One day while I was occasionally scrolling through my Facebook news feed, looking for entertaining videos to watch on my way to class, I came across this video by Shoshana Roberts. She is an actress and a member of Hollaback!, a youth organization that aims to combat street harassment. The video was an attempt to depict the daily catcalls that happen in various parts of New York City. As I watched the video I couldn’t help, but think if this was a clear depiction of street harassment. Sure there were certain parts of the video that showed a few men who went as far as to proceed in their attempts to speak to Roberts even if she was ignoring them, but the rest of the video was commentary. It made me question what they considered to be “street harassment” and “catcalling” as well as their underlying intentions in creating this video.
Coming from a female who has taken a Women of Color: Feminism class and has worked on a documentary based on the degradation of women, I don’t think this video portrayed street harassment in the correct way. The video consisted of men, especially men of color, actually complimenting her appearance. Sure there is a way in which their approach was not in the best manner, but nonetheless I disagree with the idea of her getting harassed. I can recall two instances in this video as to when she was actually getting harassed and that was when the men proceeded to follow her without her agreement. This wasn’t even a clear portrayal of catcalling. When you google the definition of catcalling it states, “…make a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.” By this definition, majority of the males in this video weren’t catcalling, but simply trying to be flirtatious with the woman who caught their eye.
Now, I am in no way condoning the behavior of these men. I believe that if a male wants to talk to a female he is interested in then he should approach the person in the correct manner, rather than yelling or making idiotic comments or even just complimenting her with a devious look…ladies I’m sure you know this look. From personal experience when guys display this type of behavior towards me, I just simply ignore them and keep it moving. Depending on the extremity of the comments and my mood, I might say something. But in all honesty I have never had a male say or do anything disrespectful or make me feel extremely uncomfortable to the point, where I felt sexually harassed, let alone abused.
None of theses men’s behavior is excused, but let’s be honest there are way more extreme cases of sexual harassment than just simply saying “Hey, beautiful” or asking “You don’t want to talk to me?” In my opinion, if she really wanted to make these men look stupid or rethink their actions, she should have turned around and asked these men why do they feel the need to comment knowing there is a high chance of them getting ignored. Instead of trying to scold them, it would have been better if she was able to receive their insight as well as state her own.
I could go on about this, but I’m going to stop here…
Feel free to comment and share 🙂
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