In “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” a hidden cameraperson films Shoshana B. Roberts as she walks around New York City for 10 hours. The video, a collaboration between viral video agency Rob Bliss Creative and anti-harassment NGO Hollaback!, attempts to share how women experience street harassment in their everyday lives.

 

In the video, Roberts is catcalled, followed, and dehumanized. The men who approach her seem to be under the impression that Roberts, as a woman, owes them something. Consequently, when she ignores their comments, they get angry, as if Roberts should act subservient or at least grateful.

 

Walking around NYC for 10 hours, Roberts experienced over 100 instances of street harassment. (npr.org)

Walking around NYC for 10 hours, Roberts experienced over 100 instances of street harassment. (npr.org)

Bliss’ video, however, commits an inexcusable racial misrepresentation. While the video claims to have encompassed a “diverse population of men,” the street harassers that Bliss includes in the video are overwhelmingly men of color. Such a decision reinforces negative stereotypes associated with men of color and erroneously allocates blame to this demographic.

 

Street harassment is an issue that men of all backgrounds contribute to and reinforce. Ideally, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” should make men mindful of their actions and aware of the issues that plague women. However, since the harassers are represented as a very specific group, men of dissimilar socio-economic backgrounds will not relate to the harassers and will watch the video guilt-free.

 

In a Reddit post, Rob Bliss responded to criticism of his racial misrepresentation. He wrote, “we got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera.”

 

Bliss’ insubstantial response was clearly nothing more than an act of self-protection. How likely is it that each instance of harassment involving a white man was said only in passing or off camera? Additionally, the video suggests to have represented New York City in its entirety, but over half of the included shots were filmed on 125th Street in Harlem. No matter how important the subject of research, misconstruing or selectively presenting data illegitimizes one’s overall conclusion.

 

Since filming the video, Roberts has received numerous rape and death threats — likely for breaking the silence and complacency that society expects from her, as a woman. Street harassment is an issue that deserves serious attention and conversation; furthermore, it is a wide-reaching issue that extends far beyond 125th Street in Harlem.

 

Check out Hollaback!’s website and take action to end street harassment! How do you think you can impact our culture that allows such behavior against women? Respond below, or on Twitter @ryanlawlessness