Problematic video makes claws come out over catcalling

Problematic video makes claws come out over catcalling (credit: Emily ) Problematic video makes claws come out over catcalling (credit: Emily )

By now we’ve all seen the video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” which has gone viral over the past few weeks, showing a woman consistently being “catcalled,” or bombarded by unsolicited sexually suggestive comments by strangers, as she walks the streets of New York City.

This video is a dramatic depiction of what women face on a daily basis. However, this video has also sparked substantial controversy, as it features a white woman being harassed by men of color (resulting in allegations that the white male harassers were edited out of the video) as she walks through lower income neighborhoods. It was produced by Rob Bliss Creative, which describes itself as “A Viral Video Marketing Agency.”

These controversies, particularly regarding the race of the catcallers featured in the video, have caused a great deal of discussion and debate. It is important that the criticisms of this video do not eclipse the larger issue at hand: Catcalling is sexual harassment, and it is experienced by women on a regular basis, from men of all colors and walks of life.

Since the widespread recognition of this video, both public and private debates have been held regarding catcalling, the frequency of its occurrence, and the extent to which it constitutes a form of harassment. Some of the more infuriating critics of the video have contended that catcalling is a form of flattery, and that women wouldn’t mind if the men harassing them were attractive.

After being presented with the fact that women have faced violence in reacting negatively to such harassment, one commentator on CNN even went so far as to suggest that to avoid catcalling women should carry guns.

Catcalling is a problem and affects women every single day. We need to ensure that people are free to go about their daily business free of sexual harassment.

While “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” has done an effective job of starting a larger conversation on this matter, debates over the video’s construction are threatening to eclipse the important discussion that needs to be had: We all need to band together to stop catcalling and sexual harassment in our society.