By now you’ve probably heard about the catcalling video co-created by anti-street-harassment group Hollaback! and Rob Bliss Creative.
The video features a woman who, while walking around New York for 10 hours, gets harassed by men more than 100 times; it’s been making its way speedily around the Internet and think-pieced in high volume.
While some have come out in favor of the video—The Awl called it “powerful and useful”—others, including Slate, The Daily Dot, Colorlines and Clutch, have critiqued it for its seeming racial bias: The vast majority of male harassers featured are men of color, mostly black and Latino.
“The racial politics of the video are fucked up,” wrote Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, on Twitter. “Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?”
Actually, she did, according to Bliss: Most of the video was shot in Midtown, a majority-white area. Bliss defended his work on Reddit, writing that the sample size in the video is small, and that two men—who “by chance were black”—take up most of the screen time. “We got a fair amount of white guys,” he adds, “but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera.” And, for whatever reason, his creative team didn’t go back for another take after editing revealed a racial imbalance.
Hollaback!, for its part, issued a statement Thursday assuring viewers that it never meant to portray street harassment as a problem perpetuated only by non-white men:
We regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over-represents men of color. … 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.
The video may have been inspired by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s campaign against street harassment: The show recently aired a segment called “Jessica’s Feminized Atmosphere” in which correspondent Jessica Williams spends time walking around Manhattan, gets harassed, and convenes a group of women to discuss their experiences. One shares the harrowing story of a man who said he wanted to “take a dump” on her breasts.
One thing’s for sure: All the buzz created by the Hollaback! video—both positive and negative—has put street harassment front and center in everyone’s minds.
Tell us readers: What do you think of the Hollaback! video? Let us know in the comments. (And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a white man walking around in New York, Funny or Die has graciously shared a video of that experience).