How Many Viral Videos & PSAs Does It Take For Street Harassment & Catcalling To Become A Thing Of The Past?


We’ve written numerous posts about why catcalling and street harassment are not acceptable forms of behavior amongst men and women. Some may think it is just a bit of fun and think those who take it seriously should lighten up, but when we are reading reports about women being severely attacked or killed for rejecting the unwanted advances of a man, it is pretty clear it is more than just a jovial issue we should brush off like the latest ‘Housewives’ scandal.

Since the rise in conversation about harassment in mainstream media as well as online, the awareness of why it is wrong is also increasing, which is a good sign. Unfortunately there will always be those dissenters who, no matter what compelling evidence is placed in front of them, will continue to assert that it is NBD and women should just ignore it. But when women are violently attacked for trying this “ignoring” tactic, then these voices of dissent no longer become viable in our eyes, and no doubt many others.

We have been encouraged to see a range of various street harassment awareness campaigns infiltrate our news feeds over the past year. Who can forget that viral video from fitness brand Everlast (totally staged with actors) where men on the streets of Lima, Peru were secretly filmed catcalling what turned out to be their own mothers. It probably didn’t exactly help the cause of preventing catcalling, because if you are looking for footage of unwanted male attention, you don’t exactly have to stage it!

In November 2014 a viral video reportedly showing the dangers of being a woman walking the streets of Hollywood drunk caused a lot of controversy. It was compelling viewing, showing an actress playing drunk, going up to random guys asking them to take her home or look after her. The viral video was supposed to focus on the shocking reaction of some of the guys, who unflinchingly agreed to help a poor drunk girl find her way “home”. But in the end, much like the Everlast video, all it did was serve to anger those who are trying to raise serious awareness of the dangers of street harassment and catcalling.

The drunk girl experiment simply tried to capitalize on the huge impact made by the now-famous video by the Hollaback organization which showed a young actress walking around New York City for ten hours (condensed into a couple of minutes) receiving actual unwanted and unprovoked statements thrown at her, being followed by creepy guys, and getting harassed despite not saying or doing anything to the men around her.

After the hubbub around the viral videos died down a little, there were some more thoughtful commentary-type videos made with the intent to raise awareness about street harassment amongst men. Cosmopolitan magazine did an experiment where they filmed a group of girls being harassed on the streets of New York City, while also filming the reaction of their boyfriends watching the footage at the same time.

This time we saw a honest and refreshing take on the issue. It is disappointing that a woman’s perspective is not enough for some men to take this issue seriously, but when confronted with it in close quarters toward someone they care about, they can finally see why it is disgusting and cannot just be brushed off as a joke.

Similar to the Cosmo video, Condé Nast Entertainment’s The Scene made a video experiment in the same vein, this time showing a father’s reaction.

“We wanted to explore the world of catcalling, but with a more serious and personal side. How do fathers feel about their daughters being talked to on the street? Our video goes deeper than what’s already been looked at,” Michael Klein, EVP of Programming and Content Strategy, Digital Channels at Condé Nast Entertainment, told The Huffington Post.

Needles to say, the majority of dads were shocked and some even outraged at the comments made toward their daughters. It rings true of some familiar sayings that often get used in arguments between men and women when it comes to sexism and harassment: “I hope you one day have daughters” and “how would you react if I was your daughter?” for example.

Street harassment, especially toward women is not just the latest viral sensation or media headline. It is a very real and deeply destructive behavioral attitude that if left unchecked, will continue to be passed down from generation to generation. Men absolutely need to be part of the conversation.

It’s not exactly street harassment, but we’ve all seen how the disgusting “f**k her right in the pussy” trend has become so well-known that it is happening all over the world. It is the blatant harassment of female reporters while they are doing a job live on air. They are either interviewing a male on air, or get hijacked while on camera by the guy who crudely blurts out this phrase then slinks off laughing with his mates, thinking he is a total legend.

There are female reporters who have gone to the lengths of reporting these men to authorities, and even calling the behavior out on air to raise awareness of why this is not funny.

“There need to be real consequences and men need to be held accountable for their behavior. If we continue to brush it off or to tell women to just “deal with it” we are saying that the behavior is okay and, in doing so, are actively working against gender equality and women’s safety,” writes Meghan Murphy at the Vancouver Observer who reported on the story of a female journalist doing a live cross from a music festival when a young man interrupted her on air and kissed her without her permission.


This particular reporter went to the police, and the guy eventually turned himself in, apologized and admitted the error of his ways. It is a positive end to her particular situation, but there are many more examples of women being harassed on a daily basis who aren’t so lucky.

So it can’t just be something that women discuss, it has to inevitably start and END with the men. While we aren’t necessarily a fan of the fake or comedic videos on street harassment, there is one which we feel is worth sharing.

A group called Internet Action Force have put together arguably one of the best ways to tackle street harassment in the comedy vein. The video features Upright Citizens Brigade comedian Sue Smith who has been named by Time Out New York as one of the “top ten funniest women in NYC”. In a video titled “You Look Smart, And Other Almost Acceptable Catcalls”, Sue, with the help of two gentlemen, lists off a few sayings that might be acceptable to say to a strange women on the street, but ends with the best punchline of all.

The message remains the same: street harassment and catcalling should not be something you do on the streets to a woman at any time any where.

Watch Sue Smith and the Internet Action Force team break down the only way to handle catcalling if you are a guy:

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Catcalling: Let’s make it a thing of the past | WeAreGirlsUninterrupted

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