to guys who would maybe consider whistling at a girl,” said Rob Bliss, whose PR firm came up with the idea.
The video has since gone viral and been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube. Reactions have been mixed and it’s getting a fair amount of push back.
Of course, no one really deserves to hear unwanted comments for merely walking down the street.
So, is don’t-speak-to-me-unless-I-speak-to-you, the correct social etiquette for women in public?
Here are ten things that may help explain what the video shows and why it may be misleading.
10. A friendly hello is not a catcall: Many of the men in the video merely said hello as Roberts passed by. Since when did a hello constitute a catcall? That’s a stretch by any definition.
9. Are catcallers this polite? The men who spoke to Roberts where unfailingly polite. Doesn’t a catcall usually involving saying something vulgar about your vagina? Where do you draw the line between someone who’d like to get to know you and a catcall? Seems like it’s blurred here.
8. Why did it take 10 hours to get 100 catcalls? First, what woman spends that much time on the street? Second, that works out to 10 catcalls an hour. In that time, she probably walked passed at least 1,000 men or more. So 10 percent of random men on the street are creepy or overly friendly. Is that a big deal?
7. How much did socio-economics play a role: Judging from the video, Roberts picked out the seedier neighborhoods and gravitated to construction sites, where a lot of idle men usually hang around. She certainly wasn’t walking in Central Park or around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She probably would have had far fewer, if any, catcalls.
6. How many catcallers were panhandlers? Judging by the video, many of her so-called catcallers weren’t the best dressed people on the block. If so how many were panhandlers? In New York City, they’ll talk to everyone and anyone; not to catcall, but to strike up a conversation and ask for money.
5. Yes, creepy guys do exist: In her 10-hour stroll, Roberts did unearth a few creepy guys, who tried to come on to her. But none of them got physical, and none were rude or offensive. Some just seemed to be asking to get to know her or interested in a date.
4. How much did her silence contribute?: In all of her encounters, Roberts never spoke. This seemed to prolong the attention she was receiving. Had she merely responded with a “hello,” or a “No thanks,” the encounters might have taken on a whole different light.
3. None of the “catcallers” were aggressive: Even the most persistent so-called “catcallers” gave Roberts her space. They kept their distance and no one grabbed her, or even touched her. Again, does that qualify as a catcall?
2. Were her dress and age a factor? Wearing revealing clothes shouldn’t be considered an invitation to sexual harassment. But look at Roberts’ overall demeanor. She was wearing tight jeans and a tight, body-hugging tee-shirt that showed off her curves. Plus, she’s clearly a 20-something woman, who appears to be single. If she had been older and dressed differently, or wearing a wedding ring, would that have mattered? Hell, yes.
1. What is a catcall, really? By standard definition, a catcall is a shrill whistle or shout of disapproval, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by, according to most dictionaries. How many of those do you hear?
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