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Op-Ed: NYer makes a video case against street harassment

By Kathleen Creighton     Oct 29, 2014 in Internet
On Tuesday, Oct. 28, a spotlight was turned on an organization called Hollaback! thanks to a two-and-a-half-minute video. The film was edited from 10 hours of footage of a woman walking around New York City.
Hollback! began in January of 2011 to fight street harassment — mainly of women but their efforts extend to anyone who has received unwanted and unwarranted attention while going about their daily lives. Over the past three years they have trained more than 300 leaders in 79 cities, 26 countries, and 14 different languages to make people aware of the issue and combat it. One of the many people whose attention they garnered was
Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative. Empathizing with their cause due to the experiences of his girlfriend, Bliss presented the organization with his idea for a PSA. The creative control of the finished product remains with Bliss but he has given unlimited usage rights to the film to Hollaback! with the hope that it will help this cause.
With actress, Shoshan B. Roberts and a camera hidden in a backpack, Bliss took to the streets of Manhattan and shot 10 hours of footage of Roberts walking through various neighborhoods clad in jeans and a t-shirt. Roberts remained completely silent throughout these walks. The result was informative at best and disturbing at worst.
Probably the creepiest experience Roberts encountered was a man who first offers her blessings and the proceeds to walk along side her for five minutes without uttering a word. One has to consider that the man has to notice at some point in those five minutes the fact that there is another man, Bliss, in front of them for the entire time. Roberts is very clearly shaken as the scenario plays out. This is not to discount any of the other remarks, sounds or gestures she is subjected to while just walking, minding her own business. In the final edit all the uninvited attention is provided by men, a rather sad statement.
As someone who has traversed a great deal of Manhattan on foot and by public transportation, it's embarrassing to admit obliviousness to this kind of behavior. Being well past middle-age and bearing no resemblance to Meryl Streep or Glen Close, attention from strangers is not expected. But that is no excuse, as a fellow female to not 1) pay attention to how others are treated and 2) not do or say something about it. Not that this type of treatment is exclusive to women. There are others who find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted and unnecessary disrespect.
It will be interesting to watch how things unfold over the next few days because of this video and the fact that every major media outlet picked up on it. Stalwart professionals like CNN just put the story out, mainly lifting copy straight from Hollaback's website. No opinion or spin to sway a reader's feelings. The good-old, NY staple tabloid, The Post did provide a slightly opinionated version. However, they chose to side with Hollaback! and felt that the Ms. Roberts was not deserving on the attention shown her during her outings.
Of course there are plenty of other editorials that have also been posted along with millions of comments taking multiple sides of the argument. However, it does seem almost impossible to defend anyone for making random remarks to a complete stranger who is walking along minding their own business. It is also a very sad statement that groups like Hollaback! have a reason to exist and that they are not just focusing on New York City. This happens all over the world. It is more common in metropolitan areas with higher populations but not limited to them. Bliss' video makes the deterioration of just general respect in this day and age painfully obvious. Let's hope it becomes a catalyst for promoting the global conversation about restoring that respect and common decency to the world community.
For more information visit Hollaback!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about New york, Street harassment, Bullying, Sexual harassment, Psa