To the Dudes Who Harassed the “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” Woman

Yesterday a video of a woman walking in New York behind a hidden camera and dealing with verbal harassment from over 100 men went viral. If my embed works, here it is:

I had two reactions to the video:

First, of course, I was appalled, shocked, and horrified to see what a woman has to deal with on a daily basis in New York City (or elsewhere). It’s truly disturbing, and I’m so sorry that women have to deal with this on a daily basis. There are two particularly scary moments in the video that would make me want to move out of New York City immediately if I were her.

Second, who are these random dudes talking to women like this? At the end of the video, the woman makes sure to point out that “people of all backgrounds” were those who harassed her. Watching the video, you can see that’s true.

But you can also see something pretty weird. Half of the guys in the video who say something to the woman are literally random dudes sitting in chairs on the sidewalk. This appears to be what they do all day–they’re just sitting there harassing women.

This isn’t meant to be a social commentary or anything like that–I don’t know these people or their situations. But seriously, random dudes: If you’re going to spend your day sitting in a chair on the sidewalk, at the very least, stop harassing the people who are using the sidewalk to get from place to place!

I generally try to make things constructive, and I wish there were a constructive twist to this. Those dudes have set such a low standard that this is really tough, though. My best bet is to learn from what I saw in that video and try to find those moments in my life when I come anywhere close to being like those dudes and stop doing that. Because it’s appalling. We–my fellow men–can be better than that.

4 thoughts on “To the Dudes Who Harassed the “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” Woman”

  1. I’m glad this video is making the rounds! It’s helpful to understand what happens to people, without the ability to write them off because someone may assume they were dressing a certain way, etc. I think it’s a very useful exercise.

    I appreciate that you said this was not a public commentary, and you’re right, we don’t know their stories. I am trying to gently remind people every time I see these kinds of generalizations that even though you admit that you’re not trying to judge them, you very much are. When you assert that “this appears to be what they do all day” (based on no evidence whatsoever) and that they are going to “waste their lives”, you still are making broad assumptions and commentary. I know this was not your intent, I am just on a mission to help people identify their language lately! They had no right to catcall and I have no defense of that action, but their sitting outside on a beautiful day should in no way lead you to believe certain things about them, other than the fact that they catcalled one woman once (which is not okay).

    I am finding it very helpful in constructive dialogues right now, (I am the communications co-chair in my beloved Shaw neighborhood) if we could all focus on speaking as specifically as possible, and really take two seconds to not extrapolate or generalize or assume.

    Reply
    • Emma: That’s a really good point, and I can see the danger of such assumptions. If it had been just one person sitting by the sidewalk making inappropriate comments and requests, I don’t think it would have gotten under my skin. But it was person after person, indicating some sort of pattern (even though they’re each individual people). Even if it was just one nice day when all of those dudes just happened to spend their time by the sidewalk, is it wrong to judge them from the way they spent that day (or that moment with the woman)? I’m judging them by their actions, not their age or race or gender (though they happen to be dudes).

      I do see that the “waste their lives” comment is a pretty big assumption, though. I’ll remove that. 🙂

      Reply
      • Like I said, judge away on the action, it’s awful. But you still have no information about how they spent their day, only about 5-10 seconds (or in some cases 5 minutes).

        Reply

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