Is this harassment?
This video was intended to demonstrate the harassment a woman endures while walking in Manhattan. In this example, a woman walked around Manhattan for 10 hours, following a friend who was carrying the camera in his backpack. As planned, she spoke to no one and avoided eye contact.
The video, posted just yesterday, has already drawn more than 10 million hits and 3,000 comments. The comments make interesting reading and they run the gamut from support to ridicule and all points in between. A video intended to combat harassment of women has instead become a platform for social awareness about how men and women relate — or don’t relate — to one another, and opinions vary widely: Boys will be boys. She’s asking for it. What can you expect from low class men? She’s such a snob, not smiling or speaking to anyone. If she speaks to anyone, she’ll just be encouraging him. How are you ever supposed to meet anyone if not by saying “Hi”?
Certainly it got me thinking. Some of what I saw did not strike me as harassment at all. It seemed more like casual acknowledgments or pleasantries. (Granted, I’ve been called a naive, small-town girl.) Some of it was the sort of catcalling I’ve grown to expect from men who have nothing better to do but sit along the sidewalk eyeing women. Obnoxious, but relatively harmless as long as it’s daylight and there are a lot of people around. But the two men who walked along beside her were just plain scary.
You may see it differently. I suspect it depends a lot on your gender, your upbringing, your personal experience, and where you live. But if the video’s purpose is to bring attention to “street harassment” and raise funds to combat it, it fails — if only because there’s so much disagreement about what constitutes harassment.