10 hours of street harrassment, edited down to two minutes
October 28, 2014 1:21 PM   Subscribe

 
I was totally waiting for that to show up here. But, yes, word, this, this is exactly what it's like walking around (some parts of) the city on a daily basis. Moreso at night.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Welp, next time I need to raise my blood to the boiling point, I'll come back to this.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:26 PM on October 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


direct yt link
posted by XMLicious at 1:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


PLEASE DON'T READ THE YOUTUBE COMMENTS. YOU WILL CRY FOREVER AND EVER.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:35 PM on October 28, 2014 [59 favorites]


Sorry, I'm confused. Isn't it kind of weird to promote a direct youtube link over a link to the site that partnered in the production of the video, which offers context and asks for donations to a cause? Why cut that out of it? It's not like that was just some random site.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:35 PM on October 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


That part where the guy just walks next to her made my blood pressure go up incredibly. So, so intimidating. And so...dismissible. Except if you can't imagine that going down well if he did that to another guy then it's not dismissible.
posted by amanda at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [44 favorites]


My appraisal of human nature was boosted into a level of Beneficence a week ago by the actions of passersby in Ottawa. Now it has been dropped back to its more customary level of What The Hell Is Wrong With People? That is infuriating and sickening.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I watched it with the sound off at work, and I almost didn't make it through the two minutes. I've had that awful feeling when someone walks beside you for an unnaturally long time, and I couldn't stand seeing it. Roberts is amazing at being able to keep her face neutral and composed.
posted by gladly at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


You actually might want to avoid the direct link this time unless you forgot your reading glasses today or you have some kind of script that replaces Youtube comments with something less offensive, like ER reports or war crime photography
posted by theodolite at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


Why cut that out of it?

On mobile/tablet, I appreciate a direct link in addition to the actual page just because embedded videos don't often play well.
posted by griphus at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


I'm sure there'll be a lot of responses to this video like "what's the big deal, why call this 'rape culture,' it's not all that serious." To which my response is- so what if it's 'not as serious' as other issues women deal with? It's annoying. It is a constant, never-ending source of annoyance. Even if you completely discount the fact that sometimes men react with violence to being ignored, half of humanity is asking the other half to just stop constantly annoying them for shits and giggles.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [99 favorites]


Is New York city particularly bad for street harassment? That seemed pretty awful.
posted by Thing at 1:38 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Infuriating. A hundred times in ten hours is once every six minutes. I see this shit happen constantly here in Dallas, often on public transportation when the woman has nowhere to go to dodge the harassment. I've been threatened more than once for telling guys to knock it off, but if it means the shithead's attention is drawn to me instead then I have no problem stepping in. A common reaction I receive is "What, you gay or something? You don't like women?" because I guess if I like women then I must want to see them nervous and uncomfortable.
posted by item at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [56 favorites]



I'm sure there'll be a lot of responses to this video like "what's the big deal, why call this 'rape culture,' it's not all that serious."

Oh, if the youtube comments were that reasonable and nuanced of apologizing for rape culture. Seriously, do not read the comments, so far the worst youtube comments I've ever seen (which is quite a bar).

The most charitable reading of those interactions is that about 2% of them were people trying to panhandle (a gender neutral activity that would have occurred regardless).
posted by el io at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


A guy walking along beside you, making comments, staring at you is not annoying. It's scary as fuck. Her face is scared in that section, because she doesn't know what he's going to do. You can see her glance to the side, as if checking for a way to escape. If she wasn't doing this project, she might have ducked into a place, or tried to...I would have. Though no doubt he could have followed her. Because he's a creepy asshole.
posted by emjaybee at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2014 [102 favorites]


Is New York city particularly bad for street harassment? That seemed pretty awful.

The answer is "it depends." I have had the same sort of stuff that happens in the video happen to me in Brooklyn, but not really since I moved to Manhattan seven years ago.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2014


Fuck these douche bags and their sense of entitlement. I want to puke.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with people? I would never in 100 years think any of that was okay to do.
posted by slkinsey at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


That is AWFUL.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


God so many people who I generally respect or like are trying to pick this apart or go "oh so I'm not supposed to talk to people on the street? Ok" on social media and it just makes me want to delete them all from reality.
posted by emptythought at 1:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [20 favorites]


Oh god, when they follow you and get all, "Aw, you won't talk to me because you think I'm ugly, is that it?" That might be my least favorite street harassment tactic of all, because men who do and say things like that are betting all of their chips on the fact that women are socialized to be docile, apologetic, and pliable, in hopes you will exemplify those traits when you finally just give them a dollar -- I mean c'mon, it's only a dollar!

So as they continue to creepily match your pace and pretend to verbally slight themselves, they're waiting for you to either agree to sleep with them or politely emit a coquettish little smile when you say, "No, I'm just busy" or "No, I have a boyfriend" or some other benign platitude that totally fails to acknowledge their shitty behavior. And if you dare to decline any more forcefully than that, the best thing you can really hope for is that they'll only call you a bitch once, and quietly.

I wonder what ended up happening to the guy who silently walked alongside her for five minutes after his failed pickup attempt. Did the person who was filming eventually intervene, did she finally snap and give him what-for, or did he just give up? The way she kept glancing over at him nervously and gripping the microphones in her fists was heartbreaking.
posted by divined by radio at 1:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [40 favorites]


Oh man, the two guys who walked next to her - one of them creepily silent and the other just... constantly demanding her attention.

I could feel my shoulders go up to my ears. Terrifying.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


How much more or less prevalent is this sort of harrassment outside of New York? Are there other places/regions in the US that are worse or better?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:42 PM on October 28, 2014


That dude who walks with her for a bit (not the five minute guy) and asks "am I too ugly for you?", is he really thinking, after 30 seconds or so of silence, that when he offers her his number she's going to be like "Yeah, ok, let me call you?"

I suppose one or two could be excused as clueless people saying hello, or panhandlers setting up for a story, but 98% of them are just shitty assholes being shitty.

It's been asked before in this thread, but what the fuck is wrong with people?
posted by bondcliff at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2014


What's her problem? Clearly they were just trying to talk to her about ethics in videogame journalism.
posted by desjardins at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [290 favorites]


I can't leave the house without this happening, regardless of what I'm wearing. I'm in Austin. I get harrassed IN MY CAR, by people on foot and people in other cars. This video is not an exaggeration.

I have been thinking lately about a phrase to respond to harrassers with, like "I don't converse with strange men" or "I don't deal with men I don't know," but I don't know what I could say that wouldn't just make them angry or think that I am engaging with them.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm sure there'll be a lot of responses to this video like "what's the big deal, why call this 'rape culture,' it's not all that serious."

One of my Facebook friends posted this, and the THIRD COMMENT was from someone saying "some of these aren't even close to harrassment."

I was quite vociferous in my "what the HELL is that supposed to mean" response.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm sure some of it's panhandling, probably well north of 2% of it, but let's not pretend that the panhandlers don't choose their targets based on perceived vulnerability. I'd be willing to wager that any woman gets more panhandling activity than any man, and that conventionally attractive women get significantly more.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ugh, that is really gross. From the outside, the comments seemed bothersome but the two guys who just stayed with her were super creepy and threatening.

direct yt link

It's probably good to have that link here in case the main link gets broken, but the main link has good background information and contextualization.

From the article: Like all forms of gender-based violence, street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class.

As a man who has mostly worked with men for the last twenty years or so, and in a few different countries, this has not been my observation. Men of all kinds harass, but the way that harassment is expressed is not the same everywhere, because social norms vary. But I'm on the outside of this and may well not be correct at all, particularly in NYC.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


fiercecupcake: "I'm a cop" might work. Also might be illegal to utter that phrase.
posted by el io at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is New York city particularly bad for street harassment? That seemed pretty awful.

I don't know how it compares, but the few times I ever really think of leaving here, it's usually when my wife tells me what someone on the street said or did in her direction today. It's like she lives in a parallel and much, much more awful universe a few hours of the week and it breaks my goddamn heart.

Also, as a dude, I have been street-harassed exactly one time in my life (possibly as a joke, but with literally the exact same phrases and tones just about every woman has described to me as street harassment sounding like). It was gross and awful. I have no idea how I would even leave the house if that happened on a regular basis, much less was basically guaranteed.

One of the terrible parts of this is that for the men who aren't aware or don't believe this happens, they also don't understand how much fucking fortitude it takes to put up with it.
posted by griphus at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2014 [44 favorites]


How much more or less prevalent is this sort of harrassment outside of New York? Are there other places/regions in the US that are worse or better?

I should have prefaced this question. This is horrible behavior and the men should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure street harrassment happens everywhere and it shouldn't. I just wanted to know if this particular brand/sort of street banter is more of a New York thing or pretty much the same everywhere. Also, "better" and "worse" were a poor choice of words, so let me rephrase - is there a part of the US where this style is even more prevalent?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's another good short link on street harassment (made by a very close friend of mine. Come to think of it, Hollaback was founded by an old friend of mine two, but those are in two different leagues.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


God so many people who I generally respect or like are trying to pick this apart or go "oh so I'm not supposed to talk to people on the street? Ok" on social media and it just makes me want to delete them all from reality.

For people who legit react to stuff like this with that whiny old line the correct response is "yes, you, personally, are no longer allowed to talk to people on the street" and when their entitled whines become more and more angrily shrill you just say "sorry i don't make the rules" and then do the running man out of the room.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [98 favorites]


omg that silent walking dude though

like do you have nothing else to do

were you cursed to walk the earth in formation with strangers

this is why my cruising walking speed is approximately 4.6 miles an hour
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


fiercecupcake: "I'm a cop" might work. Also might be illegal to utter that phrase.

I'm pretty sure that these scumbags are not going to press charges (unless they are themselves cops - in which case "you are being filmed" would be a good follow up).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is New York city particularly bad for street harassment? That seemed pretty awful.

Happens to my wife any time she walks around by herself in downtown Raleigh, NC. She was recently meeting me for dinner at a restaurant downtown and she was accosted so much trying to leave the parking garage that she had to go back to her car and wait for me to come get her.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would think it's a mistake to tie this to a particular geographic area. When my rural high school Spanish class visited Spain, the entire class was prepped several times that men would treat high school girls like this regularly in the streets, which would include comments, following, probably physical contact, etc.

Even in the US this is not really a New York thing, this is pretty damn common wherever large number of people congregate. Unless you're living the life, you don't see how frequent things like this are. Even the person with their camera on their back didn't see these things going on.
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


i started getting similar attention in a small arkansas city when i was 13. it wasn't panhandling. if you're a man and you're thinking, "oh, it might not be so bad in my city..." you're likely wrong. if your a man and your spaces are filled up with defenses of this behavior, speak up. don't just roll your eyes and move on - tell them that you disapprove. if women could stop harassment and violence against women ourselves we would have done it already.
posted by nadawi at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2014 [44 favorites]


don't read the reddit comment thread either. It was always bad over there in specific subreddits, but now after gamergate it appears to have branched out and become just one big misogynistic site wide circlejerk.
posted by ts;dr at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2014


also I would like to point out that I didn't think his comment was SO terrible to begin with-- the kind of comment that often gets highlighted as an example of how relatively "nice" things that men say get all gosh darned twisted by feminism-- but then he started following her.

You never know! You never know whether it's going to be just a nice guy saying hello or whether he will insult you and your family, or whether he will follow you to wherever you are going, whether that is a side street or the grocery store or, like, your house.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [23 favorites]


It happens all over, and it's exhausting to deal with for all the reasons people have pointed out. But. One time I was in North Carolina, walking by myself at night, and a man (seemed homeless, so: panhandling?) attempted to strike up a conversation. I gave my death glare, and he sobered up right quick and apologized for being disrespectful. I was heartened by that.
posted by magdalemon at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


Just... Wow. She is brave to face that, although I think the camera and the dude in front of her helped her courage.

As a man witnessing this, what would be the most reassuring reaction in real life? Tell the dudes "Really man? She gets told she's beautiful 10 times a day, and each time it's creepy fucking guys like you who want something from her."
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


poffin boffin: ""sorry i don't make the rules" and then do the running man out of the room"

This is a major Power Move that I am going to adopt in all phases of my life. Parenting, finances, in the workplace, difficult to open packaging, etc.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [36 favorites]


Example from outside of New York: when I was growing up in NC, we lived in a small neighborhood surrounded by commercial areas, and after school I would often walk a mile or so to the shopping center with the grocery store, dollar store, craft store, etc. Just cause I was bored, wanted some candy, whatever.

The one-mile walk to the shopping center was along a 4-lane road, and I used to count the number of dudes honking at me and/or hollering out the car windows at me. There were usually at least two or three. I think seven might have been a record. (This was one way, not round trip.) This began when I was around 12. I generally wore jeans and t-shirts.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:52 PM on October 28, 2014


Aside from Paris in like 1992 where some grotesque creeper put his bare peen on my friend Kate's shoulder on the Metro, I have not experienced anything even remotely close to US street harassment anywhere else on earth. Everyone breathlessly warned me about Spain and Italy and it was laughable in comparison.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


"I'm a cop" might work.

Christ, no. Why would you want to give the harasser something to talk to you about - "Really? Show me your badge" or "If all cops were as hot as you then I'd get arrested all the time" or "I'll let you handcuff me anytime you want"?
posted by item at 1:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


don't read the reddit comment thread either.

weirdly, the r/mensrights thread is strangely heartening - i don't know if it's griefers and trolls for justice who just spend their time arguing with mensrights dudes or what - but, while there is certainly a group of "ohhhh it's so hard to just be nice, huh??" and gender based slurs, there's also a pretty loud group of "that's every 6 minutes!! you want her to stop every 6 minutes?? ok, champ, you do it - go walk somewhere and stop every 6 minutes to just stand there for 2 minutes and then tell me how polite she should be!"
posted by nadawi at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with people MEN?
No, not all (personally, I've never done it myself), but even in a lifetime of endeavoring to surround myself with good people, I've seen enough acquaintances and (soon-to-be-former) friends act this way to assume an alarmingly high percentage AND enough tolerance for it to be a CULTURAL NORM.

As a fat white dude, I have been harassed while walking down a suburban L.A. street at night, ONCE, by several younger white (and apparently 'partying') dudes in a pickup truck who objected in my being fat in public. But it made me reconsider future walks.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [24 favorites]


"Does street harassment only happen in NYC?

Street harassment happens everywhere, although our maps indicate that population density may be a factor for it."

Yeah, in Petersburg AK, where I lived there is less anonymity and you are likely to get your ass kicked if you harass, well, anyone percieved as less powerful, nevermind their gender.

Cultures are different and some are worse than others. I've known a lot of women who have traveled extensively and they complained much more about being accosted in Italy than in England. Make of this what you will.
posted by vapidave at 1:56 PM on October 28, 2014


Is New York city particularly bad for street harassment?

Nope. I experience the same level of street harassment in San Francisco, and did so previously in Washington DC. The video is a pretty standard walk for a woman through any urban neighborhood in the U.S. (Suburbs and rural areas don't get a free pass either -- harassment is just expressed differently, through honks, whistles and yelling out of car windows.)

And yeah, all the video was missing was the "B*tch, answer me!"/Muttered physical threats that frequently come from the same "friendly" men who start out their interactions with "Hey beautiful, how are you doing?" It gets waaaaaay worse than "Am I too ugly for you?"

I would love to have seen a second camera trained on the harassers to pick up the threats they made after the woman was out of earshot.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:58 PM on October 28, 2014 [27 favorites]


My current personal favorite hollabacks include the phrases, "Didn't ask," which works well so far when said without anger (though I am feeling the anger nonetheless) and, "You should see the other guy," to something like, "You're lookin' sexy today," which seems to confuse a dude just long enough for me to clear out of range. This is also in New York City, where, yes, I get this crap all the time.
posted by lauranesson at 1:59 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I believe this was the exact situation for which the phrase "fuck off" was invented.
posted by Muddler at 2:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's not PC to say this, but it appears to be a cultural/sub-cultural thing. Most of those depicted here are of one ethnicity/age/dress type. Not saying "all," of course....

The stereotype used to be the construction workers on break. I wonder if they still do it?
posted by CrowGoat at 2:01 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


So? It's often too dangerous to say, "Fuck off."
posted by agregoli at 2:03 PM on October 28, 2014 [23 favorites]


I believe this was the exact situation for which the phrase "fuck off" was invented.

I'm wary of saying anything that might escalate the violence.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [48 favorites]


I mostly don't get this anymore because my hair is pretty short, I'm over thirty, and I wear big chunky glasses. So I'm basically invisible.

But man, I have never had so many strange men talk to me as when I took the subway to a friends' house dressed up for a party and carrying a cake. The combination of makeup + fancy dress + large baked good was like creepy dude catnip.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


I believe this was the exact situation for which the phrase "fuck off" was invented.


"Why you gotta be such a bitch? I was just being nice." That's the best case response to 'fuck off'. It doesn't actually stop anyone and it puts you at risk; there's absolutely no upside.
posted by jeather at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [69 favorites]


[I]s he really thinking, after 30 seconds or so of silence, that when he offers her his number she's going to be like "Yeah, ok, let me call you?"

[M]en who do and say things like that are betting all of their chips on the fact that women are socialized to be docile, apologetic, and pliable.

Curating the comments that really stand out for me. No, guys don't think they'll get a number. Yes, they do know that women have been socialized to accept this behavior and enjoy the power they feel in making a woman uncomfortable and small and silent. (I used to snarl, "Get FUCKED" or "FUCK YOUR MOTHER" at every guy who harassed me on the street until my boyfriend begged me to stop because he's afraid I'll get murdered and says I should just remain blank-faced, which, like, HOW? I want to fight! I don't want to be docile even if it's the safe thing!)

I can't leave the house without this happening, regardless of what I'm wearing.

And, yes, this happens even if I'm wearing sweats and have zits all over my face and my hair is a nest and I'm visibly carrying ten boxes of Hot Pockets or some gross shit in my short stupid arms. I am not dressing to court attention; in fact, I often try to be deliberately repellent if I'm going to certain areas. Lots of men don't do this to signal their attraction to a particular woman. They just want to fuck with one and feel powerful. It's funny. Geddit? Haha. Uptight bitches.

I believe this was the exact situation for which the phrase "fuck off" was invented.

And yeah, all the video was missing was the "B*tch, answer me!"/Muttered physical threats that frequently come from the same "friendly" men who start out their interactions with "Hey beautiful, how are you doing?" It gets waaaaaay worse than "Am I too ugly for you?"

And finally, for the first time ever, someone grabbed my arm and told me I was a fucking bitch as I was coming off my subway stop last week after I only briefly acknowledged his DAYUMs. I quickly grabbed my arm back, punched his hand (I wasn't aiming; I don't know how to punch and I think I wanted to hit his face?), and ran into my corner bodega. I didn't look back. But now that I've felt street harassment cross over into something physical, even something as short-lived as what happened to me, I don't feel comfortable saying "get fucked" anymore. It can get worse than "Am I too ugly for you?" and "Bitch, answer me."
posted by pineappleheart at 2:07 PM on October 28, 2014 [72 favorites]


Okay, in retrospect, "I'm a cop" is probably inviting further inquiries (let me see your badge, etc).

How about "Would you like to learn about Scientology, and how it can change your life?"
posted by el io at 2:07 PM on October 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


For the people who keep asking if this is a NYC thing, I'll add to the chorus of "absolutely not"--I don't know if it's a US thing, but it is in no way shape or form unique to NYC. It's a little more common in parts of the US where people are not isolated in their cars 95% of the time they are in public, but honestly, not much. I've had just as much street harassment hurled at me when I was driving around southern California or Texas as I've had walking around the streets of Chicago.

Saying "fuck off" is, in fact, dangerous (as also noted above). Here, Feministing details just a few recent stories of women stabbed or shot by men who were treating them to some choice street harassment. Anecdotes, sure, but womenoften get shoved, spat on, hit with rocks and hit with all kinds of petty violence when they engage street harassers.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have not experienced anything even remotely close to US street harassment anywhere else on earth. Everyone breathlessly warned me about Spain and Italy and it was laughable in comparison.

I guess you've been lucky. This goes against the experience of every female acquaintance I've ever discussed traveling experiences with. When I lived in Tokyo, already not a great place in terms of street harassment, a Japanese female friend of mine who had studied in Rome told me how she had become afraid to go out at night there because she was harassed so often (with an added dose of racism for fun).
posted by Sangermaine at 2:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


showbiz_liz: I used to count the number of dudes honking at me and/or hollering out the car windows at me. There were usually at least two or three. I think seven might have been a record. (This was one way, not round trip.) This began when I was around 12. I generally wore jeans and t-shirts.

Yes! This too! Also in North Carolina! My friends and I would walk home from middle school and the honks and yells lasted the whole way home. We were dressed in...middle school clothes. Were pretty clearly 11-14 years old. And completely unequipped to handle adult men yelling at us.
posted by magdalemon at 2:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


in my experience it's not just a certain subset - i had a lot of rich fratboys leaning out of their cars shouting and trying to back me and my friends in to corners. there's also the creepy comments from white guys who look like they volunteer at their church's soup kitchen saying all sorts of weird paternalistic stuff which comes off as threatening, "stay out of trouble now *wink*" and the like. while visiting nyc (and going to a party in harlem) it was a typical skinny indie rock dude who sat across from me and my friend and tried to hide the fact that he was photographing our (fishnetted & heeled) legs and feet with his flip phone. this doesn't even begin to get into the horrifying stuff that rich drunk dudes will say to waitresses or any other woman who has the misfortune of having to smile and act nice to those assholes to pay rent. this isn't something you can other away.
posted by nadawi at 2:11 PM on October 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


"Why you gotta be such a bitch? I was just being nice." That's the best case response to 'fuck off'. It doesn't actually stop anyone and it puts you at risk; there's absolutely no upside.

My personal favorites are the times when i just flat out ignore the person harassing me, and he goes from hitting on me to calling me a bitch and a cunt in less than a second. There's just no winning.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:12 PM on October 28, 2014 [28 favorites]


I grew up in New York, and have lived on the West Coast for the past 15 years, where everyone complains about how fast I walk to this day. I haven't really had too much of a problem in Seattle or Portland, though I'm also older now and also probably give off a "don't fuck with me" vibe that I perfected long ago.

I developed the fast-walking habit in New York, I guess specifically to repel this type of shit, though I was just a kid then and didn't really think too much about it. It was just part of life, like, water is wet, you know? You go outside, you have to deal with trying to ignore guys who tell you that you have childbearing hips when you are 12 years old. Having guys rub their dicks on you in crowded subway cars when you're 14. I don't think I ever once talked to my mom about any of it either, now that I think of it. It was just ... normal.

I remember in college trading strategies with friends on how not to get harassed when you had to walk home alone late at night. Hoodie, cigarette, walk fast and kind of angrily. And that was in the suburbs, not even an urban environment.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:13 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Sexism is over" my ass.

How frustrating to read/know all of this. I wish I could do more (and I am doing a lot) to fix this, to argue against it, to confront my men friends and acquaintances, to make this not happen.
posted by kalessin at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bloomington, Indiana was horrible for this, and it was 100% white dudes. It's not a race thing.

Oh, and if they thought you weren't good looking enough for them, they'd yell that out, too.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2014 [20 favorites]


When I was younger (10+ years ago) I used to try to compliment a stranger every day. I thought it was a good, positive thing to do. I had some rules - it couldn't be on a persons personal attractiveness (ie: if they were 'good looking"), it had to be sincere.; eg: that's a nice scarf, I really like your purse. I would also try to make it clear from my body language that I wasn't trying to start a conversation or engage them further - it was a one-off thing that wasn't trying to go anywhere and I tried to make that clear in how I engage the interaction.

Despite my good intentions, I'll refrain from doing this sort of thing in the future. I'll only engage in conversations with strange women on the street if they engage first. This video made me realize that regardless of how well intentioned I might have been, it's pretty inappropriate to say things to women on the street.

I'll still try to genuinely compliment friends or coworkers (of both genders).
posted by el io at 2:16 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


lso the creepy comments from white guys who look like they volunteer at their church's soup kitchen saying all sorts of weird paternalistic stuff which comes off as threatening, "stay out of trouble now *wink*"

Oh God, yes. And the concern trolling comments about how what I was wearing might be too sexy or maybe I was out too late and did my dad/family/boyfriend know I was BY MYSELF?

It was marginally less creepy when they were over age 60 but even so...

I don't get it much now that I'm in my 40s, thank God. (Though it still happens.)
posted by small_ruminant at 2:17 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


el io, speaking for myself, the street is not for those sorts of interactions, but bored in line at Peets Coffee is okay so long as you don't try to extend the conversation at all.

However, women are allowed to compliment other women on their clothing in passing, e.g., "Awesome coat!".

posted by small_ruminant at 2:19 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Everyone breathlessly warned me about Spain and Italy and it was laughable in comparison.
posted by poffin boffin


I have a cherished moment to share with you. My first husband was tall and slender, and at the time (1994) he had shoulder-length hair tied back in a ponytail. He and I were walking along the Via Appia in Rome when a guy rode up from behind us on a scooter, passed us and disappeared into a sidestreet. A few moments later as we approached the sidestreet the creeper stepped out of the alleyway, masturbating to orgasm. It was at that moment that he looked my husband in the eye and he figured out that he was jacking off to a dude. The horror on his face made the whole ordeal nearly worthwhile to me.

So yeah, Rome.
posted by workerant at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2014 [138 favorites]


I believe this was the exact situation for which the phrase "fuck off" was invented.

I wish. I wish I could do that, because that is how I feel about it. I used to yell that, but it only ever made things worse.

Any response, even hostile or non-verbal, tends to be perceived as some form of entrée or the beginning of a dialogue.

I'd say only way to win the game is not to play, but the truth is that there's no way to win. The best you can do is minimize your loss and move on.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


God so many people who I generally respect or like are trying to pick this apart or go "oh so I'm not supposed to talk to people on the street? Ok" on social media

Uggggh for a real-life delete key. Logan's Run carousel, where are you.

And if forced by reality not to delete them or otherwise fling them into a bottomless canyon, that horrible complaint makes me want to answer them, "Ohhh I see, it's that you feel a pressing need to talk to PEOPLE on the street? Sure, go ahead. They all have to be men, though, from now on. Go on, tell every passing guy to smile."
posted by theatro at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [37 favorites]


God, that video is depressing and much of what I see happening in front of me whenever I'm in NYC. Does any of that awful "you should smile more/am I too ugly for you?" shit ever actually work? It's like really awful pickup artist junk that just plain isn't working and they just keep going.

The last time I was in NYC I walked by a construction crew and they were like stereotypes from 40 years ago, whistling and leering and saying stuff to women passing by. I couldn't believe it. I guess I've seen the same kind of thing in Rome, Italy, where grown adult men seem to act like hormone-crazed teenage boys, hooting and leering and stuff, so I suppose it's just a big city douchebag thing to do to women?
posted by mathowie at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2014


workerant: So yeah, Rome.

ROME IS THE WORST OMG sorry I just had to say Rome is the worst for this even worse than NYC Rome is SO BAD.

(I did not enjoy my time in Rome.)
posted by tzikeh at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think it's still worthwhile and very appreciated to be genuinely, non-creepily nice to a stranger here or there (not when they're trying to go somewhere, not when they might feel endangered or trapped by your presence, etc.) Maybe starting with people of the same gender, and branching out from there once that gets a good response. But yes, more people need to be (actually) nice to one another. That's community and kindness to neighbors and all the good Mr. Rogers stuff. And those principles are opposed in every way to the kind of street harrassment we see here. (If I'm wrong about any of this let me know. It seems tricky)
posted by naju at 2:23 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


rabbitrabbit: I haven't really had too much of a problem in Seattle or Portland

I don't have much of a problem in the PNW either. Looking aggressive/angry in a sea of passive-aggressive introverts spares me from most of these types of interactions. It's when I forget to put on my street face and walk slower than a death-march speed that I start receiving more comments or guys trying to get me to stop and talk to them. And wearing earbuds visibly is always a great excuse to pretend I didn't hear them as well.

Now, when I lived in Arizona? Forget about it. Removing guys' hands from various parts of my body was a regular enough occurrence that I warned my friend visiting me from Seattle about it ahead of time and we talked about what responses were most effective against all the unflinching grabbiness.
posted by Snacks at 2:23 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


The current definition of masculinity is toxic as all hell. Anita Sarkeesian recommended this book on Twitter the other day, which evidently includes a new chapter on manhood and violence. The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy

Also of interest, perhaps, was this stellar article by Robert Webb: How not to be a boy
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


Maybe just me, but I don't like any stranger talking to me in public about my appearance.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


el io, assholes ruin everything, don't they? I would probably not be alarmed at a guy walking the other direction who said "I love your hat!", so long as that was it. That's harder to construe as a come-on. Whereas "dress" or "shirt" would suggest being ogled more. It's about tone, really. But it's probably easier just not to say anything than to find a tone that proves you aren't a creeper. Because creepers will pretend to be nice, meaning actual nice people can't easily prove they aren't creepers.
posted by emjaybee at 2:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing the reason this comes off as a "black" thing in videos is because black dudes are more likely to be on foot, and white dudes are more likely to be in cars? I've only been to NYC once, but this does seem to be the case in Chicago. Trust me, white dudes are totally awful too.
posted by desjardins at 2:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


A similar video from a few years ago set in Brussels.
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


com'on, I think we all know that it's not supposed to "work," as in, get a guy a date. It's meant to scare/intimidate/harass/embarass the woman they are doing It to. I'm sick of hearing that confusion, as if there is a goal of dating on these guy's minds. There is no other non-shitty intention, believe that.
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2014 [40 favorites]


I guess you've been lucky.

Not really, no.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


mathowie: Does any of that awful "you should smile more/am I too ugly for you?" shit ever actually work?

Absolutely, it works -- but by "works" we mean "achieves the goal," and the goal is NOT to pick up women. The goal, as stated above, is to get pumped and stoked by your ability to intimidate women and make them feel small and helpless. So yeah, it works pretty much every time--this is how the men who do this get joy.

Does it work as a method to get women to go out with them? NEVER. But again -- that's not what they want. They want to feel the power they have over women. It's a rush for them, whether it takes the form of laughing at someone else's humiliation or blind fury at being "denied" or whatever emotion they get out of any given reaction/lack of reaction. It's a no-lose situation for the men.
posted by tzikeh at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [25 favorites]


I guess I've seen the same kind of thing in Rome, Italy, where grown adult men seem to act like hormone-crazed teenage boys, hooting and leering and stuff, so I suppose it's just a big city douchebag thing to do to women?

The answer is YES, and the letters for that "YES" are carved in six-story-tall slabs of granite like they did with the opening credits of El Cid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Amanda Palmer:
The ghetto boys are catcalling me
As I pull my keys from my pocket
I wonder if this method of courtship
Has ever been effective
Has any girl in history said
"Sure, you seem so nice, let's get it on"
posted by el io at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


So, this video shows some pretty awful examples of the BS that women get forced to put up with, and that definitely sucks.

What confuses me (and I am a lady) is why dudes who just said "good morning" as she walked by were also included in this video as harassers?

Maybe it's the Canadian/Midwestern in me that sees that as maybe just people being nice? I mean, there's a difference when (as happened with the 5 minute follow guy) a polite greeting gets followed up by harassing behaviour. I mean, I say "good morning" to people I see on the street sometimes -- not that I expect (or deserve) any kind of acknowledgement back. Should I stop?
posted by sparklemotion at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I guess I've seen the same kind of thing in Rome, Italy, where grown adult men seem to act like hormone-crazed teenage boys, hooting and leering and stuff, so I suppose it's just a big city douchebag thing to do to women?

Oh no, it's also small city and small town and suburb and everything douchebag thing to do.
posted by jeather at 2:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm in Phoenix and this shit happens to me, not every day, but several times a month. It happened last night, actually. The people who do it are usually in cars and I am usually on foot.

I tell people to fuck off or flip them off. I don't care anymore. I am exhausted with worrying about my own safety all the time. I just can't be arsed about my own protection all the time. Sometimes I have to shout back. (Not that it's like that for everyone, or that not shouting back is bad in any way, but the only thing--- literally the ONLY thing-- that makes me feel better when this happens is telling those fucking assbuckets to fuck off and go straight to hell.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:33 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


the goal is not to pick up women. The goal, as stated above, is to get pumped and stoked by your ability to intimidate women and make them feel small and helpless

Ugh, so I'm totally ignorant of what is going on in their minds because I assumed they just wanted to start conversations, and get numbers, etc, I really thought it was to get a two-way conversation going as a hard-sell, even if the woman is refusing the dude's come-ons.

I underestimated how gross dudes can be, and it's a whole 'nother level of fucked up if intimidation is their only game. Ick.
posted by mathowie at 2:33 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Ha, can't believe I said "people". Like it's ever been a woman.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


My natural way of interacting with the world is trying to minimize other's discomfort. There's definitely been times when I've just been walking on the street at night, and someone else is eyeing me as if I might be a potential threat, and I feel awful about it. It feels viscerally bad. I would reassure that person that I'm harmless if there was a way to do so, but any interaction would just freak out someone more. So I get as far out of their zone as possible, cross the street if it makes sense, or walk in front of that person, and generally try to be the opposite of intimidating. This happens regularly and I'm conscious of other people's spaces. I don't want anyone to be scared of me. Why would I want that?

So when I see guys do the exact opposite, it's almost like nails-on-chalkboard, that's the exact opposite of common sense why what the fuck, who are you, is that human? and my brain can't even process it.
posted by naju at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2014 [25 favorites]


Glad to see this here so I can read the discussion. I could not bring myself to watch it.

"I'm a cop" might work. Also might be illegal to utter that phrase.

I'm pretty sure that these scumbags are not going to press charges (unless they are themselves cops - in which case "you are being filmed" would be a good follow up).


Impersonating an officer isn't something that someone would press charges against you for, it's something an officer would decide to detain you for and the DA would have to decide to prosecute. I doubt some random cop would observe this and charge you but I can completely believe that if one of these shitheels was an off-duty officer he might use it as an issue. He'd probably just let you go after rifling your phone for naughty pictures, but I can see someone escalating an encounter over it.

"You are being filmed" runs the risk of causing one of them to get violent.

I understand why some of my fellow men haven't grown to see how toxic this low level constant shit is; we don't experience it and if we see it we don't see it in this kind of ongoing manner - it's something we see as a one-off while we're also in motion and at at least a bit of a distance, since these jackasses don't do this to accompanied women. I cannot understand, however, how someone can see it in video and just shrug it off like the folks quoted above.

Oh, it's not that bad? Having someone hit you in the head with an M&M isn't that bad, but you'd be annoyed if someone did it to you just once. You'd be livid after three times. After a dozen? Most of these people saying "eh, whatever" would be spoiling for a fight or calling the cops. And that doesn't even address the mental/self-esteem/fear-of-assault aspects of street harassment.

The lack of empathy some folks have to entire swaths of the population is mind-boggling. I'd write them off as simply completely lacking in concern about other humans altogether except that you can encounter these folks who hand-wave this off on one hand but will be incensed to see a clerk mistreated or a dog kicked. It was watching that cognitive dissonance in people that first led me to be sympathetic to the term "rape culture." I don't always agree with every usage of it (but what term WOULD I always agree with the use of?) but there's clearly society-wide stuff going on when you have people dismiss the constant denigration of others this way,
posted by phearlez at 2:35 PM on October 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


Just yesterday I ran across the street, literally across the street, to get milk and some dude slow-biking on the sidewalk leaned over to hiss TITSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS at me. Probably not trying to get a date, that guy.

Not that it matters, but there were zero tits on display. Residential neighborhood, DC.
posted by troika at 2:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


What confuses me (and I am a lady) is why dudes who just said "good morning" as she walked by were also included in this video as harassers?

A man saying "good morning" to a female stranger on a crowded street is harassment, unless the he is saying "good morning" to literally every single person he sees. Ask yourself this question: Why did these dudes say "good morning" to her and not to everyone else?
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [78 favorites]


I have been thinking lately about a phrase to respond to harrassers with, like "I don't converse with strange men" or "I don't deal with men I don't know," but I don't know what I could say that wouldn't just make them angry or think that I am engaging with them.

How about, "I have a carry permit and I fear you are about to harm me."
posted by notreally at 2:38 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


So many comments, on youtube and elsewhere, are talking about how this isn't harassment and how it's mostly positive, etc...

It's simple, dudes. If it's not bad, then imagine it happening to you. every day. that often. Like, you the dude who thinks it's not a big deal. You're walking down the street, and a hundred different men, mostly larger than you, call you beautiful and demand that you talk to them. Some of them follow you or walk next to you for minutes. Tell me how you'd react after the THIRD one happens, much less the hundredth.

It's frustrating because these guys feel like if a woman told them they're handsome it'd be a compliment. But none of them are imagining their reaction if a string of men did it to them every day.

Because it makes a difference. One of them is something you may secretly want or would be flattered by, and the other one is an unwanted invasion of your space every few minutes every day of your life. It's not about which sex is doing it. It's about whether or not you want it. And whether or not you'll feel threatened.
posted by shmegegge at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [26 favorites]


I'm guessing the reason this comes off as a "black" thing in videos is because black dudes are more likely to be on foot, and white dudes are more likely to be in cars?
Pretty much everybody is on foot here.

Maybe it's the Canadian/Midwestern in me that sees that as maybe just people being nice?
The etiquette here is to give people space and leave them alone, since we live in a big, congested city where you can probably walk past a thousand people on your morning commute. It is not normal for people to say "good morning" to every stranger they see.

Despite my good intentions, I'll refrain from doing this sort of thing in the future.
I used to compliment strangers sometimes, but I've pretty much stopped, even though I am a small and non-threatening lady type.

I realized that, even in the best and nicest of circumstances, I find it discombobulating to be on the receiving end of such an interaction, since it interrupts my chain of thought and creates an open question of what, if anything, the stranger wants.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


some guys don't even know their goal is to make women feel small. they don't even understand they are viewing women purely as objects even as they're talking about a woman they're momentarily attracted to like she's a painting or a car. while they wrap it up in, "your smile brightens my day!" and "i'm just being friendly! I wish women would be this friendly with me!" a lot of men just think they're owed the attention of a woman because they want it, they have never thought about it more than that. getting into guys' motivations can really only get us so far because a lot of men don't recognize this behavior in themselves or their friends. that's one reason i like videos like this - it show's what it's like for women, it strips the excuses completely away.
posted by nadawi at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [64 favorites]


How about, "I have a carry permit and I fear you are about to harm me."

lol no, try saying that in any city or state in the US when you're not white.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2014 [27 favorites]


Ask yourself this question: Why did these dudes say "good morning" to her and not to everyone else?

Well, given that this video was edited down from 10 hours to only show people interacting with her, I can't say who else they said "good morning" to. I can say, from my personal experience, that plenty of guys (generally panhandlers) do give a greeting to everyone who walks past.

But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment. Again, I'm just talking about neutral greetings, not "hey darlings", or "Holla sexy" or anything else that serves to objectify or belittle the person being addressed.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sparklemotion - I'm Canadian and the only people who say 'good morning' to me on the street are creepy guys. Walking into the office, passing someone I see regularly but don't know their name, sure say 'good morning'. But from a stranger I can't help but expect the worst.

I've started telling my husband how many times I get harassed when I leave the house. He didn't realize how often it happens. The worst was visiting him in small town Florida when some dude on a motorcycle pulled up in front of me, blocking the sidewalk, to ask if I wanted a ride and then I had to argue with him to convince him that I didn't. I had dressed especially to be 'ugly' too - baggy clothes, hair covered in a scarf - because I didn't want attention (walking in a place where people drive is already 'asking' for harassment IME). And I was going to the library, which was three blocks away.
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh also, I have responded to harassment with 'I don't talk to strange men' and then was asked why I thought he was strange and what my problem was. Even though it was well after midnight on deserted streets (in Saskatoon to continue the non-NYC examples)
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've seen this kind of thing - like, as in, obviously blatantly seen-seen it - a few times in my life, and I find a good approach for a dude is to ask the pervy/creepy/harrassy dude "You need a hand with something?" because it throws them a bit and at least gives the woman a chance to skeedaddle.

I'll admit that I sometimes give a friendly smile to a girl if our eyes happen to meet in our own personal separate day-to-day goings-around (if I can remember to get the perpetual scowl off my face in time), I don't know if that's bad or creepy or what. I don't seek women out to smile at.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, there's a difference when (as happened with the 5 minute follow guy) a polite greeting gets followed up by harassing behaviour.

That's the thing though. Even if some of those were genuine happy one-human-to-another greetings which would not be followed up she had no way to know it. And given the amount of other shit she had to put up with, I can't imagine any way of not perceiving the "Good mornings" as harassment. And she was not inviting engagement. Everything about her body language and face was clearly do not talk to me.

I say "Good morning" sometimes too, when making eye contact other people out for a stroll here in the suburbs, and they smile, or something like that. But I would never do it in a crowded city to someone walking purposefully away from me and clearly not inviting engagement in any way.
posted by andraste at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


because those good mornings can give way to "too good to talk to me you stupid fucking bitch?!" as the woman receiving the unwanted attention, you can never be sure how that will go down. the question of which of each individual comment a woman is flooded with in a day is actually harassment is an argument from the point of view of the harasser, not the victim. i don't care what the motivation is when it's a constant stream. i have no benefits of the doubt left - those were long gone well before i even turned 18.
posted by nadawi at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2014 [25 favorites]


But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment. Again, I'm just talking about neutral greetings, not "hey darlings", or "Holla sexy" or anything else that serves to objectify the person being addressed.

Singling a female stranger out to greet her is not a neutral greeting.
posted by The World Famous at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2014 [53 favorites]


Ha, can't believe I said "people". Like it's ever been a woman.

Ehh, I had a streetkid (female) yell "my friend thinks your HOT!" at me a few weeks ago. It's not the same caliber, but it's still harassment.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment. Again, I'm just talking about neutral greetings, not "hey darlings", or "Holla sexy" or anything else that serves to objectify or belittle the person being addressed.

A small smile goes a long way if one wants to acknowledge a stranger in public. Anything further is, in the least, invading and intrusive.
posted by item at 2:51 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Women who live in other pedestrian-friendly cities, do you experience this level of harassment?
posted by cell divide at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2014


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

This is weirdly defensive! What's up with that?
posted by serif at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [40 favorites]


I have a cherished moment to share with you. My first husband was tall and slender, and at the time (1994) he had shoulder-length hair tied back in a ponytail. He and I were walking along the Via Appia in Rome when a guy rode up from behind us on a scooter, passed us and disappeared into a sidestreet. A few moments later as we approached the sidestreet the creeper stepped out of the alleyway, masturbating to orgasm. It was at that moment that he looked my husband in the eye and he figured out that he was jacking off to a dude. The horror on his face made the whole ordeal nearly worthwhile to me.

This could only be better if he stumbled backward into an open manhole.

Also, this thread just made me realize why a woman I know walks so damn fast. That's so incredibly depressing.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment.

Because, honest to god, the polite thing to do here is to leave people alone.

Think of it this way: it's like having human pop-up ads on every street you walk down. Even if the ad is for something that you might want in another context, the pop-up is disruptive. It demands your attention while getting in the way of your getting to where you're trying to go and doing what you're trying to do.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [72 favorites]


If someone is making prolonged friendly eye contact at me, I'll smile and mutter hi in passing. Only if it seems like an invitation to engage. Those are the only times. This is less deep rocket science than it is normal, utterly sensical patterns of engagement, established (I'm pretty sure) for many decades of human interaction.
posted by naju at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


regarding "is this a new york thing, what about other places" nope. i'm just going to cut and paste what i said when i was posting this to FB:

the guy who follows her silently too close for a good 5 minutes obviously trying to provoke her/freak her out after she didn't acknowledge him is THE WORST. of all the shit i have experienced--and so relatively minor compared to so many other women i've talked to--that was one of the worst offenses i still think of for myself personally as in the category of "not absolutely panic-mode-terrifying yet, but still ruined an afternoon".

this video (thankfully) doesn't include things like "guy with his friends whispers he's gonna rape the shit out of you on the bus when you get off and doesn't seem to be joking and keeps it up the whole way and you get so scared you actually try to talk to the driver and when that doesn't go smoothly you just run and run and run and don't stop until you are behind the deadbolted door of your apartment unable to breathe", "men in cars who slow down and actually let the car follow at your walking pace behind you when you are alone at night", guy literally just screaming, screaming "YOU LOOK GOOD" all menacingly as if it's a determination of something to happen in the future, guy who, when you don't acknowledge him, outright threatens you and calls you a dyke, guy who actually touches you, guy who tells you he knows you always walk a certain route and the way he says it makes you waste 10 extra minutes every morning after that not taking it, guy who is stranded with you alone at 1am at a bus stop on a deserted block and the racist and paternalistic way he's talking is giving you the heebie jeebies, on and on and on forever. i remember the day in college i realized i was just gonna wear hoodies with my head/hair covered and baggy jeans and gender-neutral sneakers from now on when i went out at night alone because i couldn't take it anymore, and how angry i was that that's what i'd decided to do. and i remember my sister coming home for fall break her first year away and having the same numb, detached, hopeless, angry all-pervasive feeling, and wishing i knew what to say to her to make it go away and not knowing how.

and that is not even the outright physical violence, ugh


it's waned mostly for me--though just last week i was telling friends a story about how a man accosted me over the kiwis at the grocery store that morning and when i was visibly not into it he went "it's just that I've never seen a full figured Asian lady before...you wear it well" gee thanks WTF--but i chalk that up to nothing regional at all, it has more to do with other things i think, like how car culture-y where i live now is compared to where i went to college (the person upthread mentioning how common it is on public transportation or stops for it because women can't escape is spot on, and it's telling that when it does happen to me here now it's at places with the same characterization--at the grocery store, in line, at shows) so there just aren't as many opportunities for close one-on-one physically intimate interaction with strangers, and that i'm married and older now, my husband's usually around (a lot of men who seem to have a hard time believing it's as bad as women say it is don't realize harassers tend to at least be with it enough to avoid doing it in front of men they aren't sure agree with them), etc.

this post did remind me of the breakthrough we had with the schroedinger's rapist post years ago, which gives me hope.
posted by ifjuly at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

You know, sparklemotion, you seem to feel really hurt by the idea that you can't randomly greet women on the street. And you should be. But it's not women's fault that you can't. It's the fault of men like these. You see, there is no magical Creep Sensor that tells me, walking down the street alone, if the guy who says "Good morning!" means only that, or that if I respond in kind, he will whip his dick out and start rubbing it in my direction. Because that happens, too.

So before you feel too wounded by this injustice, just remember; you're not getting the worst of this situation, by several million miles. And whatever hurt you are feeling? is not any woman's fault. Take it up with the creepers my friend. I'm just trying not to get assaulted when I go out to get groceries.
posted by emjaybee at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [171 favorites]


As for the "Good Morning" guys, the best way I can explain it is this:

Every one of these guys might as well be just pissing on a hydrant for what their behavior is actually supposed to accomplish here. The "Good Morning" guys have an air of plausible deniability (which they will use in a heartbeat to turn toxic and defensive) but they are still simply saying, "this block is mine and you are one of my subjects while you walk on it."

That's why it's still harassment.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [27 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

Yes. You can smile a greeting at them, as long as you're not doing a creepy leer or slowing down or stopping to do so. (Different rules can, sometimes, apply when you are in line for coffee or at the grocery.)
posted by jeather at 2:56 PM on October 28, 2014


emjaybee - sparklemotion is a woman.
posted by tzikeh at 2:56 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


poffin boffin: "Everyone breathlessly warned me about Spain and Italy and it was laughable in comparison."

Rome was so, so bad for me ... I think partly because my hair is red and that's more unusual in Italy, so EVERY MAN IN ROME felt entitled to comment on it. I was gonna get a fucking mantilla just to make it less obvious! I've never had that happen in US street harassment (although lots of hair comments in bars).

andraste: "I say "Good morning" sometimes too, when making eye contact other people out for a stroll here in the suburbs, and they smile, or something like that. But I would never do it in a crowded city"

Yeah, and like if you take the commuter train from the suburbs into the city in the Midwest, it's TOTALLY NORMAL to say "hi" and "good morning" to fellow townspeople at the suburban train platform/station, but if you do that on the city end, THAT IS WEIRD.

I think it also makes a difference if you're in a residential or commercial area ... it's a lot more normal to trade greetings or nods of acknowledgement when you're in a fully residential area (I guess because you might see each other again jogging or dog walking and it's normal to acknowledge people in your near community), but when you do it in a commercial zone it's a lot more intrusive. Like in a residential neighborhood it reads as more "neighborly" but in a commercial area the vibe is more "mind your own business and don't inconvenience others" and intruding is an interrupting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:56 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


10 years in Boston here, 5 of which I lived downtown and frequently commuted on foot. Seriously, random strangers do not say "hello" to each other unless a shared experience encourages interaction (like, person nearby acting weird, or cute dog, or the T being broken down again). Random people saying "hello" to me is weird, out of place, inappropriate, and immediately makes me suspicious. And yeah, basically the only people who did bother "politely" greeting me out of nowhere were men who would follow it up with a demand for a smile.

When I would go home to visit my parents in Ohio, that was different. There were also probably 10% of the number of people on the street for me to pass as there were in Boston, so saying "mornin'!" and smiling briefly to a handful of people outside a coffee shop is reasonable and, sure, polite for the local culture.

Context is everything.
posted by olinerd at 2:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


i'm also reminded of my favorite part of that broad city "do the right thing" video--when ilana says something like "what do you think's going to happen here? like you're just gonna go fuck us somewhere right now?" it puts light on the oh-let's-just-shrug-it-away-as-natural-let-guys-be-horny--guys thing, because it makes no sense if you stop to think about it for like 3 seconds.
posted by ifjuly at 2:58 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Women who live in other pedestrian-friendly cities, do you experience this level of harassment?

I live in Portland, and this happens to me maybe once a week. When I was in the 19-24 range, it happened quite a bit more (I'm 28 now). When I'm walking around downtown nowadays, though, I'm usually in scrubs (since I work downtown), which helps to limit - but not stop - the harassment.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:58 PM on October 28, 2014


I know the onus should be 100% on the guys doing this not the victims of harassment, but just out of curiosity, does wearing earbuds/headphones help, or does it just escalate the scale/volume of the harassment? I know it's not a perfect remedy, and has potential drawbacks in terms of potentially not hearing something dangerous, but I know if I were receiving this day in and day out, I'd do whatever I could to wall myself off from the strangers constantly invading my space.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:58 PM on October 28, 2014


yeah, spain was bad for me too, mostly in terms of men giving me a hard time because i wasn't femme enough. but again, i don't know there's much useful stuff to be mined focusing on it like it's some regional thing anyway.
posted by ifjuly at 2:59 PM on October 28, 2014


I'm sorry if I misconstrued your gender, sparklemotion, but now I'm confused, because we were talking about men saying good morning and it being threatening? I don't know why a woman couldn't say good morning to another woman, but I don't think anybody said that was the case?
posted by emjaybee at 2:59 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sparklemotion - I think you are being overly literal here, and also not taking into account that we're talking about men, with their inherent disproportionate societal power, speaking, uninvited, to women on the street.

If you (a woman) are walking down the street, and you make eye contact with a stranger who's walking in the opposite direction, and you both nod and say "good morning" or whatever as you pass, there's nothing wrong with that and it's not harassment. That is so different from what's being discussed here, though, that I am having trouble understanding how you're conflating the two.
posted by tzikeh at 2:59 PM on October 28, 2014 [22 favorites]


Incidents in recent memory:

A week ago, shouted from a car: "I know what you..." something. There is no good way to complete that statement.

Three times today in the last three hours: "WOW!", "I love your hair!", and "Those are nice shoes." (They aren't. They're cheap and there are holes in the top.) The guy followed me around: "Are they comfortable?"

Every day I get "Hey pretty lady!" or "Spare a dollar, pretty lady?" At a street festival a couple of months ago, one of our known local panhandlers shouted at me: "Hey, Big Titties! Spare a dollar!"

Then there's the guy with the guitar who started strumming and singing a song about my hair after I ignored him.

Then there's the pair of guys in their car on a deserted street at night after midnight. I was wearing a hoodie and jeans; nothing especially dressy or feminine. They slowed down to ask which direction a certain street was in. I had nowhere to run, so I answered them. (It was only a few blocks away.) They kept idling the car. "Hey, you're going in our direction. Want a ride?" I said no. "Are you sure?" Yes, I'm sure. "Seriously, c'mon, we'll save you some time." I can't tell you how relieved I felt when they finally drove off.

Then there's the time I found myself being followed on an empty street at 2 am after the restaurant had closed. He closed in behind me and grabbed my arm. What am I supposed to do in that situation? I was afraid of what he was capable of, so I tried talking to him, asking him questions, the way you might talk down a lunatic pointing a gun at you. Eventually he backed off.

Speaking of which, a year or two ago there was a guy with a gun (at night, deserted street) who started shouting insults, accusing me of being a cop, and asking to see my badge. He let out a litany of insults when I took off running, and for 15 seconds or so he ran after me.

Oh, let's not forget the time I was followed home around the block by two strange guys who explicitly told me to "Get in, I'm a cop."

All of this happened in a mid-sized city.

My most memorable incident from Toronto involved an empty area of the city one night after Nuit Blanche. I was cornered by a heavily wrinkled, unshaven guy who told me he's homeless. I looked around; no one else was anywhere within sight. I was backed up against a wall by this guy who began telling me his life story. Again, what is the best action to take in that kind of situation? I had to smile and pretend to be friendly and interested. He asked for a dollar. I gave it to him "for being so entertaining" (big smile).

He let me go.

Yeah, so very entertaining. Fuck. What is wrong with people?

Let me note that when I walk down the streets with my male friend, I receive zero harassment. None. My friend expressed disbelief that I actually get harassed every single day when no one ever bothers him.
posted by quiet earth at 3:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [58 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

Strangers walking to work/home/wherever in an urban environment? Absolutely! Do not talk to them, unless they are on fire and you need to let them know, or you are and are looking for help.

People saying this is just polite is crazy. I am a dude and cannot remember anyone ever randomly saying good morning to me on the streets of Boston or San Francisco. The guys who are doing that in this video are not just cheery citizens offering greetings to a fellow human; they only do this to women and it's creepy as fuck.

I was walking a few paces behind my girlfriend recently when she was catcalled by this slimebag on Haight Street and it was one of the most infuriating things I've ever experienced. I mean, he wasn't even talking to me, but the idea that she, and all other women, have to put up with invasive, disruptive shit like that every day is just wrong. I yelled at the guy but wish I could have done more to keep him and people like him from ruining women's days, and worse.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [30 favorites]


I know the onus should be 100% on the guys doing this not the victims of harassment, but just out of curiosity, does wearing earbuds/headphones help, or does it just escalate the scale/volume of the harassment?

It helps for me, but I'm not conventionally pretty. Not sure it's as effective for someone who is pretty in the standard way. In my case and in my opinion though, earbuds rank as one of the greatest technological advancements of the past few decades - they single-handedly eliminated all street harassment for me. I'm not even listening to music the vast majority of the time I have them on.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


In NYC, trying to strike up a convo with a person walking down the street is basically the equivalent of rolling down your window and saying something to the next car over. It's ok if you're lost and need directions, or if you actually KNOW me, but if you're just Some Dude? I have PLACES TO GO.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


Why did these dudes say "good morning" to her and not to everyone else?

I am reminded of the "would you give a man a foot rub" sequence in Pulp Fiction. It means something different if you do it to one gender (or a specific subset of members of that gender sorted by appearance and age) but not to another.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


I know the onus should be 100% on the guys doing this not the victims of harassment, but just out of curiosity, does wearing earbuds/headphones help, or does it just escalate the scale/volume of the harassment?

My understanding is that this might help. Yup, and walk quickly. And don't make eye contact. And try to wear the most unattractive attire possible. Perhaps look into your cellphone so not making eye contact is a more natural thing.

Most importantly, we must remember that it's Islamic countries that oppress women.
posted by el io at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


It means something different if you do it to one gender but not to another.

Exactly. Imagine a straight guy walking up to a strange man and asking him to smile, or asking if he wants to hang out sometime, or whatever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:07 PM on October 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


Oh hey that reminds me recently I was walking the three residential blocks to a friend's house to game in broad daylight and this dude wanted to talk to me from his porch and I just kind of nodded and kept going at a really brisk walk and then about half a block later I checked my six because I am female and therefore unfortunately know to do things like that and...

This motherfucker was sneak-sprinting down the street headed RIGHT FOR ME with clearly nefarious intent. In BROAD GODDAMN DAYLIGHT. Like some kind of creepy sun-proof VAMPIRE STALKER. And I was so actually knocked over by surprise I shouted, "WHAT THE FUCK," more out of astonishment than anything, and he checked himself but kept walking toward me and backed me into an apartment complex yard to tell me how much I looked like Courtney Cox (which is, in fact, not at all.)

I don't... I STILL don't know how to process that interaction. What was he going to do with a live and feisty and not exactly lightweight woman in a residential neighborhood in broad daylight with people in their yards? It was terrifying but I am now more puzzled than anything. And, of course, I now have to avoid that street. Thanks, Vampire Stalker Dickbag.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [43 favorites]


Well, given that this video was edited down from 10 hours to only show people interacting with her, I can't say who else they said "good morning" to. I can say, from my personal experience, that plenty of guys (generally panhandlers) do give a greeting to everyone who walks past.

Yea, there are definitely areas of town I could walk around for 10 hours and get very high number of people trying to engage me verbally in order to panhandle. So, while plenty of those incidents are obviously sexual harassment, I'm not sure I'm willing to say it's 100%. It's also the case that people who look more "approachable," for whatever reason, tend to be approached more frequently by panhandler types. Of course, there is clearly some sex-mediated bias going on here that makes women seem more approachable in this context. I am fairly non-approachable in demeanor when walking about the City, and yet panhandlers still try with me on a fairly regular basis. My strategy, like hers, is to ignore and keep walking, and I have experienced some of the same things shown in this video, such as people walking alongside me trying to engage and angry insults when I don't respond. I've even had clear threats of violence when I had to shove a guy off who just kept coming until he was touching me.
posted by slkinsey at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I live in LA, and I get the occasional polite "good morning," or "hi, how are you," from guys who are, like, walking their dogs in my neighborhood, and that is fine! I do have a split-second moment of worrying that it's going to turn to into street harassment, but I smile at their cute dogs and powerwalk on to my apartment, and it's fine. So it's not like all women everywhere are opposed to this particular empty social nicety, and the smiling and muttering empty greetings to each other while dog walking in an otherwise not crowded neighborhood is pretty much the ideal inoffensive interaction. And hell, even then, YMMV depending on your neighborhood.

But street harassment is not exchanging meaningless pleasantries with your neighbors, and I wish people (in general, not here specifically) would stop conflating the two.
posted by yasaman at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


Q: Are the comments on reddit or Youtube worse?

A: Trick question. The correct answer is there is no god and I can't wait for the sun to engulf the earth and kill all life
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 3:10 PM on October 28, 2014 [105 favorites]


Oh, lord. Headphones are not a deterrent. I've had men tap me on the shoulder as well as pull them out of my ears. I occasionally snapped back on street harassers when I was young and dumb, and it never ended well. Now, I'm more concerned with getting myself home safely. I wear giant rings, and not for the fashunz.
posted by batbat at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


earbuds etc help while walking maybe, but on buses and the like dude will just pull them out of your ears so you can better hear his gross comments. and, yeah, there's the problem of having to be aware and alert at all times, with your knowledge of how to turn your keys into a weapon during close contact, that isn't easily solved with headphones.
posted by nadawi at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


*raises hand*

I have been catcalled, screamed/whooped at, followed, cursed at and aggressively harassed in Boulder, which has got to be one of the wealthiest, whitest, most demographically "liberal/progressive" small cities in the country. My sole transgression, apparently, was to be a woman on a bicycle. Forget the fact that I am visibly fortysomething, not particularly feminine-looking or attractive, and I don't have terribly noticeable breasts, either, especially when I'm working out with a suitably profile-smashing sports bra on.

This is about power, not looks or attraction or "trying to get a date" or whatever the hell else you may think. It's pure, 100% bullying and oppression.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:12 PM on October 28, 2014 [24 favorites]


Sparklemotion - I think you are being overly literal here, and also not taking into account that we're talking about men, with their inherent disproportionate societal power, speaking, uninvited, to women on the street.

I think there's two things going on. First, as someone who has been the victim of actual street harassment I find it odd to lump what I consider to be generally friendly behaviour in with the shittiness. I do understand the whole "Schrödinger's Harasser" argument though which leads to...

Second, as a human with empathy I think that harassment is an awful thing to do, whether it is done by women or men. In the interest of making the world better for everyone, I want to model the behaviour that I wish to see in others, and therefore avoid doing things that could be seen as harassment, even if they aren't intended, by me, to be so.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:13 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

Rules vary depending on where you are and what context you're in.

There are suburban developments where the proper etiquette is to wave and say hi to everyone you pass. And there are hiking trails where you say hi both to be polite and to telegraph the idea that you are totally not some kind of serial killer.

I find it super weird to say hi to people in either context because I am from New York City, and you just do not do that here. People from New York aren't rude so much as a different kind of polite. We are packed next to and on top of and underneath one another, so a lot of the politeness around here revolves around giving people the illusion of privacy and space.

I don't say good morning to strangers for the same reason that I don't participate in my neighbors' conversations, even though we can damn well hear one another's speaking voices across our shared walls. People who do say good morning to strangers around here are violating a social pact that may not exist where you live, but absolutely exists here.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:13 PM on October 28, 2014 [29 favorites]


So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:50 PM on October 28

Actually, yes please, and thank you.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 3:15 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


Perhaps look into your cellphone so not making eye contact is a more natural thing.

While I recognize that the intent behind this is good, I gotta chime in here: If you are a pedestrian and you are in motion, please do not look at your cell phone. When I don't want to talk to people I keep my head down and look at the ground about half a car length in front of me, and maybe that will work for others as well (and I hope it does), but there's got to be a way to signal aggressive disinterest without adding to the number of people who walk on busy sidewalks while staring at their phone. I say this as someone who has been nearly knocked over by more Harvard students than I care to count because they weren't looking where the fuck they were going.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


does wearing earbuds/headphones help, or does it just escalate the scale/volume of the harassment?

It helps, in my experience. Earbuds + walking really fast + unwelcoming facial expression were how I avoided/ignored/totally failed to notice street harassment when I was in college. Of course, it didn't work all the time, and I was probably making tradeoffs in my personal safety by doing so, but whatever. I don't walk around with earbuds in so much now, but my neighborhood where I do most of my walking around now is light on street harassment, aside from the harmless old guys from the nearby retirement homes who toss out the occasional condescending compliment.

But yeah, even with earbuds and power walking everywhere, I remember once I was waiting for the light at a crosswalk in broad daylight, and a guy standing next to me checked me out in the sleaziest fucking way, like full on lascivious stare with no chance of mistaking what he was doing. If he said anything, I didn't hear it over my music, but it didn't matter, the look was intrusive and gross enough.
posted by yasaman at 3:17 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Let me note that when I walk down the streets with my male friend, I receive zero harassment. None. My friend expressed disbelief that I actually get harassed every single day when no one ever bothers him.

Yep, I was shocked when I got divorced this year and I immediately became fair game because I'm not walking around with a dude anymore. Literally nothing else about me has changed. I've got short hair and wear boring clothes and have the body of a teenage boy. But hey, I'm walking around alone now, so some guy feels it's okay to yell at me from across the street, then finally run in front of cars so he can stand directly in front of me.
posted by desjardins at 3:21 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


yasaman, would it help to wear earbuds but not have music on? I have coworkers who do that to avoid being accosted in the street, although those people are generally men avoiding panhandlers, not women avoiding rapey men.
posted by zompus at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2014


I was going to post this video documenting street harassment in Egypt (over a single bridge in Cairo where every single male not looking at his cellphone leers at her!) back when I first saw it but then I didn't bother because it was too infuriating.
posted by bobobox at 3:26 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


They should make another movie, this time with someone walking behind her, with a taser.

It won't change anything but I would feel much better.
posted by chavenet at 3:27 PM on October 28, 2014 [35 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen street harassment like this in Northern Europe - only possible exception being feeble pickup attempts on the last subway during the weekend. Random violence, attempted robberies, mentally ill people, beggars, drunks being overly friendly, sure, but not something like this. So, IMHO this is not a "people" or "men" problem, it is a cultural problem. (OK, so I'm a tall guy, but I walk or take public transport everywhere.)

In Norway the only time when it is OK, actually almost required, to say "hello" or nod to someone you don't know in public is when you meet on a long walk in the forest or preferably above the tree line, so it is very much depending on context and culture.
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 3:29 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe women should try [headphones][saying fuck off][saying they're a cop][carrying smoke bombs][pointing a gun at everyone][having a boyfriend or husband with them 24/7][shaving their head and slashing their faces to ribbons so they are too horrible to look at]

All of these suggestions are extremely reasonable and good, and it makes insanely good sense that it's the woman's responsibility to stop men from harassing them rather than to expect men to act like human beings.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 3:31 PM on October 28, 2014 [62 favorites]


would it help to wear earbuds but not have music on?

Probably that would be the safer thing to do! It is not what I did in college because I made poor choices I guess, but it's what I do now. That, or have the music on really low.
posted by yasaman at 3:31 PM on October 28, 2014


i get that men are just chiming in and telling us their experiences, but if you're a man reporting on street harassment in your area, consider that you aren't seeing it rather than it doesn't exist.
posted by nadawi at 3:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [32 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen street harassment like this .....OK, so I'm a tall guy, but I'ma let you all have the benefit of my assumption that everyone where I am gets treated like me all the time anyway.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was walking home from work one day and noticed all the men in cars staring at the woman walking in front of me. She wasn't wearing 'revealing' clothes or anything, but out of twenty or so cars, every single man watched her walk past like she was on a fashion runway.

I got home and was just about to tell my girlfriend to watch out for that the next time she was walking behind a woman when I realised that she would always be the person being stared at and could never experience it as I had (or vice versa).

It was a very depressing realisation.
posted by knapah at 3:35 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


So, IMHO this is not a "people" or "men" problem, it is a cultural problem...

I don't see any women calling out DAYUM or walking silently beside the woman in the video for five minutes while being creepy as fuck.
posted by andraste at 3:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [24 favorites]


So middle school continues on for decades for women. God damn that's depressing.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Which is not to say that there aren't some parts of the world where this harassment is more ubiquitous than others. But saying it's "not a men problem" is, I believe, in contradiction of the lived experience of most people here, and also of the evidence in the video which forms the basis of this post.
posted by andraste at 3:38 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment.

Because it assumes that they have the right to force her to interact, and that is not okay.

You hear it in the guys yelling, "What, you think I'm ugly?" As though the woman walking down the street is property of any man who happens to gaze at her, and how dare she not want to respond to someone who has deigned to grace her with their presence?

Fuck those guys.
posted by corb at 3:39 PM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm getting to be old so less subject to street harassment but I've lived in many places in the U.S. and hung out in every large metropolitan city in the U.S. I've lived outside of the U.S. and traveled all over Europe. From age 10 on, it's everywhere.

I recently went shopping downtown. Had a day to myself. Had a great experience trying on clothes and chatting with my favorite boutique owners who hooked me up with some great stuff. I went to hang in the active public square, middle of the day, and eat a snack. I had finished my snack and just decided that I didn't need to be anywhere, just enjoying some sunshine and people-watching when panhandler guy comes up, asks for a dollar. My face goes to stone. I happen to have a single dollar in my pocket. I never give money to panhandlers. For some reason, sunny day or whatever, I pull out my dollar and give it over. He starts mumbling something about losing $10 in Safeway. I'm stone-faced, ignoring. I tell him, 'that's too bad. I don't have anything else.' He looks at me for a second and then sits down across from the bistro table. At this point my heart has started pounding. Him: "hey, you got a boyfriend or something...?" I'm pissed. At this, I gather my things, attempting to be measured, calm, assessing my exit strategy, keeping an eye on him as I pull my things together, raging on the inside because I know there's nothing I can say to get my moment of being alone in public back and nothing I can say that won't escalate the situation. What I do say, angrily, once I feel I have my stuff and can exit safely is, 'thanks, man, for stopping. Really awesome.'

But, that's not even the whole story. Before this guy comes panhandling there's another guy, he comes up on my left, he's wearing kind of dirty jeans, kind of grubby plain white shirt, carrying a guitar. He looks around a bit. He picks a seat next to me but down far enough that he's in the polite zone. He's late 20s, maybe 30s, I can't tell if he's just a guy taking a break, someone homeless, what? It doesn't matter as long as he gives me enough space. He starts very quietly playing his guitar and humming...not in an attention getting way. He's not busking and he's not trying to get my attention. When this panhandling dude comes down, I can see guitar guy out of the corner of my eye. Guitar guy is paying attention without paying attention. He hears the interaction. I sense that if shit goes weird with panhandler that he might help. He might. However, I don't really want guitar guy to get in a fight and I don't really want anything to be happening here. For all of us, I find a way to get out of there.

You know what that is? Hypervigilance. Not just for war vets! Also for any woman in any public space ever! It's exhausting.
posted by amanda at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [64 favorites]


poffin boffin: For people who legit react to stuff like this with that whiny old line the correct response is "yes, you, personally, are no longer allowed to talk to people on the street" and when their entitled whines become more and more angrily shrill you just say "sorry i don't make the rules" and then do the running man out of the room.

I legit engaged them because they're overall good people who "get it". Like folks who would sit down and explain to someone in good faith why their halloween costume was racist and appropriationy or whatever. It was really fucking weird seeing this sort of response from those people.

I've thought this, and said it before... but there's a lot of smart, educated young white dudes who are on board and willing to shut up and listen and generally have a decent understanding when it comes to racism, classism, etc. but have some serious blind spots and fucked up beliefs when it comes to misogyny and feminism. Even with relation to what those things are and what they mean.

These aren't gators, and i feel like if i sit down and explain it to them they'll go "oh, fuck... um... " and go in their room to think about it and quietly apologize later for being a fuckhead.

It's not that they aren't willing to get it, or aren't capable of getting it, or are predisposed to not getting it... it's just something they haven't experienced and have no context for, and a lot of it looks innocuous to them because a lot of harassment is pretty much designed by the harasser to not cross any lines TOO much and have plausible deniability. They're buying in to the advertising, basically.(that line, by the way, is a great way to sell this to a willing party since they're very often the type of people who whine about coercive/manipulative advertising constantly)

Doesn't weird me out any less though when i see people who were out there with me protesting against the police for being violent shitheads and who regularly shut people down who are saying fucked up things start spewing feces about stuff like this though. It's like friendly fire almost, my asshole blast shields are facing the other direction towards people i don't know and haven't vetted so it's some kind of hatches-are-open critical hit for MASSIVE DAMAGE to my soul.

I don't know. I'm rambling.

tl;dr DAMN YOU STARFOX
posted by emptythought at 3:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you're unable to distinguish between this abhorrent behaviour and polite interaction then, yeah, maybe you shouldn't talk to strangers. Why, every time an undeniable example of sexism and misogyny is provided, does the chorus of NOT ALL MEN inevitably start up? Christ. I'm in awe of this woman's forbearance. I'd be swapping the mics for pistols after about half an hour.
posted by steganographia at 3:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [28 favorites]


You know what that is? Hypervigilance. Not just for war vets! Also for any woman in any public space ever! It's exhausting.

I was really struck by the difference in vigilance levels between me and my partner once when we were in a strange town, just after dusk, and looking for an ATM. There were plenty of people about, but I still was aware of things like the gang of faux-menacing late-teen boyss eyeing us and muttering something. When we came back from the ATM I said, "Ah that's good, the local hooligans are gone."

Him: "What local hooligans?"

He'd been staring at the maps app on his phone, or looking ahead to the street signs, the whole time. He hadn't noticed the muttering or the staring or anything.

I notice it all the time now; his situational awareness is way, way lower than mine, all the time. Because like all women, mine has to be higher.
posted by andraste at 3:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [33 favorites]


Sorry for those that don't have access via an academic database, but there has been good preliminary work indicating that the experience of everyday sexism is moderately correlated with PTSD, especially "recent sexist degradation". This shit is real, y'all. We're not crazy.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [37 favorites]


I'd also like to add though that i've seen some heart warming eyes opened responses though, "wow, what an awful existence, why does it have to be this way?" type stuff from younger guys. Gives me hope that the world might still be linearly traveling towards being a less shitty place.
posted by emptythought at 3:52 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


My experience living in New York is different from those who suggest that, living in the city, a spontaneous, almost-random greeting to a stranger is invariably harrassment or otherwise inappropriate. I find it more nuanced than that, and think there are some fairly uncommon instances where a "good morning" to a stranger is in fact the polite thing to do--for example when two people walking in opposite directions inadvertently lock eyes long enough that verbal acknowledgement of the situation to provides the social lubrication to gracefully unlock glances.

While it's difficult to articulate the rules for such encounters, most people are aware of them almost unconsciously; you know when it's time to nod, smile and say "hi." And people who are speaking to strangers for other reasons know this is what there doing--when a panhandler says "Howyadoin'," they aren't confused about whether they're just being nice or not.

Neither are guys who harass women on the street.

But sparklemotion, I imagine you are sensitive enough to greet people on the street and not give offense. I'd encourage you to keep it up. I've had strangers give me a "hello" out of the blue, and it's nice when you can tell it's sincere.
posted by layceepee at 3:54 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


"So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood."

I say hi to a lot of people here in New Orleans. Like a lot a lot. ["Allright" is the official dude thing with either an upnod or a downnod]. I acknowledge women moving in the opposite direction the same as I do men depending on if they make eye contact. Leave it up to them.

Women my age or younger I never talk to unless they are either with at least one friend [male or female] or in the store with the cop and the clerks that know me and greet me by name.

If you really want to see the world change go out with kids. I was a step-dad for five years and the change in demeanor of everyone was startling.
posted by vapidave at 3:56 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just as an illustration, Baron Humbert von Gikkingen: I'm a guy from the U.S. and I only recall seeing something like this happen in person once. (When I was visiting NYC coincidentally, but acquaintances where I live have related the same sort of thing.) So it's really entirely possible for it to be happening all around you without it being visible to you as a guy.

Maybe you can ask European women who have seen this in Brussels whether it's really absent a little bit further north, but I would kind of be surprised if it were.
posted by XMLicious at 3:56 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I zone most of these comments out but in the case of people like following-guy I deploy what I've been told is a genuinely frightening bitchface. Like, people recoil and back away frightening. Even that doesnt work on drunk guys and the insane though, which is why my preferred way to deal will remain choosing not to engage.

That and the fact I don't want to argue with a moron every 20 feet. Make no mistake, guys who do this are not brainiacs, you will not impress them with your wit or logic.
posted by fshgrl at 3:59 PM on October 28, 2014


I will say I lived in a small-ish town in Sweden for six months (so not a huge sample), but no one ever said a single thing to me on the street. No one even looked at me. It was GLORIOUS.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:01 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I once mistook a cop who was yelling at me for jaywalking for street harassment. I used my "don't even look at them and yell F-off!" Well, the police officer genuinely could not believe that street harassment is so prevalent that it was logical to assume that it was more likely to be a street harasser than an officer of the law. Then I got a lecture about how I should always check to see who it is yelling at me behind my back, because it could be a cop! So neither ignoring, hollering back, or saying "I'm a cop" could have helped there.
posted by dipolemoment at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I was a step-dad for five years and the change in demeanor of everyone was startling.

I have to say, as a parent and a woman, it's wonderful to randomly chat and interact with other parents and most especially men (because it's rare) out in public. It's really one of the hidden tragedies of the current culture which obviously disenfranchises women and people of color, but also harms "innocent bystanders" which is where you get the not all men chorus coming from (somewhat).

That was a pretty tortured paragraph.

But, yeah, you're out there with your kids of a certain age, I trust you more. It's nice to randomly connect with people. There's a lower likelihood that a guy out with young kids is going to harass me in the street. It's incredibly freeing to just offer the young guy with the droopy pants and questionable taste in hairstyles who is taking care of a small child a smile and even a word of parental encouragement. It sucks that we can't have that.
posted by amanda at 4:05 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm a thin, not-at-all-imposing dude. I have a small dog. When I walk (with or without said dog), I tend to half-smile at other dog people (regardless of gender), or full-smile at cute dogs. I honestly, not passive-aggressively, feel like I should stop. This is fucking horrifying.
posted by supercres at 4:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wear the biggest, brightest, most violently neon colored headphones I could find to signal that I'm poison.
posted by Freyja at 4:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


Snacks: I don't have much of a problem in the PNW either. Looking aggressive/angry in a sea of passive-aggressive introverts spares me from most of these types of interactions. It's when I forget to put on my street face and walk slower than a death-march speed that I start receiving more comments or guys trying to get me to stop and talk to them. And wearing earbuds visibly is always a great excuse to pretend I didn't hear them as well.

Well reporting live on the scene from seattle! here, my social media feeds regularly have comments from other friends here that they CONSTANTLY get guys motioning for them to, or yelling at them to, or even reaching over and trying to pull out their headphones.

Apparently wearing headphones isn't a sign that you don't want to talk to someone, it's an active insult that you don't want to talk to them. Like, how dare you! you don't even know me yet! you don't even know what i want to say! and you're just preemptively dismissing me? fuck you bitch! sort of thing.

I know several women who seemingly receive way more harassment than most of my other friends. I could speculate on why this is, but even they don't really get why they're such magnets. The lady i'm thinking of seems to have this "take your headphones off!" exchange more than a couple times a week, though.

Definitely plays in to the whole "there's no way to win" thing though, because even if you try and actively avoid them that's apparently an aggressive act because you're like, not giving them a fair chance!

Whenever i have to explain this to guy friends, i ask them if anyone has EVER harassed them to take their headphones off. I think it's happened to me, maybe twice. And at least one of those times was "hey dude wait, is this yours? i think you dropped this thing" when something fell out of my bag on the bus as i was getting up.
posted by emptythought at 4:11 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


As a man, all I can say is fuck men. Sorry for every woman (and anyone else) who's gone through shit like this.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:12 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I drive a fair amount so street harassment isn't something I have to deal with to the same level as times when I didn't have a car, but I do walk around my urban neighborhood on a daily basis to run to the store or to talk on my phone in the park and I get one or two attempted interactions each time I'm out for any length of time, on average.

I tend to find these conversations on the blue and in social media a little alienating because as a woman I don't honestly care if a guy says 'hi' or 'good morning' to me. I'll even respond with a nod or a short answer if he isn't overtly skeevy about it. I do hate having someone repeatedly try to drag me into a conversation when I am not responding, or overtly sexual remarks, but a simple 'hi' is whatever. I don't find it intrusive in and of itself.

Personally, I would rather that I lived in a neighborhood where people said good morning and sometimes guys were doing it skeevily than a neighborhood where it was considered rude to interact with any stranger on the street at all.

On preview: I agree with amanda-- it is annoying to me that I can't engage with someone saying hello to me beyond the bare minimum because I don't want to get sucked into 'are you single?' 'how old are you?' 'why won't you tell me your name?'
posted by geegollygosh at 4:20 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment. Again, I'm just talking about neutral greetings, not "hey darlings", or "Holla sexy" or anything else that serves to objectify the person being addressed.

There's a tone to the voice that I think a lot of women in here have learned to pick up on, and which the men may be missing. There really is a difference between the "good morning!" from a happy-go-lucky guy who is just plain in a good mood, or the "good morning, how are you today?" from a street vendor who's trying to make a hustle - and the "....good morning" from a guy who's saying that but really means "I want to suck that pussy".

We can tell. And take it from someone who can tell, those are all "I want to suck your pussy" good-mornings.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:28 PM on October 28, 2014 [45 favorites]


I know several women who seemingly receive way more harassment than most of my other friends.

Yeah, I have gotten relatively little harrassment in my life, despite being single and getting about by myself on public transit for the last nearly-20 years. Part of it is probably my resting bitch-face, but I don't know.

Now, of course, I'm invisible to most men because I've gone almost completely white, and my hair is short. (Women comment on my hair, and that's totally cool, but only one man in the last couple of years has commented on my hair.)

But I have friends who can't go anywhere without being harrassed and groped, and they aren't noticeably different than I am in presentation, dress, attitude, or whatever. I find it baffling.

I mean, I'm grateful, but I feel like I got off easy through no effort of my own, by comparison with so many other women--including many in this thread.
posted by suelac at 4:28 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


For better or worse, being a fat woman insulates me from a lot of this, and having hit my mid30s seems to have cut it down further.

Nonetheless, I have just recently had to change my bus route to a less convenient one because of a man who had figured out when I would be at a certain stop, decided I was hot, and decided to tell me so and insistently try to engage me in conversation every day, whether I had headphones in, was reading, was scowling, had told him I did not want to talk, had dropped the "boyfriend" word even though I hate pulling out that card, etc.

He felt entitled to my time and attention, and nothing I could do dissuaded him, and so now my commute sucks but it sucks less than dealing with that every day. And I try very hard not to engage with anyone on my commute because I'm running out of both bus routes, and patience to try tactics other than "kneeing these dudes in the balls."

I hate all of this and I can't imagine how much more exhausting and angering it must be for people who deal with this day in and day out in lots of different settings.
posted by Stacey at 4:29 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


I've now shown the video to a female friend of mine here in Oslo, Norway (attractive, usually wear skirts for some reason), and her comment during the video was: "Why are they saying that?" I then asked her if she had experienced something like this in Norway, and she said no, with the exception of from drunk people on the night buses going home from a waitressing job during the weekend. She has experienced similar harassment in southern Europe and Turkey. (Where I've also seen stuff like this - hell, even in Japan I've seen occasional street harassment.)

The point I tried to get across was that, in my view, this clearly isn't a (genetic?) problem with men it is a cultural problem, and should be discussed as such, even if it might be painful to discuss why so many men act this way.
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 4:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


But even if they were singling her out, I still don't understand why that is de facto harassment. Again, I'm just talking about neutral greetings, not "hey darlings", or "Holla sexy" or anything else that serves to objectify or belittle the person being addressed.

Isn't it because it implies a sort of a demand to reciprocate or engage where that isn't the contextual norm? Unless they dropped their keys and you just picked em up, soliciting the attention of someone walking down the street is inherently pretty aggressive.
posted by batfish at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've now shown the video to a female friend of mine here in Oslo, Norway (attractive, usually wear skirts for some reason), and her comment during the video was: "Why are they saying that?" I then asked her if she had experienced something like this in Norway, and she said no, with the exception of from drunk people on the night buses going home from a waitressing job during the weekend. She has experienced similar harassment in southern Europe and Turkey. (Where I've also seen stuff like this - hell, even in Japan I've seen occasional street harassment.)

....You're basing that claim on having shown it to one woman. Try harder.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


"...street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class" "...it is a longstanding myth that street harassment is a “cultural” thing, perpetrated mostly by men of color."

Good thing they told us that because if you only watched the video you might get the wrong idea.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


"We can tell. And take it from someone who can tell, those are all [em mine] "I want to suck your pussy" good-mornings."

Yeah, no. Sometimes a "Good Morning" means only that. I wish it was more common that it meant only that but "those are all" is not true.

Good Evening.
posted by vapidave at 4:41 PM on October 28, 2014


I can't find it, but isn't there a tumblr full of news stories about women who had been attacked on the street after being catcalled?
posted by desjardins at 4:42 PM on October 28, 2014


sometimes I have this thought experiment that goes along the lines of, how would the world be different if every woman carried a baseball bat on their shoulder as part of their day-to-day, right next to their purse or jaunting out of their backpack. an honest to god "no i don't play baseball, you know exactly what this is for," standard-issue, louisville slugger that would put an end to all this bullshit.

it's just a dumb "what if" alternate universe but this video kind of makes me want a little bit more to see it happen.
posted by One Thousand and One at 4:43 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


vapiddave: I believe EC was referring to the "Good Mornings" in the video, all of which were indeed aggressive bullshit.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: ....You're basing that claim on having shown it to one woman. Try harder.

I would think that culture plays into the issue significantly.
posted by item at 4:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I notice it all the time now; his situational awareness is way, way lower than mine, all the time. Because like all women, mine has to be higher.

This is probably the most exhausting thing about being around a lot of men, for me, and one of the most buoying things about being around a lot of women. So many of my guy friends are just totally lacking in vigilance about where they're going, who they're with, how many drinks they've had, if anyone else knows where they are, how they're going to get home, how to get to the nearest exit... whereas I've had enough seriously terrifying experiences that constantly having those processes running in the back of my mind at all times is just second nature for me, and so have most of the women I've met.

I mean, for god's sakes, it's 2014 and women are still being run out of town and committing suicide after being publicly, socially, and/or legally deemed responsible for their own rapes. We know the stakes are high. We know that pretty much whatever happens to us, even if someone else does it of their own volition and we did not ever say it was OK at all, we're probably going to get blamed for letting it happen to us. We know! But a solid percentage of guys will still try to make us feel at least a *little* unreasonable because, as they insist, usually in a voice reserved for talking to children or pets, they've never experienced anything like that at all.

Whenever a dude is just like straight up, "Goddamn, that's terrible, I'm sorry you have to deal with that bullshit," instead of getting all, "But I don't do that, and no one I know does it, and I know a woman who says that it's never happened to her, so--" I breathe a sigh of relief. It just feels so good. To me, guys don't really need to do anything about harassment except believe women when we're talking about our own damn lives and make it clear to their fellow dudes that harassing women is unacceptable. You don't need to punch the street harasser's lights out or tell your friends to fuck off or anything. Just don't let instances of harassment go unremarked upon, even if you only roll your eyes and make a disapproving 'tsk' noise with your tongue, please don't just let it slide, please take us at our word. Treat us like we're just regular old boring normal default people and not dainty and delicate lady-people so prone, as fee-males are, to flights of fancy and hysteria. Harassment is real and pervasive. We're not making it up.

(If you're thinking, "So what you're saying is that we have to believe what women are saying literally 100% of the time, and you think that women have never lied and will never lie because they're so perfect and everything they say is the truth? The rush to falsely accuse men of harassment and assault will bring the world to a standstill," then all I can say is, "Yes. This has been our plan since the time of the Great Old Ones. Iä! Iä!")
posted by divined by radio at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [74 favorites]


desjardins, are you talking about When Women Refuse? Not quite the same thing, but still super super chilling.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no. Sometimes a "Good Morning" means only that.

Go back and read my entire comment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


I would think that culture plays into the issue significantly.

Unless you're talking about "male culture", then nope.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:51 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't speak Norwegian, but here's a video that I'm pretty sure is about street harassment of women in Norway.

I think it's a cultural problem in the same way that fights or other conflicts are cultural problems. Certain norms can potentially reduce or increase the number of these incidents through better education, shaming, etc, but the prevalence of the behavior across so many different cultures indicates that it's not something that we can solve completely anymore than we can eliminate all crime.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:51 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


or better or worse, being a fat woman insulates me from a lot of this,

Weirdly, I didn't find this to be the case (though being 40-something has insulated me a lot these days!) I got a lot of "positive" comments about juiciness etc. The guys who liked a little extra weight felt like it was their duty to keep my spirits up in the face of all the fat-shaming in the world.

(They didn't use the phrase fat-shaming, but basically that's what they told me when I started asked a couple of the regulars outside my work place.) On the one hand, I kind of sort of appreciate the thought? These two guys seemed sincere but incredibly, creepily concerned with my sex life. However, it happened OFTEN, and I didn't need so much "support" from strange men as they seemed to think.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like I have to preemptively follow up on my previous comment. I was thinking about it on my ride home and realized that, except for the last sentence, it could be taken in exactly the opposite way that it was intended.

Fact is, this is incredible to me, even unbelievable. I mean, to this degree. I'm suddenly realizing that I need to err on the side of caution. I'm not telling anyone she's beautiful, or that I like her hat, but that I (easily!) could have made someone feel uncomfortable after she's just run a gauntlet of these assholes just makes me sick to my stomach.

The self-pitying Reddity PUA/MRA types (jesus, even here) probably feel like their "Oh, so we can't be nice to people anymore?" is argumentum ad absurdum. Buuuut... yeah. If you're that blind to what someone thinks of you*, no, you can't.

* And if you still think it's an appropriate thing to say, you are that blind.

I'd love to see a version of this where the hidden-cameraman is a burly dude with a second Flip camera (and a backup Taser). When the woman gets harassed, they turn on the harasser for an ambush mini-interview. Sure, most would fuck the fuck off, but you might get some insight into these Neanderthals from one or two. I certainly can't imagine what's going through their head.

Or the baseball bat. That's good too.
posted by supercres at 4:53 PM on October 28, 2014


I would think that culture plays into the issue significantly.

The woman from Brussels would reluctantly agree with you.

I certainly can't imagine what's going through their head.

Hormones, of course. And the calculation that it only takes one "yes" to make the whole enterprise worthwhile.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:57 PM on October 28, 2014


this clearly isn't a (genetic?) problem with men it is a cultural problem

I don't think anyone in this thread - or, really, anywhere else - is seriously claiming that this is in any way a biological/genetic problem with men. Everyone agrees that it is a cultural problem.

But we've now heard from women about this happening all across the U.S. and (I think) Canada, and in large parts of Europe, and Cairo, Egypt, and you've acknowledged that it happens in Turkey and Japan, and probably pretty soon now the Australian/New Zealand/Asian members of MetaFilter are going to be checking in to this thread, and I'll bet money that they're going to be able to provide lots and lots of personal examples, so . . . . . .

It's a really widespread cultural problem, that clearly occurs in many cultures. And the common denominator is "men."

If Northern Europeans have somehow figured out how to have a culture where this doesn't happen, (and Llama-Lime's link above suggests that maybe they haven't), I think some 50+% of the world's population would love to know how they did it.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:58 PM on October 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oh god, I still remember my first experience with street harassment like yesterday. Just thinking about it makes me shake with humiliation and anger. I was fucking fifteen years old. I remember being so happy that day right up until the incident -- it was my first week at my first ever job, I was so excited. I had landed a cushy internship with my municipal government, and I was the youngest of all the interns! I got to work in an air-conditioned office while my other friends had to work as camp counselors in the awful humid southern summer heat! I even got to wear nice fancy office clothes!

My third day on the job, I was waiting right outside my office building -- a high-rise government building, no less, with police officers on every floor -- on a swanky street downtown, when an old, scruffy white man (so no, commenter above, this is not just a race thing) about 30 feet away calls over to me, "Good afternoon!" And naive fucking fifteen-year-old me thinks this is just southern politeness, so I kind of confusedly nod at him and look away, thinking this is the end of our interaction. Because up until this point I've had the miraculous fortune to only have interacted with good men, so obviously this guy can't be bad.

Then he calls out, "are you married?" And I get a cold sweat. Because I'm beginning to realize he either a) is too drunk to realize that I'm a fifteen year old little girl or he b) just doesn't give a shit that I'm fifteen. And then suddenly I'm literally trembling with fear because he's started quickly walking towards me and he's going to talk to me (and lurking in the back of my mind is the TERROR that he may touch me) and all I want is for him to just fucking leave me alone and I don't know what to do and where the hell are the cops that work in my office building and why can't my dad just be here to pick me up already ---

And then suddenly thank god my dad pulls up in the car and I RUN into the car and slam the door. And the kicker -- what still bothers me so much to this day -- is that I can't tell him about what just happened because I'm just so shell-shocked and filled with disbelief and even a little guilty because maybe it was my fault for being dumb enough to acknowledge the guy in the first place. So I just sit in awful, lonely quietness for the rest of the ride home, feeling confused and angry and dirty. And those feelings of isolation, hurt, anger, and yes still some shame, too, are still there today -- because that was just the first incident of countless to come, and because the good men in my life like my father will never truly know what it's like to have low-grade terror every time you walk alone outside, and because as a girl and even as a woman there's nothing you can do to stop it.
posted by krakus at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [33 favorites]


That part where the guy just walks next to her made my blood pressure go up incredibly.

It did mine, too, way more than I would have expected, until I realized that it reminded me so much of the very first time I got this kind of attention from a man on a public street. I was ten years old.
posted by rtha at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


It's a really widespread cultural problem, that clearly occurs in many cultures. And the common denominator is "men."

And machismo culture, but that's sort of just a side effect of men.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:02 PM on October 28, 2014


I'm all for ending street harrassment.

That being said... "How are you this morning?" with no follow-up response after she ignores them != street harassment.

The guy that walked about 2 inches within her personal space for four minutes should be incarcerated.
posted by prepmonkey at 5:02 PM on October 28, 2014




desjardins, are you talking about When Women Refuse? Not quite the same thing, but still super super chilling.

yep, that's what I was thinking of. I thought it was all news stories, I see it's frequently self-submitted, but yeah, horrifying.
posted by desjardins at 5:06 PM on October 28, 2014


I've been hassled, although never to this extreme--mostly in California by guys in passing cars (ah, the guy who drove up to me while masturbating...). Unfortunately, the last guy who harassed me not only made an icky comment to me on the street (I walked by very quickly, made no eye contact), but then was able to find out my identity and send an email to my work address in which he proposed a romantic evening. Needless to say, I was kinda wishing I had made eye contact, so I could run screaming at the nearest opportunity; however, the campus police made some suggestions for getting rid of him that worked. But yikes.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm all for ending street harrassment.

One great way to start is to pay attention to what women say is harrassment and to take them at their word.

For example, you culd read all the comments from women who've already explained in this very thread why sometimes "how are you this morning?" IS TOO fucking street harrassment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2014 [42 favorites]


supercres: "I'd love to see a version of this where the hidden-cameraman is a burly dude with a second Flip camera (and a backup Taser). When the woman gets harassed, they turn on the harasser for an ambush mini-interview. Sure, most would fuck the fuck off, but you might get some insight into these Neanderthals from one or two. I certainly can't imagine what's going through their head."

This Buzzfeed article from earlier this year shows a woman in Minneapolis doing exactly that -- confronting her street harassers on video -- all by herself, no (visible) taser, no burly dude.
posted by mhum at 5:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


1 good morning, sure , maybe not harassment - after the 20th? every day? sometimes followed up with less savory things? that becomes a pattern of harassment - even if he didn't mean it, even if he was just being nice, even if he says it to everyone. to the woman being bombarded, it's harassment. the motives of one singular man in the sea of men aren't really important.

or, as jessica williams from the daily show tweeted this evening, "Dear Nice Guys Who Just Want to Say Hi, The assholes ruined it for you. Police your asshole friends and then maybe we can talk in 5 years."
posted by nadawi at 5:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [63 favorites]


16 years old here, for the first time I was harassed. And grabbed. In the broad daylight, on a semi-busy street in suburban Maryland. I didn't have very much self-defense training (some gym class training, but so little and off-point it didn't count). I wasn't an in-your-face teenager. And the moment it happened I turned on creepybastardguy very fast and said, "That's it." And he evaporated; i.e., I have blocked out the moment it stopped, where he went (into the bushes?), etc.

But to watch this video, and know the outcome could go from bad to life-or-death in a heartbeat--brings on the blood-curdling rage. I just want to be safe. And I don't get to be. Ever. Not in mind, or body; nothing.

But the good news is ::::crickets:::::
posted by datawrangler at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, this is not in any way meant to hijack or make the thread all about the mens, but when I was younger I looked more androgynous. When I had long hair, I got catcalled too.

From what I can gather, it's a mix of idiocy, the kyriarchy/patriarchy, territorialism, boredom, sexism, and (this is the most charitable thing I can come up with) some of the douchier douchebros seem to think that it can't hurt to ask. Like maybe their "princess" is just waiting for them to ask. But the only thing that comes to mind for me is the hundreds of women I've heard speak up and say "Nope!"

I think possibly a related dynamic is how a lot of very attractive women I have known well enough to talk about this with have said that they mainly get asked out by the creepoids, because the creepoids seem to be the only ones who ask. The theory is that the less douchey guys are too intimidated to ask but the more douchey don't care or don't realize.
posted by kalessin at 5:19 PM on October 28, 2014


Ehh, I had a streetkid (female) yell "my friend thinks your HOT!" at me a few weeks ago. It's not the same caliber, but it's still harassment.

See, I don't think this is harassment at all. The number of times I've had women make 'hey sexy' comments is so laughably small that it really does come off as a compliment. It's the shear repetitive nature of the way men do it to women that makes it harassment. That, and how quickly it turns abusive if the women don't play the game.

And this is reiterating what others have said, but any type of engagement, even if it's saying "fuck off," is playing into their game.
posted by kanewai at 5:20 PM on October 28, 2014


#NotAllGoodMornings

Funnily enough, I'm a guy and no one ever says good morning to me if I'm walking around NYC (unless it's like 5:30am and the streets are almost empty).
posted by leopard at 5:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, no. Sometimes a "Good Morning" means only that. I wish it was more common that it meant only that but "those are all" is not true.

Good Evening.


"Not ALL men," he said, donning his fedora.
posted by shmegegge at 5:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


"vapiddave: I believe EC was referring to the "Good Mornings" in the video, all of which were indeed aggressive bullshit."

Ah, my misunderstanding. "....good morning" from a guy who's saying that but really means "I want to suck that pussy". confused me. Not that I don't believe it but sometimes I say "good morning" and just want coffee.

Thanks.
posted by vapidave at 5:22 PM on October 28, 2014


I deploy what I've been told is a genuinely frightening bitchface

I recently upgraded my regular bitchface to a homicidal bloodthirsty cannibalistic serial killer who just got audited for 5 years of back taxes bitchface and let me tell you the results have been very pleasant, especially the catcalls dying off into hesitant mumbles when I meet their eyes and they gaze into the endless depths of the fucking soul reaving void to behold their doom.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:23 PM on October 28, 2014 [63 favorites]


robably pretty soon now the Australian/New Zealand/Asian members of MetaFilter are going to be checking in to this thread

Australian member here, reporting that yes, it happens here. I have not experienced it at the frequency seen in this video, and it definitely happens more in particular areas. I used to get it all the time when I lived in a skeezier neighbourhood. Not so much now I live in a "nice" leafy green suburb and work in the "nice" part of the city.

Oh, and it first happened when I was 11. ELEVEN. I remember that first time vividly, down to what I was wearing (stripy t-shirt and almost knee length shorts) and my reaction (burst into tears, ran back to my mum, and was harassed AGAIN on the way). In those pre-internet days I didn't even know what an erection was yet, but I had just sprouted tiny little breasts and apparently that made me fair game.
posted by andraste at 5:23 PM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've not been harassed much since I essentially stopped walking anywhere, though for me it began in junior high with two college age men offering me cunnilingus while I waited for the light to change on the way home from school.

The worst HAD been when a 60-something year old man wanted my phone number when I was at an isolated bus stop with him. Recently I had one nearly as bad, when the person driving me to the fsking airport from where I had left my car (note - I'm PAYING for this) asked me about my love life, then said it was good I didn't have a bf/husband because then he might not let me go on my trip.

And meanwhile I'm like, "I want to get out of this vehicle." I had been nervous about being the only person in the van, and that interaction showed me I was right to be nervous.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have never, in my entire life, ever seen a call out to a woman actually attract the woman. Someone correct me if they've seen it happen or if it is common for these attacks (and yeah, I'll call them that) attract a positive reaction from some subset of women.

I've also seen kind people say hello to each other on the street. It is so different in tone and action that I don't think it is easily mistaken for an attack. Granted, some of these incidents might be begging for money or the like, but that too is a far cry from simply saying a gracious hello.

I'm male. I put up with 1/100th of what women have to put up with, and still on any given night I can walk down the block and get some version of someone trying to pull a scam. Last time was just 4 days ago, the last time I was out at night on the city street.

The best I can do other than not do these things myself is to try to insert myself between any woman I'm with and these types of men. I think that it is the right thing to do to try to take some weight off of our friends/wives/sisters/mothers shoulders. Usually a polite no, sorry, works. Sometimes they follow you. In those instances, you might have to say something harsher, cross the street, etc. It's all sad. There is no good response except the one that happens to work, with a runner up to the one that makes you feel better for having done something.
posted by Muddler at 5:25 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


WidgetAlley: "Sorry for those that don't have access via an academic database, but there has been good preliminary work indicating that the experience of everyday sexism is moderately correlated with PTSD, especially "recent sexist degradation"."

I am not normally subject to street harassment these days (small city where everyone knows each other; lots of driving; over 30). But I walked to pick up my older son from school right after watching this video, and my younger, pre-school-aged son was gamboling around and being charming and adorable and super-happy, and a very nice older man passed us and smiled indulgently and said to me, "I wish I had that much energy!" And I totally internally flinched because I was SO STRESSED and SO ON ALERT after watching this video that I was very anxious about a stranger speaking to me. I responded, "I know, right?" or something like that. But usually this sort of friendly interaction doesn't bother me a bit and in fact I find it one of the most charming parts of living in my neighborhood; having been "primed" by just WATCHING this harassment made me defensive and anxious.

So, reducing street harassment probably has the side benefit of making friendly discourse more possible and less likely to be misread! Friendly guys of the world will benefit!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:26 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Director is talking to people on /r/2X.
posted by postcommunism at 5:26 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've started telling my husband how many times I get harassed when I leave the house. He didn't realize how often it happens.

So for those of us who are apparently unaware of 99% of this when it occurs, how do we help make it stop? I feel like I'm not that oblivious but I actually see/hear this sort of thing maybe once a year, not once every six minutes.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:28 PM on October 28, 2014


The good news is that no-one has come in here to tell us how great NYC is?
posted by biffa at 5:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


So for those of us who are apparently unaware of 99% of this when it occurs, how do we help make it stop

When you witness a male friend or acquaintance of yours doing this to women on the street you should immediately and without hesitation give them the People's Elbow.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [37 favorites]


so many of life's problems can be solved by the immediate application of the people's elbow
posted by poffin boffin at 5:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I've been aggressively sexually harassed exactly once in my life, at a time I really didn't want to be surprised on the street by it. It freaked me out that night and it bummed me out for a couple days after. And that was just once.

I can't possibly imagine what it must be like to hear that kind of shit several times a day. My daughter is about to hit puberty and I am bracing myself for the first time she comes home describing an awful encounter like this. My other dad friends say somewhere between 9-11 for their girls is when it starts happening, even in a small suburban town. Ugh.
posted by mathowie at 5:39 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think this pattern of behavior reveals a mindset: men feel that they need to be validated by women, but they don't really respect women as people rather than as validation machines, and they are also threatened by their lack of power over women, so this all adds up to playing little power games with people on the street.

As a man I'll admit that I would be terrified of stepping in between a catcaller and a woman, but I do think that trying to police the behavior of acquaintances and friends (and self) is a feasible small positive step.
posted by leopard at 5:39 PM on October 28, 2014


The thing I hate the most about the street harassment in my life is that it made me hard. I spent the last 12 years in DC, not owning a car. Which means metro and walking mostly. Some bus, some taxi/uber. It's a lot of time where I was "available" for street harassment. And the only thing that used to piss me off more than the street harassment was when I broke-like when the dude told me to smile. And I did. It made me hard. And suspicious. Of everyone. I live in Charlotte, NC now and drive a car to work (so there's less availabilit, although it still does happen). But any stranger (and currently, most people are strangers) being nice to me gets "city face". And that sucks for me and all those strangers.
posted by atomicstone at 5:41 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: There's a tone to the voice that I think a lot of women in here have learned to pick up on, and which the men may be missing. There really is a difference between the "good morning!" from a happy-go-lucky guy who is just plain in a good mood, or the "good morning, how are you today?" from a street vendor who's trying to make a hustle - and the "....good morning" from a guy who's saying that but really means "I want to suck that pussy".

We can tell. And take it from someone who can tell, those are all "I want to suck your pussy" good-mornings.


Where's that study about the men being able to tell social cues easily in every situation except for interacting with women they're trying to flirt with, and then willfully ignoring them?

Because yea, i at least can tell this difference easily. And i'm not even neurotypical. I find it really really hard to believe that the guys who are saying "oh, so you don't want to me say hi to anyone ever?" don't understand this difference either.

this video has prompted a lot of posts in various places with that exact train of thought of offense, and it's just too hard for me to take it in good faith that these dudes aren't upset that someone is trying to take away their right to hit on or flex their power over women however they see fit.

Because yea, this isn't some mystical superpower. It's not always pepe le pew exaggerated, but it's totally easy to tell when a guy is using that pussy-sucking voice.


And plenty of good reasons have been given even if the defense is essentially "but i'm not saying it that way!" for why they should still just stop. Jeeze.
posted by emptythought at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


Had to look up the People's Elbow. Nice.
posted by kalessin at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am bracing myself for the first time she comes home describing an awful encounter like this.

I'm pretty sure I've never mentioned anything like this to my dad. Are you sure she will ever come home and describe it?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:43 PM on October 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: "So for those of us who are apparently unaware of 99% of this when it occurs, how do we help make it stop? "

I think the biggest thing you can do is denormalize street harassment and assorted other sexist/harassing behavior among your peer group of men. Be vocal in your disapproval and in how stupid the guys who engage in it are. When some dudebro at work talks about the great ass he saw on the way to work, be like, "Dude, gross, are you twelve?"

You might challenge particular men or groups of men when it seems appropriate -- you might call a construction company to complain about its workers harassing women, for example. Or, I (a woman) am pretty forward about approaching groups of teenaged boys (in places like movie theaters and malls) who are catcalling teenaged girls and telling them their behavior is unacceptable. They are embarrassed to be called out
and usually stop.

If a woman is being aggressively harassed and her body language seems very scared, you might say, "Miss, is he bothering you?" or "Hey, man, back off" or just call the police. The woman who was being harassed might or might not appreciate the assist but, to me, that's okay: When I really feel like I need to step in, that's something that's between me and my conscience, and I understand that my intervention might not be appreciated or might be misunderstood as "white knighting" or whatever, but I have to do what *I* think is right and what lets me look at myself in the mirror. It's okay if people sometimes misunderstand your actions or if you misread a social situation. Not great, but not the end of the world.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


My daughter is about to hit puberty and I am bracing myself for the first time she comes home describing an awful encounter like this. My other dad friends say somewhere between 9-11 for their girls is when it starts happening, even in a small suburban town. Ugh.

Sorry to break it to you, man, but that's probably more like the age when it starts happening so often that you finally force yourself to mention it to someone, because unless you have specifically and frequently been told otherwise from a fairly young age it is not unusual to think that it's happening because of something you yourself (as the preteen girl) did to deserve it.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:45 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I notice it all the time now; his situational awareness is way, way lower than mine, all the time. Because like all women, mine has to be higher.

I used to get really frustrated because my boyfriend would always be mentioning things on the street or around us that I hadn't seen. And I kept thinking, what am I, blind? Spaced out?

But then somehow when I was out on my own I always saw a dozen funny/weird/crazy things I needed to tell him about.

Eventually I realized that I spaced out around my boyfriend because my brain was just trying to take a goddamn break from Not Getting Us Raped all the time. I could finally just walk around thinking thoughts and being a person, instead of constantly scanning the terrain.

So now I oscillate between heightened awareness and constant rage-guilt. Thanks, Patriarchy!
posted by like_a_friend at 5:47 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I have rewritten and deleted several hundred word comments to describe my feelings on this, but each one just made me feel more angry and unable to articulate my point. So instead of long, I'll go for short:

Peggy McIntosh's invisible knapsack concept has been around since 1988, and people still don't seem to get that in any interaction, there is the possibility of an imbalance of power. Gender, race, class... all these things can be described by her model, but because people refuse to believe that they can be the antagonist in an interaction, they choose to ignore, or worse, fight the idea that they are in the wrong.

But in more than a quarter century people still haven't accepted that imbalances in privilege are the root of so many of our problems that all I can do is be angry and impotent. No amount of trying to convince others that what they are doing is hurting someone seems to have any effect.

It's enough to make me want to just burn it all down and see if we can start over better.
posted by quin at 5:47 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


The thing I hate the most about the street harassment in my life is that it made me hard.

This.

I've lived in Baltimore and NYC. While I'm sure harassment occurs all the time in my hometown in New Zealand, it's nowhere near as rampant as those places.

I remember I'd been living in the USA for about 2 or 3 years, so I would have been 28, 29ish, and my mother came to visit me in Baltimore. We were walking through the Inner Harbor and someone called to me. I spun around and my mother nearly fell over. "The look on your face!" she said. "You looked like you were about to murder someone." She also commented on how I never looked up when I was walking around outside any more. In only a couple of years, my behavior on the street had changed entirely.
posted by gaspode at 5:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


the agents of KAOS: "I'm pretty sure I've never mentioned anything like this to my dad. Are you sure she will ever come home and describe it?"

I bet she will because Mathowie will talk to her about what street harassment is and how it's not okay and he will intervene when he sees boys at school engaging in it in the bleachers at a football game and she will cringe with embarrassment but also be secretly grateful.

Also good steps men can take.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


but I don't know what I could say that wouldn't just make them angry or think that I am engaging with them.

"I think I may have Ebola."

These days when I pass someone on the street, it's generally:
-Eyes forward
-Don't make eye contact
-Shift towards one side of the sidewalk to allow quick passage
-If eye contact is inadvertently made, give a quick, slight, and brief nod and then eyes forward again
-No compliments or remarks

If I can do this while I'm stumbling home drunk, then ANYONE can, no excuses.
posted by FJT at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please let me wake up some day from the nightmare that is reality because it is too devastating and upsetting to accept.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2014


My daughter is about to hit puberty and I am bracing myself for the first time she comes home describing an awful encounter like this.

I don't know about other women, but I never told anyone about the street harassment I got. I assumed it was my fault until I was an adult, and read about women fighting back against street harassment with awareness campaigns.

I don't know a way around the "it was probably my fault" trap. Maybe pre-emptively letting her know that sometimes people she doesn't know might say/do things that make her uncomfortable, and it's not her fault, and if something happens she can always talk to you about it? I think if someone had said to me, "Men might start saying things to you that you don't understand, but you can come and talk to me about it," I might have gone to them after that first experience.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I've never mentioned anything like this to my dad. Are you sure she will ever come home and describe it?

yeah, it would never have crossed my mind to tell my dad, mostly because he would have prolly got real quiet and had that far-off nazi killing look in his eye.

in retrospect i see exactly where i get it from
posted by poffin boffin at 5:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't know that you can help "make it stop" even on an individual level (besides perhaps intervening when necessary--I will forever be grateful to the restaurant worker who came out of the business into the parking lot brandishing a spatula presumably because of what he saw on the surveilliance cam, where things had gotten bad enough I was in full-on panic mode "I don't see a way out of this that doesn't end in violence and humiliation unless a magical thing happens" and then lo), but the two things I most appreciate from men who were previously unaware of the extent of it are 1) just acknowledge what I'm saying is bad and true and express that you hate it, too, and don't change the topic of conversation to you or whatever, just believe and really let sink in what I'm saying (my husband is awesome and literally within the past season I finally had some kind of breakdown once at a bar with him and just told him everything, every bad piece of shit moment that had ever happened to me for being a woman, and he just listened and yeah) 2) I don't know how it'd shake out exactly, but there was this response to the Elliot Rodger shooting that feels promising to me in that it's more about men talking to men when possible/appropriate, not handling their reactions and attention-draining solely at the women who are telling them what it's like.
posted by ifjuly at 5:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Supercres: I'd love to see a version of this where the hidden-cameraman is a burly dude with a second Flip camera (and a backup Taser). When the woman gets harassed, they turn on the harasser for an ambush mini-interview. Sure, most would fuck the fuck off, but you might get some insight into these Neanderthals from one or two. I certainly can't imagine what's going through their head.

This woman basically did that. The entire thread was flatulence and "lol she's racist she's mostly filming black guys" too.
posted by emptythought at 5:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I grew up in an Indian city. I saw things that grossed me out regularly growing up.. street harassment everywhere.. against women of practically every age. I always reasoned that men from a sexually repressed culture are bound to be acting like disgusting animals and blamed the culture more than the men themselves. I am grown up enough to realize that it's just us. I've never talked to women I didn't know in my life but now I have serious doubts that I didn't make some poor woman uncomfortable just by being a man.

I love sharing the story of this heroic woman in Hyderabad some 15 years ago. I was watching this scene from a packed city bus. Though there are separate entrances for women on our city buses, this ~50 yr old man uses the women's entrance to get in.. while groping a young lady. Most victims of this perp probably suffered through that indignity in the past. But this lady turns around, takes off her sandal and slaps him with it non-stop. It was amazing to see no words exchanged and everyone around her knew exactly what went down. Other people joined in meting out some street justice. I am in awe of that woman to this day.
posted by savitarka at 5:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


oh and lest I forget... as a young twenty something girl who very much resembled a twelve year old boy whilst living and traveling around Western Europe in the early 90s, the continual harassment and propositions I got then came almost exclusively from wealthy white men in their late fifties through seventies. which always made me feel extra special gross like maybe they were SO closeted they thought my aggressively androgynous persona was a desirable trait and not the weapon with which I chose to fight such battles at the time. just, ew.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:58 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


takes off her sandal and slaps him with it non-stop

viva la chancla
posted by poffin boffin at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


Like the other women in this thread, I had this start happening when I was about 10 or 11, and developed the hints of boob. Currently, I'm a couple of days away from my 50th birthday, and that shit still happens.

It never happens if I'm with my husband, or another man. It happens when I'm alone, it happens with other girls, It happens when I'm walking with my young son. We were on the train the other evening, coming back from the opera and a rainstorm, so I'm drenched, my makeup is running, my hair is in wet straggles down my back, I'm in stupid shoes, and Boy was in a fez and a morning coat, and some dude sat next to me, in an empty train, and started doing that "hey baby, how YOU doin'?" nonsense. I had to stop my 11 year old from getting up. We moved seats, he followed. We got off at the next station where I saw a cop, and waited 15 minutes for the next train, because I couldn't take the chance that this guy would knife my son or something if Boy interfered with whatever the creeper had in mind. (The cop called transit authorities, so there was a cop on the train we took, and she walked us to our car at the final stop, so at least the authorities are more likely to help down here.)

My bestie has booked a downtown hotel for a bday celebration, and we're having dinner at an award winning restaurant about 2 blocks away. She said "Oh, it's really close, we'll walk"...and I said "Oh honey, you don't walk in downtown Dallas at night when female. Ever. Anywhere. The hotel will have a car service, because they don't want their clientele to experience the Dallas streets."
posted by dejah420 at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


Recently I had one nearly as bad, when the person driving me to the fsking airport from where I had left my car (note - I'm PAYING for this) asked me about my love life, then said it was good I didn't have a bf/husband because then he might not let me go on my trip.

And meanwhile I'm like, "I want to get out of this vehicle." I had been nervous about being the only person in the van, and that interaction showed me I was right to be nervous.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:24 PM on October 28


As much as public transit can be a nightmare getting trapped alone in a cab or car service with somebody like that is a thousand times worse. Ask me how I know.

What made my situation worse was that the cabbie was dropping me off at home, so he knew where I lived. And even if I had gotten out of the cab at a different spot, I had given him my address before we dropped off my colleagues and way before he ramped up the creepy to the point where me saying I had an alarm system/a big dog/a scary live-in boyfriend (when I had none of those things) seemed to deter him from his insistence that he had a right to accompany me home

And that was just one of my cab encounters. I've also been proposed to in a cab. The stupid thing is I don't even take cabs that often. It's just whenever I do, bad/scary/strange things happen. I must have bad cab karma.
posted by sardonyx at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm just appalled at how much worse things seem to have become in the couple of decades since i was of the age to be prime street harassment fodder. I lived in nyc for 6 years 25 years ago, walked all over creation, and for the most part was left in peace. Albany, NY was an utterly different story, though; lot of underemployed men lurking on the streets during the day. The harassment there was epic for every woman i knew. I moved to boston in 1996 and the harassment pretty much stopped for good with a few notable exceptions.

As i was recalling incidents, though, i realized that my worst time was BEFORE i hit puberty: the (male) neighborhood bully could not let my presence on the street go without some negative comment on my appearance. So for me the hypervigilance started long before i even got my period.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:06 PM on October 28, 2014


Not that I don't believe it but sometimes I say "good morning" and just want coffee.

I find it endlessly fasicnating that I've asked you to read my comment twice in an effort to get you to recognize this, and yet you still seem to have completely overlooked the parts of my comment in which I flat-out acknowledge that there are ways to say "good morning" that are not harrassment, and you are zeroing in only on the one sentence where I discuss the instances that are, and you are projecting that one sentence out onto yourself as if it were the only thing I said.

What exactly is it about that one section, and your need to disassociate yourself from it, which is so strong that it caused you to overlook the very part of my comment in which I've already said "but sometimes guys just want coffee"? Guilt? Fear? Unconscious lasciviousness because I used the word "pussy"? Really, I'd sincerely like to know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [29 favorites]


Cultures are different and some are worse than others. I've known a lot of women who have traveled extensively and they complained much more about being accosted in Italy than in England. Make of this what you will.

An English person talk to a stranger? they'd take your passport away!

More seriously: while I'm sure street harassment happens in the UK and Canada, the culture in both is much more reserved than the US (especially in Toronto - we're more reserved than the English). I'm female, lived in Canada, the US, and the UK, and it was only in the US that people would speak to me on the street. That said - it never was harassing, even in the US (usually friendly women). Sometimes I feel like I'm the one woman on the planet who has never been street harassed. Maybe I'm completely oblivious (I'm pretty obvious), or I've forgotten or something. Once a guy gave me a sticker that said "Smile!" but I was happy to get a sticker.

I've tried to be more aware - and the other day I noticed a man harassing a woman walking by. So (being a big busy body) I went over to tell him off, only to have the strangest response: "Go back to Arizona!"

I've never been to Arizona.
posted by jb at 6:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]



So I should stop staying hello to strangers then. Understood.

Strangers walking to work/home/wherever in an urban environment? Absolutely! Do not talk to them, unless they are on fire and you need to let them know, or you are and are looking for help.


Personally, I would feel pretty weird and alien if I followed this advice in my city (Oakland). I certainly don't seek out conversations with random people but I don't avoid it, either. I've lived in some shady areas around here, and for me being a totally standoffish female while navigating on foot felt much riskier than acting like I was meant to be exactly where I was and not worried about talking to people in the neighborhood, if that makes any sense.

YMMV, of course. It all depends on what feels right, but I don't think "do not talk to strangers in an urban environment" works for everyone in every situation.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


As a young woman: It's cool if you say "Hello" or "Good morning" or even "Nice hair/smile" to me on the street after we have checked the normal human interaction boxes of 1. Mutual eye contact (held, not me quickly looking away) followed by 2. Me smiling at you and you smiling back. If she doesn't look you in the eye and smile at you, don't talk to her.
posted by amaire at 6:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


There are no hard and fast rules, no, but women know the difference between a "good morning" that's polite and a "good morning" that's harassment. Trust us. We know.

Usually if we're the only two people on a street and we make eye contact and you say hello: Probably cool. If I don't make eye contact with you but you insist on saying hello anyway: Pretty much not cool.

You call after me to tell me "cool shades!" after I've passed by you: Probably cool. You start following me to tell me the same: Not cool. (Always not cool: Saying anything about my body.)

As for the discussion of that most of the people saying "good morning" are panhandling -- maybe not always, but I would say usually panhandlers cut to the chase. They ask for change first.

I am sure there is someone who has a story about how a chance encounter with someone on the street led to marriage or whatever, but I assume that's pretty rare. This is about power. This is about thinking women are available just for existing in public.
posted by darksong at 6:20 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


[inflammatory comment about beautiful women having power and the patriarchy being a myth deleted, please reload before responding to a long deleted comment.]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:21 PM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


Sardonyx: The stupid thing is I don't even take cabs that often. It's just whenever I do, bad/scary/strange things happen. I must have bad cab karma.

A TON of women i know have horrible cab stories. This came up a lot in the threads about uber/lyft, as one of the main reasons people saw it as a positive thing.

It's the entire spectrum, from mild harassment to turning off the meter and driving out in to the middle of nowhere and stopping, like straight up serial killer shit. Every time someone posts about an experience like that on facebutt, the comments section FILLS with yet more people who are friends-of-friends telling similar stories of horrible harassment and shit.

And of course, that discussion often falls off the rails too when it gets hit with a cruise missile of "omg u r racist!" because most cab drivers here are african or southeast asian immigrants.

Cabs scare the shit out of me as a guy. It's one of the only places i actually feel unsafe as a tall dude with a beard who often feels like i'm the one making people feel awkard or unsettled in some situations.

And yet even then, when a lot of the guys can usually agree with that, when a woman brings up her horrible cab experience there's always some dude to discount it. I don't even know if i can think of an instance of a woman talking about a shitty harassment experience when there wasn't a dude there burning rubber to set the record straight.

As a random example though, an acquaintance of mine runs a tattoo shop above my office. She basically always takes a cab home because it's weird hours and i mean, if i had that much in tips at the end of the day and it was a $5 cab ride i would too, even ignoring the avoiding walking on the street upside.

For a week, every cab driver she got would shut the meter off and try and proposition her or overcharge her and do some weird manipulative shit. Every. Single. Time. Like 7 times in a row before she just quit using yellow cab altogether and started using lyft or something.

And even that account of ridiculousness got some stupid victim blaming and minimizing replies.
posted by emptythought at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've actually ever told anyone this, but here it is.

My first experience with street harassment was probably the worst. I was sitting in a parked car in a CVS parking lot, in the middle of the day, while my mom ran in to get something. It was in a busy part of town. There were people everywhere. A big red truck pulled up alongside the car where I was sitting, one empty space away. The driver opened up the door and he wasn't wearing pants. He had his dick in his hand and was masturbating while staring directly at me. I had no idea what was going on at first-- I had never seen a penis before, I don't think, and definitely not an erect one, and certainly not, like, someone interacting with one. By the time I worked out what was going on I had instinctively snapped my head around and down and was staring at the floorboards, waiting for my mom to come back. The truck drove off before she came out-- I'm not sure why. I don't think anyone interceded. Certainly no one said anything or yelled at him.

I am the fiercest, most educated feminist you will ever meet, and some part of me still thinks it's my fault for how I reacted. I'm still ashamed that I didn't do anything. I've never told anyone because I can't let go of the belief that somehow this reflects poorly on me. I don't feel responsible for what happened, but I feel responsible for how I reacted-- by freezing up, by turning away. It's part of why I yell back at harassers now. Because I didn't then. I'm still proving myself to myself. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to me, although not the last; it was the first time I'd ever seen a man's genitals, and I had already absorbed the message that I couldn't tell anyone because they would ask me why I didn't do anything.

I was ten years old.
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:33 PM on October 28, 2014 [44 favorites]


I live in a college town in NC, and when I walk around by myself, I pretty much always wear headphones so I can ignore both the the, "Hey Baby, how you doin? Why don't you smile, ooh girl, look at that, don't you want to talk to me?" and the dudes who think it's cool to yell/bark at me from the open windows of their cars when they pass me at crosswalks. I am a thirty-eight year old woman, a good ways from "conventionally attractive." I don't dress provocatively.
posted by thivaia at 6:38 PM on October 28, 2014


Thanks for your post emptythought. I've never had anybody say to me, "it's not you, all sorts of people have weird cab experiences." Instead they always look at me like I've got two heads.

I was much younger when the experience I wrote about happened, and of course I did nothing. These days I'd be on the phone to the cab company, calling the taxi commission (or whoever was in charge) and if possible recording the incident before turning it into a media blitz. In other words, I wouldn't let it go and I'd fight back with every means possible.

Of course in that type of situation I'd have a path of recourse. I didn't have that this summer when those young yahoos drove by in the car and offered up some derogatory (I think, I couldn't quite make out what they were saying) comments when I was walking with my brother (yes I was with a guy) one evening in my home town. The best I could do was shout back.
posted by sardonyx at 6:43 PM on October 28, 2014


Pretty fucked up that the kind of harassment in that video is wrapped inside of a cute term like "catcall." Disgusting. Like calling assault a "puppy nip" or something.
posted by ignignokt at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I went to a large, open park in a major southern city when I was 16. It was very common for people to sunbathe in swimsuits, have picnics and throw Frisbee. I put down a towel and laid down in my one piece swimsuit. A couple of minutes later, I noticed a large, black male pick up a bench and walk past and then behind me. I could feel him a few yards back but kept telling myself I was imagining it and that it would be rude to turn around. Then the comments started. In a whisper just loud enough for only me to hear, he started saying what he wanted to do to me.

I froze. I was terrified. After the second or third time, I got up and grabbed my towel and my things and looked around for someone I could walk toward for safety. When I did reach a group of people and told them what happened, they said nothing and looked at me like I had two heads.

I got back in my car and left, still shaking and scared.
posted by harrietthespy at 6:56 PM on October 28, 2014


I started getting unwanted comments around 4th grade while out walking my dog. 4th grade! At the same time my male classmates were telling me that I was a "carpenters dream"...flat as a board.

Couldn't tell you much more about my 4th grade year but the sexual comments are ingrained in stone.
posted by futz at 6:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's something else that sucks: Walking with men doesn't always prevent street harassment.

A few years ago, I was walking in downtown Raleigh NC with my husband and three male friends - one of them a very tall, robust guy. A guy still leered at me and tried to grab my breast as we walked by him.

I knew from the moment I saw him that he was a creep who I wanted to avoid, but I did not anticipate that he would go for my boob when I was walking with four men.

(I yelled at the guy. My husband and two of our friends were agape with shock. Our other friend kind of rolled his eyes, like I was making a scene. Sigh.)
posted by Coatlicue at 6:58 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure this belongs here, but I just thought of it:

I've got a ton of meeting-celebrity stories, and will insufferably one-up people during star-fucking conversations (dated a starlet in college? Yep! Had a beer with Peter Dinklage while The Station Agent was in theaters? You betcha! I could go on and on but I swear I won't right now) but perhaps the most minor one is the one that sticks in my mind the most.

It would have been late 2001 or early 2002, when I was living at a dorm in Sutton Place, and I was walking out late at night to pick up some beer or something, and the street was pretty empty, and I saw, walking towards me, Carrie-Anne Moss. I met her eyes probably 2o yards before we crossed each other in the street, and when we got near, I saw that she was on her cell phone, and merely made eye contact, smiled, and nodded. And she mouthed an unmistakable "thank you."

The volumes read on her face were clear, though, and they said, "thank you for not turning my daily business into an opportunity for an autograph or worse, thank you for not interrupting my phone call, thank you for recognizing that I'm a person more than I am Trinity."

God knows what she normally had to deal with, especially around them days.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:03 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ugh as others have mentioned the youtube comments somehow manage to be 100x more offensive than the original offensive video. Nothing is more maddening then when someone says "Why are you so offended" "He was just trying to say good morning" "What, I can't even say Hello?" "It's a compliment, relax" "I'm just trying to be nice" etc etc vomit

I really think that the kinds of men who says these things are not all the same: some are misogynistic jerks, others are clueless, and there is a spectrum in between. I really like the linked "one dollar' comment. With some of the clueless types, I have been trying something similar recently.

These guys in their mind are always imagining some cute girl they are interested in saying "Hello" "You look nice" etc. I ask them to imagine the more similar comparison: a 6'4" 280 lb. male saying this to you. Saying this to you while looking at your crotch are staring creepily. Sometimes they then start to understand with that scenario.
posted by seesom at 7:08 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Apparently wearing headphones isn't a sign that you don't want to talk to someone, it's an active insult that you don't want to talk to them. Like, how dare you! you don't even know me yet! you don't even know what i want to say! and you're just preemptively dismissing me? fuck you bitch! sort of thing."

I'm lucky. I rarely get harassed on the street--maybe it's because I spend most of my time in the burbs and I do NOT walk down the street alone in a city if I can at all help it. But I am straight up scared of old homeless men. I will never give them money, I don't care how poor and starving they are. I know my heart should be bleeding for them and I should want to help, but I've literally been physically grabbed on the street by them in broad daylight, such as the guy who got annoyed that I had my headphones on and was ignoring him and how dare I do that! I guess I should have just rolled over and spread 'em? And why did they go after me? I was female and alone, of course.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:09 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Reading through this thread has given me time to mentally travel to all the places I've ever lived or visited for more than a week.

It started when I was eight. It's happened anywhere I've dared to walk alone or with only another woman for company. Small towns, big cities. Paris was bad. LA was bad at first but I learned which routes I could use to avoid the worst of it. Baltimore probably should have been bad but I was only there for two days and engaged every single guy who catcalled me in a ditzy tourist routine that somehow deflected their baser intents and distracted them long enough for me to walk off. London I was catcalled from cars less than five minute after arriving, kissed by a Welshman who stumbled out of a bar and grabbed me, and a friend I was walking with had another drunk stick his finger on her back and yell "put your hands up!" then walked away sniveling when she whirled around and stomped on his foot.

I tried to make a list of places where it never happened. Norway. The night I spent wandering all over Bergen at night without being afraid remains one of my happiest memories.

I thought for a minute that it hadn't happened on the little island in Greece where I lived, until I remembered the old man who cornered me on a lookout one afternoon and hugged and kissed me repeatedly before I managed to get away. A few days later he exposed himself at me as I darted into a school courtyard. At the time I figured he was senile and reported it to the school director so he could help him get home, but now I am kind of breathless that I wrote that incident off so lightly. It resulted in me not leaving the school without an escort for the entire rest of my time there. But I corrected for it without thinking. When I brought my ex-husband to the island he bitched about how fast I walked everywhere and until I read this thread I honestly never considered it a defense mechanism.

I would never wear earphones while walking alone. I have to be able to hear who is walking up behind me.

The other place it's never happened to me is the small town where I now live. That would be because I've never once walked anywhere here.
posted by annathea at 7:13 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


Man, when I didn't have time to post this comment before I walked out the door at 530 I thought for sure oh well, it'll have moved on. I can't believe we're still on this to any extent.

What confuses me (and I am a lady) is why dudes who just said "good morning" as she walked by were also included in this video as harassers?

Even putting aside what TWF points out and EC's elaboration that there's a whole lot going on in tone, the reason it's harassment is because of all the other awful worse shit. That un-asked-for interaction doesn't get to live in a vacuum - it's part of a crappy background radiation. It's the same way that I, as a non-rapist, am a possible threat to a woman walking down the same empty street as me. If I keep pace with her as we both head to the same place, rather than allowing one of us to change pace/direction and create some distance, am I doing something that is intrinsically bad? No - I'm just going about my shit.

But as Mulaney points out in this very amusing story, people rape each other, kind of a lot. So when random bozos endeavor to interact with someone who is doing nothing to encourage interaction they are piling on with the problem even if what they are doing isn't the problem per se.

It sucks that the shitholes devalue human interaction for all of us, but there you go. But honestly, this is not complicated. Maybe it's just the limitations on text, because clearly people actually do understand it:

I certainly don't seek out conversations with random people but I don't avoid it, either.
...
YMMV, of course. It all depends on what feels right, but I don't think "do not talk to strangers in an urban environment" works for everyone in every situation.


The fact that you have the first part in there is all the difference. The random good morning (only to the women)(who clearly aren't out to interact with you) IS the seeking out of conversations. With people who don't want them.
posted by phearlez at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


hey guys (infact specifically guys)
this is why you need to act like a feminist
seriously what is up with us
we are guys and that means

no one would walk up and creep on us
for like ten minutes
while we got increasingly freaked out
unless they were ABOUT TO ROB US
which basically no one is
so they don’t
so this is not a thing that i ever worry about

so what makes it okay
to make this country which i love
a place where literally
half of everybody
has to spend their energy wondering
whether they’re about to get mesed up
for not paying some rando enough attention
instead of curing cancer or making killer video games

as long as my freedom is contingent
on things outside of my control
i am not free
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:36 PM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


So as a guy who wants to play a more active part in stopping this, though, I'm kind of at a loss. For one thing, as has been brought up here, I don't and won't be seeing most of it, and probably block out a lot of what I do see and hear unconsciously, though I am trying to be more mindful of that.

I'm white, so when it's white dudes doing this, I know the culture and what to expect from them, to an extent. Unfortunately, what I can expect is them redirecting their macho dude-bro bullshit onto me, and middle school taught me to pick my battles very carefully when dealing with that. I am in no way any more physically imposing than any but the slightest of women, and have regularly recurring panic attacks. I have, on occasion. stood up for my female friends in these situations, but it's fucking weird and awkward and terrifying.

When it's women I don't know, however, I have no idea when to intrude, and when the man who may or may not be harassing is African-American, I'm even more lost. On the subway, I'll encounter what seems like a clear-cut situation every once in a while, and I'll try to do what Guitar-dude did in amanda's story up above, getting close enough to attempt to communicate that I'm watching in case shit gets rough, but letting her handle it the way she chooses to. I feel like that's not enough, but I don't want to intrude.

And then there's the old man who hangs out in front of my building. Also an African-American guy, in a Afro-Carribbean neighborhood (Crown Heights) who might be homeless or might just live in one of the buildings nearby. Sometimes I say "hi" when I see him, and he'll give a gruff nod or maybe a hello in response. He only talks to the women, though, in my experience. More specifically, he chats up the young white women in my newly-refurbished, predominantly white building in this gentrifying predominantly black neighborhood. When this happens, I try to do a version of my subway tactic, i.e. attempting to telepathically ask the women involved if I need to step in and hoping they'll telepathically respond. For all I know he's the sweetest, most harmless man in the world. His interactions have never seemed leering, and he himself appears far from predatory. To me, at least. But how do I call him out? Should I even? By appearances he's an old man living out his final chapter talking to young women, but being respectful. I have no idea if they find him threatening. In other words: who the fuck am I to tell this guy he's being inappropriate when I'm not even sure he is?

And the thing is, it feels to me like a great neighborhood, overall. I don't see almost any threatening behavior, and even the teenagers are cool in an inspiring sort of way (smart and engaged skater-types, mostly.) I'm fully aware that I'm a tourist in a neighborhood culture that isn't mine, living where I am because the rent was right and the subway is nearby.

So what should I do?
posted by Navelgazer at 7:43 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was getting flowers to put on the table (/inadvertently feed to my kitties) this evening at the grocery store and got followed by an older guy - "Who are those flowers for?" "Me," I said, looking down and walking away from him. "Hey, baby, if you were my girl, I'd buy you flowers every night! Your man won't buy you flowers?" I walked away from him. "Aw, why you gotta be like that?" Turned to the guy next to him. "Fucking bitches."

There's a bus driver whose bus I won't get on anymore because I can only teeth-smile so many times while he calls me princess and does the eye sweep. A cab driver told me it was too bad I wasn't lesbian; it'd be fun to watch. I'm sure you're a nice man, Very Chatty Bus Stop Guy, but let me sit and play 2048 without answering any questions about my life. A guy sat facing me on the El and masturbated to completion under his poncho while I stared fixedly out the window. No, men in the red truck, I do not want to fuck either of you. I am not here to smile for you. I am not here to be decoration for your walk to work. I don't care if you think I am beautiful or a pretty lady or a stuck up bitch. Just please leave me alone!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


Outside I wear a face that I think of as Aggrieved Duchess (lift a corner of my upper lip with the rest of my face completely immobile) and walk like I just beat up John Wayne. It works fairly well - I get the bro nod from random men as a general rule and if one of them is dumb enough to speak to me suggestively I shout at them like they were misbehaving dogs until they go away.

But I would never recommend someone else do that, because there's always the chance that I'll encounter the wrong crazy jerk and get the shit kicked out of me or worse. It's not that I'm brave - it's that I'm more angry in the moment than afraid.

Inside I don't do the face as much and get dudes trying to talk to me everywhere I go. I have no idea why - I'm the size of a water buffalo with a face to match and am usually schlepping around in yoga pants and a battered tshirt. No one could possibly find me attractive. It's utterly impossible. But nonetheless if I'm not making a face like an inbred aristo sneering down at the canaille from her tumbril, I'm continually fending off 'friendly' conversation starters.

Sexual harassment is not about getting laid. It's about putting women in their place as objects.
posted by winna at 7:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [17 favorites]




I'm sure you're a nice man, Very Chatty Bus Stop Guy, but let me sit and play 2048 without answering any questions about my life.

I am so personally devoted to not intruding into people's lives that I, in that situation, would not even talk to you to tell you that you seriously should be playing Threes instead. I would totally want to though. OMG it's so much better.
posted by phearlez at 8:21 PM on October 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Woman in 'catcall' video getting rape threats online

Breaking: Lewis' Law emended; "article" now "media."
posted by tzikeh at 8:32 PM on October 28, 2014


But how do I call him out? Should I even? By appearances he's an old man living out his final chapter talking to young women, but being respectful. I have no idea if they find him threatening.

Have you considered, y'know, asking them?

Not, like, while it's happening, but if you see someone who lives in your building while you're getting your mail or something, maybe asking them, "by the way, y'know that guy who hangs out on the corner? Does he ever creep you out? Should we start a neighborhood watch or something, or is it cool?" And then take her word for it.

Sometimes the best way to help us is to involve us.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


Do the women look creeped out when he talks to them? Are they trying to avoid him? Or do they talk to him like they would any other woman and aren't fazed? Also yeah, ask.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am in no way any more physically imposing than any but the slightest of women, and have regularly recurring panic attacks. I have, on occasion. stood up for my female friends in these situations, but it's fucking weird and awkward and terrifying.

Yeah, I've had to "break the line of sight" a few times. Once, violently. (Someone who was drunk took a swing at one of my friends. It didn't connect, but that really wasn't the point after that...)

But there's this really weird "what the fuck are you thinking...?" moment.
posted by Cyrano at 8:45 PM on October 28, 2014


Have you considered, y'know, asking them?

I haven't, really, because I don't know the women myself and am worried about coming off as a creeper myself, but I'll try in the future. (I get worried enough when I'm walking home behind a woman, knowing that I'm probably putting her on edge just by coming home at night, such is the baseline level of spider-sense she has to be operating at in order to be safe.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:47 PM on October 28, 2014


I want to see a video where a man uses these exact lines on other men while being secretly filmed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:47 PM on October 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


I've had the "stranger hovering at your side for an unnaturally long period of time" experience. It was quite similar to the one in the video, except I was walking and the dude was in a pickup truck, had pulled up very close to the sidewalk and was driving extremely slowly. (I was working a 3-11 shift then; it was a Sunday night in my small New England city, and the street was empty.)

He kept talking to me and I kept not answering him until, finally, he asked: "What, you have a man at home?" "Yes, I have a man at home," I lied. Whereupon he rolled up his window, sped up and took off. Thank God he handed me my exit line.
posted by virago at 8:52 PM on October 28, 2014


Yeah, I've had to "break the line of sight" a few times. Once, violently. (Someone who was drunk took a swing at one of my friends. It didn't connect, but that really wasn't the point after that...)

The time I'm really remembering was when I was in an Italian dance club when I was 20, and two of my female friends were there, and there was a pack of about seven guys who would just close in on either one of them if she were alone, and so I just kept going back and forth between dancing with the two of them, which would scatter the wolfpack to the other one, until it finally came to a head and they asked me to come outside, which I was drunk enough to do.

Any one of these guys could have taken me, and Rachel, who spoke Italian, was trying to calm the situation down, but I know I took the first and only swing at one of them, right at his nose, and there was a huge WOAH! moment, and from that point on the guys were just sitting with us at the bar and chatting and buying all of our drinks. Later that night Rachel and Julie and I walked out to the beach and I swam naked into the adriadic sea to watch the sunrise.

Probably not how that usually goes down.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


If a woman is being aggressively harassed and her body language seems very scared, you might say, "Miss, is he bothering you?" or "Hey, man, back off" or just call the police.

My go-to is a low-key "Hey, everything ok?", either to the both of them or separately to the woman. It's nonthreatening and doesn't escalate but lets people know someone is paying attention and puts the ball back in her court to either take the cue or blow me off for misreading the situation. (I've only called the police for people hitting each other, I've never been present for a harassing incident that seemed like it needed that and where there was the time to call.)
posted by Dip Flash at 9:01 PM on October 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


My daughter is about to hit puberty and I am bracing myself for the first time she comes home describing an awful encounter like this.

I don't know about other women, but I never told anyone about the street harassment I got. I assumed it was my fault until I was an adult, and read about women fighting back against street harassment with awareness campaigns.

I don't know a way around the "it was probably my fault" trap. Maybe pre-emptively letting her know that sometimes people she doesn't know might say/do things that make her uncomfortable, and it's not her fault, and if something happens she can always talk to you about it? I think if someone had said to me, "Men might start saying things to you that you don't understand, but you can come and talk to me about it," I might have gone to them after that first experience.


... so, I'll probably put this question more specifically in an AskMe, but for those of us with young daughters, how can we best prepare them for this sort of harassment. ... or should we live in denial and happiness for as long as possible?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:03 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is the mark of a decaying and dying paradigm and the fear that these men feel - it can be argued to be fear - is that they are powerless to get the attention they crave (their craving is their own fault), and that secretly they are inadequate because of the lack of this attention.

Every individual wants to be seen as desirable to those they want attention from, and what happens is when these men are ignored (either not noticed, or noticed and passed over), they feel slighted, thus resort to intimidation to get the attention they want.

All of this is cultural, but it has to do with how, we as the White Patriarch, have raised men to believe what the definition of masculinity is - the recognition from women of our power. I struggled, and struggled, and struggled with this for years (fortunately, most of that struggle has been alone in my parents basement so other people weren't subjugated to the toxic byproduct of that struggle), and when I realized that my masculinity is the piece of my sexuality that no lover can take from me, no bitch on the street can tarnish, no bro can cock-block, then I knew peace.

These are individuals who are not at peace with themselves, and for them, self-awareness is the only medication that will work. Clearly they aren't interested in the years of introspection that I did to find the answer to my masculinity, so other people are going to have to help them along with that self awareness.

The link earlier to the woman handing out Cards Against Harassment is potent. It's so, so scary to confront your accusers, but I believe that she has the most productive method of ending this. Confront them. What to say is individual to the situation, the harassed, and the person harassing, but something along the lines of "You think that it makes you powerful to belittle women?" will smack their ego where it really counts, and I hope that makes them sit down.

The answer of "Study a martial art" isn't for everyone. but it does give you a set of tools for if they escalate conflct. Carry pepperspray. Practice parkour if martial arts isn't for you, so at least you have a different way of viewing the terrain you come across and can traverse it easier than the person chasing you (this is a discipline where even two or three classes will dramatically alter your perception of the terrain you walk through daily, and that's really what matters. When your accuser watches you go over a rail and down a drop they think they can't make without injury, you have escaped).

But this won't end until everyone - of both biological genders - actually confronts it with assertion and without aggression, in the present, when it happens.

I know that for me, I'll start paying more attention to body language and when girls are getting attention they don't want on the bus, I'm gonna call the stupid motherfucker on it. "Yo man, you think it's your god given right to bother someone, even if they have headphones in, because they had the pleasure of being born with two X chromosomes?"
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 9:21 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please don't tell women, many of whom have been living with harassment since before puberty, what we should do about being harassed.
posted by winna at 9:24 PM on October 28, 2014 [50 favorites]


... so, I'll probably put this question more specifically in an AskMe, but for those of us with young daughters, how can we best prepare them for this sort of harassment. ... or should we live in denial and happiness for as long as possible?

mrgrimm, if you are a man, then talk to her mother and let her guide you in what needs to be learned. What I would have appreciated as a young girl was honesty. Nobody told me that men doing this stuff was on them, not me. Or that they did it to all girls. Nobody told me that it wasn't about sex, but power. I was told various things about how to protect myself, but not why I was a target. It was very confusing and frightening to have an enemy that seemed not to operate on any logic I could grasp.

Teach her assertiveness, and the value of not being polite, not being accomdating, that it's ok to be angry and be loud and refuse to be helpful.

Denial and happiness won't help her, you are going to have to have this talk with her, much as you hate to. Otherwise she is not going to have any language or tools for how to deal with it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:30 PM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm fat and over thirty and I walk superfast and with a resting bitchface. I very frequently get catcalls and harrassment like "big girl, damn you walk fast" or "hey juicy!" or kissy noises or, the classiest (though mercifully this was just once), "lemme fuck those titties!"

I think I commented about this somewhere else but, PSA for the ladies: Boston's South Station is the WORST. I experience groping and harrasment there almost every time, especially if waiting for a train or bus. And sometimes it's by the cops/security guys! I no longer feel safe or comfortable passing through there after the evening rush hour. (And avoid the supernarrow escalator from the T to the station--you'll get trapped there by guys coming up behind you and not be able to get away from them by passing the person standing in front of you and it sucks).
posted by TwoStride at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2014


This was an eye opener for me. As a guy, I had NO IDEA it was truly this bad. Every one of those guys who commented or walked next to her needs their face smashed in.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:42 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Widget Alley: Ha, can't believe I said "people". Like it's ever been a woman.

Oh, it is sometimes. I still remember the random woman who walked up to me at a tram stop and informed me I was too ugly (or was it fat?) to get a boyfriend. The girls shouting out the car window at me as they drove past, calling me fat bitch or something along those lines. The woman who walked up to me at my workplace, eyed me up and down like the creepiest creeper ever and said, "The girls here are just so pretty". That was actually one of the worst because it was just so unexpected.

I could write you an essay or several about the problems posed by being a woman who wants to express desire for other women. Saying something non-sleazy is just one woman saying something nice to another woman. Being sleazy is, well, being sleazy. And yet there's that pressure for queer women too, that this is how you act if you're interested in women: like a guy. I've witnessed some truly horrifying behaviour from other queer women out on the scene.

None of this means I don't have my share of horror stories from guys. The guy who walked alongside me for a couple of blocks before offering me money if I would just let him look at my unclothed breasts. The guy who thought he should educate me about not wearing necklaces because they would just encourage guys (like him) to look at my breasts. Etc. Etc. I'm not trying to say it's not a thing, because it is and overall I have been harassed far more by men than women. But it does happen.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:54 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


and what happens is when these men are ignored (either not noticed, or noticed and passed over), they feel slighted, thus resort to intimidation to get the attention they want.

Uh, yeah, the problem with your theoretical analysis of how the harassment dynamic operates is . . . well, watch the video.

Look at how quickly the men comment - they see her, they say something. They don't have time to notice her not noticing them. They're not RE-acting to anything she's done, except be female in public. They don't feel slighted. They feel entitled.

These are individuals who are not at peace with themselves, and for them, self-awareness is the only medication that will work.

Medication that will work for what? The goal is not to make these dudes better people, it's to reduce public harassment of women. This can also be accomplished (while these guys are working on their self-awareness) by making it culturally & socially less acceptable, much as the N-word is much less culturally acceptable than it used to be, even if we didn't stamp out racism.

I'll start paying more attention to body language and when girls are getting attention they don't want on the bus, I'm gonna call the stupid motherfucker on it. "Yo man, you think it's your god given right to bother someone, even if they have headphones in, because they had the pleasure of being born with two X chromosomes?"

In all seriousness, good, go for it. But you don't have to be quite so verbose. Dip Flash's "Hey, everything OK?" line from above works pretty well, IME & IMO, and for the reasons he lays out.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


Probably not how that usually goes down.

Disclaimer: in no way should this be construed as this being me trying to sound like a badass. Because I'm a noodley-armed skinny dude.

Mine: He takes the swing, she moves behind me. Then his eyes lock on her. Not me. We're in a driveway. You'll never get a hand on me in a driveway. I'll just get the hell out of your way. Plenty of room to move. But then his eyes lock, and he takes a step towards her.

Not me.

I'm sober. He's not. I call for help. I don't have it. It's now, literally, life or death. He can't get to her. He has to go down.

I drop my shoulders in to look submissive, wait for his next couple steps so he's close... and pretty much amubsh him. He never had a chance. Never got close to getting a hand on me.

(again, not a badass... kinda lucky at this point, really, he didn't know what I did. That he wasn't getting to her.)

I remember ever second of it perfectly. His eyes still haunt me nightly. The only part I'm unlcear about, is when I went down to finally pin him, I know I thought "you're never doing this again..." but I couldn't tell you if I said it out loud.

Either way, he got the point. He called and profusely apologized about a month later, and we bro-hugged it out a month later and I forgive him.

But I made it very clear both times: you are never doing this again.
posted by Cyrano at 9:56 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Practice parkour if martial arts isn't for you

or maybe learn some spells? deploy an oil slick? bat signal? goddamn.
posted by mullacc at 9:57 PM on October 28, 2014 [53 favorites]


a jar of bees
posted by poffin boffin at 10:00 PM on October 28, 2014 [56 favorites]


When you witness a male friend or acquaintance of yours doing this to women on the street you should immediately and without hesitation give them the People's Elbow.

So I'm totally willing to deploy the Great Elbow of the People if this ever happens, but this is not something I've ever witnessed my friends doing, none of their behavior has even hinted at it, and they probably wouldn't be my friends for very long if they persisted.

Is there anything I can do other than stare the offenders down, or play the part of Dumb Guy Staring at Phone in order to run interference? I don't feel like either of those is a particularly stellar plan.

but maybe the jar of bees
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:01 PM on October 28, 2014


a jar of bees

Snakes in my hair.
posted by TwoStride at 10:01 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


The worst instance of potential harassment for me, I think, was the day after my closest friend died unexpectedly. I rode the bus home - either the 41 or the 6 in San Francisco - to get a change of clothes and return to her apartment, where friends were gathering to decide how to tell her family and announce it to her volunteer community. I was so fucking shocked by grief that that evening I wouldn't remember how to use a phone when one was in my hand. My face must have been awful on that bus. But I was 26 and female.

Thing is, by then I'd been harassed for almost two decades. The car culture of L.A., where I grew up, starts girl pedestrians off early. I'd seen masturbating men from the time I was seven. "Hey, can you tell me how to get to Elm St.?" "Sure, it's just one block over, sir! Oh. . . " So I knew to keep my head down on buses. I knew to read my book and act deaf.

That day I couldn't read and I couldn't act. When some obvious motherfuckers boarded the bus and I could see them picking me out as a target, I thought, "If they say a word to me, I will lose my mind." I really don't remember if they did - I don't remember a lot about that time. But I'm astounded, now, that I had the instinctive, well-worn self-protection, even in my how-does-a-phone-work craziness, to remember to clock the boarders of a bus. That's, yeah, hypervigilance.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


... so, I'll probably put this question more specifically in an AskMe, but for those of us with young daughters, how can we best prepare them for this sort of harassment

I'm not criticizing this question, at all, but I wanted to add that people talking to their young *sons* about street harassment (what it is, how to avoid doing it, how to do bystander intervention) would be awesome too.
posted by heisenberg at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2014 [33 favorites]


Yeah, I don't have sons.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:22 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm talking real, practical, survival skills ... my girls are very sensitive and very shy and completely shut down in confrontations (maybe not such a bad strategy). But you have to keep moving, right?

Anyway, stuff like that--what has worked for you in situations of harassment, if you have any advice. Thx.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


but for those of us with young daughters, how can we best prepare them for this sort of harassment.

I'd say the same way you do with the probability of them being raped. A big focus on how it isn't their fault, even if other people say it is (which they will). If you have experiences with seeing or hearing about the harassment, share with them your feelings about it. Make it something they can talk about, that it's ok for them to bring to you because you know about it.

And be careful about what you hold them responsible for. Much of the enculturation of girls and women involves us internalizing that we are responsible for the reactions and experiences of the people around us. This is exacerbated if your daughter is a "pleaser"; I am one, and it can get messy in my head sometimes as I try to draw boundaries between myself and others.

Talking about boundaries might help, too - and what to do when people cross them. Also letting them know that it's normal and typical for people to "freeze" or be unable to respond during a frightening event; let them know it's literally physiological.

Be careful how you talk about what happens with women who end up victims of all kinds of crime. It's really common for people to begin policing what the woman did that led to her being a victim of a crime - even ones which result in rape or death. Try to not do that around your daughter and stop people when they do. Try to focus on how what the men did is completely wrong.

And talk about consent in terms of what they do, too; consent should be mutual. Girls and women can harass men as well, and discussing the posibility, the importance of things happening between people to be mutually agreed upon at the very least, can be very valuable. Try to model that, too - pay attention to your daughter's cues, for example, and if she ever seems nervous or uncomfortable ask her how she feels, and validate her experiences and emotions.

This is a bit rambling.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:31 PM on October 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


So I've read most of this thread and it seems to be playing out so predictably I could set my watch to it. I'm going to say this man-to-man. I turned 30 a few days ago, I get to do that. Listen up. All you guys who are complaining about how the woman who shot this video may have misinterpreted one of her harassers intentions?

SHUT THE FUCK UP

I'm sick of watching this. I'm sick of watching women pour out story after heartbreaking story and hearing bullshit defensiveness in response as opposed to regret and sympathy. It's not actually that hard to keep women from feeling uncomfortable in your presence. Women in this very thread have told you how to do it! You have explicit instructions! And yet we still have men whining about how they can't say hi to their neighbors or some bullshit like that.

Look, homie, if you can't say hi to someone on the sidewalk without making them feel uncomfortable it's past time to look deep inside yourself. Most of us can pull that off pretty easily, and we can do it without winding up in a video like this. If you can't, well...
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:50 PM on October 28, 2014 [39 favorites]


As a guy, watching the video and reading this thread is eye-opening. As the soon-to-be father of a baby girl, it's terrifying.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:03 AM on October 29, 2014


Here in Seattle, downtown, right outside the symphony hall where I had just finished rehearsing -- a guy approached me and my friend, asked what time it was, and when we ignored him (because sketchy random guy!) he EXPLODED in a tirade of fury about how we were goddamn ugly bitches who were too stuck up to respond to a simple fucking question and he hopes someday someone fucks some sense into us. Two hours ago. I was literally walking one block, I was probably outside for a grand total of four minutes.
posted by KathrynT at 12:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


My favorite street harassment story involves the time that I bought a microwave off of Craigslist and had to schlep it an hour home on the subway. Things went reasonably well until the short walk at the end of my trip, when I shifted my weight and caught my hand on the razor-like vents on the back of the machine. The cut wasn't terrible, even though I was leaving a trail of bright-red blood on the sidewalk, so I decided to continue on my way.

Moments later, as I waited for a light to change, a sanitation worker hanging off a garbage truck whistled at me and shouted, "Your man should be doing that for you!"

And it was so awful that it was kind of hilarious. That man saw a haggard, blood-smeared woman hugging a kitchen appliance on a street corner, and thought, What she really needs right now is sexual attention and gendered life advice from a man covered in trash juice who's clinging to the side of a moving vehicle.

I also like the part where he informed me that a man should be helping me, because men are brave and strong or whatever, but declined to actually help.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:18 AM on October 29, 2014 [39 favorites]


{Man sharing his experiences here, but please bear with me}

I have pretty close cropped hair, and a beard. I'm somewhat thick-set and generally don't like to make eye contact. People sometimes read me as "off" when they first meet me. I'm never going to pass as a woman, because I don't look anything like one. I still do the hypervigilance thing mentioned upthread.

I don't like to go out after dark. I certainly don't like to walk anywhere after dark that isn't lit with street lights, or that isn't completely devoid of people. I absolutely do the "watching the group" thing someone mentioned, because too many times I've had to run away from that group. Or maybe even just that lone guy who saw fear and decided to act on it.

I like to go walking, mainly through countryside and down lanes and byways. I'm pretty much constantly aware of people in front of me and panic when people are behind me. Fortunately, I walk very quickly, so anyone who is behind me won't be for long (small help though that is sometimes). I try to be aware of who the person in my local environment is, too - it's completely and utterly sexist, but lone woman is different to two women and is VERY different to woman with a man. I'm constantly on the alert as to whether this person is going to perceive me as prey. Generally, I relax more when there are no men around.

Relax is perhaps the wrong word when there's just a woman present, though. An example from just two days ago. I was out on a walk, about a mile from a busy tourist town, going along a public byway next to a river. It's a lovely rural spot with lots of trees lining the route and some interesting architectural sights*. I was just about to cross a bridge, when I saw a cute little dog. A terrier of some kind. I crouched down and it came up to me, sniffing in the manner that dogs do. I looked up and saw its owner - a woman with her young daughter. They very probably don't pose any threat to me whatsoever. But straight away, I put myself in their position. A guy who looks like a thug is interacting with their dog, right at the end of the bridge they now have to get across. I had no idea what to do.

Do I back up and off the bridge to let them pass? No, because the only place I can go is back towards the trees, and that's going to look sketchy as hell. Do I make eye contact and smile at the woman? No, because as people have outlined in this thread, it's possible that by acknowledging her existence, I'm then going to start off with the sexual harassment. Do I stand to one side to let them pass? No, because the bridge is so narrow that they're going to have to get into my personal space to get past. Don't forget that this woman not only has herself to think about, but also her daughter.

So, I can't really decide what to do. In the end, I picked what I hoped was the best option and stood in a visible position, facing away from them, at one end of the bridge and started playing with my phone. I figured that they'd be able to see me and judge my location and hopefully the fact I was playing on my phone would show that I wasn't covertly paying attention to them. They walked past and I ignored them.

I have no idea what this woman was thinking. I have no idea if I picked the best option. Maybe it would have been better to say hello and smile and comment on the weather in the way that English people do when they're in a social situation with someone they've never met before. I don't even know if this woman saw me as a potential threat or even cared about my existence at all. I just tried to put myself in her shoes and do what I hoped another person would do, were I in her situation and she in mine. I know a little of what it's like to be seeing every other man as a threat. Not in the same way that a woman does - the way I look cuts down MASSIVELY on the chances of me being raped, although it does seem to increase the chances of violent crime.

That was just one experience, from a man's perspective. At the risk of being a white knight, women have this sort of experience a hell of a lot more than I do, as outlined in this thread. The fact that I look the way I do probably cuts down hugely on the amount of times I get harassed, even though it's far from being a panacea. And I still worry. I still take the long way round when walking through town at night, sometimes, because I know there's a broken streetlight down that alleyway, even though I'd walk down there during the day, no problem. Passing as a man comes with a huge amount of privilege and safety. Passing as a woman comes with a gigantic pile of Shit That Just Happens Even Though It Really Shouldn't. My experiences aren't going to be the same as that of a woman, because society treats someone who looks like me and someone who looks like a woman very differently. I find it difficult, even though I look the way I do.

If you're a man and you think this sort of thing doesn't happen, then you're really lucky. Imagine for a second, having to go through every single day thinking about whether or not it's safe to walk down that street in broad daylight, whether that group of people is going to chase you, etc. Try passing as a woman, and see what happens. If you don't see it happening, try looking a little harder.

*I would love to know how many people saw "trees lining the route" and started to worry about the fact that those trees provide cover for nefarious activities, and the relative genders of who thought that and who thought nothing of it.
posted by Solomon at 3:44 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


This thread was like a bad trip down nightmare memory lane. The hyper-vigilance. The energy and mood drain it takes to deal with this. And sometimes that terrible creeping fear, that horrifying sense of peril. It's always keeping alert for the way out, the escape, the potential place of safety... and if and when you do relax, being jarred out of it at any time by any random, self-entitled fuckwit.

I worked at a skid row shelter in a mid-sized New England city for a number of years. Everyday about 7:30 am, I took a bus to city hall and walked about 10 blocks down the main street of this city. Cars would pull up and follow, roll down windows and talk to me, ask me to get in, ask how much, etc. On a good day, it would only be once or twice. Now I know it was a sketchy part of the city, one that was sometimes frequented by hookers at night. But damn, it twas early in the fresh, dewy morning, I was always walking fast and with purpose and dressed in work clothes (suits, usually).

It put me in such a dark place -- all these middle-aged to older men just assuming any woman on the street was potentially for sale. From old junker cars to Cadillacs and Mercedes, ran the gamut. It was particularly scary when there was more than one person in the car. Once it was an older neighbor man I knew who pretended to have just been stopping to say "hey" when he realized who I was. (Hi Mr. Ryder, you creepy old goat!)

We had a cop that often worked at the shelter and I talked to him about how scary and creepy it was. He told me to get license plates. When someone particularly egregious bugged me I would do that and he would make a house call. He said a few very prominent men were made very nervous by having a cop show up at their home grilling them about harassing or threatening women on the street from their car.

There are so many "that time when" stories I could relate from small towns and big, in this country and others. But y'all have done it well, sisters, your stories are my stories, I just wanted to add my voice.

Aging has its benefits - most of this goes away. Not all of it though.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:17 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Chiming in from Perth, Australia to say that it happens here too. More often yelling from cars, since it's a car-culture kind of place. I've never heard it from construction workers but I don't know if that's coincidence or a local variation. But random dudes in the street telling me I'm beautiful or flat as a table or I should suck their dick since my early teens, yep, familiar with that. Weirdest was an old guy yelling at all the young girls in a city plaza because they were wearing jeans instead of skirts.

I understand the guys who had no idea this went on - how could you? But I hate the guys who get defensive and complain about it once they realise women don't have the time or patience to assess the relative friendliness of the hundreds of men they encounter every day. Deal with it. You'll live.
posted by harriet vane at 5:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's hard for me to say this. I am a lifelong feminist masculine trans and intersex person. And it's good, fantastic even, that this stuff is sinking in and regular guys are really seeing this harassment and making the connections just now in this thread.

But seriously. This is 2014. I have been a feminist for almost 40 years. This has been happening in the US all my life. MetaFilter must have dozens of sexism threads. Why is this only now getting through to you guys? Where were you for so long? Does privilege account for all of this absence?
posted by kalessin at 5:47 AM on October 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


Does privilege account for all of this absence?

To a large extent, yeah. That's exactly where my blinders were. It wasn't even on my radar because it never happened to me and so I was never looking for it. It took women to tell me about it for me to understand what was really going on. And even now I'm not perfect. I just don't have the same social vocabulary. I do my best to speak up when it looks like someone's being made uncomfortable, but I'm sure there are moments I've missed. Where I blithely walked by harassment that would have been obvious to anyone who'd experienced it before. I just straight-up don't know the half of it. I'm lucky enough to have been born a man (a white man on top of that, this is probably why I've never won the lottery) and there's more than a little privilege that comes along with that. One of those privileges is not having to learn those social cues if you don't want to or have to. I've had to rely on women to tell me what they are.

But, and this is the thing I want to impress on my fellow men, if you shut up and listen to what women tell you about this the social cues are not that tough to pick up. Again, women in this very thread are telling you what makes them feel uncomfortable. You really can't watch this video and/or read this thread and claim ignorance. That's insulting both of us.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:59 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've never heard it from construction workers but I don't know if that's coincidence or a local variation.

Speaking as someone who has managed a bunch of construction sites, that's controlled at the site supervisory level. If you are in charge, shutting down the whistling/comments/catcalling is as straightforward as directing any other site issue. (It's also a safety and productivity issue, because if the guys are hooting at women they aren't watching out for danger and they aren't getting any work done. And it's a liability issue because allowing that guarantees a toxic workplace culture where harassment is tolerated, and eventually someone might sue, or you lose good employees who don't want to put up with it.)

I've gotten pushback from workers before who thought of being able to harass women as a nice job perk, so it's easy to imagine it getting embedded in a work culture and persisting a long time, especially with lax management.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 AM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


Experiences in England:

I wear my hair in a bun because 90% of the time I experience harassment, it's when my hair is down. A guy approached me saying "Hmm, I know you are black but do you like white meat too?" I was in a Subway sandwich shop in England. A few years previously (in England), another guy followed me, calling out to me and I had to go into the leisure centre.

Experiences in the US:

When I was in the library, a guy handed me a note asking me to meet him over by the far stacks. Others would follow me around until I went into the women's restroom and stayed. Most of these young men were easily 5-10 years younger than me. Once, a man revealed himself to 14 year old me and a woman told me I needed to report him. Strangely, wearing my middle school t-shirt invited of street harassment.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 6:18 AM on October 29, 2014


Gah, infuriating.

I am fat and in my mid-40s and I dress pretty boring and this still happens to me when I walk in an urban setting. And as much as I like to feel "older and wiser" I feel just as victimized and creeped out as this brave young woman must.

I wish we could somehow teach men, starting at an early age, why this is wrong.

The folks who don't get it will protest: "He's just being polite!" "He was just being friendly!" "What's wrong with saying hello?" OK, sure...so why doesn't he say hello to everyone? Why is it just the woman, walking alone? Why pick the most vulnerable target, if he's "just being friendly?"

I need a brain shower.
posted by Groovymomma at 6:39 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I spend a lot of time talking about this topic. So much time. I'm going to paste in an entire comment of mine from last December, in response to the same questions of "I'm a guy, what can I do to help make this stop?" which is different from the question "what should I do when I see this happen?" This bears repeating up front: As men, you will almost never see this happen. I'd like to add something that I don't think I've been super clear about in previous answers. Do not call it harrasment. Some men (right, I know, #notallmen) are more willing and able to think about and commit to changing these behaviors when neutral descriptions are applied. Also, don't focus on the shame aspect (men who do this are monsters) but on the guilt aspect (Doing this hurts people. Don't say it hurts women. Say it hurts people. Because women are people, dammit, and also because behaving this way doesn't actually benefit the men who do it ,and as mentioned above, it makes it harder for the men who really want to engage in innocent "waiting for my coffee, just saying hi" conversations, with the appropriate eye contact and welcoming body language.)

So yeah. This is long. Because this is a big problem.


Telling women how to respond (or how not to respond) does not prevent men from engaging in this behavior in the future. It is akin to our current rape culture model of asking women to not go out alone after dark, don't get "too" drunk, watch your drink very carefully as someone might dose it, don't hang out with strange men, keep an eye on your other lady friends, be sure to actually say no and fight back. The message isntead ought to be "don't have sex with people who aren't enthusiastically consenting to your sexing!" And the same for harrassment culture. Let's make the message "men, don't say offensive things to women," instead of focusing on how women ought to respond to offensive statements or requests.

For men who are really interested in helping us curb (or better yet, eradicate) this behavior among your less enlightened male counterparts....talk to all the men you know.

Don't wait to witness them catcalling or otherwise harrassing women. Because odds are, they don't do that in front of other men. The vaaaaaast majority of this stuff that I encounter comes from men who think that other men either can't hear them or won't interfere. This means that I am not in the presence of a man who appears to be invested in me (this carries some racial baggage. As a white woman, if I'm sitting next to a black man, I appear to be fair game, because I get harrassed in that mileu...by men of every color. But if I'm in proximity to white men...almost never do I get harrassed.)

So anyway. Bring this up in casual conversation. Forward this link to EVERY dude you know. Whether you think they're an ally or not. Heck, forward the metafilter thread with it. Mention that you're in support of the women speaking out against fingerbang's comments. You'd be surprised who corners us in bars or spits in our faces in front of the courthouse. Public transportation gropers abound. And you know what the number one response is when we tell the friends and acquaintances what their dude bro buddies are up to? But he's such a nice guy! Maybe you misunderstood? or...He's just socially inept.

No. He's not a nice guy if he's harrassing women. The two are mutually exclusive. Yes, he is socially inept. But that doesn't excuse this behavior.

I have almost never had a guy say "That's outrageous, and I don't want to be friends with a guy who behaves that way." It seems easier to disparage my grasp of reality than it is to police inappropriate men.

If you wait until you see men doing this behavior, you will either wait a long time, or find yourself in for a real fight, because you're no longer on neutral territory. Maybe both. If you get this out in the air, and point men to rational women speaking from a safe place about how these interactions actually feel, these men might be more willing to listen and actually digest the information.
posted by bilabial at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2013 [22 favorites]
posted by bilabial at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yeah, as a guy I can't remember ever seeing this behaviour. That's not going to stop me in any way from trusting my friends and people here who tell me it's a real thing. Of course it is, I just have the luxury of not noticing it.

Going back to a conversation much earlier in-thread: the difference between a neutral/default-polite greeting and harassment is absolutely positively contextual. I grew up in a 20,000-person city (not suburb, largest city around) and so my instinct is to at least somewhat greet everyone I see, because they're rarely more than 2 degrees of separation from me and it's just what you do. Lived in multiple other small towns where, yeah, that pattern remains. But it's different when you're in a bigger centre - yes it may be hard to change your patterns, but that's what you have to do. I don't get to rely on that history as a licence to (even unintentionally) cause distress, because the distress is a thing that exists independently of my intentions. We're not talking about prosecuting individuals but about reducing harm.

The fact that I can'tshouldn't compliment women on various fashionable things that I like, which I definitely would do in a perfect world, is not their fault, it's ours-as-men. Honestly it's not that hard to switch over to only men: that way I'm more likely to wear the same items and can ask where they got it!*

The difficulty I still have, and a few people above have mentioned, is with dogs. Because DOGS!!!! I like to think that my usual habit of completely ignoring the person attached to the dog and purely smiling at/talking to / (very rarely) petting the dog gets read as what it is, rather than leading up to talking to / harassing the person. That's the whole contextual cues thing, it's not as hard as a lot of people claim.

I've found one good thing that I can do, as someone whose male peer group doesn't do this [in my presence, at least], is that when conversations about this kind of topic come up, to remember stories I've been told by women, and repeat/contextualize them to my guy friends who, while they don't harass themselves, don't necessarily think it's a huge problem - because much like me, they don't see it. We can do some of that gentle pushing on harassment/structural sexism in general without getting read as angry, without starting any defensiveness. Which is something? I dunno.

Frankly, I'm mainly chiming in to add to the male voices acknowledging that this is a Thing without qualification. Fuck keeping silent.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:47 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]




Every one of those dudes (especially the rape threateners) deserves a bee-helmet and a trip to the Wicker Man.
posted by emjaybee at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm furious. I mean I am punch-the-wall, kick-the-puppy furious.

The star of this video, Shoshana B. Roberts, is getting sent rape and death threats. Yes, that's right: for exposing for only two minutes the shit women go through, Ms. Roberts now has to deal with online harassment.

(okay I wouldn't kick a puppy, i have two cocker spaniels, i love dogs. but i'm still overwhelmed with rage right now)
posted by magstheaxe at 8:24 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know where to begin ... letters are typed to form words and then I change my mind. Right now all I want to do is cry.

I will say this now though. I'm disappointed that the original video commented on her appearance; that there continues to be an implication that wearing something more or less "slutty" would've garnered more or less harassment. What if she wore a mumu, or how about a bikini? This isn't about what we wear, but about a strangers sense of entitlement towards women.
posted by redindiaink at 8:26 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Haha. I'm doing an AMA on reddit but can't remember how to log in. Because I can't be bothered to try. This is apparently an affront to the woman-haters who infest that den.

Fuck 'em.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:34 AM on October 29, 2014


Threads like this are why I continue to love Metafilter so much. I can't find anywhere online that is this active and safe that women can explain all the things I've never had to experience and clue me in on how the world really is, without having to defend themselves constantly from stupid dudes acting like those experiences are an affront to their constitutional right to say 'good morning' to random women or something.

Keep being awesome Metafilter.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:37 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Dynamite: we are not entirely devoid of that kind of "so I guess you don't want me to say hi to anyone ever again" whining, even here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nowhere is safe from that crap. A woman friend of a friend on Facebook posted something about how unreasonable it is that the video labeled "both socially polite interactions and harassment as harassment." Which, as was discussed at length above, is warmed-over toxic bullshit.

But hey, entitled people gonna entitle. Saying hello or "I like your purse" or "it got cold fast huh?" should not offend anyone. I think responding with a "thanks" or "hey" is appropriate made it pretty clear that this person is part of the same mindset: folks who think they have some claim on the time and attention of other people and who don't care if it makes the other person less happy. They want something and if the other person doesn't then that person is wrong and needs to get with the program.

It's not the same as street harassment but it's part of the same mentality that starts it and enables it - the idea that they're gonna do what they do because they're right and the cost to others is less important than their desires and judgment.
posted by phearlez at 8:54 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's meant to scare/intimidate/harass/embarrass the woman they are doing it to

It may be this, but I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice. I think the world many men have to inhabit can be cold, emotionless and male-centric. Getting a smile from or a brief chat with a beautiful girl gives many men a quick buzz or good feeling that may be due to a release of endorphins (I read that somewhere a few years back). Clearly, I'm trying to propose a reason for initiating contact, not by any means an excuse for these people's actions.
posted by guy72277 at 8:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


as i talked about upthread - sure, a lot of guys think that what their motivation is something akin to "her smile brightens my day!" but those dudes rarely make the next step, which is, "and that's a really entitled way to view strangers." women are people. we are (or at least should be) equal to men. it is not our job to soften up a man's life and it certainly shouldn't be our burden to be met with threats and violence when we refuse to play that role.
posted by nadawi at 9:02 AM on October 29, 2014 [42 favorites]


so watching this go viral, I've found myself thinking, wow, I've been so lucky in the last few years, living in a predominately gay part of the city and dealing with less street harassment than I ever have.

and then I remembered just a few days ago, walking down an alley in the daylight, when a guy on a bicycle zoomed past and slapped my ass so hard it brought tears to my eyes.

nothing stings like that helpless rage-shame feeling, except maybe what felt like a goddamn punch to the ass. and still I managed to forget for a while because street harassment's always been a part of my life.
posted by changeling at 9:06 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


A lot of the comments on the article magstheaxe linked (and I've seen them elsewhere, and here too, but not for a long time) are of the "she shouldn't have been wearing such a fitted shirt what did she expect" type, and it always amazes me how little people who say things like that think of men. And that of course they don't see it that way - they don't seem to see at all that that is just a way of saying that men are too weak and too in thrall to their hormones to be rational, and men can't be expected to exert any self-control in situations where a fully clothed woman is in the vicinity.

But it's people like me who are accused of thinking badly of men.
posted by rtha at 9:08 AM on October 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


It may be this, but I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice.

That doesn't explain why those of us who are ugly enough to stop a clock still get hassled. I'm about as soft, gentle and nice as a running chainsaw - if your theory were correct, I and other ugly people like me would sail through life without ever experiencing this kind of thing. Alack, this is not that world.

Nor does your generous (and predictable) theory for women as objets de vertu explain why so often my more-comely sisters report being harrassed more when they're scrubbing it up than when they are looking nice.
posted by winna at 9:08 AM on October 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


I feel like the people who think that this doesn't constitute ~*real*~ harassment are thinking to themselves "that doesn't count, it's not like the dudes are calling her house 50 times a day and hanging up". Which, other than being utterly boneheaded, totally ignores the system-wide effects. It's more like 50 dudes are each calling her once, and then hanging up. And when women get fed up and tell them to stop calling their house all the time the 50 dudes are like "BUT I ONLY CALLED YOU ONCE WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL".

Also, just don't fucking call my house.

metaphor may require work
posted by Phire at 9:12 AM on October 29, 2014 [36 favorites]


There was a time when one didn't speak to a stranger to whom one had not yet been introduced. Ok, a lot of fucked up social norms were also common back then. But this one doesn't seem like one of the worst.

Keep it the fuck to yourself, trog.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:13 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Getting a smile from or a brief chat with a beautiful girl gives many men a quick buzz or good feeling that may be due to a release of endorphins (I read that somewhere a few years back).

I assume these men get an endorphin rush when someone hands them a $20 bill as well. And yet, they know not to bug random people for $20 bills. So, it's not that they're unable to grasp the social contract. They know exactly what they are doing.
posted by almostmanda at 9:15 AM on October 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


Nor does your generous (and predictable) theory for women as objets de vertu explain why so often my more-comely sisters report being harrassed more when they're scrubbing it up than when they are looking nice.

Anecdote confirming this: When I was studying abroad in Spain, one of my classmates said she got way more harassment when she was in sweatpants and looked tired as hell than when she looked her best.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:16 AM on October 29, 2014


Makes sense though: you look like an easier target when you're not completely put together. Again, because the harassment is about power and entitlement, rather than interacting with an attractive woman.
posted by gaspode at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


It may be this, but I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice. I think the world many men have to inhabit can be cold, emotionless and male-centric. Getting a smile from or a brief chat with a beautiful girl gives many men a quick buzz or good feeling that may be due to a release of endorphins (I read that somewhere a few years back).

TOUGH. SHIT.

No one is worrying about how women may be having to cope with a similar lack of "niceness" or "gentleness" in their own lives. In fact, these guy's efforts to "get a quick buzz or good feeling" is actually CAUSING a detriment in the amount of "niceness" in these women's lives.

So SO WHAT if these guys have hard lives. So do the women. So does everyone. That isn't a sufficient excuse to turn another human being into a walking dose of Prozac.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2014 [49 favorites]


I walk down those exact streets. I'm a 6 foot tall dude. No one says anything ever to me. Ever.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, has half the dudes on the street decide that their right to interrupt a strangers day supersedes a woman's right to be left alone. Even if it is just to say "Hello".

That's not right.
posted by Freen at 9:21 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


That doesn't explain why those of us who are ugly enough to stop a clock still get hassled.

This is a total cliché but beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this respect. I can't say whether its a face, collar bone, general body shape ratio or the turn of an ankle that does it, but there's definitely something that sparks an interest in the harasser, even if the woman is not aware of it.

report being harrassed more when they're scrubbing it up
This is just a anecdote from my private life, but when my wife is dressed to the nines for a corporate event, she has a much more public, distant, unapproachable aspect to her. On the other hand, when scrubbing it up, it seems like her public defenses are relaxed, she's more homely, and ratty clothes and lack of make-up give her a relaxed and approachable look. I think the sweatpants look is far more approachable and most guys only get to see women in relaxed mode like that when they're with their partners. Attraction is a weird thing...
posted by guy72277 at 9:33 AM on October 29, 2014


I haven't experienced harassment to this degree anywhere I've lived in the UK. But it bothers me that saying things like that makes some people conclude "see, it's not so bad in other places, therefore it's not a widespread problem!", and: no. Happening less means it's still happening. Happening at all means it's happening too much. So I wouldn't particularly expect any of the "Hey beautiful! What, you won't talk to me?" if I went out for a walk, but it would not hugely surprise me if it did happen, because it's been happening since I was 13. Not every day, not every week, but still too often.

In the town where I grew up, it was mostly drivers hitting their horns when they went past you, occasionally shouting things out of the window too. We mostly shrugged it off as a fact of life (and how depressing is that, really?) but I have a really striking memory of when I was walking home from school aged around 16 with a male friend, who had intermittently made it clear he was attracted to me and then backtracked on it because... well, he was 16 too. Anyway, we're walking down a long road and a car going by honks, and I roll my eyes or sigh or something like that, and my 'friend' immediately starts telling me that it wasn't me they were honking it, it was that girl walking over there (who was pretty much a speck in the distance). Because she was far more conventionally attractive than me, and she was more the sort of girl that men would honk at, you see.

And I still remember this realisation of: so, the man in the car shows that he likes me by honking the horn when he's yards away from my ear, and the one next to me shows that he likes me by telling me I'm not attractive enough to warrant that? This is completely insane. What kind of world is this where either of them would think that's okay? Just... what?

I wasn't the world's most insightful 16-year-old re: gender relations or anything, but that feeling of "what the hell?" is one I still try to tap into sometimes. We grow up with this kind of thing all around us to a degree where we just accept it as normal, where it's actually seen as okay to watch a video like this one and say "wait now, man #14 seemed pretty friendly, why is he included?". I don't ever want to let myself forget that reaction I had all those years ago.
posted by Catseye at 9:37 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


TOUGH. SHIT.
That isn't a sufficient excuse to turn another human being into a walking dose of Prozac.


I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I explicitly stated I was proposing a reason, not an excuse. "Clearly, I'm trying to propose a reason for initiating contact, not by any means an excuse for these people's actions." Sorry.
posted by guy72277 at 9:37 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would really like it to become a cultural expectation that if you pull a woman's earbud out of her ears out in public, you will be hit with pepperspray.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:39 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


i've seen guys openly talk about yelling shit at women to "put them in their place" - it's not always attraction that gets their shitty behavior going.

regardless the reason really and truly doesn't matter because even the "best" or "nicest" reason is steeped in men's entitlement to women.
posted by nadawi at 9:40 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


It may be this, but I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice.

This is a good series of tweets about this need to be seen thing.
posted by phearlez at 9:42 AM on October 29, 2014 [21 favorites]


What really upsets me is how many of us are first street harassed when we are children. There are stories here in this very thread, and my first experience of street harassment was when I was ten years old. Ten! And I looked ten! No boobs to speak of, and in no way looking like a "mature" ten year old. My reaction as a ten year old was just total confusion. I knew what street harassment was, having seen it in movies and TV shows, and I was completely baffled as to why I would be a target. After my initial confusion, my reaction was basically, "I'm ten you sick fuck!" (Assume less profanity in ten year old me's internal monologue, but that was the gist of it.)

So keep that in mind when women tell their street harassment stories. It starts when we are children, so we fucking know it's wrong and gross and not about being friendly.
posted by yasaman at 9:42 AM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


the problem with the revenge fantasies (which i have had in spades) is that we're already being disbelieved on a grand scale with regard to our lived experiences. if we actually went around pepper spraying dudes who straight up assaulted us in public, we would be just as likely to be arrested because there's no reason to think we'd be believed.
posted by nadawi at 9:42 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is a total cliché but beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this respect. I can't say whether its a face, collar bone, general body shape ratio or the turn of an ankle that does it, but there's definitely something that sparks an interest in the harasser, even if the woman is not aware of it.

Yeah. Except sometimes, what strikes an interest in the harasser is 'young' and/or 'vulnerable'.

I have had men, grown adult men, pull this kind of shit since I was 13 - and I did not look any older than 13, believe me. When I was a waitress I worked with a 14-year-old who once got so badly hassled by a group of men who were in for dinner (and we worked at a golf club - these were men in their 30s at the youngest, out for a meal with the company golf club) that the woman who worked at the bar went over and told them "She is fourteen years old and you are scaring her. Knock it off." And did they? No - they got worse.

What a lot of these men want, and feel they lack, and feel that they can gain from shouting something at the random woman/girl over there, is a feeling of power over someone else - specifically a female someone else. That uncomfortableness that's just oozing off the woman in the video, they're not ignoring that. They're seeking it.
posted by Catseye at 9:42 AM on October 29, 2014 [27 favorites]


Anecdote confirming this: When I was studying abroad in Spain, one of my classmates said she got way more harassment when she was in sweatpants and looked tired as hell than when she looked her best.

Well in their pathology they presumably think she's already got a man if she's dressed up and wearing makeup. Why else would she be dressed? (see: you don't have to wear makeup I already think you're pretty) The woman in sweats, she needs someone so she has a reason to get gussied up and they are willing to be that person! So generous.
posted by phearlez at 9:48 AM on October 29, 2014


I guess I think the dressed-down thing and the child thing are related. If it's a power play, it's definitely easier to exhibit power over young girls or those who seem (however temporarily) to have lower social status.
posted by lauranesson at 9:51 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Men have it really hard. We women should shut up and appreciate them.

"If you don't want "people" talking to you while you out there in the city just stay at home. Feel proud that somebody out there is giving you credit for how you beauty or whatever you dressing." 

"And what is insane they are trying to promote the end of men speaking to women on the street. "

"Unless you want to regress 100 yrs or so to bourgeois society where it was unacceptable to speak to a lady/gent before being formally introduced. It is going to be difficult for many of us if we plan on getting married, let alone a relationship."

"But hey don't worry about getting compliments much longer cuz one day you'll be gray, old, and no guy will pay any attention to u...they'll be looking at younger more physically attractive women."

"Sorry but you are delusional. If you think in reality that most/all women have this sort of attention whenever they are out you are mistaken. Just look out the window to see this not happening. People have the right to politely talk to you as you have the right to say no to any conversation."

In the meantime, I'm waiting for Elder Monster to get home from work so he can walk to the grocery store with me, because every fucking time I go alone, I get harassed while waiting at the crosswalk.
posted by MissySedai at 9:51 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I explicitly stated I was proposing a reason, not an excuse.

Frankly, I'm wondering why you even give this behavior the dignity of trying to state a reason. Because it doesn't matter why.

If you agree this behavior shouldn't be defended or excused, then you didn't need to try to find a "reason" to begin with. Period.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


The @everydaysexism feed skews British, and is horrifying. If you're wanting to think it's just NYC. Or just words.

I follow Feminista Jones on Twitter (and so should you) and she is understandably frustrated about this particular video - with a white woman - going viral when her #YouOKSis tag has been going for months and even the Daily Show video Jessica Williams did (and which she was in) about the exact same thing only got lukewarm circulation for a Daily Show video.

I am trying to remember to point out, when discussions about these things happen, that women of color are more likely to be harassed, are more likely to be harassed by people who might not harass a white woman (like cops), and are more likely to suffer retaliatory violence from street harassers (and least likely to get help, from police or otherwise, when they do). Basically, white women get to go through this on the Easy setting. That video is the least of it.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [17 favorites]


""If you don't want "people" talking to you while you out there in the city just stay at home"

ah, the just stay home-just get offline-just move out of the city line of reasoning - which i think always shows the point of harassment, threats, and violence against women which is to get us to shut up and disappear from view.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [29 favorites]


ah, the just stay home-just get offline-just move out of the city line of reasoning - which i think always shows the point of harassment, threats, and violence against women which is to get us to shut up and disappear from view.

buuuuuut if you move to the country to get away and feel isolated and threatened there, then it is your fault for moving away from civilized life! ~the circle of always being at fault~
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:04 AM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Frankly, I'm wondering why you even give this behavior the dignity of trying to state a reason. Because it doesn't matter why.

If you agree this behavior shouldn't be defended or excused, then you didn't need to try to find a "reason" to begin with. Period.


Exactly. It's just more 'ladies, u don't know how hard the mens have it let me esplain' crap. We have heard it all before a billion times.

I'm not even going to get into the condescension of the whole 'u are beautiful in ur own way so men have to try to make you talk to them and when you won't they will follow you down the street shouting 'bitch ugly bitch you think you're better than me?!'

Because their rare male souls, all athrill with delight at my aesthetic qualities, cannot resist attempting to play Pygmalion to my pear-shaped, horse-faced Galatea. It's my fault for not appreciating the deep emotion they feel! I should be more understanding! Except yeah no.
posted by winna at 10:09 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


What's frustrating to me, personally, is how some men clamor for an absolute set of rules to use in every situation -- rules which, if followed, all ensure that you will never ever get in trouble or be the "bad guy."

When it's like...I don't know, guys, it depends! It depends! Sometimes people talk to me when I'm out in public and it is totally fine! Usually we have engaged in a complicated dance of body language and looks and just general affect that non-verbally indicates "It is totally okay to say something to me right now" or not. Sometimes people mis-judge, and end up irritating each other, but then they get better at it. This applies to women, too! To genderqueer folks! To children! To everyone!

Every city -- heck, every neighborhood, every block, every business -- has its own little set of norms and signals. Totally understandable that it's confusing! But people manage to navigate it without being jerks to each other every day.

So I guess that yes, if you want to have the easiest possible route to never ever bothering someone, you should just default to never talking to strangers in any situation. But no, I'm not saying that you CANNOT EVER TALK TO ME IN PUBLIC. I'm just saying that you're going to have to do a little bit of work and thinking to make a decision about whether or not now is a good moment, and you might guess wrong, and you might feel bad about that for a couple of minutes every once in a while.

SHRUG??????
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:09 AM on October 29, 2014 [41 favorites]


If you agree this behavior shouldn't be defended or excused, then you didn't need to try to find a "reason" to begin with. Period.

I could not be more in line with you on street harassment, Empress, but I don't really like this line of thought that we can't examine a pathology without excusing its outcome. I didn't like it when we were told, en masse, that we couldn't care or talk about why there'd be terrorists who wanted to attack the US or else we were saying we approved of 9/11, and I don't agree here either.
posted by phearlez at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


What's frustrating to me, personally, is how some men clamor for an absolute set of rules to use in every situation -- rules which, if followed, all ensure that you will never ever get in trouble or be the "bad guy."

Don't be a dick.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


....wait, I shouldn't be a dick, or the rule is "don't be a dick?"
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:19 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


And, of course, she's receiving rape threats for making this video.

It's pretty much gotten to the point where creating a new twitter account and writing threats is the defacto response to a woman doing anything.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


The whole "So I can't give compliments to women?!" thing I see on my Facebook feed now just makes me laugh. How does it harm a man to bite back a compliment? Like, why is that so devastating a possibility?

Dudes, is this something that physically damages you? Does an unused compliment sink to the bottom of your stomach and cause some sort of obstruction? Does it burn your tongue? Can you only have five unused compliments in your system at a time, and if you go above five, will you explode and will the shock wave will flatten everyone around you for miles? Is that why it's so important that you're able to give women compliments? It has to be something like that because the guys I know are making it sound so dire, but it's amazing that men have kept this secret physiology from us for so long. Clearly thinking "that woman has nice hair!" but not voicing it is somehow going to make them die.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:27 AM on October 29, 2014 [38 favorites]


"...women of color are more likely to be harassed, are more likely to be harassed by people who might not harass a white woman (like cops), and are more likely to suffer retaliatory violence from street harassers (and least likely to get help, from police or otherwise, when they do)."

Yes.

And to think, even her fiance couldn't protect her, and he got shot also. All because a crazy dude felt entitled to a woman's attention, no matter what (and he had a gun with which to take out his frustration).

I get pestered and hissed at every day, albeit, yes, it does happen more often in NYC than I've gotten anywhere else, and I am a woman of color. But I've been harassed in every place I've ever gone to by every race. The youngest was last summer in TriBeCa, by a boy who looked to be about 16 years old, and it stood out because of the absolute filthiness of what he said to me, and which I won't repeat. But I've been bothered in Sydney, London, the Bahamas (and on the cruise ship headed there!), LA, Milwaukee, Madison, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Minneapolis, Chicago, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Woodstock, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Akron... I'm not all that good-looking. And it's been happening for 35 years, since I was a pig-tailed, 3' 6" munchkin of 10, walking with my guardian. And when she told him to piss off, he said, "Nobody's talking to you, you fat bitch! I'm talking to her!" I mean, what!?!? Were his brain cells on? Obviously not, if he's so hyped up in getting his power-tripping jollies on that he's behaving this way. It's madness.

When can we start calling these dudes "mashers", or a good and shaming 21st Century equivalent, and shutting this mess down? Because this? "Unless you want to regress 100 yrs or so to bourgeois society where it was unacceptable to speak to a lady/gent before being formally introduced. It is going to be difficult for many of us if we plan on getting married, let alone a relationship." IS ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT. Really, men have got to troll the streets to find women to marry? Of course not; that is the most full-of-shit thing I've heard this week.
posted by droplet at 10:29 AM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


Clearly thinking "that woman has nice hair!" but not voicing it is somehow going to make them die.

And like, guys, women also sometimes hold back compliments and comments when we realize they may not actually be a super great idea to say aloud!

I have more than once seen a woman of color out in the world who has AMAZING FANTASTIC HAIR and I think, "O shit her hair is great I should say something." Annnnnd then I remember that I'm white, and that there's a huge amount of cultural baggage loaded on top of the ways that white women interact with the hair of women of color, particularly black women. And I keep my damn comment to myself because that lady is just trying to go about her business and she is a stranger and I should leave well enough alone!

It is not difficult!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2014 [39 favorites]


The whole "So I can't give compliments to women?!" thing I see on my Facebook feed now just makes me laugh. How does it harm a man to bite back a compliment? Like, why is that so devastating a possibility?

File this under the same heading as white people who are simply outraged that they aren't "allowed" to drop the n-bomb. Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!
posted by blue suede stockings at 10:36 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


File this under the same heading as white people who are simply outraged that they aren't "allowed" to drop the n-bomb. Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!

Right? Like, name one thing in your life that will be materially different if you cannot do this one thing. One thing. A single goddamn thing. Um, you can't, because it doesn't effect your income, your health, your personal relationships, or anything else. It is just some random collection of fucking sounds that you are being asked not to make because they make other people uncomfortable and you don't gain anything by using them or become ill or indigent because you weren't allowed to, so it should be pretty easy to just . . . not?

I mean, if you need to say something so badly, whisper it into your goddamn sweaty hand.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:45 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


So... if, as some say, harassment is caused by attraction, I assume that women are totally free from harassment in the cultures that encourage/mandate that women cover up... ?
posted by desjardins at 10:45 AM on October 29, 2014


Frankly, I'm wondering why you even give this behavior the dignity of trying to state a reason. Because it doesn't matter why.

If you agree this behavior shouldn't be defended or excused, then you didn't need to try to find a "reason" to begin with. Period.


To me the reason does matter. I'm clearly not defending their behavior but I believe if I try to understand why they do it, it might give some insight into how it could be curbed. Otherwise why would anything change? Perhaps I have the idealistic notion that understanding the problem is some part of finding a solution. We all agree they're a-holes and are sharing ways to avoid them, but what are the solutions to treat the root of the problem? I have no idea but am interested in what people here think.
posted by guy72277 at 10:50 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


you don't respond to anyone who suggests that even with your "complimentary" reason is still steeped in the entitlement to women...that is the thing that has to be curbed. why do men feel like women should provide this endorphin boost to them?

no matter what reason a man thinks he's using to behave like this, the root of it is that he thinks women function to be on display and at the ready for any man who wants them.
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


guy72277: It may be this, but I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice. I think the world many men have to inhabit can be cold, emotionless and male-centric. Getting a smile from or a brief chat with a beautiful girl gives many men a quick buzz or good feeling that may be due to a release of endorphins (I read that somewhere a few years back)

Women on the street living their lives are not men's endorphin buzz. We are not walking drug dispensers meant to make the world a more beautiful, gentle, pure place. Women are people, not Madonna's on a pedestal. You can't Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A-Start us and unlock god mode where you get whatever you want from us.

If men want something gentle and beautiful in their lives, they can go to a museum or a park or some sort of beautiful, gentle place. Volunteer to pet animals. Work at a food pantry. Do something actually pro-social, which helps the people around you.

Men can also be gentle, loving and nurturing; the most nurturing person I ever knew was my grandfather, and I take his cue for a lot of my manner in that area. If you think men need more gentle beauty in their lives, be that gentle beauty to them (I recommend sparkles) and tell them to STOP HARASSING STRANGERS ON THE STREET.

For the record, "positive" stereotypes correlate highly with negative ones and a tendency for discrimination against the people stereotyped.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2014 [34 favorites]


This series of Tweets is being RT'd all over my timeline today:
"Then the insult of a campaign name using AAVE.White women I wanna know what sexual assault looks like from men who actually have access to u
...
You have these Blk & Latino men as the face of street harassment w/an AAVE name. Meant to evoke feelings in those w/power
...
hese women are appealing to their institutions of whiteness to remove this threat from them & all I can think of is Till & a whistle
...
Motherfuckers wanna gentrify in peace. & This entire campaign is a further effort at a narrative which wants to criminalize/remove bodies"
posted by Space Coyote at 11:02 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I didn't like it when we were told, en masse, that we couldn't care or talk about why there'd be terrorists who wanted to attack the US or else we were saying we approved of 9/11, and I don't agree here either.
posted by phearlez at 1:16 PM on October 29

To me the reason does matter. I'm clearly not defending their behavior but I believe if I try to understand why they do it, it might give some insight into how it could be curbed. Otherwise why would anything change? [...] I have no idea but am interested in what people here think.
posted by guy72277 at 1:50 PM on October 29


Noble thoughts both, but it strikes me that this is kind of like saying "but maybe if we understood the psychology of why my horse wants to escape the barn we could make him less prone to wanting to run off" instead of just shutting the damn barn door.

Can't we focus on curbing the behavior itself rather than trying to get at the psychological motivation? We don't need to focus on the psychological motivation behind "what makes people want to steal" in order to enforce anti-theft laws. We just...have laws that say it's illegal to steal, and we have punishments in place to curb the people who do steal. Any kind of "but what's the psychology behind that" happens after they've already been punished. Why should this be any different?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Norway has been mentioned a few times and I have no doubt that there is some harassment there, but I think it's less than other countries because Scandinavian society in general is much, much more feminist than many other countries. That can't be some bizarre coincidence.
The [Global Gender Gap] report examines four critical areas of inequality between men and women in 130 economies around the globe, over 93% of the world’s population:
  • Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
  • Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
  • Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
  • Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio
So - for men who are looking for ways to help - become a feminist and help close the gender gap in society.
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Shaadi has a point about the use of AAVE; I'm glad she pointed that out.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


"How do we deal with the problem of men demanding that women cater to their fucked up emotional needs? I know, women should try catering to their fucked up emotional needs!"
posted by zjacreman at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ayesha A. Siddiqi has been knocking it out of the park on the topic of intersectionality and how this video falls into the trap of focusing on the threat of men of color against white-passing women. from her timeline :

women of color let's make videos of what it's like walking thru crowds of drunk white guys at sporting events/st Patrick's day/frat events
white women yr protection has always been the available guise for policing men of color here+abroad be careful how yr deploying yourselves


i do find it...convenient...that the filmmaker said that all the instances of white harassment weren't right for the video based on technical grounds. i wish a woman had been the filmmaker, and more than that, a woman of color. or, i guess, i hope a woman of color makes the video that ayesha suggests.
posted by nadawi at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


We don't need to focus on the psychological motivation behind "what makes people want to steal" in order to enforce anti-theft laws. We just...have laws that say it's illegal to steal, and we have punishments in place to curb the people who do steal. Any kind of "but what's the psychology behind that" happens after they've already been punished. Why should this be any different?

I'm basically on your side of giving zero shits why these human turds do what they do. However, we do actually examine the psychological motivations behind all sorts of crimes in developing deterrents and punishments. (Example off the top of my head: we have studied what makes something seem "easy to steal" and changed the way we organize stores/signal surveillance/light and construct our homes in order to deter thieves.) But because we are a sexist society, this understanding usually gets turned into "things women need to do differently to deter harassment" instead of "changes society needs to make so that harassment is no longer worth it to human turds."
posted by like_a_friend at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Can't we focus on curbing the behavior itself rather than trying to get at the psychological motivation? We don't need to focus on the psychological motivation behind "what makes people want to steal" in order to enforce anti-theft laws. We just...have laws that say it's illegal to steal, and we have punishments in place to curb the people who do steal. Any kind of "but what's the psychology behind that" happens after they've already been punished. Why should this be any different?

Because we're not talking about writing a pass to any man doing that, but rather moving society towards a place where nobody does it? I think stealing is a fantastic parallel, though it falls down for me in that I think there's times when it is absolutely ethical to "steal" - like say if you're abandoned in New Orleans w/o food and water after a major disaster.

You could also compare it to youth violence. Nobody is saying it's cool for kids to knife each other, or for people to steal other people's shit. But if there's an underlying poverty pressure for stealing or a question of lack of structure and activity for delinquency then I do indeed think there's value in knowing that. Because then we can simultaneously condemn and punish the anti-social behavior while doing things to reduce future occurrences.

Not by telling the people being victimized not to do things, not by giving the bad actors what they want. By altering things before they ever get to that point.

I think that's worthwhile. I'm not going to ask a woman who has just been personally harassed to think of what their harasser might have had going on in their past or to forgive them. But I absolutely feel okay about trying to talk about it academically when we're here online. I get if someone can't manage the distance to do so themselves but it's not appeasement or apologia to seek understanding in order to create change.
posted by phearlez at 11:18 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not going to ask a woman who has just been personally harassed to think of what their harasser might have had going on in their past or to forgive them. But I absolutely feel okay about trying to talk about it academically when we're here online.

Some of the women in here have just been personally harrassed. This isn't an intellectual exercise for us, this is our daily life.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:21 AM on October 29, 2014 [25 favorites]


Roxane Gay's reaction to the video is also very good, in my opinion. Scroll down for more, but here are some highlights:
I think we can acknowledge that street harassment is pervasive and terrible and constant while also saying that video has ISSUES.

[...]

"We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera. "

I mean, if that's the case, film for a second day. Be ethical.

[...]

I would have made that video like 5 minutes long. I would have taken 6 or 7 women, across race and body types.

And filmed in both large and small cities, cross section of neighborhoods.

To really get across the reality of street harassment as something that happens in NYC and SF and Toronto and Omaha.

With only one, very specific woman, it gives the impression that a singular type of woman is harassed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:25 AM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


Shaadi has a point about the use of AAVE; I'm glad she pointed that out.

Well, there's a lot that we're not saying in this thread about the complexity of power imbalances across the race/gender/culture/class lines and how, yes, the men in this particular Hollaback video are clearly Black and Latino, and what that says. Yes, it says that the filmmaker may be showing bias, but it's not just that. Although men of all races harass to exhibit and validate their own power, many of the men in systematically oppressed and powerless populations are asserting what they consider to be some of the only power they have, and it's valuable to them. So Shaadi's tweets are important insofar as they do introduce into this conversation the truth that some of these men are sensing a power imbalance that they can upend, even momentarily, and that people are not paying attention or willing to talk about the underlying racial tensions that contribute to these interactions.

At the same time, Shaadi is an asshole for hoping ONLY white women continue to get harassed on the street because something something gentrification. It's great to acknowledge that in a lot of cases, white woman are privileged because the classic narratives of harassment support their stories and it's right to be enraged that women of color being harassed by white men subverts that narrative and their stories are therefore less likely to earn them the protection of the law. But pitting WOCs against white women is the kind of shit I really hate to see when we're clearly all experiencing some level of shit.
posted by pineappleheart at 11:25 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Yeah, we all have a litany of tales to tell, and watching this is a bit of a trigger. I think there came a point where I could tune out the less scary harassment like white noise and ignore it. It's dropped off a bit as I've grown older, but once in a while there's some twit who wants to try his luck.

When I was a kid, there was an incident with a flasher in the park next to the school field. So we all got to spend a couple of evenings after school learning some basic self defence tricks from a policewoman. We learned to yell NO! while throwing a punch. We were shown how to carry a bunch of keys like knuckle-dusters. By far the best skill though, and one I have deployed ever since, was Walking with BitchFace on.

Back straight. Think angry thoughts. What'll you do to that mofo if he has a go? Harden your face and move forward briskly and confidently like your spoiling for a fight. The theory goes that a confident stance is less likely to attract harassment.

This is most likely a controversial opinion, but I'm also in favour of confronting these assholes and calling them out. I think we're far too easily socialised to think that incandescent fury is somehow an inappropriate response to this kind of behaviour. I also question the logic that the situation will automatically turn violent if you do. Mostly these guys are like dogs. Show them who's boss and don't let them see the whites of your eyes. Righteous indignation is the last thing they're expecting, so it's not always that hard to take control. (Unless someone is obviously under the influence, in which you get the hell out as fast as you can.)

I don't feel the need to be polite. I've told people when they've crossed a line, told them I'm not interested, said a firm no thanks and leave me alone. I recently had a total stranger sneak up behind me as I was unlocking my bike. I felt someone behind me walking far too closely. I turned around, squared up and demanded in my best Queen's English to know if he was trying to intimidate me. Bizarrely, he was wearing a gimp suit. I think he was hoping I'd scream. I didn't. I chewed him out for being out of order and told him to fuck off. He apologised and ran away. Moments later, I heard a gale of laughter from his friends as I biked past. I have no idea if he learned anything from it but at least I felt better about the incident.

But a confrontational response takes a certain kind of courage. It only comes when you're prepared to deal. This is why I always walk with BitchFace on.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 11:27 AM on October 29, 2014


....wait, I shouldn't be a dick, or the rule is "don't be a dick?"

The rule. Wheaton's Law: Don't be a dick.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


The worst part of this is that the YouTube comment trolls are right: this harassment is indeed not that bad. Sadly, lots of harassers are scarier than this. I am certain the woman in this video has faced countless encounters in her life that have been much worse but they just weren't "lucky" enough to capture it here. I bet she is recalling countless incidents that she wishes she had on this video.
I live in the Midwest and am harassed nearly every day when shopping. I'm over 40. I look somewhat similar to the woman in the video. I'm also harassed while pregnant, and while pushing a double stroller.
On Monday I had a real humdinger of an incident. It was 10 am and I was driving my dads trophy car (nothing too fancy, but noticeable) on an arterial 4 lane road. At a stoplight the car in the other lane nudged in front of me so I'm trapped, holding up both lanes of the traffic as it turns green while this harasser is yelling "Roll down your window!" It was the pressure of the heavy traffic that finally saved me. I never even looked at him.
I don't consider that incident "bad." I was never afraid. I was safe in the car. It's no where near ok behavior but there are so many times I have been harassed in a real, scary, a hair away from being raped.
It all needs to stop. Everything from the "good morning beautiful" to trapping women in traffic, following them on the street, grabbing them in dark places, all of it has to stop.
posted by littlewater at 11:33 AM on October 29, 2014


Guys, guys, I have an idea! What if, for just one week, we gave these men who are brimming—nay, exploding—with compliments and "good mornings" carte blanche to do their thing, with just one stipulation: they can only greet and compliment their fellow hetero-looking men.

I mean, surely, if these men really are concerned about social isolation and the disappearance of etiquette, they'll jump at the chance to talk to male strangers who may be feeling just as ignored and alone!

So go ahead. Tell that one guy he has nice loafers! Spend some time walking next to a construction worker on his way to the job! Let your fellow fella know just how great his ass looks today! Try to stroke that guy's beard! Hey papi, don't look so sad! Good morning, good morning, good morning!

And leave us womenfolk out of it.

To me the reason does matter.
All kidding aside, if you want to understand the motivations behind the behavior, you're probably going to have to befriend guys who participate in it and get them to engage in some deep and soul-searching conversations. I don't think speculation helps the conversation all that much, especially when it relies on language and assumptions that are kind of icky to begin with.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:34 AM on October 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


Can't we focus on curbing the behavior itself rather than trying to get at the psychological motivation?

I understand, but how can one practiclly police and punish any of the behavior in this video? I'm not sure it's a viable solution. Most of us on here know this is bad behavior, but how and when does society educate the harassers to stop them? I get that this isn't an intellectual exercise for many women here but I hate to think this is just how it is. I think looking at it from a psycological perspective could reveal interesting results.

I found Emma Watson's Speech on Gender Equality at the UN enlighting "I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves."
posted by guy72277 at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I pass men on the street, we nod at each other most of the time. When I pass women on the street, I smile and say hello. Do I need to check myself?
posted by hellphish at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2014


When I pass men on the street, we nod at each other most of the time. When I pass women on the street, I smile and say hello. Do I need to check myself?
How about this: let women initiate any interaction on the street.
posted by metaquarry at 11:40 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Making the distinction between assertively greeting somebody because you want their attention and acknowledging a fellow user of public spaces when your paths cross is actually not at all remotely difficult to do in practice. Anyone who truly does find it difficult is always free to err on the side of not saying anything.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:41 AM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


You know what? It really doesn't fucking matter if men of color feel disempowered by society and so they feel like they're striking a blow at society by harassing women who pass. That is their fucking problem, the shit is still unacceptable.

It doesnt matter if the women being harassed are gentrifiers or not. Leave them the fuck alone!
posted by corb at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I sometimes am happy a male stranger has been safely friendly so I can discern who the good guys are in case I am cornered by a bad guy and need help. It's happened before.
posted by littlewater at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I pass men on the street, we nod at each other most of the time. When I pass women on the street, I smile and say hello. Do I need to check myself?

Christ, not this again.
posted by zjacreman at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


I understand, but how can one practiclly police and punish any of the behavior in this video? I'm not sure it's a viable solution. Most of us on here know this is bad behavior, but how and when does society educate the harassers to stop them? I get that this isn't an intellectual exercise for many women here but I hate to think this is just how it is. I think looking at it from a psycological perspective could reveal interesting results.

Okay, have you considered taking this desire for psychological contemplation somewhere where it isn't a room full of people that don't seem to be interested in joining you?

You know, much like you shouldn't try to talk to women who aren't really sending out body language that says it's okay to. My opinion as to their motivation is that they simply don't care enough to consider the fact that the woman is not sending out any body language signifiers that suggest that such interaction is welcome - and the reason for that is, they simply don't care.

Similarly, it's feeling like you simply don't care that there is ample indication in this thread that women do not want to idly speculate "now why d'you think guys do this," and we are overwhelmingly and obviously more interested in saying "we don't care WHY it happens, just STOP IT." So perhaps whatever psychological motive you have for thinking that you can trump the obvious read of the room could be projected out onto men at large and there's your answer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:45 AM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


When I pass men on the street, we nod at each other most of the time. When I pass women on the street, I smile and say hello. Do I need to check myself?

Well, start here: why do you treat women differently than men? What would happen if you nodded at everyone, or smiled and said hello to everyone?
posted by KathrynT at 11:45 AM on October 29, 2014 [39 favorites]


You know what? It really doesn't fucking matter if men of color feel disempowered by society and so they feel like they're striking a blow at society by harassing women who pass. That is their fucking problem, the shit is still unacceptable.


Yes, I think it's crazy unacceptable and disagree with Ayesha Siddiqi and Shaadi that gentrification makes it acceptable for men of color to fight back, that any non-WOC fighting street harassment necessarily criminalizes black men, and that white women who are complaining about street harassment are only doing it because they don't want to see any black bodies in their appropriated spaces. As many of us have mentioned, we've been harassed by men of all races. That's often also been informed by class in my case too: When I was a cocktail waitress, rich white men felt extremely entitled to my body because I was "serving" them and therefore in a lower-class category that meant they were entitled to me. They said the most horrifying things I've ever heard to me. So I don't think this is all about race or that there's any justification for any of this.

But I pretty much agree with phearlez that ignoring the cultural pressures that exacerbate this sort of behavior across all races is the sort of thing that just contributes to it, so let's talk about it if we really want to do this right.
posted by pineappleheart at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


guy72277: " I think looking at it from a psycological perspective could reveal interesting results."

In abstract, there might some merit in this. However, the part that feels a little off to me is that mere armchair speculation is no substitute for actual psychological research or even direct observations. You previously stated that you "have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity". Why should we give your feeling about what might be in these men's minds more credence than others' feelings and direct observations that many of these men are actually engaged in a form of outright hostility designed to reinforce their dominance. What are you basing your feeling on? Is it with direct engagement with these harassers or with a theoretical construct within your own mind that just happens to paint them in the best possible light? How does this "feeling" you have line up against the actual instances of street harassment documented in this very thread? How does, say, shouting at women (or a 10-year-old girl) from a moving car embody an "interaction with beauty and feminity"?

And, if we take your feeling about these harassers' motivations at face value, what conclusion should we draw? What solution do thing you think we will find if we assume that their motivation is to "interact with beauty and femininity"?
posted by mhum at 11:59 AM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


com'on, I think we all know that it's not supposed to "work," as in, get a guy a date. It's meant to scare/intimidate/harass/embarass the woman they are doing It to. I'm sick of hearing that confusion, as if there is a goal of dating on these guy's minds. There is no other non-shitty intention, believe that.

When I was much, much younger and stupider, well over a decade ago, I was working on an outdoor crew, and yes we participated in this behavior, shamefully in hindsight. As black/latin men working outdoors, that was just what you did, is what we thought. There was maybe something wrong with you if you didn’t acknowledge a pretty woman walking by. How could it be bad, there were songs written about it? And here’s the thing. It totally did “work,” as in, got us dates. More than you might think.

In the intervening years, I’ve reflected upon this. How can this have possibly been a successful strategy? I think it boils down to two things. First, some people, maybe particularly in low-income neighborhoods, have been misled by society into thinking it’s completely okay to publicly rate unknown women on their physical appearance, and that the women should even be grateful in return. And some women would indeed smile and express thanks. (Maybe out of fear or resignation.) Some would become acquaintances over time and you’d get to know their names and exchange daily conversation, and eventually go out on conventional dates with them. A few would immediately fire back with their own suggestive comments and express a serious interest in sexual rendezvous. A few would respond in anger, irritation or frustration. The vast majority would just ignore you though. And paradoxically, that’s the second reason this worked. It’s a similar issue to the 419 scam. Doesn’t everybody realize by now that these constitute fraud? Sure, almost everybody. But scammers send out thousands of emails because it costs almost nothing to send emails. Notice that many of those emails have misspellings and are crudely designed? Because, as the scammer, you want anyone with a lick of common sense to disregard you. That way, the 3 or 4 people who respond are almost guaranteed to be ideal victims. They’ve self-selected as victims.

Similarly, it’s an almost zero-effort activity on the part of the street harasser to say “Good morning, hey beautiful, good morning, hey beautiful,” etc., 300 times a day. In fact, rude and crude catcalls work “better” because they eliminate the false positives of the polite but completely uninterested woman. But when the one woman out of 300 responds with a leering, “hi brutha how YOU doin’ today,” the harasser’s odds of talking that one woman into going out are not so bad.

I think, as a society, one method for us to deal with this is to lower those odds, by educating the public through methods such as this video that street harassment is unacceptable and shouldn’t be responded to kindly or in any way appeased. I agree with littlewater in this. “It all needs to stop.” If there is to be a solution, that is, it has to start from a place where it's universally acknowledged as wrong behavior. And maybe, perhaps, after that, there’s an affirmative consent type of paradigm that can be devised. But people on their own can’t be just trusted to do the right thing, to “not be dicks.” Back in my day, we thought we were mostly gentlemen. We’d help good-looking women up and down the stairs with packages and baby carriages, and tell ‘em “smile” to perk up their morning. So, yeah, no.
posted by xigxag at 12:00 PM on October 29, 2014 [25 favorites]


To me the reason does matter.
All kidding aside, if you want to understand the motivations behind the behavior, you're probably going to have to befriend guys who participate in it and get them to engage in some deep and soul-searching conversations.


Actually, I'm hoping to get insight here because the big difficulty is that a lot of us don't really know who harasses because it doesn't happen when we're there. And the guys who do it probably aren't primed for any in-depth discussion on the subject. Aaand, if you were to confront someone on the street about it (especially in front of a woman) you're likely to suffer serious physical abuse. The only people I hear about street harassment from is women, but I personally don't think that the arguments I read here would speak to the harassers or potential harassers.

...where it isn't a room full of people that don't seem to be interested in joining you? ...you simply don't care that there is ample indication in this thread that women do not want to idly speculate..
OK, sorry I didn't notice that until you pointed it out. I guess I'll leave you to it then. I was really interested in looking at things from a different angle but I guess I'll have to keep it off site. I have three sons so I'm very interested in them not growing up to find this sort of thing acceptable.
posted by guy72277 at 12:01 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, have you considered taking this desire for psychological contemplation somewhere where it isn't a room full of people that don't seem to be interested in joining you?

I don't know that we have established that nobody here wants to join so much as we have that you're prepared to shout down every person who expresses an interest in doing so, EC. I get it if it's too personal to discuss calmly but you're engaging with each and every single person who raises the angle solely for the purpose of vetoing it.
posted by phearlez at 12:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


hellphish: "When I pass men on the street, we nod at each other most of the time. When I pass women on the street, I smile and say hello. Do I need to check myself?"

Yes. Please check your self. In typing this out, you must have noticed the asymmetry in the interactions, right? When you pass men on the street, you engage in an equal and symmetric interaction, so you wrote "we nod at each other" (emphasis added). However, when you wrote down what you do when you pass women, you only wrote down what you did? Why do you suppose that is? Why do you not smile and say hello to men you pass? Is it some variation of Pulp Fiction's foot massage discussion (i.e.: "Foot massages don't mean shit." [...] "Would you give a guy a foot massage?" "Fuck you.")?
posted by mhum at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


And here’s the thing. It totally did “work,” as in, got us dates. More than you might think.

I think this is an important point. I've seen it work too. When I worked with adjudicated youth it used to drive us (staff) crazy when the girls would be giving out their numbers to hot young guys hanging out on the corner. So I agree ... there's definite motivation for guys to play the game.
posted by kanewai at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was really interested in looking at things from a different angle but I guess I'll have to keep it off site. I have three sons so I'm very interested in them not growing up to find this sort of thing acceptable.

Does simply telling them it's rude and disrespectful not seem sufficient? I'm not sure why a whole psychological buttress is necessary in this instance. I mean, you don't try to teach them the psychological motivation for "here's why some people may try to hit you" when they're two year olds, you just tell them "it's not nice to hit people". Not every kind of behavior needs a total understanding of the root cause for you to issue boundaries upon it.

However, if you still really want to know people's feedback on the possible motivations for that purpose, it strikes me that simply asking "I'm wondering how to stop my sons from doing this" would be MUCH better received than "hmmmm, did'ja ever think that this is all the guys may be trying to do?" The former actually gets at the root of what YOU'RE trying to do, the latter comes across as you putting the onus back on women to be more "understanding" of men and their lot in life.

And asking women to be more "understanding" of men is something that women have been socialized to do our entire lives, and we are sick unto the back teeth of it and are wondering why no one seems to socialize men to be more understanding of women in return.

Actually, that strikes me as a very good way to speak to your sons. Rather than trying to get at the psychological motive of why the men do this, perhaps you could get into the psychological impact this behavior has on women. You know? "Kids, I know that you really think it isn't a big deal to whistle at a girl, but - lemme tell you how it feels for her to be whistled at."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


You have these Blk & Latino men as the face of street harassment w/an AAVE name. Meant to evoke feelings in those w/power
...
hese women are appealing to their institutions of whiteness to remove this threat from them & all I can think of is Till & a whistle


These are absolutely good and essential points. I would love to see a similar video shot from the point of view of a woman of color, or one exploring the role of race in street harassment. And it is bullshit that catcalling white men were systematically removed from the video.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:13 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hidden camera footage of how white men behave towards women in offices and board rooms is what I want to see more of.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


xigxag I love your comment! It helps me so much.
I am a white woman and I live in a mixed race city. I always thought some of these harassers were actually ok guys but thought they had no idea their interactions were troubling.
So a few years ago I started to talk kindly, like a friend, to the "safe" ones. I'm actually really happy I have, because I think it humanizes me and reminds them that it's a real person they may have to interact respectfully with. On interaction, some are kind, some are dogs and get my verbal disapproval.
I also know most women cannot do this. The reasons I can do this is because I know the places very well, I'm over 40, and I am physically powerful for a woman. I know I'm risking my safety doing this, but I value any positive conversation I can have with a stranger, and especially a black male stranger, the most taboo interactions in our society. I try to turn a negative interaction into something positive and sometimes it works. I'm working on it. I want us all to be friendlier, kinder, and safer.
posted by littlewater at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


To really get across the reality of street harassment as something that happens in NYC and SF and Toronto and Omaha.

With only one, very specific woman, it gives the impression that a singular type of woman is harassed.


I think this is a really strong point. Maybe it will spawn other projects in other areas and cities-- like, say, St. Patrick's Day, or frats-- which were highlighted in Shaadi's tweets. I do think it's weird to criticize Hollaback on the basis of this one video alone, instead of looking at all of Hollaback's projects, which are substantially broader than just NYC. I'm also surprised that Jessica William's recent video on this same issue, which was written/narrated(?) by her and which includes WOC, hasn't been brought up as a companion piece to this more.

I grew up in an area as it was gentrifying and I was never harassed. (Ditto for Rome, actually-- I was sorry to hear that many women had different experiences.) When I lived on Philadelphia's Main Line, an affluent area with basically zero pedestrians, I had the fun of dudes in cars yelling at me. This isn't just an issue about gentrifying areas or race.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hidden camera footage of how white men behave towards women in offices and board rooms is what I want to see more of.


You are a genius. Too bad most women would be prosecuted by their own companies for releasing these videos, even with brand names and faces blurred. You wanna see some rich, white dudes harass women? Strap on a GoPro and become an Executive Assistant.
posted by pineappleheart at 12:21 PM on October 29, 2014 [21 favorites]


Well, start here: why do you treat women differently than men? What would happen if you nodded at everyone, or smiled and said hello to everyone?

Thanks for engaging me in good faith, I will do the same. I apologize in advance, because I haven't ever attempted to put how I feel into words and I might not express myself clearly.

I suppose I feel that men and women are different, sort of like dogs are different from cats. I'm an animal lover, and the way I engage with and show respect for a dog is different than what I would do for a cat. I'm not saying men and women are as different as cats and dogs, but if I had to ask myself, I'd have to admit I believe there are subtle differences in how you communicate with either gender.

I'm grasping for an analogy, and the best I can think of is that when I pass another man on the street, we share a knowing nod, a glance that says "we are brothers out here in this world" similar to how motorcycle riders wave at each other. When I pass a woman and we make eye contact, there's a feeling that we are different slightly, and come from slightly different worlds. I can't share a knowing look with them, because we know we are different. So my affect toward the woman might be slightly more polite, slightly more formal. I guess in my mind this is the polite thing to do, the way you might greet a foreign visitor differently than you'd greet your neighbor.

What would happen if I nodded at everyone? I can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little. If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something. I don't know what the women think; all the women I say hello to say hello back, probably because I wasn't inconveniencing them by trying to slow them down and talk to them. I watched this whole video and was pretty appalled at what I saw-- men trying to get the attention of a woman who did not want to offer it. I would never attempt to get the attention of another stranger just so I could nod or say hello to them, this is a purely "in passing" thing. I'm definitely not taking a childish stance of "oh well I guess I can't talk to women anymore," but I am interested in knowing where other people feel the limits are for interacting with strangers. Some people have mentioned that it is more OK when standing in a queue, for instance.

It's pretty simple for me: if I make eye contact, I issue a greeting. That greeting changes depending on whom it is directed to. I had never really thought about why, so I thank you again for engaging me and allowing to me think this through out loud.
posted by hellphish at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Executive Assistant

I was hazed/harassed out of a job as an Executive Assistant because my boss thought men shouldn't BE Executive Assistants and thought that my being one meant I was gay, or worse. This was long ago. Now, I probably would have filed suit, but back then, just entering the job market, I just asked for another assignment (I think it was through Kelly Services). Given that experience, I can well imagine how much like Mad Men that role must still be in most companies, especially those in industries that tend to be hyper-conservative.
posted by kalessin at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


hellphish, all of the women I know are fully capable of responding well and meaningfully to The Nod. A recent episode of Blackish talks about The Nod, by the way.
posted by kalessin at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something. I don't know what the women think; all the women I say hello to say hello back, probably because I wasn't inconveniencing them by trying to slow them down and talk to them.

Actually, most women are socialized to be polite and nice as opposed to being assertive, so it's also possible that the women who said "hello" back were feeling like they were obligated to do so whether or not they wanted to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2014 [21 favorites]


What would happen if I nodded at everyone? I can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little.

I'm sorry, you think that women are a different species who don't understand how to respond to nods? I mean, for example, I'm a lady, and I spend my day nodding at anyone who makes eye contact with me on the street. I have no idea what you are talking about.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2014 [23 favorites]


Does simply telling them it's rude and disrespectful not seem sufficient?
Yes, totally. They're little kids at the moment so they listen to me. But I'm not sure how much control of peer pressures I will have later on. It was probably a bad idea on my part to mention my sons - a parenting derail that this thread does not need.

asking women to be more "understanding" of men...
Sorry if my comments read that way, I can assure you it was simply me trying to be more (or seeking a better) understanding of men.
posted by guy72277 at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's pretty simple for me: if I make eye contact, I issue a greeting. That greeting changes depending on whom it is directed to. I had never really thought about why, so I thank you again for engaging me and allowing to me think this through out loud.

Here's a perspective I try to maintain: Issuing any sort of greeting to a female complete stranger on the street is essentially demanding she take time out of her day to acknowledge me. I am invading her personal space with my shit and demanding social interaction. And as EC mentioned above, most women are socialized to be polite.

In an urban environment it's pretty much out of line, and a dick move by definition.

"Eyes forward and keep it to yourself" is the counsel, guys.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2014


If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something.

I hate to say it, but that is exactly how I feel when a random guy says hi to me as I'm walking down the street. And that thing about feeling obligated to say hi back, even if you're uncomfortable? In my case, it's absolutely true.

Again, I live in NYC, and standards for politeness vary widely from place to place. But women and men might not be as different as you think.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


women are not a different species. we are not foreigners. we do not think it's more polite for you to expect a larger interaction with us than you expect with other men. we are 50% of the population and we are asking you in every single way we can think of to be treated like it.
posted by nadawi at 12:36 PM on October 29, 2014 [34 favorites]


I'm grasping for an analogy, and the best I can think of is that when I pass another man on the street, we share a knowing nod, a glance that says "we are brothers out here in this world" similar to how motorcycle riders wave at each other. When I pass a woman and we make eye contact, there's a feeling that we are different slightly, and come from slightly different worlds. I can't share a knowing look with them, because we know we are different. So my affect toward the woman might be slightly more polite, slightly more formal. I guess in my mind this is the polite thing to do, the way you might greet a foreign visitor differently than you'd greet your neighbor.

This is actually one of the craziest things I have ever read on this site. I'm not saying this to be cruel but so that you understand how far away you are from rational thinking. Your idea of women as foreigners or a different species who cannot relate to you or understand nods while men just exist in some sort of masculine solidarity IS SO SEXIST. This is the exact thing that contributes to all of this shit. We are not some willowy, cat-like, fragile, quizzical beings who cannot understand the Manly Nod. Some posters will think I'm overreacting or that I'm berating you, but I'm really not; I just want you to understand how utterly insane your thinking is.

What would happen if I nodded at everyone? I can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little.

Even if no one ever nodded at us, we would've seen men nod at each other and have the capacity to understand what that means. Do you think we just wander around blindly and obliviously, or do you think women are like, "What is that movement men do with their heads around each other? Huh, don't have the mental ability to parse that, will go chase a butterfly instead?" Why on earth would a nod trip us up? Do you honestly think women are mentally enfeebled???
posted by pineappleheart at 12:37 PM on October 29, 2014 [56 favorites]


I don't think it's that white catcallers were removed from the video. I think it's more likely that the type of harassment white men participate in is 1) more usually, as someone said, in the boardroom rather than the street, and 2) directed differently.

I am a WOC who can pass, and I've almost never received verbal street harassment by white men at, rather than about, myself on the street. They leer. They grin. They whistle. They talk about me, within earshot, to their friends. They sometimes make rude, knowing gestures. But they don't yell. Propositions and jokes are saved for work.

That kind of thing is really hard to catch on audio or visually, even when you're trying to.
posted by corb at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I nodded at a woman once and her head instantly exploded. Beware everyone.
posted by naju at 12:40 PM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


the person who made the video said the white cat callers didn't make the final cut because of technical issues. i totally agree that different situations have different types of harassment, but in the specific case we're discussing he flat out says white men were engaging in similar things during their filming.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hidden camera footage of how white men behave towards women in offices and board rooms is what I want to see more of.

You are a genius. Too bad most women would be prosecuted by their own companies for releasing these videos, even with brand names and faces blurred.


Not to mention the apologia brigade. We're seeing them across both genders even with this video on the "not all of those statements were harassment!" claims. And that's in a video where it's tightly constrained and edited to show the woman never once diverting her focus or doing anything to indicate an interest in interacting. The excuses would flow like water in a more nuanced case, not to mention insistence that there'd been something done off-screen to set it up as invited.

I'm somewhat surprised not to have seen that about this video, in fact, but maybe enough people think that a fitted shirt is enough excuse and they don't need to reach any farther for their justification.

Issuing any sort of greeting to a female complete stranger on the street is essentially demanding she take time out of her day to acknowledge me. I am invading her personal space with my shit and demanding social interaction. And as EC mentioned above, most women are socialized to be polite.

Right - it's no more difficult than that. Do not engage with people who didn't give you some indication that they are open to engagement. Not sure? Keep quiet.

Unfortunately we're dealing both with men who believe their desires trump women's and people in general who think that some sort of Etiquette Truth means that people are obligated to respond, with courtesy, to anyone who speaks to them. The woman on FB who was torqued that the video supposedly showed non-harassing incidents stated in her conclusion that it was important to not discourage discourse between strangers. She'd rather live in a world where strangers say hello and give each other compliments on the street!

She's convinced there's this imperative to improve relationships between people and that the spectre of stranger hostility justifies forcing attention on people who don't want it. It feels to me like variants on this self-entitlement are all over the place. I'm not sure how much of that is disguised personal indignation that Nobody Is Going To Tell Me How To Act and how much is some sort of societal panic/moral crusade.
posted by phearlez at 12:44 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Like I said, I definitely don't think that women are a different species than men, and I do not believe they are mentally handicapped in anyway. I don't believe you're asking that question in good faith, but I've been honest in trying to thoughtfully examine my reflexive behavior. Isn't that the point of all this, to open eyes? Ya know, I've been socialized to be polite as well, and I honestly asked metafilter if I've been doing it wrong and I've received my answer. I'm not going to take excessive actions like "just don't acknowledge anybody" like I've seen thrown around here, but I will give the unisex nod a try for a while. Again I appreciate the feedback.
posted by hellphish at 12:45 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't believe you're asking that question in good faith,

No, I am asking that question in good faith. If someone believes women can't understand what a common acknowledgement nod means while men are perfectly able to, I have to assume that he has (probably unexamined) assumptions that women are somehow deficient.
posted by pineappleheart at 12:48 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


What would happen if I nodded at everyone? I can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little.

I know for sure, because this is what I do.

I will tell you from YEARS of Actual Real World Experience that women know how to nod politely at a passing stranger.

I have yet to encounter one so non-plussed that she stops in her tracks, or forgets how her legs work and just falls over.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Making the distinction between assertively greeting somebody because you want their attention and acknowledging a fellow user of public spaces when your paths cross is actually not at all remotely difficult to do in practice. Anyone who truly does find it difficult is always free to err on the side of not saying anything.

no no prize bull octorok I am an alien from another planet and only understand communication in binary. beep boop I must go communicate with the hive mind from the Chickenstar and find out how to acknowledge sharing public space with you peculiar human creatures.

01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101000 01100101 01101100 01101100
posted by winna at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


the person who made the video said the white cat callers didn't make the final cut because of technical issues.

In my experience, a lot of white dudes seem to get a rush out of doing it more quietly (the gross whisper ughhhh), and by shouting out of cars. Anecdata, I know but those are both things that wouldn't get picked up on a microphone.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have to assume that he has (probably unexamined) assumptions that women are somehow deficient.

Yes. And helphish, please try to remember that "in good faith" includes asking difficult questions in an effort to build a bridge. Not to try to trick you or get you, but to try to get you to think and articulate your background reasons for making these (weird to us) assertions. To me, being in poor faith would in contrast be writing you off, not interacting or engaging with you, not acknowledging your words.
posted by kalessin at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


By the way, for a binary decode, you can use: http://encodertool.com/binary
posted by kalessin at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2014


What would happen if I nodded at everyone? I can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little.

When someone nods at me on the street, if I see it, I usually nod back. I don't do a quick visual check for secondary sex characteristics before I do so, nor does it trip me up or baffle me. I'm a human being, I'm not a different species or a creature that needs to be handled or managed. Just treat me with the same respect you offer someone that you consider your equal. Because that's what I am. Thanks.
posted by palomar at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm a woman, and I used to give (and get) The Nod a lot, to and from other women. It's a dyke thing. This basically never happens since I moved to San Francisco, because we're all over the place and nobody needs neck pain like that.

I'm a little eyebrow-raised at the thought of a man giving The Nod to literally every man he sees, but if that's how you roll, well, okay.
posted by rtha at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I will try to put this as kindly as possible since I was so startled by your words before that I was perhaps too mean: Women are not very different from men in how we should be greeted. Instead of greeting men as fellow motorcycle riders, think of us all as motorcycle riders on the road of common humanity. Thinking of women as people with whom you share that feeling of solidarity and with which you do have language and experiences in common will help you to interact with them on equal footing. Women are motorcycle riders too.
posted by pineappleheart at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


To be brutally honest, the thing I hate most about street harassment is how it's such a common thing that I catch myself evaluating my appeal to men by the amount of harassment I get, which makes me feel gross and conflicted and bad. It's so ugly and terrible and I know that it's wrong but that just makes me feel even worse. I'll be walking down the street and I'll notice that nobody is leering at me from their cars today or yelling anything - usually someone has said something weird or given me The Leer Face by now, does that mean I look terrible? I try so hard to reject the notion that any of my worth as a person comes from my decorative value, but in that split second, I feel like I have less value because I feel like I don't look good enough to harass. Obviously I'm ultimately grateful when I can escape being harassed and when people are decent and respectful to me, but there's still a part of my socialization that tells me that being degraded like that actually somehow helps confirm my value to men in some awful way. It's so disgusting and it makes me feel so stupid for feeling even the slightest moment of validation about my value to a patriarchal system that I ultimately reject.

Does anyone else experience that, or did you when you were younger? I understand why it doesn't come up much in these conversations - it's way too easy to give the impression that street harassment counts as positive attention or makes women feel good, which it unequivocally does not!! - but it's part of what has always made the whole experience so especially confusing and awful for me, especially when I was younger. On a rational level, of course, it makes no sense, not least because many people report actually experiencing more harassment when they're not all dressed up and looking great, and even moreso because I know they'd just be picking on me because I look vulnerable. But it's still so hard to shake that split-second feeling of "well, I guess at least I'm adequately fulfilling my role as a decorative object today..."

If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something.

Everyone's jumping all over you but I just wanted to add that yes, this is exactly how I feel when random men go out of their way to say "good morning" to me when they don't do the same for everyone else on the street. A nod is much more polite. We're all on the same team, and it might be worth examining why you think of women as akin to foreigners instead of teammates or fellow riders, in your metaphor.
posted by dialetheia at 1:02 PM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


When I pass a woman and we make eye contact, there's a feeling that we are different slightly, and come from slightly different worlds.

To be non-snarky about this, you're actually somewhat correct here - as in women live in a world where they find it necessary to constantly keep a wary eye on the men surrounding them, and to be in a more-or-less constant state of threat appraisal, and to consider (long before you're actually in interacting distance) what their best and safest reaction will be if your "smile and say hello" turns into, "Nice ass. You live around here?"
posted by soundguy99 at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


A datapoint on a woman being accompanied by a male friend, added wrinkle if that friend is in some way weak:

I'm a mid-40s man now. When I was my late teens I had a platonic friend who was beautiful, trim and also late teens. I was fat, tall, and dressed in a bulky army jacket as the wannabe artist I was. Whenever we were in public (public parks, beaches, parking lots, city streets / all in San Diego) she *would* get propositioned or harassed. Generally she ignored this, When she was forced to answer no, the next move was to say something along the lines of "why don't you get with a real man" or "dump that fatso" or both.

If it started to escalate to confrontation or even if not I learned we just had to leave. It was for the best - the safest option.So we did't get to enjoy the beach / park / view anymore - at least not in that spot. It was not freedom. It was not "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It was a valuable lesson in an aspect of male culture that makes life worse.

Also, to the guys asking for "permission" to say a "hello" or "good morning" from the women assembled here, they can't give you that. The fact that so many speak so negatively about it should give you pause even if you think it's somehow not fair that you can't say your "good morning." I ride public transportation a fair amount and so I have had get a chance to learn the difference between positive interactions where everyone is comfortable with the level of interaction and when everyone is not. When it's negative, it sucks. So use your head and let people have their space. The Golden Rule applies.
posted by artlung at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little.

Did you really just say you think I can't figure out how to respond to a nod?

I mean. I am offended enough at your suggestion of what that the primary reason I return a hello must be. You seem really unwilling to read and absorb everything above about how goddamned scary it is to have this interaction with a total stranger, who is, if not bigger than I am, in other ways more powerful.

You really just told me you think I'm too stupid to "reflexively know," what to do about a nod although I spend my entire day making reflexive decisions about who is safe to flip off, who I need to cross to the other side of the street from, and in fact, who, for a variety of reasons, I will choose to say something to.

I just...the level of condescention inherent in telling a group of people that you respond to women differently than men because we are different is high. You topped that by telling me that I'm stupid.
posted by bilabial at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


Does anyone else experience that, or did you when you were younger? I understand why it doesn't come up much in these conversations

There was a thread about trans women and street harassment that touches on this.

FWIW, I had to reset the "not catcalled for X days" counter last Monday, so whatever.
posted by sukeban at 1:06 PM on October 29, 2014


dialetheia - i was explicitly socialized to think of my purpose as being subservient to men, to exist for their fulfillment, to elevate their praise above my own feelings of self, that even something as personal as my own genitalia was actually bestowed on me for him and the children i would give him. then i was told very young that the things i wore or said were responsible for men falling all over themselves to be as gross as possible - that their inability to remain civil was my doing. so, yes, i have absolutely found myself in the shame spiral you speak of and i agree that it's very hard to talk about in mixed company.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Thanks pineappleheart, comments like that go much further toward "helping to maintain a healthy, respectful discussion" (paraphrased from the text below the comment field) than comments like "I nodded at a woman and her head exploded" or mockingly pretending to be an alien with no idea how to share a space. I went out on a limb by publicly examining my previously unexplored reflexes, received good feedback, and have taken it to heart. I haven't been here trying to justify shitty behavior, I've been trying to examine it.

I will say that just as women might be socialized to feel required respond to my greeting, I've been socialized to be polite and respectful to people. Maybe we are both doing things we don't want to do?

on preview: To be non-snarky about this, you're actually somewhat correct here - as in women live in a world where they find it necessary to constantly keep a wary eye on the men surrounding them, and to be in a more-or-less constant state of threat appraisal, and to consider (long before you're actually in interacting distance) what their best and safest reaction will be if your "smile and say hello" turns into, "Nice ass. You live around here?"

You know, now that you mention this, I might be falling into the same trap from the other side. Men are a threat to men also, I'm not a large guy, and walking on the street I do find myself assessing other men for Friend or Foe status. I don't find myself making this assessment of women, maybe because my reptile brain has already put them in the "non-threat" list? Perhaps this is similar to how women can comment on eachother's appearance without any suggestion of ulterior motives? I'm glad we are talking about this.
posted by hellphish at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think this is an important point. I've seen it work too. When I worked with adjudicated youth it used to drive us (staff) crazy when the girls would be giving out their numbers to hot young guys hanging out on the corner. So I agree ... there's definite motivation for guys to play the game.

Xigxag covers this better than I can from personal experience but - it's impossible to keep up with everything that's gone on in this thread - I do wanna say one more time that one of the many relevant race/class things is that the poor/minority/maybe gentrifying part of town often has a strong culture of people hanging out and talking in the street and growing up there definitely normalizes some of these interactions for both men and women. I'm not trying to be like "oh they're just misunderstood" - beyond all the problems that doesn't solve, for every guy who thinks he's being friendly there's one straight up knowingly being a creep - but this is honestly a many-layered subject. Though it kind of comes down to "shit flows downhill and women are still at the bottom."
posted by atoxyl at 1:11 PM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have the feeling that many of these men just want an excuse to interact with beauty and femininity in what might otherwise be otherwise tough lives with little softness, gentleness or opportunity to engage with what they perceive as nice. I think the world many men have to inhabit can be cold, emotionless and male-centric. Getting a smile from or a brief chat with a beautiful girl gives many men a quick buzz or good feeling that may be due to a release of endorphins (I read that somewhere a few years back). Clearly, I'm trying to propose a reason for initiating contact, not by any means an excuse for these people's actions.
posted by guy72277 at 11:56 AM on October 29


Then I want you to explain to me why this shit starts when women are still children. I was eleven. My cousin was nine. Other women in this thread have talked about how young they were when the harassment started.

Do me a favor. Ask the women in your life, the ones who are near and dear to you, how old they were when they first felt sexually threatened by a man. Have a bucket with you when you do, because before they're done telling you about it, you're going to feel the need to throw up in it.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:19 PM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


FWIW, I had to reset the "not catcalled for X days" counter last Monday, so whatever.

And if you're comfortable with calling out crappy behavior in public, you get another awesome counter. My "days since 'Shut up, bitch!'" counter seldom hits double digits.
posted by asperity at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did you really just say you think I can't figure out how to respond to a nod?

No, I think you could figure out anything. You seem quite intelligent. Too intelligent to be putting words in my mouth, actually. So you should cut that out. If I'm unclear, ask for clarification. I'm not a poet. It's rude to assume the worst of people in printed communication. I did not just say you're stupid. Reflexes are all about training and are nothing about intellect. I'm here to talk about that training, not to make fun of people in the thick of it. I have been trying to avoid being defensive of my actions, preferring to be introspective instead. It would be nice if you could do the same.
posted by hellphish at 1:23 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will say that just as women might be socialized to feel required respond to my greeting, I've been socialized to be polite and respectful to people. Maybe we are both doing things we don't want to do?

....Can you....explain what you would be doing otherwise?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


relevant
posted by tonycpsu at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


And if you're comfortable with calling out crappy behavior in public, you get another awesome counter.

I gave him the finger in front of his face while I glided past on my bike, but no response.
posted by sukeban at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else experience that, or did you when you were younger?

Absolutely. Certainly when I was younger (and visibly still a child!), and, if I'm going to be honest, maybe even a little bit today. And it feels scummy and awful. I think that's a really insidious and crappy aspect of the compliments that come with street harassment: they reinforce this idea that a woman's worth is to be assessed by her attractiveness to men, including complete strangers.

Because when you go to compliment a total stranger, you don't have a context in which to praise her thoughts, or work, or deeds, or accomplishments. You can only talk about what you see before you, i.e., her body or her attire. And in so doing, you participate in the socialization of women (and young girls!) to value their appearance to men above all other traits.

And you do end up with this Stockholm syndrome kind of thing where on the one day when you finally get some peace and quiet, you start to wonder if it's because you've done something wrong. Maybe you've become too horrible to look at. Maybe you're now invisible to the world. If you aren't how you look, then who are you?

And don't get me started on the mental gymnastics I went through the first two dozen times I was told to smile or "not look so sad," even when I thought I was having a good day. Because maybe I wasn't having as good a day as I thought I was? Was something wrong? Or maybe my resting face was so off putting and contorted and upsetting to strangers that they felt the need to intervene??

Dear reader, for years, I took those comments quite literally at face value. I assumed the problem was my face, itself.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2014 [17 favorites]


Does anyone else experience that, or did you when you were younger?

Sure, this stuff is so complicated and in some ugly ways. Example from just this week: I made an extra effort to dress up for work on Monday, because I had an important meeting and Mondays are just awful so why not cheer myself up by wearing an outfit that makes me feel comfortable and stylish and happy? I stopped in to run an errand and an older man, who seemed from mannerisms and voice to have some sort of mental disability, came in to the store as I was ringing up my purchase. He said hi to the guy behind the counter and they clearly knew each other and were friendly, and then he asked me "Hey, why are you so gorgeous?" and offered to give me a high five for being beautiful. I usually do not like random stranger compliments, but in this case I smiled and returned the high five and went on my way. I felt pretty good about the compliment, although awkward about the high five but not quite sure how to turn it down. But why did that particular compliment not flip my rage switch? Did I actually really need the ego boost of a compliment that day and any stranger compliment would have been well received? Was it because the guy was clearly a known and friendly quantity to some other people in the room so I didn't feel threatened? Was it some really ugly thing happening in my mind about how I interact with people with disabilities as being unthreatening? Was it because it was broad daylight in a busy store? Was it because he was elderly, or of a different race? I have no idea and frankly I am not entirely comfortable with my own response to that compliment. But I can't deny that I was more pleased about it than I typically would be and maybe that was just because I don't get random compliments much anymore.

The fact that I did somewhat enjoy that one compliment, though, doesn't outweigh the 99% of the time that such compliments are deeply unwelcome to me.

I will say that I've been thinking about that since Monday. And I bet you that guy hasn't thought about me once since. But he's been taking up space in my brain that I could have been using to, I don't know, solve world peace or something.
posted by Stacey at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


I will say that just as women might be socialized to feel required respond to my greeting, I've been socialized to be polite and respectful to people.

And that's so great! We should all be socialized to be that way! I don't think you're a bad dude and I'm sure you can be a good ally to women. The way to be that ally is to examine what "polite and respectful to people" means and whether your definition aligns with what women are saying feels respectful to them or it if instead needs to be recalibrated. Just read this thread and listen to what we're saying instead of saying you were trained differently.

In some places, saying hello to strangers is polite. In other places, women are caused great stress by having to interact with strange men. You may have been raised in one sort of place, but as you can see, lots of women of this thread live in the other kind of place. Because of this, the polite and respectful thing to do is to choose a default that won't cause women any stress and cannot be interpreted as a manipulation of their social programming (though I know that is not what you intend to do). It may go against your training, but we've all had to be retrained about something. In a perfect world, we could all be trained to say "hi!" to everyone, but this is not that world. If we did live in that perfect world, you'd be able to say hello to men too instead of worrying that they'd think you're selling them something or coming onto them, so you can automatically assume we don't live in that perfect world.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:31 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


can't know for sure, but I think what would happen is that the men would have no reaction, and the women wouldn't reflexively know how to respond, tripping them up a little. If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something.

As another woman here, let me be very clear that I understand nods, I have had people nod to me in passing and I nod in return without getting confused by this incredibly basic way of interacting.

And if saying hello to a man on the street is coming on to them, maybe consider that women think of it the exact same way as men do. ("Is he being polite, or about to come on to me or what?") This entire thread has been full of women saying that this is what they think when they have complete strangers talking to them in public, so I'm not sure why you expect women here to give you more of their time to teach you individually. (Though many of us have.)

Give it a try, nod at women in only those situations where you would nod at men. Say hi to women in only those situations where you'd say hi to men. It is not that difficult to interact with women; we're humans who know how to interact just like men are.

I will say that just as women might be socialized to feel required respond to my greeting, I've been socialized to be polite and respectful to people. Maybe we are both doing things we don't want to do?

You don't actually want to be polite and respectful?
posted by jeather at 1:32 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm not going to take excessive actions like "just don't acknowledge anybody" like I've seen thrown around here

This is a serious question: why did you describe that as an excessive action? Because I have to say that from my perspective I don't find the "don't reach out to engage with strangers" to be an excessive request.

You can say oh, I was just conditioned etc. But we're all conditioned to do a lot of things, and for the most part when consequences get serious we immediately change. Sometimes we struggle with those changes with stuff like food and cigarettes, but people overcome their societal programming on a regular basis.

Do you feel invested in this interaction with strangers? Do you get something out of it, such that you're not prepared to put it down in the face of so many people telling you it's sometimes meaningless and more often unwelcome?
posted by phearlez at 1:32 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


But why did that particular compliment not flip my rage switch?

This may sound kind of crazy? But when a guy is saying something to me, and there's like this flood of ugly sexual predatory "I want to fuck you" crap behind it....it's like I can FEEL it. Like it's being broadcasted by his voice, his manner, his whole attitude in that moment. So it isn't just the literal thing being said that freaks me out, but the WAY it's being said, whether or not I can feel myself being evaluated like a piece of meat while they're saying it.

I have also had guys compliment me in public in ways that, similar to your experience, don't instantly freak me out. Often there's a casual no-pressure lightness to it that's hard to explain.

I still do not like it AT ALL and really wish that random dudes would refrain from trying to talk to me about whether or not I'm physically attractive to them. But there are definitely situations where I'm just kind of annoyed, as opposed to feeling like I've been slapped.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something.

Virtually universally, this is how I feel when a man smiles and says hello to me in passing, particularly if I can observe him doing something different to men. I don't like it, and it wears on me in a tiny but exasperating way, like wearing underwear which doesn't fit or having a popcorn kernel stuck in my teeth. If you are participating in this behavior under the impression that women universally prefer it this way, I can tell you frankly that you are incorrect.

The Nod is how I interact politely with passing strangers. It makes me feel acknowledged and comfortable, in a "hello, fellow traveler through life" way. If you are looking for a way to make that happen for women, I would move to the nod for anyone who meets your eye contact. It's a good way to just indicate "yes, there you are," without pricking my alarm bells of oh god is this going to be the guy who flips out when i don't want to stop and flirt with him? Nod: Highly recommended.
posted by KathrynT at 1:38 PM on October 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


You don't actually want to be polite and respectful?

I definitely do. It is important to me.

why did you describe that as an excessive action?

Because it was a suggestion for some default behavior if you can't figure out the perfectly PC way to handle it. I think I CAN figure it out, so "don't acknowledge anybody" seems drastic. Someone else in this thread said not to talk to women unless they talk to you first. If we are all equal, then that advice would apply to women as well, right? What happens if both parties wait for the other? Isn't this like a "I'll hang up after you hang up" "no I'll hang up after YOU hang up" kind of thing where all action is stalled?

Anyway I'll still be reading this thread because I think there is a lot of value inside it, but I'll be checking out now lest I am accused again of being a woman-hating, scumbag, self-centered threadjacker. Special thanks to Pineappleheart and KathrynT.
posted by hellphish at 1:44 PM on October 29, 2014


If I smiled and said hello to all the men I encountered, they would probably think I was being too friendly, perhaps thinking I was coming on to them or selling something.

Can you explain why you don't think that women would also feel this way?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


Y'know, guy72277, I have to take it back - trying to delve into the psychology of "why men harrass" is actually turning out to be fascinating.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


hellphish, it seems like you're getting very defensive at the idea that an action that you had taken to be Correct and Reassuring has potentially been making thousands of people uncomfortable. And, speaking gently and in good faith, that is unfair. Nobody has used any of those words to describe you; nobody has said you are a terrible person. I applaud your decision to take a step back, but think for a moment as to where the hostility you perceive is actually coming from, because I haven't seen anyone be as unkind to you as you have paraphrased.

If you want to continue this conversation over memail, feel free to contact me.
posted by KathrynT at 1:48 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


>women do not want to idly speculate "now why d'you think guys do this," and we are overwhelmingly and obviously more interested in saying "we don't care WHY it happens, just STOP IT." So perhaps whatever psychological motive you have for thinking that you can trump the obvious read of the room could be projected out onto men at large and there's your answer.

EmpressCallipygos, the conversation may be steering in a different direction by now, but I just want to speak up and say I (female, FWIW) don't agree with your attempt to stifle discussion on the motivation(s) behind street harassment; I think it's an interesting and important discussion to be had if we are to succeed in just stopping it, much as the linkage of rape motivation to power/domination rather than unfulfilled sexual desires is an important aspect to addressing and putting a stop to rape culture. I also honestly am quite irritated by the attempts that you and others have made to misinterpret guy27227's remarks as those of some kind of street harassment apologist. This video has me spittin' mad on a lot of levels that I may post about momentarily, but I still don't think its useful to shout down people who are discussing in good faith.
posted by drlith at 1:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


What happens if both parties wait for the other? Isn't this like a "I'll hang up after you hang up" "no I'll hang up after YOU hang up" kind of thing where all action is stalled?

I guess the question other posters are asking you is why an action needs to be taken? Sure, if you're already in a social situation, you can totally talk to women without waiting for them to talk to you. If you're at a party, go ahead! Talk to a lady! (If she doesn't seem interested, though, spin yourself away.) But there's no reason any action needs to be taken on the street. Doesn't change anyone's morning if you do or don't say hello. No one needs to say hi to any strangers at all.

If we are all equal, then that advice would apply to women as well, right?

Well, that's part of the problem we're discussing. In the societal structure sense, women aren't equal. If you read upthread, you can see posters discussing power imbalances. In our world, the power balance is shifted in favor of men. Women and men are not on equal footing, so the same social rules don't apply to each.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


This video has me spittin' mad on a lot of levels that I may post about momentarily, but I still don't think its useful to shout down people who are discussing in good faith.

Oh, I don't have a problem with people who want to discuss in good faith. I did have my doubts, though, that "having a discussion in good faith" were what people were trying to do - it frankly looked more like "seeking out reassurances that I'm not really a bad guy" or "seeking out the Readers' Digest version of things because all the other stuff people have said already was too long to read".

In one persons' case, the information he was seeking had already been discussed at length in a lot of other such threads we've had. In another....well, hell, I dunno what's going on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:55 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


You don't actually want to be polite and respectful?
I definitely do. It is important to me.


Then I don't understand the meaning of "I will say that just as women might be socialized to feel required respond to my greeting, I've been socialized to be polite and respectful to people. Maybe we are both doing things we don't want to do?"

If we take it as a given that women are doing things they don't want to be doing by responding to greetings in the street -- and we can, lots of women have said that -- I can't see what thing you are doing but don't want to be that is similar, if not being polite.
posted by jeather at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Regarding why not acknowledging strangers is an excessive request:

Because it was a suggestion for some default behavior if you can't figure out the perfectly PC way to handle it. I think I CAN figure it out, so "don't acknowledge anybody" seems drastic. Someone else in this thread said not to talk to women unless they talk to you first. If we are all equal, then that advice would apply to women as well, right?

Sure, we can stipulate that. But they're not remotely equal in the sense of what a daily public interaction is like. They are flooded with unwanted hostile/sexual attention. Generally they fear us physically in a way we do not fear them. They are victimized in ways we are not. And they are telling you that this is part and parcel with daily shittyness.

So that doesn't really answer my question of what you get out of it. What's the impetus to feel like you have to engage in this interaction? Do you think it's accomplishing some greater positive thing for the world, like that woman I talked about on Facebook? Your image of the world requires this interpersonal contact with strangers?

What I am thinking when I say this is that I still feel like you're prioritizing your action which benefits only you over what women want, and I just don't get the attachment. If we cold-bloodedly look at the world from a cost-benefit analysis perspective then we have a cost to women that ranges from annoyance to serious mental spirals, as several talked about above. What's the benefit that justifies this?
posted by phearlez at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


no one is being silenced all their life - guy27227 put forth their opinion, others reacted honestly to that opinion. it's interesting to me that he only chose to respond to comments he felt were insulting while basically ignoring the further conversation some of us were trying to have with him. he fell back on describing attraction and never explained why he thought these men felt entitled to that endorphin boost. this is a thing that happens in threads about sexism - men come in "just asking questions", women respond and answer - admittedly sometimes with exasperation - and then we're accused of being mean and silencing honest conversation. it's almost as if the problem is that we're not being docile and deferential enough in our responses...
posted by nadawi at 2:01 PM on October 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


I have also had guys compliment me in public in ways that, similar to your experience, don't instantly freak me out. Often there's a casual no-pressure lightness to it that's hard to explain

The best way I can explain it, is that there is a difference between men who are saying that I am beautiful in a "God is good!" kind of way, as in, just celebrating that I am beautiful and beauty is in the world, and men who are saying I am beautiful because they want to possess that beauty.
posted by corb at 2:02 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


so "don't acknowledge anybody" seems drastic

Keep in mind that I, a random stranger who might pass you on the street, have little way to judge whether you are not acknowledging me because you're not acknowledging anyone, or if I fall into a special category for you of people whom you never acknowledge, or ... literally anything else. Your lack of nod or smile or verbal greeting is not something that will weigh on me at all. I will pass you by in a moment on the street and you will be gone from my consciousness if you don't do anything to impose yourself upon it.

It might seem drastic to you to not acknowledge anyone (and I'm still curious: do you really nod at every single dude you pass on the street?), but I'd bet that to most of the people you pass? We aren't going to notice.
posted by rtha at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'd be interested in learning how men are greeted by women who are complete strangers when they're walking down the street—specifically, when and how often women initiate that interaction. I honestly can't think of the last time that a woman I don't know has said hi to me for no reason, so I don't really have a frame of reference. For-real questions:

-Do stranger ladies initiate greetings with you or compliment you on the street? How often?
-What's the ratio of times that you initiate a greeting with a stranger who's a lady versus the opposite?
-Where are you located when women say hi to you first, and how does that compare to where you decide to do it? Are you usually on a city street? On mass transit? In a park? In a small town or suburb?
-How are you usually positioned toward one another when it happens? Are you usually walking next to each other, or past each other, or are you stationary, or is one of you sitting or leaning while the other walks by?
-Does the lady usually seem to be greeting everybody, or just you, or a select group of people?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:06 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallypigos, here's a somewhat related story that explains the psychology behind some of this:

I spent some time in southeastern Turkey, and made friends with the guys in the souk. We would hang out, and wait for the tourist groups to file through. And it was fun calling out to them, trying to guess their language, trying to guess what lines would work, predicting who would stop and smile and who would keep a stone-face and pretend that you didn't exist.

I've been on the other side, of course - the tourist who dreaded having to walk the gauntlet of shopkeepers all trying to get your attention and pulling every line and game in the book. So even though I could empathize with the poor cruise ship passengers, I still really enjoyed those afternoons of trying to get their attention. Seriously: it was fun.

And I got a similar vibe off of some of the guys in the video. And I agree with other comments that there is more of a culture among some black urban communities of hanging out and talking and flirting with whoever passes by.

I though the video was really effective, though, in showing the continuum between simple flirting and more aggressive flirting into abusive and sometimes scary behavior (the guys who followed her sent chills down my spine) - and how it can create a climate of fear or distrust.
posted by kanewai at 2:06 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Threads like this are why I continue to love Metafilter so much. I can't find anywhere online that is this active and safe that women can explain all the things I've never had to experience and clue me in on how the world really is, without having to defend themselves constantly from stupid dudes acting like those experiences are an affront to their constitutional right to say 'good morning' to random women or something.

Keep being awesome Metafilter.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:37 AM on October 29 [+] [!]


Dynamite: we are not entirely devoid of that kind of "so I guess you don't want me to say hi to anyone ever again" whining, even here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on October 29 [+] [!]


As has been pointed out several times, sparklemotion is female, and characterizing this response to a conversation as "whining" is kind of shitty.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


nadawi: "men come in "just asking questions", women respond and answer - admittedly sometimes with exasperation - and then we're accused of being mean and silencing honest conversation."

This Toast article came up in the last Gamergate thread: We Regret To Announce That Your Request Of “Gotta Hear Both Sides” Has Been Denied
posted by mhum at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


The best way I can explain it, is that there is a difference between men who are saying that I am beautiful in a "God is good!" kind of way, as in, just celebrating that I am beautiful and beauty is in the world, and men who are saying I am beautiful because they want to possess that beauty.

I have to respectfully submit that I don't respond to these "God as good!" compliments as well as corb does, so if any guys are reading this and thinking, "YES! So I can compliment women I don't know as long as I do it this way!" please refer to your MeFi Anecdata Files and remember that some women just feel self-conscious and bothered by any public comment on her appearance, benevolent or otherwise. Please default to NO PUBLIC COMPLIMENTS ON BEAUTY TO STRANGERS WHO ARE WOMEN. (corb is awesome and can respond emotionally to these compliments any way she pleases, am not saying she is wrong but that I am different.)
posted by pineappleheart at 2:08 PM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yeah, mind you, I"m not even saying I /like/ those interactions, just that they don't bother me /as much/, so definitely don't be an ass.

If you want to follow any guide at all, try following some etiquette books from last century. It is always the lady's choice whether or not to acknowledge an acquaintance or cultivate one. If you see a woman you would like to know in the street, wait and see if she approaches you.

I promise you, we can if we want. We usually don't want, because men are often about 90% less attractive to women than they think they are with these techniques.
posted by corb at 2:11 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


>guy27227 put forth their opinion, others reacted honestly to that opinion. it's interesting to me that he only chose to respond to comments he felt were insulting while basically ignoring the further conversation some of us were trying to have with him

guy27227 put forth his opinion and EmpressCalipygos, at least, reacted by implying there's no point in talking about that, and guy27227 responded to her, and EmpressCallipygos continued by accusing him of being obtusely unable to read a room where no one (or at least no women) wanted to talk about it. It doesn't surprise me that he felt compelled to tackle the claim that he should just drop the argument, period, before engaging with a discussion with others on the merits of his argument.
posted by drlith at 2:16 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, I don't have a problem with people who want to discuss in good faith. I did have my doubts, though, that "having a discussion in good faith" were what people were trying to do - it frankly looked more like "seeking out reassurances that I'm not really a bad guy" or "seeking out the Readers' Digest version of things because all the other stuff people have said already was too long to read"

It didn't look like that to me at all. Seems like a lot of mind reading on your part.

In one persons' case, the information he was seeking had already been discussed at length in a lot of other such threads we've had. In another....well, hell, I dunno what's going on.

You are assuming that people read every thread and are steeped in site culture. Both Guy and hellphish have been very patient in their responses and open to learning and modifying their behavior imo.
posted by futz at 2:19 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


As has been pointed out several times, sparklemotion is female, and characterizing this response to a conversation as "whining" is kind of shitty.

And that sarcastic "okay so I guess no one should talk to anyone ever again" comment wasn't shitty?

And where did I even make any kind of assessment on sparklemotion's gender in the first place?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2014


if guy7227 really wanted to have the conversation he kept claiming he wanted to have, he could have just gone ahead and had with the people trying to engage him. instead he responded by explaining attraction and defending his honor. that was his choice. also, your comment made mention of EC and others and now you're only speaking about EC. if your problem is with her, maybe say that outright or take it to memail instead of making it seem like a metafilter problem where we're all trying to silence conversation.
posted by nadawi at 2:22 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


also, your comment made mention of EC and others and now you're only speaking about EC.

Not to mention, overlooking a later comment where I did calm down and try to engage more sincerely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2014


and, just for clarity sake - guy72277 said his thing about endorphins, lots of people responded with a variety of things, he responded to two points about attraction and nothing else seemingly while EC was posting her comment and then he responded to EC. there were lots of attempts to engage that he participated not at all in before the thread took a decidedly more, "ok, i don't want to discuss this with you any longer if you're going to ignore everything i/we are saying" turn.
posted by nadawi at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not to mention, overlooking a later comment where I did calm down and try to engage more sincerely.

Yes, your eventual willingness to engage in a conversation you repeatedly attempted to shut down as unworthy was fantastically gracious. A prize valued commensurate with the achievement will be sent.
posted by phearlez at 2:37 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


[I think basically chilling a little bit all around is probably the thing here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


And that sarcastic "okay so I guess no one should talk to anyone ever again" comment wasn't shitty?

That's not what sparklemotion said, and if you read the comment of hers that I linked to she explains "In the interest of making the world better for everyone, I want to model the behaviour that I wish to see in others, and therefore avoid doing things that could be seen as harassment, even if they aren't intended, by me, to be so." That seems pretty sincere to me.


And where did I even make any kind of assessment on sparklemotion's gender in the first place?

I guess you didn't explicitly, but when Dynamite says "...without having to defend themselves constantly from stupid dudes acting like those experiences are an affront to their constitutional right to say 'good morning' to random women or something." and you say "we are not entirely devoid of that kind of "so I guess you don't want me to say hi to anyone ever again" whining, even here." It sure sounds like equivocation. If you knew sparklemotion was female why make the comparison?
posted by oneirodynia at 2:39 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I never thought that in a million years I'd link to a reddit thread, but someone who appears to be the director is answering some questions and offering his thoughts on the whole thing.

He estimates that about half of the harassers were white, and states that the uber-creep who walked abreast of her for 6 minutes eventually just turned around on his own.
posted by nicodine at 2:42 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


adam kotsko is being awesome one twitter right now :

Some men are absolutely desperate for systemic patriarchy to be purely a matter of bad individual behavior that has nothing to do with them.
Weird how often those "good" men explain away the bad individual behavior, though, isn't it? Or explain away women's experience of it?
Why, it's almost as though at some level they're invested in the system that produces that harassment! #spoileralert
posted by nadawi at 2:47 PM on October 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


He estimates that about half of the harassers were white
I wonder if he'd make a supercut of some of the white harassment that hit the proverbial cutting room floor.

Edit: Aaand it looks like no. From the AMA:
-I generally just make one video and move on so I probably wouldn't do another.
-Literally talking about 200+GB of 2.7k footage, most of which we discarded a long time ago
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:52 PM on October 29, 2014


sardonyx: I was much younger when the experience I wrote about happened, and of course I did nothing. These days I'd be on the phone to the cab company, calling the taxi commission (or whoever was in charge) and if possible recording the incident before turning it into a media blitz. In other words, I wouldn't let it go and I'd fight back with every means possible.

Unfortunately this doesn't work. In my town at least the city/county doesn't give a fuck about the taxis and it's basically regulatory capture and inaction.

But my friend actually called the cab company after she was harassed so much with a friend that she had to jump out of the fucking cab. They immediately got a lady on the phone at the central office and thought that would help...

Until the lady turned out to be worse than the worst male redditor you can possibly imagine, being incredibly condescending, victim blaming, calling her "honey" over and over, and just like "well if you don't want to be treated like that maybe don't be flirty and shit" type stuff. Just RUDE, and blaming it entirely on them, and refusing to even take the drivers car number or any info and eventually she just exasperatedly hung up on the rude lady.

In my experiences dealing with the cab company this is typical. In one of the long ass uber threads other people reported similar treatment from the cab company.

I had never actually tried this after having an awful experience because some part of me just knew that was what would happen. My shitty experiences more relate to trying to get back something i left in a cab, or to get them to do their damn job. I was actually kind of sad at myself and at the universe that when i heard about that experience from a friend, it didn't surprise me at all and my reaction before i stopped myself was almost to the effect of "what did you expect?". It took a minute for that to sink in, how fucked that was.
posted by emptythought at 2:56 PM on October 29, 2014


I think it also depends on where you are. I'm a (cis, generally pretty gender-conforming except when I decide to randomly rock a tie and vest, smallish, white) woman who appears generally as nonthreatening and I live in a relatively large but low density city that is generally pretty slow-paced. I try to compliment people (mostly women) when I notice they have something neat and effortful going on, like a really cool hair color or style or a great outfit or accessory and I usually get a positive response, but I've learned in my attempts to be less awkward to follow the rules of thumb about not stopping people or demanding they switch focus to me. I will on rare occasions interrupt somebody if they are wearing a flag of nerdiness not many people will get, because I love it when people do that with me and if we're in the same area (a bar or coffee shop or something), they can come over and talk to me about (nerd thing) but don't have to. I find myself having pleasant conversations while waiting in line and the like doing this and with other people doing this, especially since I started wearing a Captain America baseball cap when I'm too lazy to brush my hair.

The weird comment I get all the time is strange men informing me of my hair color or expressing shock and surprise over it. Women ask me if I did it myself and sometimes we chat about that and it's fine, but "wow, your hair sure is red!" in the same tone you'd use for "holy shit, a talking muffin!" is something I have no idea how to respond to, so it's always really awkward. None of the threat most harassment has, just entitlement to my attention. I might start responding with "SHIT, REALLY?"
posted by NoraReed at 2:58 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


In my experiences dealing with the cab company this [dismissing of harrassment by the cab driver] is typical.

So true.

I've read the whole thread and there is so much shared pain here. It is so disheartening and enraging what women have to deal with just for existing as women in public, all because of street harassment. It takes time, because we re-plan departure times or walk the long way around. It takes hyper-vigilance, because 99% of the time we cannot count on others to help us. It takes money, because sometimes the only way out is to get a cab. And even then, even if we're lucky and privileged enough to have that time and vigilance and money to escape the street, we cannot even rely on the person we have hired for transportation to not be skeevy.

Can there be a simple online game for this, like SPENT or the bra game?

and if it's like the bra game I would like a god mode where your boobs get lasers and you can shoot the harassers. pew pew
posted by nicodine at 3:12 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, I think this thread has generally been OK about not doing the bad faith "oh so I can't be NICE" thing, but if you want to avoid coming across that way, using phrasing more like "I really want to avoid tripping anyone's sensors with anything that might come across as harassment or make someone defensive" is often a good way of putting it.
posted by NoraReed at 3:14 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


The best way I can explain it, is that there is a difference between men who are saying that I am beautiful in a "God is good!" kind of way, as in, just celebrating that I am beautiful and beauty is in the world

Ugh, I hate the "Praise God" type street harassment also. I definitely see that as part of the harassment/objectification package. "You are so beautiful, God Bless America!" ugh.

Yea I don't feel like I'll be assaulted after it, but still wouldn't consider that a victory.
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


NoraReed: "I might start responding with "SHIT, REALLY?""

I did that for years in my teens, it's pretty hilarious. Especially if you can include a real note of panic in your face and voice.

Also good is, "Dammit, I knew my shampoo seemed wrong, I'm gonna KILL my roommate/kids/boyfriend!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:31 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


And then there's the Slate response.
posted by psoas at 3:37 PM on October 29, 2014


"holy shit, a talking muffin!"

This is going to be my new medium-level swear.
posted by winna at 4:07 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]



And then there's the Slate response.


It's not that there's no potential race issues with this, especially if the director left a lot of material from white guys on the cutting room floor, but my experience is very similar to the video. Most guys who do this to me in NYC are black and Latino and don't look like they are on their lunch break (as it is phrased in the Slate piece). I don't have any problem saying that, but that doesn't mean that I think most unemployed black and Latino men do this, or it's a problem they need to address as a group.

As for her being white, as has been mentioned several women of color have done projects like this and been ignored, and this has gotten a lot of attention. Also, when it's all people of color people say things like, "well, that's their culture."

Also, when I went to Portland all the harassers were white.
posted by sweetkid at 4:41 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I honestly can't think of the last time that a woman I don't know has said hi to me for no reason, so I don't really have a frame of reference.

I was thinking about this conversation today when I went around my business, and I greeted a man when we both got into the same elevator, before asking him what floor he wanted (I tend to monopolize the buttons as a safety maneuver). I had the momentary rush you usually get when in an elevator with a man/men you don't know and did the usual strategic positioning (I like back to a wall, arms braced in case I need to use my legs for defense); he blocked himself off to one side with his bicycle and I was able to relax, and we had a pleasant, minimal interaction.

Describing it, it sounds so paranoid, but it's become as ingrained as never letting my drink out of my sight, or knowing where everyone is within a ten foot radius by sound if not sight, or checking under the car and in the back seat before entering. I literally do it reflexively at this point.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:56 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


he blocked himself off to one side with his bicycle and I was able to relax

Oooh. That is a legit good idea as a guy biker and thank you! Not that it's enough, necessary, but still.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I follow Feminista Jones on Twitter (and so should you) and she is understandably frustrated about this particular video - with a white woman - going viral when her #YouOKSis tag has been going for months and even the Daily Show video Jessica Williams did (and which she was in) about the exact same thing only got lukewarm circulation for a Daily Show video.

!!!! I stopped watching TDS years ago because politics got too depressing and had no idea this existed until I read your comment but wow, thank you for mentioning it and inspiring me to look it up because it's just perfect: Jessica's Feminized Atmosphere. (It's hilarious, but if it leaves you despairing at all, Masters of Sexism is a nice palate cleanser. Yeah, Jessica Williams!) ♫ I'm a grand old flag ♫

I was working on an FPP about #YouOKSis a few months ago but just left some links about it in another predictably tedious sexual harassment thread instead and that was dumb and lazy. The tendency to only prick up our ears when a white woman is speaking up or doing something about feminism -- that's something that happens constantly in these conversations and circles, #solidarityisforwhitewomen-style, and the end result is the economic, social, and political minimization of the voices and experiences of women of color. So now I will shut the hell up and let them speak for themselves.

#YouOKSis?: Ending Street Harassment (video)
Feminista Jones: On #YouOKSis and Bystander Intervention (A Round Up Guide)
Storify: #YouOkSis: Black Women Speak Up About The Violence of Street Harassment and Solutions
The Atlantic interviews Feminista Jones: 'Even If You Don't Like It, You're Supposed to Appear That You Do' warning: written by Noah Berlatsky *twitch*
News One: #YouOKSis? It's Time For Men To Be Proactive In Helping Women Fight Street Harassment
#YouOKSis on Twitter and Facebook
MoJo profiles Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her art series, Stop Telling Women To Smile
posted by divined by radio at 5:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [34 favorites]


thanks for all those links, divinded by radio!

also, jessica williams is a treasure! here she is talking about campus rape in a way that aligns with this conversation. and, just because it's awesome, here she is talking about black hair and the army and stop and frisk.
posted by nadawi at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


She is a national treasure yup.
posted by rtha at 5:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine, a drag performer and "indoor sex worker", recently asked how he should respond to street harassment.

As a burly man I am rarely harassed on the street during the day, but I do like to wear suits and pink and spikes and giant mohawks when I had hair and overdress for punk shows that have me riding my bike through a variety of neighborhoods where I stand out as being way too poor or way too not-poor or way too weird or way too white and the way that a lot of the time, through the lens of masculinity, that reads as F*GGOT, and I am called out, taunted, propositioned and threatened.

What I told my friend is, "if you're confident and prepared for a fight, then be confrontational. I wave, I blow kisses, I say, 'you wish, baby!' But if I'm not confident and not prepared to fight, then I don't know what to do. I do what I can to take myself out of the situation as quickly as possible."

I have been regularly but not frequently getting gay - bashed for two decades. God bless the people with self defense training and knuckle dusters willing to fight but that obviously isn't a solution to the toxic masculinity inherent in so much American/global culture (s).

And "be ready to fight" is dangerous. The last time I got the shit kicked out of me, I was intervening with a dude who had gotten physical with a girl who called him out for harassing her outside a bar. I prevented her from being seriously harmed, but the next day, after the swelling had subsided a bit and the klonopin had worn off, I realized that I had made my stand in an area of Chicago where gun violence is not unheard of and if the situation had even escalated so much that he pulled a knife, I might not be here today. I am proud of my decision and my new front teeth look better than my old ones but we need to change the culture.

On the rare occasions where I am out and about walking around in the daylight. I look up and everyone who makes eye contact and doesn't look otherwise bothered gets a smile and a nod, maybe a hello or a shoe/jacket compliment, man, woman, child, etc. I'm fairly confident in my ability to read situations and facial cues, and if worst case scenario, I get misinterpreted and end up on a video compilation of street harassers, at least I know I'll have tens of thousands of jackasses rising to my defense. I'd rather they not.
posted by elr at 6:06 PM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Unless you're talking about "male culture", then nope.

The culture a young man is brought up in absolutely has something to do with how they treat women later in life. If all a young man sees is older guys disrespecting women, if he's never taught that acting like the guys in the video act is unacceptable, then chances are likely that he's going to parrot those behaviors. If you want to label that as 'male culture', then so be it, but that would be misleading. I guess I was lucky, as the men I was brought up around taught me how to respect the women I was brought up around. I am acutely aware that this is not often the case.
posted by item at 6:15 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I doubt many adult men today were explicitly taught that this happens a lot and it's wrong. That leaves all of them open to mimicking the behavior.

I mean even in the reaction to the video we see a lot of men saying that saying hello isn't harassment, how else do you get a relationship, etc.

Men are taught, explicitly or not, that women are decoration for the world and for men, and that's where a lot of this behavior comes from. Some men even think this IS respect for women, to honor them for being God's more beautiful design or whatever, or to thank them for feminine presentation, which they of course are doing for men, not for themselves.
posted by sweetkid at 6:26 PM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Personally I'd rather honor a machine for its beauty and honor women for being strong and competent and other wondrousnesses.

Also I would like to be able to get the ability to show weakness of all kinds back for men. We clearly need it. Few of us have the emotional literacy and resilience to actually be able to carry out the emotional blocking and strength we claim we have.
posted by kalessin at 6:46 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]






workerant: "...It was at that moment that he looked my husband in the eye and he figured out that he was jacking off to a dude."

Jesus, even now I'm only starting to unpack all this baggage. It occurs to me only now that I've never told my current husband, with whom I have an exceedingly open relationship, about this incident. On some level I think I think that this was somehow my fault. And I never recognized that until now.
posted by workerant at 7:36 PM on October 29, 2014


I don't have any problem saying that, but that doesn't mean that I think most unemployed black and Latino men do this, or it's a problem they need to address as a group.

I should be clear that I'm not identifying a particular culture of sexism among (poor) men of color necessarily but that it's mostly for this demographic "street culture" is a thing at all in a lot of places. Which combined with the EC's aformentioned "male culture" of feeling entitled to female attention probably does make men of color the more prominent (definitely not the only) street harassers in many cities.
posted by atoxyl at 7:42 PM on October 29, 2014


I definitely don't think you were saying that, atoxyl, I just think the (wow racist) response that people sometimes have when these things come from white women and it's black and Latino men shown is really toxic. I don't think it's racist to say that the reality is that it's mostly black and Latino men (in my experience in NYC), but I think it would be racist to say that I think all black men do this or something.

Also, the reality is that when women of color do things like this they just don't get the same traction. I am Indian American and once had a man on the subway get in my face with a glass bottle and tell me that he knew what neighborhood I was "really from" (because people often think I am half black/half white, or Latina, and therefore grew up poor, which is all crazy but) and that I was uppity and such and all the sexual things he would do to set me right. He was black, but he was also definitely 50+ and I was 22, he stank of alcohol and wearing shabby clothes and I was wearing office clothes, and he was physically and verbally threatening me with a glass bottle. No one helped me. When he finally got off the train, a bunch of my fellow train passengers, all white, said "I thought you guys knew each other, he said he knew you from the neighborhood."
posted by sweetkid at 8:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I sometimes am happy a male stranger has been safely friendly so I can discern who the good guys are in case I am cornered by a bad guy and need help. It's happened before.

Yeah, sometimes.

Two weeks ago, I was out traveling with my husband for his job. He had some clients to visit, we wanted to play Ingress (hush), so I went along. I set up my laptop in a tiny coffee shop in the town he had to visit to get some work of my own done while I waited for him. A fella in the same room, kitty corner from me, was already bent over his laptop, looking vexed. He looked up and grinned ruefully. "You, too? Working on Saturdays sucks." And I nodded and smiled. "I hate tech." And we laughed, because we both knew that we love our work, but really wanted to go outside and play, and that was that. He didn't so much as clear his throat for the next two hours.

Until this dude showed up and sat down at my table. Didn't even ask, just sat down and started yapping at me. What's my name? What am I doing? What kind of computer is that? Do I even know how to use it? Is purple my favorite color? It must be, huh, since my hair is purple and so is my computer? Where's my boyfriend? Do I wanna hang out?

I glared throughout his yammering, finally snarling through gritted teeth "I am working. Do kindly fuck off."

He erupted. "Why you gotta be such a bitch? I'm just being friendly! Fuck you, stupid bitch! I don't want any of your cunt anyway! Fuck you, bitch!"

My fellow Saturday worker stood up. "The lady asked you to fuck off. The door is over there. Use it." My fellow Saturday worker turned out to be well over 6 feet tall, and built like the proverbial brick shit house. Dude at my table huffed and puffed...and thought the better of it. He left. Fellow Saturday worker apologized to me for getting ready to do violence, and sat down to resume work.

Ten minutes later, my husband returned from his client's house. "Hey, babe, ready to roll?" And my new friend in the corner stood up again. I quickly told him "It's OK, this one is my husband, he's supposed to be here!" He grinned. "I dunno, he looks kind of sketchy...". We told my husband what happened, and he thanked my new friend for standing up for me. "Well, she seemed to be able to handle herself just fine, but I was happy to be her backup." We paid for his lunch, and left.

You want to be friendly to a woman you don't know? Do like my fellow Saturday worker. A smile, a mutually funny remark that has nothing to do with her appearance...then LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE. And if some choad comes to pester her, say something about it.

I really appreciated that guy. I hope he eventually got to close his laptop and go outside to play.
posted by MissySedai at 8:35 PM on October 29, 2014 [111 favorites]


Wasting someone’s time is the subtlest form of murder.

Yeah, as much as I might respect where this is coming from, it's going to land a little flat on a GM site.

ETA: Didn't know Lindy moved on (well, I should have clicked first)
posted by 99_ at 8:45 PM on October 29, 2014


MissySedai, yes, that. And you don't have to be the proverbial built-like-a-brick-shithouse guy (or woman) to assist, either. Years later, I'm still incredibly grateful for the man (rangy backpacker type) who noticed I was being pressured by a stranger who wouldn't leave me alone at an airport (this was abroad, and before 911, so there was no security in sight at the time).

All he did was walk over and say to me, "Is everything alright here?" in a particularly sharp tone meant for my "friend." That cut things off in their tracks and attracted the attention of those around us, some of whom may have noticed but had been feigning ignorance as to what was going on.

As a decidedly unintimidating woman, I've been able to use this as well to assist other women (or vulnerable men): most harassers are paint-by-numbers bullies, and if you screw up their playbook and do something unexpected (interference by a third party), that jams up and halts their macro script--and if you do this in front of other bystanders, you most often "break the seal" of diffusion of responsibility and give others the courage to jump in after you.
posted by blue suede stockings at 9:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [20 favorites]


Also for those of you guys who are worried it might erupt into a fistfight...remember that assessment of potential violence also applies if the woman says no. And just help out anyway.
posted by corb at 9:54 PM on October 29, 2014


It just happened to me about 2 hours ago. On the #7 bus. In downtown Seattle. I am 50; short, stout, queer, masculinely attired in loose leather jacket, scarf, hat, heavy workboot. And a casted foot and crutches. I am wearing earbuds and reading while sittting alone.

A white guy, about my age, and poor or homeless judging from his mismatched clothes and dirty backpack, sits behind me. He says something to me. Maybe he has tried several times and I didn't notice. I turn partway towards him, point at an earbud with a finger, and attempt to go back to my book. He grabs my shoulder and i hit his hand with the book and growl "Get your hand off me NOW" loud enough for both everyone around me, and the driver 20 feet away, to hear. The guy pulls my earbud out (even though the wires are under my neck scarf) and calls me a cunt. I pull the stop bell wire and yell "This guy's harassing me!". On crutches, I can't readily get up from my seat or move away while the bus is in motion. People are watching, but no one does anything. The guy tells me he's goiing to either "fuck me" or "fuck me up", I can't tell which.

He gets off the bus at the next stop. Still, no one says or does anything. My bus stop 10 minutes later is unlit, and I have to crutch up a slippery, poorly illuminated ramp and stairway to get from the dead-end near the arterial to my street 50 feet above.

No one said anything, no one got out of their seat, no one asked the driver to even stop the bus. As a guy verbally and physically assaulted a gray-haired woman on crutches.
posted by Dreidl at 2:15 AM on October 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


Bloody hell. That's just... bloody hell.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:45 AM on October 30, 2014


I like to think seattle is worse than average for "the freeze" and no one intervening ever no matter how egregious something gets. I mean maybe that's true, maybe it isn't, but there sure seems to be a hell of a lot of social contract here to just "mind your own business" and "not get involved" that in traveling at least feels like it isn't nearly as strong elsewhere.

I know that exists everywhere, but the stories i've heard from friends and even my damn mother really make me think that people here go out of their way to just not see it, or if they do, look away as quickly as possible before anyone notices them or worse makes eye contact.

I've definitely also talked to people who stayed here for a while or moved here and noticed the increase level of "i didn't see nothin" that goes on here.


Recently, i warned a friend against moving to an area where that bus would her primary form of transit... and then realized how fucking sad it was i was saying that, and that it's not like there really is any way to win. The asshole distribution is pretty even everywhere as far as i can tell, and not just in this city, but the biggest problem is that people seem less likely than even the pathetic average to EVER say or do anything.

I try and say something when i see something, if it seems like it'll make any difference at all(which is to say, the asshole guy isn't already across the street stomping away or out the door or something by the time i've even noticed and become un-stunned) but i'm just one person, who knows a few other decent people. Everyone here is so anti confrontation and frozen by conflict that harassers and assholes basically just get free reign.

I'm really sorry that happened to you, and even sorrier and sadder about the state of reality that it just goes in to the round file in my head of "shitty seattle experiences women have". A friend of mine used to run a facebook group where local people would just discuss experiences like this, and had to delete it because of the "this isn't real harassment!" type assholes. They sure do say something when you put a screen and keyboard between them and reality.

psoas: And then there's the Slate response.

Honestly, i gotta side with sweetkid on this one. This is becoming an instant replay of the last thread, wherein the woman confronted her harassers and filmed the interaction. Apparently, barring reality she was supposed to edit the video to show an even-grouped mix of races and classes like some kind of childrens variety show?

Like, i'm trying my hardest not to be an ass here but this is sort of a multi pronged thing of that EVERY time a woman does a project like this they're not only "doing it wrong", they're doing it wrong in some way that makes them a Bad Feminist and a Bad Progressive, and therefor NEXTTTT and the entire discussion effortlessly shifts gears in to debating whether or not they're a racist or have some weird agenda by showing too many brown people.

I mean, part of the reason it really poked me was that some of the guys i saw having less-than-great responses to this(and some who had decent ones, and are normally great) have been posting that slate article as some kind of case closed super combo with "why am i not surprised" type quips.

It was 10 hours of raw footage, obviously some editing was going to happen. And now because she edited some white dudes out of it and there's some nebulous number of "too many" brown dudes the entire thing is garbage? I'm aware no one is saying that here, but both the tone and gist of that piece and the tone of people i see repeating it is both to that effect, something i've seen elsewhere, and something that's directly come up here in previous threads about this exact same thing.

It just feels like far too easily, a large number of people who were either moderately sympathetic but easily swayed, or already had some bone to pick with this video are latching on to that. She's getting thrown in the bucket with people who go "i used to be a server, and black people don't tip!" when it's like... maybe there's some greater and more realistic reasons than this being some cherry picked hit piece that men of color have a higher than you think is right(or whatever) representation in this that isn't really her problem to be solving, or anything she's accountable for?

It's vaguely gator-y that i can't even figure out what the point of the too many brown dudes thing is either other than a toxic silencing tactic. Like, what do they want her to do? What did she do? Because it seems to be something to the effect of "this is inherently bad because it represents men of color in a bad light" or... something.

I had reasons to be skeptical and suspicious of this response in the first place, but i'm always skeptical of a "counterpoint" or gotcha like this that doesn't seem to have a clear thesis of what the person could have done to not end up in the penalty box. And also, really, i can't think of a single instance of a woman speaking out about harassment that "went viral" which didn't have some takedown with a semi plausible and seemingly defensible reason why it's Problematic fired out there pretty quickly. I wonder why that is.
posted by emptythought at 4:38 AM on October 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think if anyone is criticizing anybody, they're criticizing the man who filmed and edited the piece, not the woman he filmed. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say the video has issues, and I don't think it's a disingenuous silencing tactic to say so. There are good reasons to think the video is good, and there are good reasons to think it could have been a lot better.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:24 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Dreidl, I would favorite your comment as an excellent illustration of how men expect the attention of women to the point of rage when it is denied to them on demand and also how indifferent people are to the situation, but I feel weird favoriting a comment in which you share such a distressing story.

So I'll just say thank you for sharing that, and I'm so sorry it happened to you.
posted by winna at 5:26 AM on October 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Dreidl, I'm sorry you had to deal with that. What a shitty way to end your day. I hope you're having a tasty beverage and/or blowing off steam somehow.
posted by harriet vane at 5:26 AM on October 30, 2014


Ugh. Dreidl, I'm so sorry that happened. I've had enough similar Metro experiences, many on the 7 line... it's a cesspool. And no one ever helps.
posted by palomar at 5:52 AM on October 30, 2014


I think if anyone is criticizing anybody, they're criticizing the man who filmed and edited the piece, not the woman he filmed.

Yup. Rob Bliss is exploiting a real issue to market gentrification. "The homeless are people we ignore every day... [but they] can look like they’re meant for the cover of GQ"
posted by gorbweaver at 6:19 AM on October 30, 2014


Was anybody on MeFi ever brought up in an environment where catcalling was encouraged? What was that like? I remember somebody on this site describing a father telling his son to ask women to smile, or something like that. That's a pretty alien (and disturbing) interaction for a lot of people.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:09 AM on October 30, 2014


Wait, what the fuck is wrong with that homeless video? We've been sharing that a lot in homeless service work, I didn't even realize that they were the same director - that makes me like him more, not less.

And you know what, this is the same kind of "We don't want to actually win" bullshit that turned me off from some portions of the left in the first place. This video is getting shared all over the place and actually turning people on to the dangers of street harassment? Oh no, but it's a perceived/passing as WHITE woman, so let's not share it. Oh no, but some of the harassers are men of color, so let's not share it. Oh no, but the director may also support gentrification, so let's not share it. Who cares that it's effective, right? Who cares that it's actually making lots of men actually think about what the fuck they're doing? No, let's sabotage ourselves in a never ending spiral of why it's not quite good enough, because god knows we'd all prefer moral perfection to actually getting something done.
posted by corb at 7:12 AM on October 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Thing Is Imperfect =/= Thing Is The Worst Thing I've Ever Seen, My Eyeballs Are Melting, Please Never Share This Terrible Excuse For Web Content With Anyone Else
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:20 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you're going to argue with corb on this then maybe you might do so by not solely - and falsely - portraying her objection as an irrational extreme.
posted by phearlez at 7:42 AM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


it's a perceived/passing as WHITE woman

I like the language of "passing" because I don't know what her race is. I see alot of people saying she's white, and I don't think she has refuted it so I guess she is, but when I first saw the video I felt she was racially ambiguous and I was not going to assume and assign a race to her.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:46 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you're going to argue with corb on this then maybe you might do so by not solely - and falsely - portraying her objection as an irrational extreme.

Especially since gorbweaver's link literally says that you shouldn't share the video. She's objecting to an extreme reaction which exists in the real world.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:52 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're going to argue with corb on this then maybe you might do so by not solely - and falsely - portraying her objection as an irrational extreme.

I'm sorry for doing so.

I am extremely sympathetic to the video and its stated aims. I'm glad it's going viral and raising awareness of a problem. But it misrepresents the nature of that problem in some important ways. I don't agree with Pushinghoops's dismissing an unwanted "good morning" as harassment, for instance - that goes too far - but if it's unhelpful to dismiss the video as a whole because of its (unintended, I'm sure) racist implications, it's also unhelpful to tell people who notice and critique those (unintended) racist implications that they're sabotaging the fight against street harassment.

Especially since gorbweaver's link literally says that you shouldn't share the video. She's objecting to an extreme reaction which exists in the real world.

Fair enough. Tarring all criticism of the video with that brush is still unfair.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:58 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. Tarring all criticism of the video with that brush is still unfair.

This is not a thing that happened. She said no such thing. She kept going back to the phrase "so let's not share it" because she is objecting to a linked piece which said not to share the video.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:03 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is not a thing that happened. She said no such thing. She kept going back to the phrase "so let's not share it" because she is objecting to a linked piece which said not to share the video.

Once again, fair enough. This is turning into a back-and-forth and I'm not clearly not arguing well, so I'll step away from the thread for now.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2014


Speaking as a different social justice activist who is also a member of MetaFilter, I'm okay with both sharing a video that is somewhat problematic but still quite useful AND being able to criticize its shortcomings in a useful way. To me, pieces of art like the video are useful for opening eyes and getting the momentum going, but a discussion is required to really have the momentum take hold and do some work.

So yes, there are some problems with the video's rhetoric and representation, but it's also doing useful work and opening eyes. So let it open those eyes and let us talk more about the complexities, as we are doing.
posted by kalessin at 8:16 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


The director said that there were an equal number of white harassers, but that they harassed her in a way that was just as offputting in real life but less appropriate for the video. More hissing at her as she walked by or speaking when they were off camera. Do I believe that unconscious bias could have influenced who he chose for the video, and probably did? Absolutely 100%. Do I believe that white harassers could be better schooled in plausible deniability? also absolutely. But by the director's own admission, the video tells a different story than real life. That's something worth discussing.
posted by KathrynT at 8:25 AM on October 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


Sure. And it's being discussed. Unconscious bias and dumb luck (viz. off-camera comments) are major factors which can distort any documentary work. "The camera lies at 24 frames per second", as Brian De Palma once said. Either way, if somebody watches this video and honestly comes away with the conclusion that white men don't harass, then they already have their own problems.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:32 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Fox news host Bob Beckel's response to the video:
“Damn, baby, you’re a piece of woman.”
posted by TedW at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2014


I've found that out here in the sticks, with hardly any people and certainly no sidewalks, it is still impossible to avoid this. Any male (of any age) driving, walking, or riding by on a bike is likely to shout something and then be mad when I don't answer.

I think my husband tries to understand, but his immediate response is almost always that I must have overreacted or that I didn't understand what they meant or that they were just being friendly.

For me the most maddening experience is when some guy thinks it's absolutely fine to pull over and block my immediate path with their vehicle, assuming that of course I want to chat in the middle of my run. They get pissed when I don't stop. WTF? Do they also stop men who are in the middle of exercising to have a conversation? I doubt it.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:45 AM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Sure. And it's being discussed. Unconscious bias and dumb luck (viz. off-camera comments) are major factors which can distort any documentary work. "The camera lies at 24 frames per second", as Brian De Palma once said. Either way, if somebody watches this video and honestly comes away with the conclusion that white men don't harass, then they already have their own problems.

I think it's an exceptionally fair concern that a sizable portion of the population will be prepared to engage in a little low-volume racism and say this is done just by a certain segment of the population (who conveniently are not-them and a group they already see as Other). I also think that you can still get some worthwhile traction from it anyway by providing a yes this is really what it's like to walk down the street as a woman to help teach people like AllieTessKipp's husband who just doesn't get the ubiquity.

I also think it's particularly shitty for that Slate writer to just toss off "then you should shoot it again" as if ten hours of subjecting yourself to that shit is without cost - particularly emotional cost. That seems, to me, to be pretty dismissive of the actress' experience. Maybe it's worth it on social justice grounds, but to aim the same spotlight back on the writer - you couldn't find a few words in that piece to acknowledge that?

I really don't see justification for dismissing the video because of our culture completely ignoring the earlier Williams variation and other project. Yeah, that says something super shitty about our culture. But stopping other progress because of it, rather than trying to build on it, I am not down with that. I'm very open to the concerns that maybe you get the wrong progress if you're othering and denigrating PoC rather than advancing the leave women alone angle but the way the discussion is happening where I see it... it seems way more like the lefty "we eat our own" than a productive addressing of multiple problems.
posted by phearlez at 8:56 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


My daughter and her friend (with whom she founded their school's new Feminism Club) were harassed on the way home to our house from school yesterday, watched this video with me and talked about their experiences with street harassment, and then her friend went home, only to call us from the train station, shaken by having been accosted not once but twice by men during her 5-min walk in the rain with her headphones on and a hood and an umbrella. These are 15yo girls. Fifteen. And they've already had literally years of experience with this.

I still remember the day my daughter ran into the house crying, furious, ashamed, telling me what a man had said to her from his car as she walked home from 8th grade. She sobbed into my shoulder and said "I'm never wearing this outfit again." Her favorite outfit, the one she felt confident in. I was so, so mad at that fucker who ruined it for her, so, so mad that this was some kind of sick rite of passage initiating her into public womanhood, so, so glad I could hold her and tell her it was not her fault, she should never stop wearing her favorite outfit, she had done nothing wrong, he had no right. And so, so helpless about the fact that it's still like this, and feels so impossible to stop.
posted by mothershock at 8:59 AM on October 30, 2014 [29 favorites]


Mark Morford on the video.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:26 AM on October 30, 2014


> This is about power, not looks or attraction or "trying to get a date" or whatever the hell else you may think. It's pure, 100% bullying and oppression.

I agree wholeheartedly. It seems odd to me, then, that women or parents of girls are surprised by harassers of supposedly unattractive or underaged girls & women. I get that harassing youngsters is particularly horrific because it's a sad, sad lesson about the world that sucks. I don't like the conflation of harassers of tomboyish or middle aged women with men who do NOT harass, but are attracted to those women.
posted by morganw at 9:30 AM on October 30, 2014


Light, but related tangents:

Many moons ago, when I was a single dude in my 20s, I was riding home on the NYC subway after drinking at a bar. I was reading The Anatomy of Fascism. Across the train, a young woman said hello to me. I swear to God, unprompted, her lead-in was, "oh hey, is that a good book? I'm a lesbian, by the way". (FWIW, she would have set off my gaydar regardless, to the extent such things may be accurate.) She was seated with two friends, and it looked like they had all come from a party or a bar themselves.

What was funny about that moment to me was the fact that she had obviously brought up being a lesbian so as to preemptively frame this interaction as Definitely Not Flirting. (Of course, the fact that she had two friends also improved her safety from Schroedinger's Creep.)

And, it worked! No further commentary or acknowledgement was needed by any party. We all had a good conversation, and then we got off at our respective stops. If anything, even I appreciated the heads-up, as a guy - there was exactly zero chance of this turning out romantically, so there was nothing to think about other than making small talk on a long subway ride.

Contrast this with the time when, during the subway strike, I walked the bridge and struck up a conversation with a guy who was a Nigerian bouncer. We later grabbed a beer and had a good evening. Recounting this story later, people asked me if they thought he was hitting on me. Well...even if he had been at one point, which I had no concrete reason to believe, he had obviously determined that nothing was going to happen, because we just had beers and talked about movies and bid one another goodnight.

Now that I'm married with a kid, strangers talk to me more - when I have my kid. I mean, obviously they're more interested in the kid, but the point as well is that the ring and the baby heavily imply that I'm not going to interpret their small talk as flirtation.

Point being, in NYC, even as a dude, even when other dudes randomly talk to other dudes, randomly getting friendly with a stranger will almost always carry the rebuttable presumption of being hit on.

So, yeah. That's why the unprompted "good morning" crap is just as suspect - and not just because it's surrounded by more direct harassment.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:37 AM on October 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


Harassing across racial and ethnic lines has an extra dimension of evil all its own because it fans the flames of race and ethnic hatred -- and also because it's often an expression of such hatred.
posted by jamjam at 9:42 AM on October 30, 2014


No one said anything, no one got out of their seat, no one asked the driver to even stop the bus. As a guy verbally and physically assaulted a gray-haired woman on crutches.

Your bus driver is an asshole who needs to be reported. Please call your city's transit authority. This is not to say that the bystanders were not assholes, but the bus driver is the asshole in charge of keeping all of his/her passengers safe.

My bus drivers here are always on top of such nonsense. One likes to ask the harassed if they'd like him to hold down their harasser so they can kick him a few times before he throws him off the bus.
posted by MissySedai at 9:45 AM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I still remember the day my daughter ran into the house crying, furious, ashamed, telling me what a man had said to her from his car as she walked home from 8th grade. She sobbed into my shoulder and said "I'm never wearing this outfit again." Her favorite outfit, the one she felt confident in.

UGH, this makes me so goddamned angry. Flames on the side of my face. I wish I had something productive to say but all I have is blind rage. And people wonder why women have confidence issues, and blame it on us not "leaning in" enough... (wanders off to set fire to something)
posted by dialetheia at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man.
It's funny because of course it doesn't happen this way, but if this walk represented the course of a man's life, it often does happen this way.
posted by Kabanos at 10:00 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


KathrynT: The director said that there were an equal number of white harassers, but that they harassed her in a way that was just as offputting in real life but less appropriate for the video. More hissing at her as she walked by or speaking when they were off camera. Do I believe that unconscious bias could have influenced who he chose for the video, and probably did? Absolutely 100%. Do I believe that white harassers could be better schooled in plausible deniability? also absolutely. But by the director's own admission, the video tells a different story than real life. That's something worth discussing.

OMG YES THIS!!

**warning...warning!! generalizations forthcoming!!**

White male harassers are goddamn ninjas of plausible deniability. 35+ years of experience with their "style", so to speak, informs me that they're sneaky bastards who generally do an excellent job of hiding their tracks; not because they're in any way smarter but because for the most part generally just being loud and mouthy and brazenly macho in public isn't an intrinsic part of their cultural background. There's a performative style to much of the catcalling in this video that when I was younger and living in poor ethnically mixed neighborhoods would have been met by me with an equally loud "yo, FUCK OFF" or if they were neighborhood guys I knew, a condescending: "Does your mama know you're being so disrespectful / such a dirty dog??... etc.

White male tactics also, of course, share considerable overlap with males of other ethnicity and cultures, so I don't intend this as a derail into a discussion of stereotyping or prejudice or "White people walk like THIS...". It isn't my intent. This is merely my personal experience which informs me there are some common trends. So.

The editor seems to be saying that most of the slurs and quips that came from white men were either too quiet or subtle or far enough out of frame that they either weren't caught on camera or didn't make the edit because they couldn't be easily proven as unquestionable harassment. That very much ties with my experience of white guys being better schooled in maintaining plausible deniability; in a specific passive-aggressive manner that crosses boundaries of class, region and social background.

Probably the most common type (usually either from teenagers or the old and sketchy) white-male harassment tactic is the whisper / hissing / disgusting kissy noise thing where they quickly lean in and go "mmm TITSSSSsss" or some shit like that. Sometimes followed up with a stealth grope; either in passing on the sidewalk (that's difficult to catch if you're not looking for it) or on public transit.

The scariest one that's more the MO of the middle-aged and older white males (usually from a more "respectable" social class) is the adoption of the "father / protector role" which is the one where vulnerable looking women or more often younger girls are asked "where are you going?" "can I give you a ride...", "you shouldn't be walking alone", etc... which they use as an opener to engage with, isolate and entrap.

One I've had ample experiences with, also usually on transit from the more "construction worker / blue collar" or "potentially homeless / alcoholic" type white dudes is the open / challenging stare across the train car / bus while fondling themselves.

Your classic corporate "white male in power" tactic is openly staring at a girl's boobs/butt in the stereotypical "dude, my eyes are up here" fashion, putting a hand on her back or neck in the "I'm alpha here and you submit to me" body language, or suggestive jokey comments which have potential to escalate into the whole realm of workplace harrassment and intimidation. See also: intimidating clerical subordinates / hassling waitresses / baristas, etc.

A common dudebro (white college kid) tactic is the "drive-by": jeers / catcalls, whistles and/or objects hurled from a passing vehicle, and it's the one I encounter the most here in Boulder, party school capital of the U.S. Probably overlaps with cyclist-focussed microaggressions, too, tbh, but somehow it never seems to happen when I'm out riding with my husband, grrr.

None of these would be terribly easy to capture with the methodology of this video. So you or your white male allies maybe saying to yourself "well okay I don't see it so maybe this is a cultural / ethnic thing that doesn't exist in my world" (which, I actually just quoted a good portion of the above from a Facebook argument with a white male friend living in Seattle who's like "um, yea, we don't have a problem in the PNW because I NEVER see this stuff happening...." I direct linked him to Dreidl's comment in an attempt to go "SEE! SEE! I'm not just making shit up!!

Not to be all cluelessly white myself, but I actually had assumed the subject of this video was Puerto Rican / Latina walking through her neighborhoods, since I myself have lived with and around mixed race and minority / poor neighborhoods throughout my life. I don't actually care/mind whether she's PR or "passing as white" or whatever, and I do agree that it's totally fine to discuss this in context of the intersections of race / prejudice and class that seem to inform and drive street harrassment.

So anyhow, feel free to pile on now and tell me all the ways in which I'm the wrongest wrong that ever wronged on the internet, but do be aware this particular video has sparked more thoughtful discussion of this issue in my (predominantly white, privileged, male) social network than anything else I've seen to date, so that is a thing.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:22 AM on October 30, 2014 [31 favorites]


I just now, in this thread, had a really astonishing revelation.

I've been a strong proponent of car-rather-than-mass-transit as an option that should always be preserved and never downgraded. A lot of this is because I feel much more safe and relaxed in a car. Now, some of this is undoubtedly crowds, because PTSD, and all. But the talking upthread about PTSD stressors from sexual harassment makes me wonder how much of my antipathy for public transit is because men talk to me and follow me and I have to always be on alert for shitty creepers.

If I could take mass transit and be in a bubble where no one bothers me, I think I actually probably would, at least some days.

So this stuff affects more stuff than just irritation or feelings for ladies - it also impacts our economic choices, too - at least sometimes.
posted by corb at 10:29 AM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


This story is sort of a non-sequitur but there is some kind of lesson in it, I think:

I used to live in a neighborhood alongside a little canyon, and there was a street through the canyon that was basically a sine wave and so was really popular with walkers/runners. One day I'm out there, and just after a car passes me in the opposite direction something hits me HARD in the back of the head.

I spun around, furious, and started after the car, thinking I could catch it at the stop sign. I was pissed - oh, you think it's funny to throw a fucking bottle or whatever at the fat lady, I'll show you funny.

I made it about two steps before the...I don't even know, hawk? Raptor of some kind, enormous wingspan, comes at my face. And after I was done with the cowering and running away, I was STILL furious at the shitstains in the car who threw something...OH. Oh.

So, in short, I am so constantly internally prepared for street harassment every time I am outside of my house that I am completely unequipped for wildlife harassment and nearly had my eyes removed by a giant angry bird (the yellow one, basically) as a result.

Corb: that's the exact reason I was so excited about the idea of the driverless car. I would love to routinely use public transportation but not at the cost of being trapped in a moving room with strangers, or stuck standing on the street for long stretches with no quick way to get away.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:42 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


A comment from the Mark Morford article linked here:
I do want to add that the actress is wearing the perfect amount of make up for a woman going out. Her face looks very natural and not made up, which is a very pretty look. Strive for that look. I call it the "normal human" look.
....I don't believe I have ever seen anyone miss the point on such a grand scale.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on October 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


So anyhow, feel free to pile on now and tell me all the ways in which I'm the wrongest wrong that ever wronged on the internet [...]

Not at all. As a white male NON-harasser, I agree with your assessment of the white male harassment style (ick). Every time I've seen it, they have been... not subtle, far from it, but quiet. Words or actions that would often be difficult to pick up effectively on a video like this one.

I don't think this is really a function of race directly, but more to do with the learned standards of behaviour of whoever they associate with. That probably correlates with race somewhat, but will presumably do less so over the very long term (as one hopes people will eventually stop caring about race at all).

re: "Probably overlaps with cyclist-focussed microaggressions", again I think you nailed it. I've been on the receiving end of that once or twice, and it's the same category of idiots if not the exact same individuals. And it's definitely an "I have the power here and you don't" kind of thing, just as the street harassment is.

re: useful effects of this video, I mean, aside from making me very angry just watching it, it reinforces that notion of wanting to get involved next time I see something like this happen. It's a scary thing to do sometimes, and whenever I do, I worry if I'm just making the whole thing worse for everybody by making a bigger deal out of it. So it's probably good to be reminded that it's a pretty big deal already, so getting involved helps. I hope.
posted by FishBike at 11:05 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


That very much ties with my experience of white guys being better schooled in maintaining plausible deniability; in a specific passive-aggressive manner that crosses boundaries of class, region and social background.

This correlates with my experience extremely closely, btw. Particularly the TITTTTSSSssssssssss thing, I get that pretty frequently. Or the car full of young white guys creeping along next to me enthusiastically wishing me a "really, really nice day. You should just have a really great day!", which happened on my suburban street while I was out jogging and has been as or more unsettling than the guy who licked my ear on the bus.
posted by KathrynT at 11:09 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


....I don't believe I have ever seen anyone miss the point on such a grand scale.

If you make the mistake I did and scroll down through more comments (OMG DON'T DO IT) you see he's all over the place there with apologia, oh it's only 2m out of 10h so whatevs, etc etc. The point could have hit him dead center at 200mph and it wouldn't have mattered with a head that hard and full of garbage.
posted by phearlez at 11:12 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


the guy who licked my ear on the bus

I just agh ew. Tongue ownership privileges revoked.
posted by zjacreman at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


....the guy who licked my ear on the bus.
posted by KathrynT at 2:09 PM on October 30


Dear Lord. I thank God Above that didn't happen to me, because I would be serving life in jail for Murder One right now.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:16 AM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


SERIOUSLY WTF, I am awed by your self control, as I think I could not have controlled myself from at least a punch.
posted by corb at 11:24 AM on October 30, 2014


the car full of young white guys creeping along next to me .... ARGH this has happened now THREE TIMES on one of my regular training loops, where they creep alongside as I'm puffing and sweating and creaking my way up the canyon, meanwhile they pepper me with questions about my bike, where I'm going, how far do I ride...? and it's never framed as genuine interest in the sport (which I'm all too eager to expound upon at length and will gladly bore the shit out of any genuinely interested human being, as you all probably well know by now) it's just threatening and creeptastic and OMG OBNOXIOUS!!!
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:28 AM on October 30, 2014


A little late to this, but: I think it's totally fair to say "this video makes an interesting and good point" and also "it could have done x and y better or differently." I don't think that's contradictory or self-defeating in any way.

I also don't think that the people saying "this doesn't represent my experiences as a woman of color" should have to sit back in silence because of some perceived greater good.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:32 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


ugh and don't get me started about all the times I've been riding along either alone or with some of my female teammates or friends, and my spidey senses tingled and I realized that I/we had "picked up a Klingon" as we term it, aka a creepy male cyclist who was now riding behind us staring at our asses... or some guy just randomly joined our group to chat us up without even asking if it was ok first (hint: it's never ok to join someone else's obvious training rideee!!! you just don't do that!!! especially if they're obviously being coached!!!). And when confronted they're all like "huh huh just enjoying the view ladies" and we're like HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY CONTINUE TO OPERATE IN SOCIETY LIKE THIS????

ARGH. *beats head on desk*
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:36 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dear Lord. I thank God Above that didn't happen to me, because I would be serving life in jail for Murder One right now.

It was winter, we were all smashed in place in our winter coats, and I had a window seat, and the guy had been hunched forwards murmuring crappy shit into my ear for about three stops while I ignored him stonefacedly, and then decided to provoke a reaction by leaning forward and licking my ear. I said, in my most stentorian trained-for-opera projecty voice, "EXCUSE ME, SIR! DID YOU JUST LICK MY EAR?" The bus driver immediately pulled over to the side and threw the guy off, which was nice, but which makes Dreidl's experience (in the same city! with the same transit authority!) that much more infuriating.
posted by KathrynT at 11:39 AM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


evidenceofabsence: completely agree, and these discussions need to be had. Question: based on all the apologia that was made on the edge cases of "good morning", etc... do you still think it was a bad idea for the producer to edit out the (presumably white, male) instances that could not unquestioningly be construed as harassment? I am not pleased myself they were left on the cutting room floor or deleted or couldn't be produced after the fact, and I think he should definitely be called out on that.

At the same time (obviously) I do think it is really important to have discussions revolving around the socialized and cultural differences in approaches to harassment across racial, class and social divides. Because harassment doesn't always look the same, and not everyone experiences it in the same way.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:43 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


lonefrontranger, you captured perfectly the differences between how many white men perform sexual harassment versus men of other ethnicities. I wish I could favorite your comment more than once.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


i'm just now realizing i always interpret car honks when i'm on my bike as more car-bike aggression than street harassment; but chances are at least some of the time that's not the case.

the whistle + kissy noises i heard last time i rode my bike were pretty unmistakable, yay.

overall i do get less street harassment than i used to. i'm sure this is due to a combination of a number of factors: my age (38, though many folks call me younger-looking), having short hair now, and riding my bike as transportation whenever possible. i do get comments when i'm on my bike, but save for one encounter with another cyclist on an otherwise empty street late at night, i usually feel like i can pedal away fast enough. i feel less trapped than when on foot or on transit.

personally when taking public transit, i prefer buses to trains. trains are where the worst 'creepily staring while fondling himself' and 'oh wait he didn't just accidentally bump into me that was a grope' interactions have happened - i've been lucky not to experience anything nearly that bad on the bus. i do realize that could change at any time, unfortunately.

i've stopped describing all the little things that happen during my day to my boyfriend, because it just upsets him and it's almost like i'm better equipped to deal with it happening than he is hearing about it. or sometimes i plan to tell him (like the recent whistle/kissy noises) but it's so part of the background of my daily experience that i literally forget it happened by the time i see him again. he's offered to do all of the dog walks, but i enjoy the bonding experience of walking with MY dog and i'm not going to let creepers stop me from doing it.

i also try to be friendly to people in my neighborhood because i want to enjoy my neighbors. so i do (when i feel up to it) smile and say hello or good morning to most people, even though it has occasionally made me vulnerable to nasty or borderline comments.
posted by misskaz at 11:45 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


do you still think it was a bad idea for the producer to edit out the (presumably white, male) instances that could not unquestioningly be construed as harassment? I am not pleased myself they were left on the cutting room floor or deleted or couldn't be produced after the fact, and I think he should definitely be called out on that.

I've got a hunch that if he had included it, we would be getting just as strong a pushback from people complaining that "come on, you can't hear what the guy said, how do you know that he said anything at all?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on October 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


I've got a hunch that if he had included it, we would be getting just as strong a pushback from people complaining that "come on, you can't hear what the guy said, how do you know that he said anything at all?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:47 PM on October 30


Which would be exactly why the white guys in video pitch their voices low in the first place--to allow people to doubt any woman's accusations of harassment.

It's the same reason some of the men in the video were saying things like "Good morning" and "God bless you"--so when someone stands up to them, they and any witnesses can say "What? He was just being polite!"
posted by magstheaxe at 11:51 AM on October 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


lonefrontranger, you captured perfectly the differences between how many white men perform sexual harassment versus men of other ethnicities. I wish I could favorite your comment more than once.

I don't know that white men are not ever taught to be loud or mouthy. Observe like, any tailgate party, also I heard loud harassment in Italian neighborhoods, etc. I agree overall with the points on deniability and the boob staring.
posted by sweetkid at 11:55 AM on October 30, 2014


based on all the apologia that was made on the edge cases of "good morning", etc... do you still think it was a bad idea for the producer to edit out the (presumably white, male) instances that could not unquestioningly be construed as harassment?

I guess I do? I think that, as frustrating as it can be, the whole "sometimes 'good morning' isn't just 'good morning'" conversation is pretty useful, since it helps people understand why that behavior might be included in a video like this, and why not everyone finds it welcoming.

I also think that discarding all the footage of white guys gave people an easy way to dismiss this video out of hand. If anything, that footage could have provided us with concrete examples of how people (and, especially, white dudes) try to harass women in sneaky ways that might not be entirely expected or obvious.

If that footage really wasn't suitable (all of it, somehow) for the main video, it still would have made a pretty interesting standalone video extra, maybe with some arrows to point us to where we should be looking.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:02 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I see that Hollaback has a statement on their front page that addresses (among other things) the bias:

First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.

Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms. Check out our Harassment Is: Identities and Street Harassment guide on how individuals experience harassment differently. This video should have done a better job of representing this knowledge.


I wish I had the money to finance someone going back and making the sort of video evidenceofabsence talked about. Or perhaps someone already has? If so, I'd love to know about it.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:09 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


yea sweetkid after I made that comment I was like "well of course not so much for your average construction site / frat party / redneck hicks" but I think there is still a point to be made that you encounter this EVERYWHERE not just in blue collar neighborhoods, barrios, or fraternity houses, and the worse and more insidious takeaway for everyone is that very nicely dressed respectable looking leafy-suburban-dwelling dudes can be some of the worst offenders tbh.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


(For the record, though, I still think that the original video is important and useful and has sparked some really important conversations! Something doesn't have to be perfect to be good.)
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:14 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That very much ties with my experience of white guys being better schooled in maintaining plausible deniability; in a specific passive-aggressive manner that crosses boundaries of class, region and social background.

I once had a group of fratbros try to pick me up as a hooker on my way home from art class. I was at the time only nineteen and deaf to social cues so it was only when I got home that my roommates told me what had happened. I told the story here.

I get far more uneasy around groups of white men than other groups of men, if only because I know their story would be believed well before mine if they did anything.
posted by winna at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


If anything, even regarding the problems with the video, I'd say the ensuing conversation has been more effective and engaging than, say, if they had simply included the off-camera, semiaudible sibilants. The makers saying "did we have to edit some things out? Basically, here's why" leads to people talking about the underlying reality. Jamming in footage which would require in-movie explanation might have also worked, but IMHO it would not have been as rhetorically successful as keeping the movie itself unambiguous on its face.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:21 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


yea Sticherbeast, I go back and forth on it myself and I kind of wonder if jamming it in with exposition would have helped or just added noise to the debate. As an eternal idealist, I'd like to say it would have been revealing but cynical me has also witnessed the explosive online rhetorical diarrhea of MRA types and gamergate apologists and I'm like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:28 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Question: based on all the apologia that was made on the edge cases of "good morning", etc... do you still think it was a bad idea for the producer to edit out the (presumably white, male) instances that could not unquestioningly be construed as harassment? I am not pleased myself they were left on the cutting room floor or deleted or couldn't be produced after the fact, and I think he should definitely be called out on that.

In my dream world the video was instead MTV Pop-up-video style and does the arrows and balloons to indicate what was said offscreen or inaudibly or whatever. Which is easy for me to wish since I wouldn'ta been the person doing the order of magnitude more work to create that.

But as EC and others say, there was gonna be nonsense excusing no matter what. This is enough to allow the women in men's lives to say "no, that IS what it's like and it's all. the. damn. time." and they can elaborate that it's not just PoC or in NY or when they are wearing XYZ. Other men here said this opened their eyes wider, I have to believe it means that convo is happening other places this is shared.
posted by phearlez at 12:37 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vox: Yes, unsolicited compliments are street harassment

Nice rundown, but I would think that about anything that quotes Elon James White (who is insightful and funny as hell). "@elonjames: Im so confused as to why dudes are complaining about not being able to say hi to women. Go say hi to other dudes if you need to so bad."
posted by phearlez at 12:58 PM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


and oh my god I also forgot about the "quirky hippie / manic pixie dreamboy hipster" social engineer type of stalky annoying harasser which OF COURSE I encountered one at lunch just now. Ugh. These are the sorts of beatnik floppy-haired, generally younger but not always guys who bank on their whiteness, privilege and/or looks to try opening unsolicited conversations with women in bars or coffeehouses, and it all starts out sort of weird-loopy-friendly like the encounter MissySedai related above and of course it's always when you're working on your laptop or reading alone and you're sending them the eye daggers like PLEASE GO AWAY but you know if you actually tell them "hey piss off, you're bothering me" they'll just double down and get hostile and ruin your day and everyone else's in the joint.

GODDAMMIT.
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:53 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


lest anyone think I'm some kind of unfriendly old battleaxe (well ok sometimes) I've had plenty of fun and engaging conversations with random people of all ages, backgrounds and genders, and in that particular lunch joint even BUT NOT WHEN YOU SNEAK UP BEHIND ME AND TOUCH MY HAIR WHO ACTUALLY DOES THAT????asd;lkjadfslkasdf;lkadfsahbq
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:22 PM on October 30, 2014


Rustic Etruscan: I think if anyone is criticizing anybody, they're criticizing the man who filmed and edited the piece, not the woman he filmed. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say the video has issues, and I don't think it's a disingenuous silencing tactic to say so. There are good reasons to think the video is good, and there are good reasons to think it could have been a lot better.

There's other responses to the effect of yours as well, but what i'm objecting to is not discussing it, it's the attitude displayed in the linked articles of "This is Problematic, so don't share it and it's disqualified and invalid. She should reshoot it again so that it meets my standards of racial diversity"

All of those things were either literally, directly said, or said in aggregate. And that article is not the only place that messaging is coming up with relation to this video. It's an opinion held on a relatively wide scale by supposedly progressive-y people, especially dudes, that comes up EVERY TIME a video like this is shot.

The discussion we're having here isn't the problem. Hell, i said that right in my comment. I'm not tarring all criticism with that brush, i just think a whole lot of it outside of this site that's getting linked around like the slate piece absolutely deserves that brush because it's openly wearing that attitude as a badge of pride.

And holy shit, for the first time in my entire life, on preview... what corb said.

Missysedai: Your bus driver is an asshole who needs to be reported. Please call your city's transit authority. This is not to say that the bystanders were not assholes, but the bus driver is the asshole in charge of keeping all of his/her passengers safe.

I don't know, a lot of drivers here have been assaulted over the past few years. i've actually seen it happen before. A lot of drivers have been threatened with guns.

I was on a bus a couple months ago where a driver started to intervene in a fight between a seemingly mentally ill woman in a wheelchair, and a high/mentally ill homeless guy who was just giggling at everything and minding his own business eating oreos. After the driver told them both to stop yelling, the woman threatened the guy with a gun(and she had already threatened him with a pipe wrench, just for giggling at everything she said). The whole thing started with a "THE FUCK YOU LOOKIN AT" from her and spiraled out of control from there. The driver looked scared shitless and the transit police don't come instantly.

A lot of times when i see situations like what was described above unfold, the driver is like... a tiny middle aged woman. They can radio for help and have the police meet the bus at XYZ stop, but often times when the driver tries to throw someone whose truly being an asshole off their response is either "no" or "fucking making me bitch".

There's a few seattle bus drivers who are just gigantic dudes who look like they spend all their time off lifting other guys who are lifting weights like some ren and stimpy sight gag. And they'll get right up and say "sure, it'd be my pleasure" and frog march the guy off the bus. But for the most part i get it. I've seen the driver getting on the mic and going "Hey, knock it off, you're not allowed to behave that way on the bus" in a basically "i see what's happening and this thing is full of cameras" way turn in to the aggro person going up to the driver and threatening to beat the fucking shit out of them.

So yea, i don't know, i have some sympathy for them not intervening. There has to be a better solution. Security guards with arrest powers(because they're "transit police" sort of) on buses like we have on the light rail? i've been to other cities where they did have that.

What kathrynt describes is just a hit or miss thing. And i don't really think you can expect some of the drivers to get up and throw someone else off. Some of them are like, 60 year old dudes who limp along really slowly or tiny women. And to their credit, i'm not painting all of them with the same brush because some of them are the scariest and WILL throw people off very aggressively. But still, i... get it.
posted by emptythought at 2:47 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


In terms of bus issues, a local guy (Brisbane) on a bus dealt with a fellow (but obnoxious) passenger who was giving the driver a very difficult time by agreeing to exit the bus with him and engage in fisticuffs. Once the bad guy had stepped out (but not our hero) the bus driver shut the door, and drove off with everyone happy. Not a solution that will always work, but charmingly simple.

In terms of original topic, I've found it fascinating, upsetting, eye opening, validating. Like when I first learned about date rape, and realised that the reason I was so upset about an experience was perfectly justified. I've also followed two opposing conversations on Reddit, and the anti-female one was mind blowing. Don't look for it if you have blood pressure problems. Those conversations always make me appreciate the tone of meta filter and the community standards as well as the moderation. I'm shocked that people living in the developed world with apparent equality, can believe and convey such hateful thoughts about half the population. Sure, I get why people who haven't experienced street harassment might not understand why an apparently innocuous greeting might be unwelcome, or why compliments aren't universally good. I mean, when I was experiencing it myself, and not liking it, I couldn't articulate why, and I thought I was over-sensitive. But to have such a vicious dislike of a gender, expectations of grateful submission to any act - how is that - I just - what?
posted by b33j at 3:53 PM on October 30, 2014


Oh, and subtle harassment - I had a teen schoolboy apparently play with my flank on a city bus for a good ten minutes. I couldn't believe he would do that, the seats were tall like in a touring bus, so he was protected from view, and as an overweight woman, I blamed myself for filling my seat (though not encroaching on his). He had his hand in the divot between the seats, and kept moving it against me. Plausible deniability of fidgeting kid. I couldn't move out of my seat, the bus was full, and it was not the type you stand up to ride in. I clearly still blame myself for not (knowing how to) dealing with it, but remaining and tolerating it.
posted by b33j at 4:14 PM on October 30, 2014




I slept on this comment, because I really don't want to function as the so-called "cool girl" who doesn't know why other women are so uptight. So I hope that coming in late in the game, it's already established that street harassment fully sucks and "good morning" can totally convey a disturbing amount of sexual content via tone and pitch. But my experiences in NYC and SF have felt pretty different from what the woman in the video experienced, and I was trying to figure out why, whether it's because I inhabit an alternate universe, or it's because I am just too damn short for men to notice, or what.

I would say that I have had generally and shockingly benign public interactions with strange men. I will sometimes say or wave "hello" back to men who call out non-vulgar things or greetings to me… as I continue walking on by (I am a country mouse, but not a complete babe in the woods). The most annoying was a guy telling me "turn that frown upside down" because what the fuck, let me have my shitty day and thanks for making me even grouchier. The most poetic was a man on the bus telling everyone that "She's tired as a rusted nail." The longest time-wise was a homeless man escorting me out of the Tenderloin because "you know it's not safe for young ladies here at night," and yes, he accompanied me for three blocks, but then he turned around once I was in the Powell Street area. So in mulling this over, I decided it must be me, that I have just a weird and anomalous bubble around me and that I'm a space cadet anyway who can barely avoid walking into parking meters, so I'm probably not even noticing 80% of street harassment.

And then thinking again through the most disturbing interactions I have had with male strangers, I realized that for me, it has been the racialized comments that left the deepest scars. It's the drunk 4th of July revellers in the East Village yelling "It's not your party, chink" at me. It's the retired veteran stopping at the park bench and saying "Korean women make the best wives." And it makes me think about intersectionality, and that for me, being coded and treated as generic "woman-shaped" being doesn't (in general) rattle me, but being coded and treated as "Asian woman" is profoundly frightening.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:59 PM on October 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


spamandkimchi: I kind of understand because especially when I was younger, and especially in circumstances like when I lived in the inner city poor neighborhoods where I knew most of the neighbors because we were all too poor to have shit to do besides sit on our stoops and interact of a hot summer evening, I have always defaulted to being more sociable than not. I enjoy people for the most part, when they're not being assholes, and as a young scrappy quasi punk Gen-Xer bike messenger I was certainly aggressive enough to take the fight right back to the worst offenders, in many cases. Young Gothy me would have asked today's manic pixie dream boy idiot what the hell he was thinking by grabbing my braid and trying to tell me how fantastic my hair is, and we might well have ended up arguing the merits of Sartre, who the hell knows...

But the thing is... I'm not that person anymore. I'm an old tired married suburban yuppie now with a career and stress and places to be. and going on four decades of this crap means ultimately I am sick. to. death. of men who think my body and my existence in public somehow entitles them to make unsolicited comments or actions calculated to exert their dominance over me.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:27 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


De-Centering Whiteness is Essential to Thinking About Street Harassment:
The problem here is that harassment is not directed at women equally. The video itself, as well as the subsequent statement, perpetuate the practice of centering white women as universal victims—an American historical practice that leaves the disproportionate violence that women of color face relegated to oblivion.
I have mixed feelings about this response to the video.

Intellectually, I know street harassment happens; this video really hammered it in for me. I want lots of guys to see this and videos like it.

Is the perfect the enemy of the good here? I don't blame WOC activists for being annoyed or even angry that it took a depiction of a "white women as universal victim" (or at least somebody who passes as one) to raise broad attention to street harassment, particularly when campaigns like #YouOkSis that were started by WOC didn't get such immediate traction. It seems just like how TV news treats the kidnapping of a white women differently from a black one.

I also think that the producer could have made an effort to show the range of men engaging in street harassment and I don't quite buy that he had to leave almost all of the footage involving white men on the cutting room floor. I do think it could have been done better.

On the other hand, what would a campaign that was equally effective (and I realize I'm begging the long-term question here) and not centered on whiteness look like? Would it have been a sufficient start for the video to have acknowledged previous campaigns?
posted by metaquarry at 6:47 PM on October 30, 2014


lonefrontranger, yeah, I'm a bit younger than you I'm guessing, and my experiences and reactions to being a woman in public space may very well change. I also have spent the last decade primarily living in cities with very little street harassment (Honolulu and Seoul, for what its worth) so definitely have unused capacity to handle catcalling. Unsolicited comments (from all genders) are probably still feeling novel rather than exhausting.

I like a messy city. I appreciate that SRO residents use the corner of 6th St and Minna as an outdoor living room (those who use it as an outdoor toilet, not so much, but people do what they gotta do). I like the friction of city life. As an urban planning student, I think a lot about how safety and gendered experiences of the city can be twisted into justifications for homeless sweeps and the demonizing of not only particular class-specific behaviors but entire classes of people. But I have the privilege of having spent the last 10 years living in cities where catcalling is practically nil.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have a fair number of interactions with total strangers — I wear hats (one at a time, of course) and many Oaklanders appreciate a good hat, so I tend to field at least one hat compliment a day that I go out in public — and it's been my experience that many men are perfectly capable of having verbal interactions with strangers that are neighborly, respectful, and non-skeezy.

Not everybody enjoys casual interactions with strangers, of course, including me sometimes. These are a few thoughts, based on my own preferences, about how to increase one's chances that an interaction will be perceived as friendly and neighborly as opposed to intrusive or harassing (I've phrased everything in terms of I and me to try to avoid seeming too prescriptive or universal about this):
  • Observe how I'm interacting with other passersby. If you see me making eye contact and doing the hey, neighbor nod-and-half-smile thing with others, chances improve that a "hi!" or "nice hat!" from you won't be intrusive. If I'm not making eye contact or interacting with people, don't assume that you're an exception.
  • Note my body language. If I'm walking rapidly with my gaze off in the distance or slowly with my gaze down on the sidewalk, don't bother me. If I seem relaxed and am checking out my surroundings, a greeting might be welcome.
  • Let me initiate. If I make eye contact and nod, then yes please do feel free to nod back. Again, "hi!" or "nice hat!" are probably fine too.
  • Don't give me any reason to think you're going to come after me. Don't change pace, break your stride, or veer towards me. Just keep walking along as you were.
  • Keep your eyes above my neck. Don't be eyeing my body.
  • Compliments are tricky to do well. Probably better to avoid them. "Nice hat" is reasonably safe. Never compliment a body part (no "nice hair" and FFS no "nice smile"). Complimenting accessories is questionable — it makes it seem like you've been checking me out. Better not to.
And probably most important: check your motivation. If you want to greet me because it's a beautiful day and you're happy to be alive and you just said hi to the old man sitting on his stoop and the shopkeeper sweeping off the sidewalk, then yeah, say hi. If you want to know where I got my hat because you've realized you too need a dashing Panama hat for warm weather wear, please say hi — I'll point you to the store. But if you want to greet me because you think I'm enhancing your day through my beauty or anything like that, just don't.
posted by Lexica at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Against my better judgement, I'm going to wade into this race sidebar which I get, I do. However, I just don't see it as that significant. Not to be all, 'I don't see color,' because that's not true, but race of the woman (she seems somewhat ambiguous to me) didn't factor to me and race of the men just barely registered. As others have said, there are different kinds of harassment. She's walking through an area where there's a lot of guys hanging out on the street. Unless you've never been harassed on the street or are a guy who doesn't see this, maybe I get that you think this is an indictment of minority groups. These guys are displaying a very public kind of harassment and some of it is clearly part of their "hey, man, watch me call out to this hot chick" kind of BS posturing that is so transparent.

To get a walking-around-the-city and seeing the harassment day on tape, you gotta go to where there's lots of dudes, posturing and hanging out. But, I saw this video and I aver, this is just one of the many flavors of harassment that women get. Now, that's not to say that sexual harassment can't be racially motivated as well. Sometimes there's a double power-play. A two-fer if you can make a white woman feel objectified and vulnerable. I've experienced this more in racially charged areas than in big cities, though. And, as others have noted in this thread, white men also have an extra power boost in their back pocket if they can harass a woman who is also of color and use race against her.

But, you know what, that doesn't really matter. I don't see that in this video. I see guys harassing a woman. All women are vulnerable to sexual harassment at virtually any moment in their lives near as I can tell. Different places, different flavors, different types of women – all colors, all sizes, all ages. Just because you didn't catch on video the brushing touch in a public space, the suggestive comment in a supervisor's office, the lascivious look-over, the car honk, the quiet "da-amn," doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Just because this woman is not insert race here or 10 years old or 80 years old, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I guess I want to say, this is important. It's all important. These are not the only guys who pull this. This one woman did, for real, experience this and it really really sucks and is very scary. And she is very brave to walk in the sunlight to tell this one story.
posted by amanda at 7:37 PM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


The thing is, metaquarry, the definition of "effective" - if you mean a campaign to support women who are targets of street harassment and to brainstorm solutions, @FeministaJones' hashtag (#YouOKSis) was very effective in bringing together women of color, particularly Black American women. It just didn't center white people as victims or problem-solvers, so it wasn't as publicized in white communities on or offline.
posted by gingerest at 7:43 PM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think Navelgazer's celebrity anecdote warrants more consideration from those wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, many people also feel entitled to a reaction from/interaction with a celebrity in public because it will "brighten their day", improve their self-esteem, etc. (Not hating on the guy who brought this up; just pointing out the similar psychology) Particularly if you don't live in NYC or LA and seeing a celebrity is an unusual thing; you can get really excited and try to catch their eye, stare, say "hello" or "I loved you in [thing]!" or similar, try to get a photo with them, etc. It's a whole range of behavior that ranges from the mild ("I got a nod back! He/she acknowledged my existence! OMG!") to the extreme ("I interrupted their dinner and made them hug me for a photo and agree to accept my FB friend request!"). Let's not even start with the paparazzi and who they might be in this analogy. But either way, the people who work for those responses have forced the celebrity to take time out of their day to stop what they're doing, shift their attention, react somehow, and then shift gears back to whatever they were doing going about their daily lives, all because That Is A Famous Person And I Have Recognized Them Therefore They Owe Me Gratitude and Attention, However Brief.

Sure, some celebrities love this kind of thing. After all, they are what they are because they have fans, right? And those celebrities will often make it known that they love this kind of thing and that it's okay to do this if you happen to see them out and about, whether it's by going on a talk show and saying "I love taking selfies with fans!" or just smiling and looking encouraging if you make eye contact with them on the street. There's nothing wrong with those celebrities and it's cool they're willing to do that.

But others don't want this. They want to go to the damn grocery store and not be bothered. They want to have dinner with their spouse without having to stop and be That Person for someone who wants a new Facebook profile photo. They want to walk down a street without being asked for attention every two minutes. And the problem comes from people assuming that ALL celebrities are just like the "I love my fans!" celebrities. If you give it ten seconds of thought, you probably arrive at a "poor celebrities. Must suck to constantly be under public scrutiny with people demanding your attention and judging what you're wearing and how you look every day, not being able to just walk down a street anonymously with no one paying attention to you" sort of conclusion. Most people agree that this is the sucky part of being recognizably famous.

Similarly, it sucks to be recognizably female.
posted by olinerd at 7:43 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


This video puts in context an anecdote a friend told me in the late 1980s. We were law students working in NYC for the summer. He told me that every morning he would see a woman taking the same subway to work as him, and one day when they exited he got up the nerve to say hello. As he started to introduce himself she turned and ran away. Now I know why.
posted by wmoskowi at 8:36 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]




No, I don't buy that there were sound issues when the white guys harassed. I have been been subjected to shit like:
"I'm riding(UK for fucking) you tonight baby" delivered in a falsetto squeal while I was walking to a gastropub in Bath.
"Do you like oral sex"by a teenage kid while I was eating my dinner on the outside patio of a place in Dublin.
"How ya doing sweetheart?" bellowed by a junkie with a woman next to him in Victoria, BC
"Hey, show us your tits!" by a douchebro from the window of a party bus in Portland ME.

About a month ago I yelled at a charity mugger who followed and screamed after a woman who had told him no to stop harassing her.
posted by brujita at 3:43 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Brujita, no one is denying that white guys harrass too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 AM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


No, I don't buy that there were sound issues when the white guys harassed.

You think the filmmaker is just a secret racist who intentionally edited out all the white dudes? That seems far more unlikely than "on this particular day, all the harassing white dudes behaved according to cultural patterns that several women in this very thread have already described and that did not read on camera."

Of course plenty of white dudes shout horrible things. On this particular day, for this particular woman, in this particular city, during this particular ten hour span, they did not do so in a way that her hand microphones and a camera strapped on a dude's back could record.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:50 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


i don't think he's a horrible racist, but i do think it's worth questioning if his unconscious bias was at work, that he didn't feel like the harassment by white guys was as affronting, that it was borderline, that it wasn't as clear. this could be totally 100% true or it could be partially true and partially him giving (again unconscious) passes to men who look like him. i hope more of these types of videos are made and i hope women are the ones making them - i think there will always be gaps when men tell our stories (and i find it fair that many woc feel there will always be gaps when the topic is centered on white/white passing women).
posted by nadawi at 6:24 AM on October 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think it's also plausible that white guys are experienced enough at gauging power to know what they can get away with- so they may model off the perceived race and social class of the victim.

I will note though that we don't know how she identifies and should not gauge it off her skin tone alone.
posted by corb at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


i don't think he's a horrible racist, but i do think it's worth questioning if his unconscious bias was at work, that he didn't feel like the harassment by white guys was as affronting, that it was borderline, that it wasn't as clear.

Yes, absolutely. I don't doubt that this was a factor, and the filmmaker's status should be taken into account. But saying "I don't buy that there were sound issues" is a different thing altogether. That sounds less like "the filmmaker allowed his unconscious biases to get in the way" and more like "the filmmaker had plenty of obvious harassment from white guys and he edited all of it out for reasons of his own".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:31 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


i am not trying to get into how she identifies but how she is perceived by those watching this. when a light skinned woman, whatever her identity, is harassed by darker skinned men it can bring up some baggage. i think other white feminists like myself should just be aware of white women tears and how they've been used throughout history.
posted by nadawi at 6:47 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


90% of the population and relationships were created from a cat call.

I don't claim to know 90% of the population of the world, but I know an awful lot of people, and none of them got together with their SOs as the result of a catcall. I guess I must be sheltered?

Except for the harassment when I'm out alone, of course.
posted by MissySedai at 7:27 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


(from that same link)"I blame media. All famess females have no respect for themselves like Mikey and Nicki minaj.

also, i stumbled across a charming page i won't link to which encourages us to "ignore the agenda and instead look at these 14 hot pictures of the woman in the video!"

what the actual goddamned fuck is wrong with people. i'm gonna go back to looking at pictures of beyonce dressed up like rhythm nation janet to soothe my soul.
posted by nadawi at 7:35 AM on October 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can tell a lot about a person (or a gestalt, or an ideology) by what slopes they deem slippery, or by what obvious observations they choose to ignore. A man who hears "don't catcall" and understands it as "never talk to women ever" has some pretty serious baggage. It's not just that they're upset that people think catcalling is shitty, although that is also their feeling, but also that they see this injunction as being wholly violative of how they relate to women.

It's related to the guys who will say things like, "aw, but they're just being friendly". Yeah, like random straight dudes tell their straight dude friends, let alone other random straight dudes, to smile, and then call them names when they don't respond. There is exactly a zero percent chance that they think it would be merely "friendly" to do so.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:37 AM on October 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


MissySedai: 90% of the population and relationships were created from a cat call.

"Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that."
posted by tonycpsu at 7:48 AM on October 31, 2014


Finally got around to watching the Jessica Williams' Feminized Atmosphere. I liked it a LOT, but I feel like people think the "dump on my tits" stuff happens once in a blue moon (which it doesn't) and they even have a woman in there saying "saying you're beautiful is fine." No it's not!

Still that piece needs way more attention.
posted by sweetkid at 8:09 AM on October 31, 2014


EC, I don't buy that the only harassment the subject received by white men during the course of the filming was the muttered under the breath kind.
posted by brujita at 9:03 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked it a LOT, but I feel like people think the "dump on my tits" stuff happens once in a blue moon (which it doesn't) and they even have a woman in there saying "saying you're beautiful is fine." No it's not!

I think women say that kind of thing as an appeasement tactic, as if to say, "I'm not actually a man-hating feminazi! Please stop saying vile things to me if I let you call me beautiful!"

Only problem is that it doesn't seem to do much in the way of stopping the first class of harassment and still gives license to the second class of harassment, leaving the door open for annoying those of us who agree with the divine Ms. Garbo on the desirability of being let alone.
posted by winna at 9:04 AM on October 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


This might be projection, it's definitely overthinking, and I don't want to seem like I'm trying to speaking for that woman at all -- but a lot of times, I feel like women who say stuff like, "saying 'you're beautiful' is fine" have just internalized the attitude displayed in a bunch of comments upthread: It should be taken as an unobjectionable given that men just like to stare at and hit on complete strangers if those strangers are women, because looking at woman-objects gives men a buzz or whatever, and what's the problem with that anyway, they're just complimenting us! We're obviously just being uptight if we object to anything short of men screaming in our faces, jerking off at us, and/or putting their hands on us, because approaching random women on the street who are just trying to go about their business without incident is just another one of those Things That Men Do, and women are socially and culturally instructed to shut up and deal with anything men want to do simply because men want to do it.

The aspect of gendered socialization I encounter most often in my daily life is that men are generally not raised to believe that they need to keep an eye on their behavior in order to be able to adapt it for the benefit of others, not raised to understand that sometimes they need to inconvenience themselves so other people aren't made uncomfortable or inconvenienced themselves, but women certainly are. So if someone in an extant situation needs to change, the responsibility and burden for making the change almost always falls entirely on women. It's not fair, but sometimes women are just going to say, "You know what? Fuck it. Fine. Let me have it, I'll learn how to deal."

After a certain amount of inculcation to that end, a certain percentage of men constantly chiming in to 'helpfully' tell you that women basically aren't allowed to object to anything if men don't agree that it's objectionable... I completely understand that some women just feel like it's easier to just listen, internalize the messaging, and let men continue to dictate the terms of any and every conversation we have about street harassment (or sexism, or sexual assault, or abortion, or...). Men have told us over and over that "saying 'you're beautiful' is fine," so eventually some women will just agree that it is.
posted by divined by radio at 9:05 AM on October 31, 2014 [23 favorites]


EC, I don't buy that the only harassment the subject received by white men during the course of the filming was the muttered under the breath kind.

That is not anything that anyone has said. There already are white harassers in the video. The filmmakers later said that there were other white harassers, but they were sotto voce and/or off-camera. If they really were trying to erase white harassers, then they've done a terrible job of it. Of course unconscious bias could have affected the editing process, but without the raw footage, we can't judge for ourselves the extent of such bias. It just looks like that day and that walking path didn't bring in a bumper crop of on-camera street harassment by white men.

Regardless, I can't imagine that anybody who is not already in la-la land seriously thinks that there are no white harassers, or that white harassers are merely small in number. In response to the apparent gap presented by the video, women are talking about how they have been harassed by white men, and also how white harassers are as a group more likely to disguise their harassment. So...it seems like things are moving along as well as they can, for now?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:31 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Joyce Carol Oates "[w]ould be very surprised if women walking alone were harassed in affluent midtown NYC (Fifth Ave., Park Ave.), Washington Square Park etc."

I guess she is shocked. Or she just assumes that everyone telling her otherwise is lying.
posted by jeather at 10:03 AM on October 31, 2014


Okay, so you remember how Space Coyote linked to some of Shaadi's tweets, and there was that thing about gentrification, and it seemed kind of out of left field?

I looked at the video a little closer, and although it clocks in at under two minutes, it looks like a full minute of that footage was taken on Harlem USA 125th Street™. It's like 16 out of 27 shots, depending on how you count, even though the director said that most of the filming, and catcalling, happened in midtown. And suddenly there's a huge context for gentrification and racial hostility as part of the conversation.

Which is not to justify that catcalling! At all. If anything, it goes to show that the behavior is not at all straightforward and complimentary, and has everything to do with power.

The fact that the video spends so much time in Harlem is, at least in part, because that's where the dudes followed the actress around for minutes on end. However, the Harlem footage really does raise the issue of how men respond differently to different women, and where, and why. And race does have something to do with that.

Washington Square Park etc.
HA! Hilarious. I pretty much can't think of a better place to get chatted up as a 13-year-old reading a book for school.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


it goes to show that the behavior is not at all straightforward and complimentary, and has everything to do with power.

Yeah, I think that's some of the worst part of it, if true. Like, "You're a gentrifier, but I can still make you run in fear of sexual violence. I can still tear you down from your high place. I can still FUCK you and hurt you if I choose to do so, and you can't even stop me. It doesn't matter who you are, you're just a woman, a hole for me to stick my dick into."
posted by corb at 10:34 AM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Another side effect of street harassment is I go into automatic ignore mode when someone yells WITCH, WITCH at me and don't respond; partly because it took me 30 seconds to realize what that dude was saying because his voice was kinda off so it sounded like he might've been quacking at me, partly because I'm off stimulants for a while for medical reasons and I am thus rendered like 70% nonfunctional, but mostly because randos yelling goes into "ignore" category in my brain most of the time. (I was wearing a witch hat, so the WITCH WITCH thing wasn't, like, super inappropriate, but if dude had been aware that women deal with people yelling at them all the time for reasons that are not Halloween related I doubt he'd have done it.)
posted by NoraReed at 11:09 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if I missed it upthread, but Playboy (of all places) has an excellent flowchart on whether or not catcalling is appropriate.
posted by quin at 11:34 AM on October 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


corb, that whole "othering" and tribalism aspect is probably the most hurtful part of all of it.

like spamandkimchi noted above "thinking again through the most disturbing interactions I have had with male strangers, I realized that for me, it has been the racialized comments that left the deepest scars."

I am about the whitest most hetero straight white girl that ever walked the earth. I also came from sheltered rural roots, and when I fled my mom's toxic smothering my first taste of inner city culture shock went about how you'd expect for a small, skinny teenage girl from the sticks. luckily my first adult living situation was among well intentioned allies who were experienced navigators of inner city life because they were able to somewhat school me in survival tactics whilst shielding me from the worst of the worst.

My response to the "worst of the worst" was to lash out angrily against all things female. I shaved off most of my hair and dyed it every harsh unnatural non-girly color imaginable. I dressed very "butch". I adopted an angry, androgynous persona. I became a bike messenger and bike racer in a rough-and-tumble boy's world.

And while this all had the desired effect of muting (some of) the catcalling and body invasion, what I didn't expect was the bombardment of hate-grenades that got lobbed my direction from pretty much every other angle. Because, you see, I wasn't "performing" gender "right" for anyone, and I got to hear that at length, in very crude terms, often from complete strangers. I offended hetero males, gay males, lesbians and straight women alike. And I don't cut myself any slack either because a lot of it was due to my own angry defensive attitudes, but yeah. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to this crowd that if you don't perform gender roles "correctly" in society, good lord do you get to hear about that, CONSTANTLY. I'm positive anyone who is truly on the trans spectrum can expound on this at length. I was sending mixed signals across the spectrum and that just pisses people off no end because you're defying their expectations so they don't understand what "tribe" to pigeonhole you into.

so yeah, that first 4 or 5 years on my own as an adult was a pretty thoroughly shocking introduction into the world of othering and shaming that all women receive to some degree or another, regardless of how we identify.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:41 AM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


There's a discussion on Jezebel about another film Bliss made in Grand Rapids ,which according to the people who have seen it( I have not yet) is also rather skewed.
posted by brujita at 1:08 PM on October 31, 2014


The aspect of gendered socialization I encounter most often in my daily life is that men are generally not raised to believe that they need to keep an eye on their behavior in order to be able to adapt it for the benefit of others, not raised to understand that sometimes they need to inconvenience themselves so other people aren't made uncomfortable or inconvenienced themselves, but women certainly are.

Interesting, I never thought of men not being taught to be socially flexible and responsive. A while back, another person on the site blew my mind by saying that when/how he'd grown up, the way a man was "supposed" to be was stoic and standoffish. When/how I grew up, a man being quick on his feet (esp. verbally, but quick-thinking in general) and having a lot of social skill, *especially* being a good judge of character/others and knowing how to charm them if necessary, was a *huge* part of what made him "manly." That didn't mean any guys were inconveniencing themselves for others (god forbid) but that did mean that they were going to look like idiots and not especially macho if they didn't pick up on what was going on around them and adapt their behavior to it (it's just that the "adaptation" was/is usually to escalate aggression against someone he perceives as weaker, or to defuse aggression from someone he perceives as stronger, or to try to exploit some opportunity, and in any case not being more considerate). In my personal experience, there's usually a tradeoff: either a guy doesn't know that he needs to pay attention to his surroundings but when his attention is drawn to what's going on is also idealistic/"soft"* enough that he'll respond by trying to be kinder/more respectful, or a guy does know he needs to pay attention to his surroundings and is good at doing that but his response to the stuff he notices (which is probably everything) will often be really self-serving or emotionally volatile or otherwise hard for (the people around him) to deal with. Is that a total outlier of an experience, though?

What I would like to see (for my own selfish benefit, lol) w/r/t this video and also the video of the woman walking across the bridge in Cairo is an accompanying video of a man doing those things (walking through NYC, walking across the bridge). I'm a woman, and especially the Cairo video (where there's a soundtrack, so you mostly notice how the men are looking at her and not what they're saying) just seems like what I would expect walking around outside. I would like to see what a man would usually get/expect in order to compare, because I don't actually know. Theoretically, I get that men aren't going to be hollered at all the time, but especially when I see a video like the Cairo video where the men are all looking at the woman as she walks by, I'm struck by how impossible it is for me to actually understand what that would look like if she *weren't* a woman. Would they be looking at a man differently, not looking at him, etc?

Also, in terms of getting "attention" when around outside -- I think that in general, you attract more harassment when people spot some kind of (societal/social) lack of "status" on you (poor, young, any race other than white, etc), though obviously looking female is especially a lightning rod for it. I just bring it up because the only time when I've gotten quite a bit of harassment on the street despite being out with a man, or when I've seen a guy get a significant amount of street harassment at all (though even then it was a different kind than what I would get -- ex: it wasn't usually sexual) was when I dated a guy who looked pretty visibly "poor." It was pretty constant for people on the street to hassle us or just get in our faces/our business, often directed at him or at both of us in general, but men actually would also straight up say pretty blatantly sexual things to me even when my ex/then-bf was standing right there. My ex was 6'4 and in good shape, too, this wasn't some wallflower kind of guy. (I told him back when we first started seeing each other that if he got into a fight that he wouldn't have a girlfriend by the time the fight was over, so he was motivated to not escalate that stuff, but he's very slick at avoiding altercations and getting social situations to go his way anyway. Point is, nothing horrible happened). I just bring it up because the "is street harassment like this common? everywhere/all the time?!" kinds of responses are making me think that's unusual in terms of how men are treated in public, too. Which *really* makes me curious about how a middle class American white guy does get treated in public!

*I hate using "soft," I don't mean it in a bad way or like "weak" or something. I mean it as in, the opposite of "hardened" maybe? Or as the opposite of "cynical" or "jaded"?
posted by rue72 at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


rue72 you are dead right, the social/societal lack of status thing is HUUUUUUUUUUGE. I don't remember ever being bothered at all when I'm dressed up for work and presenting as wealthy-white-suburban-female, even in downtown Denver.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:55 PM on October 31, 2014


I don't know, I got creepily catcalled from a truck stuck in traffic while I was walking yesterday, and that was while wearing the nicest outfit I've worn in a while. If dressing fancily was all it took, I think ball gowns would be dramatically more in fashion than they are (sadly.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:26 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


... and for better or worse, here's Slate's perspective on the intersectionality of race and harassment.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:22 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I got creepily catcalled from a truck stuck in traffic while I was walking yesterday, and that was while wearing the nicest outfit I've worn in a while. If dressing fancily was all it took, I think ball gowns would be dramatically more in fashion than they are (sadly.)

FWIW I think it's more that the "weaker" you look (in terms of societal status) the more people are going to harass you and the more people will basically try to show/tell you in whatever way they can that you don't have the right to be there or don't belong there. If you're a woman, I don't think there's really anything you can do to avoid being seen as inherently "weak" by the vast majority of men, and those men are going to prey upon you and and try to strip you of whatever power you might have because of it. It's not that if you have on a T-shirt you're in trouble and if you have on a silk blouse you're in the clear.

I think that this kind of harassment is a symptom of a larger societal power imbalance, though, and not about women qua women or men qua men. You can see the same kind of harassment happen against people who are viewed as "prey" in other contexts -- I saw that happen to my ex a lot and that honestly surprised me. It also seemed to go down the same way for him as it generally does me: a (male) stranger on the street or in the grocery store parking lot or outside the 7-11 or wherever, would direct an intrusive comment/request/question at my (tall, athletic, male!) ex, and if my ex didn't immediately act accommodating and friendly, do at least the smile/nod thing, the man would escalate and get aggressive, and his aggression would include the same kind of name-calling, creepy stuff that men do when they harass me on the street (albeit with different names getting called at my ex and the creepy stuff directed toward him wasn't usually sexualized). My ex would also respond in the same familiar way that I do to harassment: silent bitchface or docile acquiescence and an attempt to extricate himself ASAP. Thinking about it now, he also walked around with the same blank bitchface in public that the woman in this video wears (though personally I favor the exhausted-and-dead-eyed stare, a lot of men get disconcerted when I turn that on them). I would get irritated with him about it because I don't really want to be walking around and maybe holding hands or something with someone who's wearing Blank Bitchface, and I'd never had that issue with boyfriends previously, but thinking about it now I guess it makes sense.

Anyway, I mostly bring that up in response to the men way upthread who were shocked by the video and fantasizing about women carrying baseball bats or telling men to fuck off or whatever. Street harassment is just a symptom of the larger problem of a societal power imbalance between men and women (aka, misogyny). It's not about women literally being (physically or psychologically) weak, so it's not something that carrying a bat or beating dudes up or escalating one-on-one aggression in whatever way is going to solve (that's a reason* why I bring up that the *same* dynamic would occur between my ex and whatever dude decided to hassle him on the street or wherever, despite my ex usually being larger and stronger than the guy harassing him. The dynamic of harassment is the dynamic of a fucked up predator/prey societal or social power imbalance, it's not uniquely the dynamic of men/women or even the physically strong/physically weak). Carrying a bat or beating up the guy or cussing or whatever would just escalate a conflict where the *structure of society* dictates that you have to lose. It's at best a kamikaze mission. One I have engaged in when exhausted and a Very Angry Drunk and probably that lots of other women have engaged in, too, but really not a good idea in any practical sense. As much as you maybe didn't like the dude bothering you, just wait until his backup arrives (maybe the literal cops). You are not going to be the one anybody/everybody has sympathy for, telling you right now, you're going to be the crazy bitch that gets put in her place.

Anyway, apologies if I'm saying the same stuff others have said -- I read the whole thread, but not all that carefully and not while stone sober, so...I may just be babbling nonsense for all I know right now.

*Another reason is that I get perverse joy out of using him as an example in this context, because he's a RAGING chauvinist.
posted by rue72 at 1:39 AM on November 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


This has become a YouTube meme: 10 hours walking in Skyrim as a woman in skimpy armor
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]




I don't know that I want to call this video a research project, but this writeup on methodology and how this video flunks it is a good one. I had not previously seen the list of scene locations, which puts the video being 53% Harlem.
posted by phearlez at 7:52 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]




90% of the population and relationships were created from a cat call.

Wow, every couple I know is in that special 10%!
posted by emjaybee at 8:02 AM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


To those who feel they must greet women in the street:

I say "good morning"/"hello"/etc. back to absolutely all strange men who greet me randomly in the street. I do it with a very wide smile.

That weird stepford vibe you get from my smile, though? That is fear. I may be smiling and greeting you back. But you terrify me. I don't know if you are one of the good ones and I don't want to find out. I just want to pacify you and get you out of my life as soon as possible. While I answer, I am also mentally begging the gods that you will not attempt to continue to interact with me.

So don't count the women who greet you back as the reason why it's okay to do what you do. Only the brave ones dare ignore you or confront you.
posted by Tarumba at 8:25 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE: I Went On A Date With My Catcaller

Alana Massey is underrated.
posted by sweetkid at 9:01 AM on November 3, 2014


I watched this video twice, once on my phone and once on my tv. The first time, viewing the footage in a space a few inches big, it seemed like a drag. But I had to check to my privilege to stop myself from calling it overblown. The second time, on a bigger screen, where I could get a better look at the context, at how the men were sort of inserting themselves into her day uninvited and I could see better how that made her feel... then it felt fucking creepy and invasive.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


The National Review weighed in.
posted by corb at 12:23 PM on November 3, 2014


The politest thing I can say about that article is that it's about as honest an account of the debate over the video as I would have expected from the National Review. I'm sure Mr. Cooke's concern for women's welfare is sincere.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:38 PM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Scott Adams's advice? Just move out of New York.
posted by Lexica at 2:53 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, that is a solution from a Certified Genius.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:58 PM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


...
"... JUST FUCKING MOVE!!! MOVE!!! STOP MAKING IT MY PROBLEM!!!"
It is not every day that I wish that there was FoTP (Fist of Truth Protocol) support via TCP/IP... To assist in the delivery of a fist, which upon application to an individuals thinking parts, delivers a healthy dose of truth and logic to such an individual in need...

Silly Scott Adams! Street harassment is your problem, too, as it makes for an unpleasant environ for all who live there. Through education and empathy it can be drastically reduced.

It looks like its high time to draft an RFC.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 5:18 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is not every day that I wish that there was FoTP (Fist of Truth Protocol) support via TCP/IP...

Someday I will go 24 hours without thinking about this and it will be notable.
<[SA]HatfulOfHollow> i'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet
Silly Scott Adams! Street harassment is your problem, too, as it makes for an unpleasant environ for all who live there.

I grow increasingly convinced that it is not possible for a given area to get even more unpleasant than it already is simply by having Scott Adams there, so it is somewhat understandable he can't understand.
posted by phearlez at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Scott Adams lives in the Bay Area. I am assuming at some points in time he goes to San Francisco. He should probably know better about cities and weird guys who like to harass anyone who walks by them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


A recent blog post: They Lie So Easily
It’s not just that these things happen so commonly. It’s that they happen so commonly and yet people continue to believe them to be the fantastical inventions of some jealous/delusional/over-emotional/vengeful/uptight/slutty/prudish/ugly/crazy bitch. Instead, they propose explanations that are more fantastical by orders of magnitude, such as the idea that I could have somehow heard “Whatever, bitch” instead of “Have a nice day.” Or that someone could believe themselves to have been sexually assaulted when nothing of the sort happened. Or that they would willfully lie about it and have their names dragged through the mud in front of the silent, shrugging world.
posted by Lexica at 12:04 PM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Okay, Mr. Adams! Me and four million of my closest lady friends are all set to pick up stakes and move into your suburb—even though, as you acknowledge, street harassment is a problem there, too!

I sure hope you have adequate housing and employment opportunities waiting for us!

ANYTHING TO MAKE THIS LESS OF A PROBLEM FOR YOU THAN IT ALREADY IS!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Hey guys, do you need help reading facial expressions on women? Here are some tips.
posted by jeather at 8:45 AM on November 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


#DudesGreetingDudes (BuzzFeed)
posted by postcommunism at 1:01 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Same experiment done in Auckland, New Zealand by the New Zealand Herald (spoiler: no catcalls, a lot of guys look, one guy talks to her and tells her she's pretty, one guy asks for directions)
posted by desjardins at 2:00 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some of the complexities explored in I was taught to be grateful for catcalls.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:58 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


A parody: 10 Hours of Walking in Austin as a Hipster.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2014


A parody: 10 Hours of Walking in Austin as a Hipster .

Not to be all "I was into movies about hipsters walking around Austin before it was cool," but Linklater did it better.
posted by The World Famous at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would love to see something like this video followed by a second crew of maybe three guys with someone else getting it all on video.

The three guys would all be like 6'5" and built like NFL linebackers and they would wait a bit then approach the man or men who had just approached the woman. Be all like, "Hey, cutie, what's up? You want to hang out? Let me get your number." Follow the guy for a few blocks, et cetera.
posted by mlis at 5:18 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's a video of a male model walking around NYC and getting attention from both men and women.

What the filmmakers don't grasp is that this tall, muscular guy has nothing to fear. A woman runs up to him and says "Hey, my girlfriend thinks you're hot! Can she have your number?" A guy calls out "Damn, where you from? Come back here!" That may be annoying or complimentary from the man's perspective, but it's not frightening. (The captioner even adds a smiley face to it.)
posted by desjardins at 7:26 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]




That video is great, flex. I was just walking around Brooklyn and had a white guy run up to me while I was wearing HUGE headphones, not kidding, massive, motioned for me to take them off, told me he just wanted to tell me I'm beautiful, and then tried to walk with me when I walked off. He finally quit when I started shouting "No Thank You! No Thank You!"
posted by sweetkid at 4:42 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ten Hours of street harassment walking through the streets as a certain princess....
posted by HuronBob at 7:06 AM on November 12, 2014


I posted this information to a question the green looking for resources and then thought it might be worth posting the link here as well. It's about a documentarian that turns the camera on men who street harassed her to ask them, why. It's called War Zone and available here.
posted by redindiaink at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ten Hours of street harassment walking through the streets as a certain princess....
This is pretty silly, but I do love how the shot of the actress leaning over to fiddle with the camera is a perfect connection between the street harassment video(s) and Leia's hologram message in Star Wars.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:39 AM on November 15, 2014


« Older That's regulatory capture!   |   Haters Gonna... Eat at BK? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments