Viral Video Exposes Street Harassment
10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman
November 17, 2014
A viral video released on October 28th shows a woman experiencing catcalls and harassment as she walks through New York City. Robert Bliss, of marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative, produced “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” with the help of actress Shoshona Roberts and Hollaback!, a non-profit that works to end street harassment. Roberts, wearing jeans and a crewneck t-shirt, walked behind Bliss while he captured her experiences with a GoPro camera attached to his backpack, according to the Huffington Post. The two-minute video generated a huge response, with over 35 million views on YouTube.
Roberts experienced over one hundred instances of harassment during her walk:
“Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.”
One guy walked beside her in silence for five minutes.
Many have praised the video’s depiction of the unwanted attention and advances women receive from men in public spaces. Even a short greeting can feel threatening and is unwelcome from a male stranger.
One big controversy surrounding the video is not about the catcalls, but the catcallers themselves. Roberts’ harassers are mostly black or Latino. White men are, as an article on npr.org states, “noticeably absent.” Bliss apologized and said that most white harassers were unintentionally edited out. Hanna Rosin, a writer for Slate, thinks the bias goes deeper than that. She argues that catcalling is more common among poorer minority groups, while men who are better off harass in less obvious ways. Hollaback! issued a statement saying the video should have better represented street harassment as something perpetrated by all groups.
The response to “10 Hours” has been varied – some write it off as a misrepresentation, others embrace it as a look at an under-addressed, pervasive problem women face daily. The comedy world has produced a number of humorous yet insightful parodies, such as Funny or Die’s “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man,” in which a guy is showered with “verbal street privileges” like offers for free coffee, jobs, and coupons. Hollaback! says it has received ten thousand dollars from new donors since the video’s release, which it will use to create its own series of videos to raise awareness. While the subtler issues of gender boundaries and race need more than a two-minute video to be addressed, street harassment is unarguably a pervasive issue for women around the world.
Watch the video.
Funny or Die’s Parody.