Why a Defensive Stance on the Catcall Video is Inherently Sexist

Critics Be Damned, Catcalling Video Is Exactly What We Needed to See

By Victoria Priola

The YouTube video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” took the Internet by storm, racking up 1,000,000 views in one day for Director Robert Bliss as he brings cat-callers into the limelight.

The anti-street harassment organization Hollaback was the motivation behind actress Shoshana B. Roberts’ ten-hour journey through the crowded misogynistic streets of Soho, Manhattan.

Bliss’ theatrical portrayal of what a women encounters on the streets on NYC is used as a public service announcement to spark conversation on the topic of gender inequality.

My argument is not with the video itself, but with the depicted issue of cat-calling and why people-in this case men-think they can use their freedom of speech to make others feel uncomfortable for no reason other than their physical attraction to the person.

Besides the unrealistic aspects of the viral footage, I, as a woman in NYC, was enraged with the actions of the men in the video.

Roberts was seen as an item worth gawking at rather than a functioning member of society. There is no justification for the commentary she was subjected to and even if she was wearing something that would prompt them, it would be just another case of blaming the victim.

As she roamed the streets, the eyes of the men focused on her behind and suddenly they all wanted to know how her day was going.

The comment a critic could make to this statement would be “not all men are like that.”

To this I would say: I’m aware. Congratulations on realizing that, but we’re not talking about “all men,” just like we’re not talking about “all women” in this cat-calling and street harassment scenario. Not all people are good people no matter what their gender may be.

Through the social media attention that the video has attracted, critics pointed out that the comments made suggest that “Damn girl, how you doin’?” and “God bless you” are not harassment if no one physically puts their hands on the woman and that they “like being called sexy, beautiful, etc.”

My rebuttal to that would be: Who made you an expert on women?

If you were such a thing you’d have a lovely lady at home who would hate to see you mouthing off at an anonymous woman.

Instead of going straight for sexual innuendos, why not just let her be the fabulous human being she is?

Verbal harassment is just as serious as physical harassment. The woman in the video showed no signs of wanting to communicate with the subjects who spoke to her. The subjects that ignored her wishes stepped into the realm of verbal harassment.

Another complaint about the video from critics was the emphasis on men of color being the harassers and “if the woman in the video was anything but white, it’d be a different story.”

The ethnic misrepresentation that only people of color harass women was very apparent. 33 percent of the Hollaback movement leaders are people of color, which may contribute to the “white elitist stereotype” the video may seem to represent.

The Hollaback campaign released a statement tackling the comments on racial representation.

“We regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color” the campaign wrote.

“It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.”

This “Ten Hour Walk” was choreographed and uploaded in the hopes of receiving donations for the Hollaback campaign.

The money that is said to bring educational programs in schools and held the campaign set up offices all over the United States will not stop the street harassment from continuing.

The message behind the video is more powerful than the profits it makes. Being respectful towards one another is the only true way to invest in this cause and hopefully making the streets a safer place for all.


Categories: Opinion

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