Woman gets harassed 108 times in video, receives violent threats online
WATCH: Woman gets harassed over 100 times walking on streets in New York City in viral video
TORONTO – For 10 hours on the streets of New York, Shoshana B. Roberts said she was subjected to 108 unsolicited comments.
“Hey baby,” said one man.
“What’s up girl? How you doing?” said another.
“God bless you mami.”
“Street harassment” is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces and exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. Shot for Hollaback!, a non-profit dedicated to ending street harassment, the two-minute video has been viewed over 1.2 million times on YouTube since it was posted Tuesday.
Emily May, co-founder and executive director of the New York City-based Hollaback!, said that in response to the video, Roberts has already faced a number of “violent threats” to her safety.
WATCH: Viral video highlights dark side of catcalls. Marianne Dimain Reports
“This is horrifying but not surprising, and reminds us that public space isn’t safe for women, whether you’re on the streets or online,” said May in an interview with Global News Wednesday.
The subject of our PSA is starting to get rape threats on the comments. Can you help by reporting them? http://t.co/NMYCFd9YOm
— Hollaback! (@iHollaback) October 28, 2014
Filmed in August 2014, the video highlights the 100 plus instances of verbal street harassment that Roberts faced as she walked down the streets of Manhattan.
“I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, latino men,” said Roberts in a press release accompanying the PSA. “Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”
“Street harassment is on a spectrum of gender-based violence,” said May. “When street harassment is OK, it makes groping OK. And when groping is OK, it makes assault OK. And when assault is OK, it makes murder OK. We need to stop this cycle where it starts.”
Rob Bliss, the director who filmed the video, said no part of the PSA was staged.
“What I did was walk in front of her [Roberts], with earbuds in and sunglasses on, with a hole cut in the back of my shirt, wearing a hidden GoPro camera,” said Bliss in an interview to TIME. “I didn’t have any contact with any of these guys, the whole idea was to be a stone wall and just let everyone else bounce off us.”
WATCH: In New York City, an aspiring actress armed with a hidden camera took to the streets to record how often women deal with catcalls. The Morning Show team discusses.
Hollaback! said that although the degree to which Roberts gets harassed is shocking, “the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.”
Earlier this month, an iPhone video of men staring and catcalling at a lone woman crossing The Qasr al-Nil Bridge in central Cairo, Egypt, went viral. The clip was part of a full documentary that took a closer look at sexual harassment in Egypt.
May said that there are “ladies out there” who don’t mind strangers telling them they are beautiful from time to time. “But a well-intentioned compliment is a far cry from the violence that women and LGBTQ folks are facing everyday when they walk down the street,” she said.
“Everyone deserves to walk down the street feeling safe, confident, and yes—even sexy. But dismissing street harassment as a compliment won’t get us there.”
© 2014 Shaw Media