They Ain’t No Hollaback Girls: The Realities Of Street Harassment

Download Audio

An internet video of a woman showered in catcalls on the street goes viral. We’ll look at women and men in public space. The catcall culture.

The cat-call video off the streets of New York just exploded last week.  Thiry-one million views and counting now on YouTube, of a young woman, in t-shirt and jeans, walking through what seems like a public torrent of verbal come-ons and harassment.  Of “Hey baby” and “What’s up girl.”  Some are quick.  Some are slow and scary.  There’s a whole debate about the racial  dynamics.  But the overall effect of the video is to say “Wow, who needs to run this gauntlet every day?  And why do so many guys think its ok?  This hour On Point:  the video, and street harassment as it really is.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Emily May, co-founder and executive director of Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment advocacy group. (@emilymaynot)

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, artist and illustrator. Creator of Stop Telling Women To Smile. (@fazlalizadeh)

Anna Holmes, editor of digital voices for Fusion and columnist in the New York Times Book Review. Founder of and author of "The Book of Jezebel." (@annaholmes)

From Tom's Reading List

Washington Post: The story behind that ’10 hours of walking in NYC’ viral street harassment video — "Shoshana B. Roberts, a 24-year-old actress, saw a casting call on Craigslist and allowed Bliss to record her walking through various neighborhoods in New York City over the course of 10 hours. Roberts remains straight-faced in the video as male strangers greet her, comment on her personal appearance, and in some cases, follow her for several minutes."

Slate: The Problem With That Catcalling Video --"Activism is never perfectly executed. We can just conclude that they caught a small slice of catcallers, and lots of other men do it, too. But if the point of this video is to teach men about the day-to-day reality of women, then this video doesn’t hit its target. The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will instead be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce “mami.” They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin."
Salon: America’s catcalling madness: What Michael Che & co. keep on missing — "Just as affirmative consent does not make all sex rape, women (and men) calling men out for being rude, aggressive and dangerous on the street does not make all public interactions with strangers street harassment. To pretend that we can’t tell the two apart is insulting to pretty much everyone."

This program aired on November 3, 2014.


More from On Point

Listen Live