Is this Taylor Swift's New York?
Unfortunately, it seems so.
On Tuesday (October 28), Hollaback!, a "movement to end street harassment," teamed with filmmaker Rob Bliss to release "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman." The video splices together a day's worth of footage into a less-than-two-minute clip, which features actress Shoshana B. Roberts walking around the city and experiencing "100+ instances of street harassment."
Bliss walked in front of Roberts for the entire day, while she held two microphones, and the pair captured interactions with varying degrees of inappropriateness. Some men said things like, "How are you this morning," and "Have a nice evening," while others offered shouts of "Damn!" One man even walked silently beside her for five minutes.
If that's not uncomfortable, I'm not sure what is.
Hollaback! said that upon posting the video, Roberts was on the receiving end of rape threats in the YouTube comments.
"The rape threats indicate that we are hitting a nerve," Hollaback! director Emily May told Newsday. "We want to do more than just hit a nerve though, we want New Yorkers to realize -- once and for all -- that street harassment isn't OK, and that as a city we refuse to tolerate it."
Bliss said that he wanted to bring to light what women experience everyday.
"I think a lot of men don't understand the collective weight that this harassment causes," he said. "They see it as just an innocent 'compliment' but are missing the forest for the trees."
The poignancy of Bliss' point, as well as the harassment captured in the video, seems to have hit home for a lot of women.
Among them are some members of MTV News, who share their stories below.
Tamar Anitai: "If you're a female of any shape, size, stature, race, creed, skill set, political party, whatever, you've been harassed on the street in New York City.
"Doesn’t matter if you’re dressed to kill or wearing your nastiest gym clothes. It is one of the worst parts of living here, and that's coming from a woman who, despite hearing unwanted catcalls during any and all seasons, no matter what I'm wearing (not that it ever matters ever what a woman's wearing -- if you don't know her, DON'T TALK TO HER), has heard everything from 'Smile, sweetheart,' (Who are you, and WHY is it so important that you smile? Actually, don't answer that, because I don't know you, and I'm just trying to pick up my dry cleaning), to words too horrifying to publish here. Words that made me feel nauseous, upset, violated, and, most of all, unsafe simply walking down the street.
"It’s a terrible reality women face every single day living in New York -- having your personal space violated. It’s never a compliment, it’s never flattering, and it’s never cool. (Also, has there ever been a single case of an actual relationship beginning and flourishing when a man’s catcalled a woman on the street? How is this still a thing?)"
Akilah Hughes: "I think the biggest thing to note is that no woman can take it as a compliment, because no woman feels safe when it is happening to her. The part where the guy followed her for 5 minutes struck me as extremely real and frightening. Why would a man think that that is flattering?
"It should also be noted that this happens no matter what the woman looks like. I was once literally kicked out of a cab for projectile vomiting, and as I stumbled home extremely ill from food poisoning a man decided to hit on me. We can look like crap and still have to worry we're going to be followed."
Kase Wickman: "As a woman walking down the street, this is a daily occurrence, and it sucks.
"If there are people around and I feel like I’m not putting myself into a worse situation, I often turn back to the person and ask them why they’d say that to me, then tell them I don’t like it.
"Often, they’ll insist they’re paying me a compliment. If there was any confusion out there, let me clarify: I’m not looking for your opinion on my body, my face and whether I should smile, and seeing as you’re a complete stranger, I can’t see how you could possibly have a stake in how my day is going."
Lisa Chudnofsky: "There’s a myth this kind of behavior only comes from construction workers or belligerent drunks stumbling out of their neighborhood watering hole. I’ve had everyone from clean-cut frat boys to your stereotypical hipster sling vulgarities my way for no good reason other than to, I dunno, maybe impress their friends, build up their egos or distract them from their crippling insecurities."
The end of the video asks for donations to Hollaback!, which, according to the non-profit's site, will go towards training for schools, training leaders and re-launching their app.