Sexual Harassment: Actress in Catcall Video Received Rape Threats [Video]

Sexual Harassment

Perhaps there is no better demonstration of the severity and dangers of sexual harassment than a recent viral video of a woman who was catcalled approximately 100 times while walking for about 10 hours throughout the streets of Manhattan. To make things worse, actress Shoshanna Roberts, who volunteered to be in the catcalling video, received rape threats after the video was uploaded on YouTube, a escalation of the sexual harassment she already experienced.

Hollaback, a nonprofit organization that fights against street harassment and “develop[s] innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces,” tweeted yesterday:

Fortunately, such threats were deleted almost immediately by Debjani Roy, deputy director of Hollaback.

While catcalling may seem like a harmless and innocent act where no physical contact is made between the speaker and the subject, it is a form of sexual harassment that could lead to more violent behavior, such as the rape threats to the actress in the video. Sexual harassment should not be confused with flattery. According to ConsentEd, a Canadian nonprofit that educates and emphasizes the concept on consent in relationships, sexual harassment in any form is a type of “gender bullying.” It is a way for the offenders to feel superior to others by putting them down. “It is a behavior that reinforces the idea that women are only worthy of sex,” ConsentEd wrote.

Some people might argue that saying, “Good morning, Miss,” or “Hello, baby,” are not sexual harassment but innocent greetings or a way to flatter a woman (or guys in some cases). However, this is where the idea of flattery and sexual harassment gets confused. Genuine flattery is “behavior that is humanizing and requires actual communication with a person, not a random sexual comment thrown at a person by a stranger,” ConsentEd stated. Thus, sexual harassment is a one-way communication that happens without the individual’s consent.

“An unwarranted comment from anyone, regardless of what it is, is annoying to say the least. It is more about ownership and territory than anything else,” commented Kim-Lien Kendall, co-founder of Smarter Bodies in New York City, in an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice. “It’s not like they are saying good morning to me because they know me or they work with me. Nor are they saying good morning to everyone who walks by them. Just the woman they find attractive. It still makes me uncomfortable. It would be different if a woman said it because she really means good morning. If any of these dudes said it, it means, ‘Hey, I want your attention because you seem f**kable’.”

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment does not just happen in the streets; it can happen almost anywhere, including academic settings. According to a large study of 14 medical schools in the U.S. that was published in 2002 in Academic Medicine, among 1,314 respondents to a questionnaire, more women than men reported all types of exposures to gender discrimination and sexual harassment “across all academic and nonacademic contexts.” Female students also perceived a greater prevalence of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in medical specialty settings, community hospitals, and academic medical settings. However, both genders reported similar prevalence of such behaviors “to be significantly more prevalent in academic medical centers than in community hospitals, and more prevalent in community hospitals than in outpatient office settings.”

Kendall experiences such harassment daily in NYC. When she was asked what men should do on the streets, she replied, “Not talk to women on the street. It is not the time nor place. Talk to women at bars. Talk to women who catch your glance and throw you a smile at the grocery store. Learn to read body language. If you talk to a woman at the gym and she seems disinterested, leave her alone. Find ways to communicate that don’t make people uncomfortable. Use the golden rule. How would you like it if some random person spoke to you when you were just on your way to work? Especially if you could tell they were hitting on you.”

The case of sexual harassment and catcalling where the actress in the video was threatened with rape threats would be an example of an extreme case. While some men (and women) may call a salutation on the street nothing more than a simple greeting, perhaps they should experience the golden rule by being in their shoes for a day.

 

By Nick Ng

Sources:

Hollaback!
Consented.ca
Academic Medicine
Interview with Kim-Lien Kendall
Jezebel

2 Responses to "Sexual Harassment: Actress in Catcall Video Received Rape Threats [Video]"

  1. Bruce Yeager   October 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Unless he is rich , a pro athlete, rock or hip-hip artist, or movie star. Like any of these women woujld be upset if Brad Pitt or Lebron James said hello. Bunch of femnist hate. When trying to pick up women is a crime, lock us all up and throw away the keys. Idiots.

    Reply
  2. Nick Ng   October 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Here’s an interesting cartoon that depicts street/sexual harassment.

    http://amptoons.com/blog/2010/08/30/cartoon-street-harassment/

    Reply

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