There has been a lot of conversation about the video titled “Hollaback” documenting the street harassment experienced by a young lady walking the streets of New York. Commentary on the video has created a backlash among some men ranging from the #NotAllMen hashtag to rape threats against Shoshana Roberts, the woman in the video. All of which point to a heavy ignorance over what harassment is and what it, in fact, feels like. A lifelong New Yorker, I have been harassed on the street by men. I can say for a fact that it is neither fun nor endearing. I have dealt with unwanted advances by men while walking the streets alone, with friends and with my wife. They ranged from the passive-aggressive “You look nice” to full-on catcalls from across the street including one incident where a number of men loudly proclaimed their amorous intent.
I feel there are a couple things I should say before going any further as to avoid the wrath of those of you reading this piece.
- I understand that this is not an apples to apples comparison. My few experiences with street harassment pale in comparison to what women endure on a daily basis.
- This is not a commentary on gay men, who by and large are neither harassers nor predators. If anything I am acknowledging that regardless of sexuality, men share some similar traits, both positive and negative. My comparison is for the sake of understanding the physical intimidation/discomfort of being harassed in the street by someone your size or larger.