Did you see this video about street harassment?

Did you see this video showing a woman who walked through New York City for ten hours and received over 100 harassing comments from men during that time?  She wore a backpack outfitted with a video camera and held two microphones. It was created by Hollaback! an anti-street harassment organization with the assistance of the video marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative.

Having grown up in New York City, I remember these sorts of comments from as early as age thirteen. I remember being a teenager and feeling embarrassed to walk down the street with my dad, in fear that someone would say something, and I’d feel shamed in front of my father.

In addition to the outrage at the obvious awful comments like “Sexy” or “Nice ass”, what pisses me off the most about these comments is this expectation for women to be pleasant and chatty all the time. Because sometimes, we DON’T want to participate in pleasantries. That’s when we get comments like, “Smile, more!” or “What do you have be so down about?” God, nothing pisses me off more than that.

I remember when I was growing up, my mom told me this story about a man in our apartment building. My mom is very friendly and will often chat up strangers on transport, elevators, etc. But this particular man she felt uneasy about, so she often stayed silent in their elevator rides when they’d be alone. But she said that he would often clear his throat in expectation that she would talk to him, and then made loud sighing noises when she didn’t initiate conversations.

If I’m in a brave mood, when I get unwanted up-and-down stares from men on the street, I give them a good, long up-and-down look, judging them the same way they judge me. I’m not sure what the men think of this, but somehow it levels the playing field.

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