A video posted to YouTube by an organization that fights street harassment against women became a talker on TV today. 10 Hours Of Walking In NYC As A Woman, in which a woman walking city streets is catcalled and harassed by men more than 100 times, including one who walks close by her side and makes comments about her for at least five minutes, had been viewed 11 million times by this afternoon.
The video also has generate more than 40,000 comments, including rape and death threats against the actress Shoshana B. Roberts, who agreed to walk around New York for 10 hours with hidden microphones, behind a guy with a hidden camera, to make the video for the nonprofit group Hollaback.
“Does it scare you, ever? That guy following you, no matter what he’s saying — it’s scary,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Roberts on his show tonight. It was among several TV news programs that discussed and debated the video today.
“The subtext of some of these conversations on the street is that some of these guys are, ‘I can look at you up and down, I’m going to look at you up and down, and I’m going to tell you what I think of you, in specific detail — I’m going to follow you for however long I want to, saying things under my breath and out loud, and nobody’s going to do anything about it,” Cooper said.
Among those commenting on the video was Saturday Night Live’s new “Weekend Update” anchor Michael Che, who used the occasion to “apologize” to all the women he has catcalled on the street in his day, by way of noting he’s now so famous he gets harassed by people who screech fangirl-ish things at him and want to have their picture taken with him:
Che’s remarks results in some serious social-media blowback. To which Che, a disciple of Aristophanes, responded:
Once he gets one foot on the ground, that Che’s really quite a jerk.
Meanwhile, over on Fox News Channel, the gang on The Five discussed the video. Eric Bolling thought the guys’ comments at Roberts “complementary” and was dubious about the whole “verbal harassment” thing. There also was some debate as to whether it was “classist” of women to object to comments made by men they did not know on the street, that they might not object to if made by men they did not know in a bar. Bob Beckel weighed in with, “She got 100 catcalls, let me add 101,” adding, “Damn, babe, you’re a piece of woman.”
Later in the day, CNN’s Don Lemon led one of those yeasty talking-head shout-fests so popular on cable news. “Listen, a lot of women I talked to … said, ‘Catcall me, especially as I get older — I like it!’ So ..,” Lemon weighed in.
Hollaback defines “street harassment” as “a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces”; it includes catcalling or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation and assault. “At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups … of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces” and “reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.”
Here’s the video: