Don't Believe Women Are Endlessly Harassed? Watch This
Don't Believe Women Are Endlessly Harassed? Watch This
By Mark Morford / blog.sfgate.com

It’s a little surprising someone didn’t think of this before.

But here it is: hard evidence, irrefutable proof, upwards of 100 undeniable examples revealing just what kinds of casual, routine harassment await any young, “normal” American woman strolling around the city by herself, in a single day.

Do you think you already know? Think you have a clue what it’s like? Let me just suggest this to you right now: You have no idea.

I’m talking to the guys, of course (women are already nodding). No matter your feminist quotient – and I like to think mine’s pretty high – men simply have no way of knowing what it’s like to endure the endless stream of leers, catcalls, insults, profanities, groping, stalking, public masturbation, sexual innuendos, unsolicited offers and smarmy “compliments” coming at the typical young female from all manner of bros, dudes and street-corner douchebags as she attempts to walk from point A to point B.

Why don’t we see it? Because when a man walks around with a woman, he acts as a sort of douchebag repellant, fending off the bulk of the lurches, whistles and dumb, macho grunts. Hence, we can’t ever fully know what a woman experiences in the average solo urban stroll.

Until now. Here is a video all men should watch. It was made by Rob Bliss Creative forHollaback!, an anti-harassment group.

The idea is simple enough: Install a videocamera into a backpack, strap it to the director’s shoulders as he walks a few paces ahead of actress Shoshana B. Roberts for about 10 hours in a single day in NYC.

Roberts is dressed plainly enough, in jeans and a crew-neck T-shirt. She’s carrying a microphone in each hand. They simply walk around and record what happens.

All told, they caught upwards of 100 examples of harassment in 10 short hours, ranging from smarmy, offhand “compliments” to full-blown leers, not to mention accusations, entitlements, pleas for attention running from creepy to gross to downright dangerous, not a single one of them free of the sense that this is merely normal guy behavior, that the male has some sort of obvious right to say, do, act however he wants. Because America, bitch.

(Side note to all dudebros, right now irritated about this video and itching to argue that notall douchebag behavior constitutes harassment: If you think hurling some smarmy, unsolicited compliment at a women as she walks to work isn’t more than obnoxious, you’re not paying enough attention. What’s more, you’re conveniently ignoring the tone, the expectation of reply, the not-at-all subtle sexual charge – not to mention the gross cumulative effect. You don’t get it, because it doesn’t happen to you. Put another way: Those aren’t compliments.

Watch the video a few more times. Watch this Daily Show segment again. Read Elliot Rodger’s “manifesto.” Read this article on what women have to deal with on the Internet. Catch up on GamerGate, or the Jian Ghomeshi story. You think it’s not all of a piece? You think there’s not a thread of ugly male cultural conditioning linking them all together? You think women don’t feel slimed and demeaned after a walk like that? No? You’re part of the problem).

Note to guys: It’s a safe bet that every young woman you know understands this experience, in one form or another. I asked my own girlfriend, who walks to her office every day from the center of the City to the Embarcadero (nearly and hour), and who I already know puts up with all sorts of creepy BS on the way, if this video matched her experience. She didn’t even hesitate:

"Yep – that’s my morning walk. Less so when I get past Montgomery Street [SF’s Financial District], but only because at that point everyone’s totally self-absorbed, staring into their cellphones. But yes, I experience that every day. And a fair amount of ‘compliments’  are immediately followed by crude insults, like the guy who was smiling at me with creepy intensity, and said ‘good morning’… when I didn’t respond he spun around and yelled, “C–NT!”

How does she handle it? She gears up. She dons the familiar posture you see on nearly every young female traversing the City: Headphones, purposeful walk, no eye contact, gaze fixed straight ahead and “unavailable.” It helps – a little.

I cannot image what this must be like, and neither can any man reading this. No male has a commute like this. No guy anywhere has to avoid eye contact on his walk to work, keep his head down and tune out people around him lest he be stalked, catcalled, threatened, whistled at or propositioned by a gender that, statistically speaking, offers an extremely high probability of rape or death.

Obviously, Hollaback’s goal of stopping this kind of harassment is noble and good. But to my mind, the problem isn’t just street harassment, which seems a bit like trying to stop gun violence by cracking down on shooting ranges.

The problem is far more deeply ingrained, a weird culture of male entitlement and casual, offhand sexism wrought of media, video games, Tindr, “F–k bitches get leid,” sports, politics and music videos et al, all shot through with the perverse message that young men are simply not supposed to be anything but insensitive, sexually aggressive, overbearing lions, lurching around and taking whatever they want.

There’s a dark problem with the messaging, from boyhood forward and from the ground up. Hey, you’re either the butcher or the meat, right, bro?

© 2014 The San Francisco Chronicle

Mark Morford's new book, 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism,' is now available at daringspectacle.comAmazonBN.com, and beyond. Join Mark onFacebook and Twitter, or email him. His website is markmorford.com. Mark's column appears every Wednesday on SFGate.

4.3 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
10 Provocative Quotes from Ivan Illich's "Deschooling Society"
Daniel Lattier · 14,899 views today · Ivan Illich’s groundbreaking book Deschooling Society (1971) offers a radical critique of the institutionalization of education within modern societies. Illich believed that we...
11 Traits of People With High Emotional Intelligence
Raven Fon · 10,028 views today · Lately, new ways to describe human interactions, social behaviours, and many facets of psychology have emerged on the social network scene. One of those descriptions is “high...
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 6,998 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
Superblocks: How Barcelona Is Taking City Streets Back From Cars
5 min · 6,065 views today · Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians.
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 5,835 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 5,111 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
Real Change in Democracy Comes Not in the Voting Booth but Activism at the Grass-Roots
Ilze Peterson · 4,512 views today · Many years ago, the late Judy Guay, a low-income woman from Bangor, founded the Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods in order to advocate for the neediest in our...
Fighting Trump - Residents Opposing Donald Trump's Scottish Golf Resort
14 min · 4,058 views today · Documentary on the residents protesting against Donald Trump's golf development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Directed and Presented by James Trosh.
How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence-And Devastate the Left
Arun Gupta · 3,477 views today · The Left should take the Trump threat very seriously.
Doctors Response to Daily Mail Bigotry is Beautiful
Neil Tiwari · 3,120 views today · A poetic open letter to the Daily Mail newspaper from Dr. Neil Tiwari, in response to a bigoted attack on his colleagues, is going viral and it's beautiful.
Throw (2016)
10 min · 2,997 views today · The first installment of Invisible Thread, an ongoing ELM passion project series, Throw tells the story of an outsider from East Baltimore, an area challenged by gang violence...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,982 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Forest Man
16 min · 2,696 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
Maya Angelou's 3-Word Secret to Living Your Best Life
3 min · 2,641 views today · Dr. Maya Angelou says that in order to be the best human being you can be, you must follow one simple directive: "Just do right." Watch as Dr. Angelou reveals how you can never...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,004 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 1,787 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 1,674 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 1,404 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Alan Watts: What If Money Was No Object?
3 min · 1,273 views today · How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? What if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object? Spoken...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 1,207 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Don't Believe Women Are Endlessly Harassed? Watch This