Wisdom.Applied Wednesday – PSA Highlights Street Harassment

Imagine walking silently down a crowded city street, minding your own business, wearing a modest outfit consisting of jeans and a crewneck t-shirt, making no contact whatsoever with any other person, but constantly being harassed–followed even? Imagine walking for 10 hours straight and being catcalled (excluding whistles, winks and other forms of harassment) over 100 times. It doesn’t seem real, but Hollaback!’s new PSA proves it.

 

Rob Bliss Creative partnered with Hollaback! to “highlight the impact of street harassment” in the PSA. For an entire day, Rob Bliss documented actress New York Shoshana B. Roberts simply walking around Manhattan, and the behavior she endured from strangers was pretty revolting. 

Catcalling and other forms of street harassment happens to almost every woman in her lifetime, 70-99% of women internationally. It occurs so often that both men and women of all backgrounds are conditioned to believe that it’s okay, that it’s normal behavior. Social constructions are both fascinating and perplexing in that way; something can be totally and completely wrong, but the behavior can go on unpunished as long as it’s deemed acceptable by those in power. According to the Hollaback! website, “street harassment is rarely reported, and culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay.”

Since 2011 Hollaback! has tried to turn the tables on these kinds of harassers, who often go unpunished for their actions. Arguing that people are more protected from this kind of harassment at the workplace, school or home, Hollaback! focuses on ending street harassment.

The naysayers will call it a slippery slope, claiming that saying a catcall can lead to rape is irrational. But as Hollarback! claims in one of its videos, if one form of harassment it okay, it’s only too long before other forms of harrassment, like rape, are deemed acceptable by society. The no tolerance for street harassment has gained some serious traction around the world in the past few years through the efforts of this nonprofit. Over 300 trained leaders in 79 cities, 26 countries and 14 different languages act in their communities and serve in the global movement to end street harassment. From documenting, blogging and sharing the interactions that happen on the street (thereby shaming the harrassers), Hollaback! seeks to change the social behavior around street harassment.

Since the video was posted yesterday, it has been watched over 8.7 million times on YouTube. Perhaps the shock factor will add enough gasoline to the fire to really jump start this movement. Perhaps in our lifetime we’ll see the street harassment rate dwindle from the 99th percentile. Perhaps one day they’ll point to this PSA as a key social artifact in the movement. Perhaps even if it only brings awareness to a small number of people, it served its purpose, but then again, 8.7 million is not exactly a small number.

Cover Photo Source: Lisa S.

Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.