Have you seen this video? It’s been all over my Facebook and WordPress dashboards for the last couple of days. After a couple of my friends were tagged in or commented on it in Facebook post I thought it was about time I found out what all the fuss was about. For the sake of being able to make conversation. Because I try to do that now.
A woman spent ten hours walking around New York in a comfortable, plain black outfit. Nothing remarkable about it. No sign saying “Please, strange men, comment on my body or badger me for my phone number, I don’t mind”. Just a woman going for a walk, by herself, not looking at anyone. In ten hours she was harassed 100 times. Ten times an hour, or once every six minutes on average!
Now, it isn’t news that walking while female is likely to result in unwanted attention. Even I, fat, dull Rosie, have had experience of this sort of thing. Admittedly I was walking with my sister at the time. She’s a lot prettier and has huge boobs. They get attention. A car full of teenage lads slowed down to leer at us and kept pace as we walked to visit a friend one evening several years ago. I told them to get lost. They protested that they ‘were just cruising’ and my sister told me to shut up, because I’d provoke them maybe? I generally don’t like bad manners and slowing down to stare at my little sister isn’t just bad mannered, it’s creepy as hell. Especially in a quiet side street when there are four or five teenagers in a car, and just the two of us walking. I, as at least two of my friends will attest, have a habit of publicly calling people out on their behaviour. Usually I suggest they are badly brought up or that their parents must be terribly ashamed of them.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. There has been plenty of commentary in the blogosphere and on feminist websites about this video. Obviously the YouTube video only shows ‘highlights’, though I’m not sure if that is the right word, but it does capture the idea. I was slightly appalled by the behaviour of the men in the video; I was more appalled by the comments section though.
Yes, yes, I know; never read the comments.
The first comment I saw said something about if she didn’t want attention she shouldn’t have been dressed like a slut and showing off her breasts and bottom.
Two things: firstly, how is dressing comfortably ‘slutty’?, and secondly, the woman in this video, or any person whatever their sex or gender, should be able to walk down the street wearing whatever they damn well please, within the bounds of law, without being insulted, followed, leered at, objectified or in any other way harassed.
Another commenter, several actually, denied that saying good morning/evening, have a nice day/evening, etc., is harassment.
If you said it to everyone you passed on the street with a polite smile, then that is true. Staring at a woman’s arse while you say it is something else entirely. The fact is the men shouting at the woman became aggressive when she didn’t respond to their greetings, and the video evidence shows that they didn’t, in fact, say hello to everyone. This illustrates the arrogant and sexist attitude that if a man deigns to notice a woman, even one who is clearly uninterested in interaction with the rest of the world, then the woman owes the man her time.
No. Just no.
A few comments were made, on the video and below it, that the woman was being complimented and that she should have said thanks.
Yes, because we all enjoy being objectified.
It is never a compliment to suggest that a person’s physical appearance has a monetary value.
The point I want to make, or am attempting to make is that the behaviour of the men in the video is bad enough but the comments below the video show us that a lack of respect for our fellow Homo sapiens is not just restricted to walking down the street; some people will be bad mannered whatever evidence is placed before them, especially when that evidence goes against their preconceived ideas of how the world works. The anonymity and distance if the internet gives free rein to everyone to air their opinions.
And never read the comments; they’re infuriating.
Good night ladies and gents,
I’ve just been back to read more of the comments; there have been new comments, such as (paraphrasing here)
– ‘oh well, there’s only 2 minutes out of 10 hours so it’s not serious’; – ‘this is all set up by the evil feminists’;
– First world problems;
– racism – ‘a white woman shouldn’t be walking alone in that part of the city’, implying that she’s bound to attract attention from black and Latino men;
– alternatively, accusing the film makers of being racist – ‘this video is racist, it only shows black men harassing a white woman’. Though actually, that might be a vaguely valid point; although the intro makes clear the film maker received harassment from men of all ethnicities, the editing made it look like most of them were black or Latino. Whether it was intended or not, that’s a questionable editing choice, to put it politely.
This could last for a few days, or at least until the next viral video, etc., causes a stir.
And now it’s gone midnight; I need sleep.