Community Crisis Management: Catcalling

Last week a video went viral in showcasing a model walking around New York City.  10 hours of video footage was edited down to under two minutes for a PSA for the anti-harassment group Hollaback!

This group hoped to show the daily harassment that not only that women have to endure,  but also people of color and people of the LGTBQ community have this in common.  Instead this went viral for the wrong reason.  There was a lot of perception on the fact that the woman didn’t acknowledge any of the “nice” people that were just saying hello.

Photo Credit: abc7.com
Photo Credit: abc7.com

New York street harassment video goes viral (Business Insider, 2014.)

Not only that, the public is turning this video into a racial issue when it’s not.  Keep in mind that this was edited down from 10 hours to a 2-minute video.  Many people are saying that there aren’t a lot of white people in the catcalling video but does that mean white people don’t do it?  FYI they do, just as much as any other race.  Perception has clouded the real issue, so much so that the actual model has received rape threats.

Yes, it may be perceived rude if someone does not respond to a person’s greeting but have you considered that sometimes a person may just have too much on their mind?  Maybe they didn’t hear your hello?  Then again maybe, and I’m speaking from my own personal experiences and empathetic views, we hear you and choose not to respond because guess what, we don’t HAVE to!

Now I hate to be perceived as rude because if anyone that knows me, I’m far from it.  There have been many times I’ve dealt with harassment from men.  With history I’ve been nice and I will respond back which will then will give the “harasser” the opportunity to try to hit on me or make a statement about a body feature that they consider a “compliment” when it really is not wanted.  Many people, especially men, may not realize a friendly hello from a stranger can turn into harassment in two seconds.

Because of that, before I’ve tried not respond or make eye contact with men.  I’ve received responses in which where I was deemed rude or even called a bitch in some cases.  A couple of time men would tell me to smile.  I guess men want to see pretty girls smile…not my problem.  I don’t exist to please these men.  How do they know I didn’t go through a tragedy or I have a huge decision to make?  Am I suppose to always smile when I’m in public?  Should I say thank you to a compliment about a body “asset” that was given to me?  Either way, somehow it’s becomes the victim’s fault whether they choose to respond or not.

Now when someone says hello I respond with a nod/smile or a “hello, how are you,” depending on how I’m feeling.  If harassment begins to occur I keep it moving, not responding or giving any additional feedback.  I don’t pay attention to the names other people call me anymore.

I’m very interested in hear other people’s opinions, especially the men readers.  What was your first perception of the video?  Do you think differently now?

 

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Author: Cassandra Williams

Public relations and marketing professional. Subscribe to share my journey to fulfilling my dreams as a marketing and public relations professional.

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