A reporter recently wrote an article titled Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with itthat angered a lot of people. In response, other outlets challenged the author’s beliefs calling the practice “frightening,” “disgusting,” verbal abuse, and harassment. Proving the writer wrong, one woman walked silently throughout the streets of New York City and recorded the entire 10-hour experience.
Wearing jeans and a crew neck T-shirt, Shoshana B. Roberts walks in Soho, Times Square, Harlem, and more Manhattan neighborhoods, and in each she’s treated similarly. Men saying, “hey baby,” “god bless,” “damn girl,” and “How you doing today?” on repeat. “”Someone’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more,” one person even said. But while these statements can be perceived as non-threatening and even complimentary, the context in which they’re spewed creates an uncomfortable situation. The video, which was posted to YouTube Tuesday and viewed more than 100,000 in a matter of hours, shows that principally harmless comments can quickly escalate to scary, threatening states.
The social experiment counted more than 100 instances of verbal street harassment and involved people of all backgrounds. Marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative created the segment for Hollaback, a campaign that aims to end street harassment. In response, the video has reignited the debate over whether or not catcalling is gracious or troubling.
“Sometimes as a woman you want to walk home without men staring you down and saying, “damn!” “damn”, and being rude to you if you don’t thank them for it,” ediesweet wrote on reddit. “I don’t mind, “have a nice evening”, but the rest were not necessary.”
While ediesweet makes a valid point — one that was echoed by many others — others feel that the video is discriminatory (it says it depicts diverse group of men but only Latinos and Blacks appeared) and overall criticism of the relatively tame (and kind of nice) mature of catcalling. One man even asked, “What are guys supposed to do to initiate conversation if literally saying anything at all will always be considered harassment?”
On YouTube, user reklamedame had the perfect answer: “Dear men: If you are really interested in me, just say something like, “Hey, I just saw you over there and you seem nice. Would you like to have coffee sometime?”