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Response: Hollaback! “What 10 hours of street harassment in NYC looks like”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BC chapter.

Most of the headlines for articles that contain this video imply some sort of surprised disgust. Often referring to the 100+ catcalls that the woman experienced during her 10 hour walk, the media have made it clear that we (as a society) view catcalling to be inappropriate. This type of verbal harassment can undeniably be a problem.

Now, I have experienced my fair share of this. From the “How you doin’?” all the way to a five minute serenade. I have felt uncomfortable and vulnerable when strange guys have hit on me. And I have certainly tried to brush off most of these incidents.

However, as I watched this video and read the comments, I started to think about how we react to these events and why they occur so frequently. Why do strangers (and sometimes non-strangers) think it is ok to behave in this way? The answer seems to lie in the two inconsistencies that we have established, culturally and situationally.

First, most notably in pop culture, we allow, accept, and sometimes even encourage the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women in the media. We set a precedent when we say that things like Nikki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video or the 2009 Burger King ad campaign are ok. Yet we then find ourselves offended when we as individuals are approached in a sexual way or are being objectified.

Second, we seem to reserve our qualms with this behavior to only certain situations. As women, we will spend hours getting ready to go out with our girlfriends. We take the time to pick out an outfit that makes us look sexy, we put on loads of makeup, and make sure our hair looks perfect.

We are not doing it because it is easy and comfortable; we are doing it precisely so get the attention of guys. If after all of this, a cute guy comes up to us in a club and puts his arm around us, we do not have a problem with it. Yet, if a street hanger yells, “hey baby” at us, we find ourselves disgusted. For a satirical example, check out this video!

This is not to downplay the creepiness of situations like when the guy walked next to the girl for five minutes. There are absolutely behaviors which are unacceptable. But it is important for us to take the time to understand how we contribute to these behaviors. If we really consider this to be a problems, we have to reconsider some of the things that we do as a society; we have to create consistency by addressing the problem in all facets.


Hollaback! Video: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/28/living/hollaback-10-hours-walking-in-nyc/index.html?iref=allsearch


Image Sources:

Anaconda Video Snapshot

Burger King 2009 AdvertisementClubbing

I am a Political Science major and Women's and Gender Studies minor at Boston College. I am an RA on campus and am involved in the Student Admissions Program. Since I am from Florida, I can legitimately say that I love long walks on the beach. I also love getting lost in a world fabricated by a novel, there is honestly nothing better.