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Friday, September 22, 2023


Viral video reiterates need for catcalling, street harassment to stop

street harrasment

Kirin Daniels/The Cougar

A video made last week, which quickly went viral, is a nod to the treatment countless women face daily, as well as being a cry for a change.

According to Washington Post, on Oct. 28, the anti-street harassment advocacy group Hollaback released a video which saw an individual, Shoshana B. Roberts, record the amount of times she was harassed in New York City streets by use of a hidden camera. Roberts said she was harassed no less than 108 times.

“I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t,” Roberts said to NBC. “Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”

The video, which now has over 33 million views, has sparked a debate over catcalling and street harassment in general, as well as focusing on other points.

According to International Business Times, some individuals are calling out the fact that there were no Caucasian men shown in the video. The video’s director, Rob Bliss, commented on this accusation.

“We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing or off camera, so their scenes were a lot shorter, but the numbers themselves are relatively even,” Bliss said to IBT.

“Cities are noisy and full of people that walk in front of the camera, you know? By chance this is how it looked and it didn’t end up being the perfect representation of everything that happened, but we really did have a broad spectrum of people that said/did something.”

The important aspect to take away from the video is not about the race or ethnicity of the men in the video; it is the fact that countless women face this act daily, and nothing has been done to change this.

“I think (catcalling and sexual harassment) is abusive and inappropriate,” said Women’s Resource Center Director Malkia Hutchinson.

“No person enjoys it, no woman should have to deal with it. It’s a violation of space, and women just want to get from point A to point B. They’re not looking for commentary on how much a person wants to have sex with them or how pretty they look.”

This video has also garnered the attention of young adults as well. This is important because these individuals are the future of the country, and the ones who will eventually be making the decisions run our country.

“I think this video demonstrates the lack of respect that women get in our society, even when doing something so simple as walking,” said liberal studies junior Maria Huerta. “There are other ways to grab a woman’s attention that are appropriate and respectful.”

Accounting and English senior Sarah Backer said that catcalling is a tough issue because it is becoming more and more prevalent in big city cultures.

“I think that the sentiment of complimenting a woman is nice, but having a man expect you to acknowledge him in return or else be branded a bitch is ridiculous,” Backer said. “A woman should be allowed to walk along the street without feeling like her body is on display for the world.”

The video indeed has become prevalent — so much so that it has resulted in similar videos being released.

According to Indentities.Mic, a woman from New Zealand followed the same concept and was not harassed once. This makes one wonder if street harassment is mainly an American problem.

Catcalling and street harassment lead into the larger topic of gender inequality and feminism as a whole. This topic has recently gained more attention after the speech well-known actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, gave in late September.

UN Women reported that Watson called out to men by stating “gender equality is your issue too.”

“I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too,” Watson said.

It is important for individuals to realize that being a feminist does not mean being a man hater. Feminists do not believe women should have more rights than men; they believe that men and woman should have equal rights.

“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” Watson said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”

Unfortunately, even after the release of Hollaback’s video, it is going to take some time for a change to come about.

According to CBS, Roberts has been receiving rape threats online. This shows that the treatment towards to women is not going to change until men’s attitudes change.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].


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