Hollaback is a movement to end street harassment. They define street harassment as “catcalling or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault.” The nonprofit organization created a PSA to exhibit what happens when a woman aimlessly walked around NYC for 10 hours. It was filmed with a hidden camera while the actress was walking holding 2 visible mics.
Ten hours of footage were condensed into a 2 minute video that has gone viral. In the 10 hour timespan she received over 100 comments on the street. Some of the editing raised my eyebrows a couple of times. I agree with the overall message of Hollaback, harassing people to exhibit control or intimidation is wrong. A person should be able to walk down a street without being verbally chastised.
Here are my 5 takeaways from the Hollaback viral video:
1. There’s a difference between a salutation and verbal stalking . There’s no harm in a kind “Good Morning”. I don’t even mind a friendly “hello beautiful”. However constantly trying to talk to someone who clearly has no interest in communicating violates personal space.
2. The woman in the video looked afraid, lost, and in a trance. The men shown walking alongside her were creepy and out of line but a few gentlemen just seemed like they were trying to put her at ease and perhaps help her feel more comfortable in a neighborhood she clearly felt out of sorts.
3. Are there no white men in New York City??? The video is edited but I was distracted from Hollaback’s message of people against street harassment with an underlying issue: an afraid white woman walking down a street in mostly minority neighborhoods.
4. While I’ve been in the position of the actress, I’ve also been on the other side. Let a hot guy walk down the street and I’m the first one to steal a second glance. I’d be lying to say I’ve never whistled at an unsuspecting shirtless jogger.
5. It’s annoying for someone to tell you what to do during your free time. Gentlemen, have you ever heard of Bitchy Resting Face?…Stop telling women to “smile”. Just because we’re minding our own business doesn’t mean we’re unhappy.
Overall I think it’s a shame that there are people in this world who feel it’s their right to chastise women. It’s unfortunate there’s instances catcalls have escalated into more serious offenses. Crimes stemming from street harassment have caused women to be guarded and defensive while merely going from Point A to Point B. However, not all the comments in the video were street harassment. Some were legitimate greetings. The irresponsible film editing caused me to question the agenda of this PSA. Nonetheless fellas, please recognize that sometimes we just don’t want to be bothered by you, kind gesture or not.