An actress walked around New York wearing jeans and a teeshirt for 10 hours, while a man in front of her carried a backpack with a videocamera, recording the reactions that men had to her—or more specifically, to her body.
In the video, produced for Hollaback!, which campaigns against street harassment, the woman doesn’t respond to any of the calls from the many men who comment on her body, prompting one man to say, ”Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say ‘thank you’ more.”
Street harassment, which includes unwanted verbal taunts and physical aggression, is a common occurrence in the US—65% of American women surveyed said they had been harassed, and 25% of men, in a recent study (pdf) from the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment and the market research agency GfK.
The statistics are similar in studies that have been conducted around the world. The sample sizes and methods of collecting the data vary, but the answers are usually the same—women say street harassment is an everyday reality.
In Egypt, 83% of the women surveyed reported exposure to street harassment, and 62% of men admitted to being harassers, according to a 2008 study (pdf) from the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights.
Two filmmakers made this video highlighting the problem, and raised funds on Kickstarter for a longer documentary.
India has seen increased awareness on street harassment lately, especially after the 2012 rape and murder of a Delhi woman. Students at an Indian film school made this public service announcement in response to that attack.
A film student in Belgium made this video documenting the street harassment she experiences throughout the day.
Attempts to spread understanding of the effects of street harassment on women have taken different forms, from Fearless, an interactive video experience that requires the viewer to virtually navigate the streets of India to avoid harassment, to a Jon Stewart parody segment on street harassment in New York.