Recently I watched the Street HarassmentVideo “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” where a woman is filmed strolling down the sidewalks of New York City silently being “harassed” by male passersby. The two-minute video ends with text summarizing that “100+ instances of verbal street harassment took place within 10 hours…”
Based on the hype from reliable news sources like Huffington Post and CNN, I expected what I consider actual harassment. I would barely even say these remarks catcalls. Some of these verbal harassments included;
How are you doing today?”
“What’s up beautiful?”
“How are you this morning?”
“Have a good evening.”
“God bless you. Have a good day.”
After viewing the video, my boyfriend responded with disgust. I asked, “What are they saying that is harassment?”
“It’s their intent.”
Their intent… to get laid? To talk to a beautiful woman? What assumed intent do they have that is so offensive?
Humans, like most living things, have an innate drive to reproduce. As a female in her most fertile years, it’s not unusual for heterosexual males to be attracted to her. In a city of almost 8.5 million people, where females are the majority, I can’t blame a guy for trying to talk to a woman on the street.
Harassment (at least in the work place) has the key word “unwelcomed” placed squarely in the definition. Take any of these blurred faces and change their outfits from baggy jeans and ‘wife beaters’ to a suit and tie and I bet those verbal harassments will change to “Oh, we met on Fifth and East 33rd when he told me I was beautiful as I walked by.”
The Cold Apple
Originally from the tri-state area, I’ve noticed that New Englanders, in general, have a problem engaging with strangers. Maybe it’s a well-merited safety concern but drop a New Yorker in the heart of the South and watch their awkward expression as a little old man wishes them, “Good mornin’.” He might as well sneeze in their face.
Although I’m aware that her silence is meant to be more like a scientific study, i.e. not engaging the subjects, I find her reserve an echo of women in real life, specifically, women who live in large metropolitan areas.
When smiling is considered flirting and responding an open invitation, we have created a personal prison within our skin. If we can’t be happy and walk down the street simultaneously without someone getting the wrong idea, what type of world have we designed for ourselves?
This is our opportunity to really be feminists. You want to be treated equal? Stop acting like a victim. When men ask, “How are you?” Say, “Good/fine/terrible. Thanks.” And smile. If we all act like cold-hearted bitches we’ll lose the ability to have a conversation with the other gender without them naturally assuming we’ll fuck them.
How do you respond to strangers talking to you on the street?