To show the everyday street harassment faced by women Rob Bliss Creative documented one woman’s ten hour walk through New York City for Hollaback, a nonprofit which aims to end street harassment.
The woman, Shoshana B. Roberts, (a volunteer) walked behind Rob Bliss, who carried a hidden GoPro camera in his backpack, which captured over 100 instances of catcalls and other forms of verbal street harassment (to say nothing of the undocumented winks, leers and whistles). Shoshana, wearing jeans and a crewneck t-shirt, faced endless unsolicited comments as she passed through the streets, ranging from demands that she smile to shouts of “Damn!” and “Hey beautiful.”
Despite the fact that Shoshana silently continued to walk without responding, several men were startlingly persistent. At one point a man actually harassed her for not responding to his catcall, saying, “Someone’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more.” Another guy continually asked to talk and give her his number and questioned if it’s because he’s ugly that she wouldn’t respond. In one disturbing instance, a man greeted her and then walked beside her for a full five minutes.
The video has generated quite a bit of visibility for Hollaback, with well over four million views since being uploaded yesterday. Since this is the Internet, you can’t deliver a message like this without the misogynist trolls coming out full force and, indeed, the YouTube comments are filled with such asshats, with comments ranging from blaming her moderate attire to pointing to the most moderate calls from strangers as evidence that no street harassment took place while ignoring the more flagrant offenses and sheer volume of harassment. Of course, the backlash is a sign that the video delivers a message such people find threatening or just don’t want to hear.
“They see it as just an innocent compliment but are missing the forest for the trees,” Bliss told NBC, speaking of the effects of catcalling. “I intentionally left out any messaging and just laid bare what it’s like, so that everyone could objectively see the reality of this problem.”
“I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t,” Roberts added. “Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”