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Shoshana B. Roberts on CNN: I'd Been Harassed - Catcalled 108 Times in ’10 hours

40m ago
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CNN Interview Shoshana B. Roberts, a 24-year-old actress. The story behind that ’10 hours of walking in NYC as a Woman’ viral street harassment video By now, you’ve probably seen the video of a woman receiving scores of catcalls (108, to be exact) as she walks through New York City. (Washington Post) The video was the brainchild of Rob Bliss, who runs his own viral video marketing agency. Bliss partnered with Hollaback, an advocacy group dedicated to ending street harassment. Shoshana B. Roberts, a 24-year-old actress, saw a casting call on Craigslist and allowed Bliss to record her walking through various neighborhoods in New York City over the course of 10 hours. Roberts remains straight-faced in the video as male strangers greet her, comment on her personal appearance, and in some cases, follow her for several minutes. It’s uncomfortable to watch and, as Roberts tells it, it was uncomfortable — even traumatizing at times — to film. On YouTube, the video has been viewed more than a million times. A look at the 28,000 plus comments there, and on various social networking sites, offers a glimpse into the robust — and often troubling — debate around street harassment. Among the more common threads are whether some of the more innocuous comments (variations of “hello,” “good morning” or “hi beautiful”) actually constitute harassment. There’s also been conversation around the race and ethnicity of the men in the video, with some questioning why there were almost no white men shown harassing Roberts. The video notes that “100+ instances of verbal street harassment took place within 10 hours, involving people of all backgrounds. This doesn’t include the countless winks, whistles, etc.” — a sentiment echoed on Hollaback’s blog. Reached by phone, Roberts, Bliss and Hollaback’s co-founder/executive director Emily May talked about making the video and the reaction it’s received across the Internet. The interviews were conducted separately and have been edited slightly for clarity. Rob Bliss: As a guy who makes viral videos for a living, I was looking at this issue and I realized that no one had ever truly captured what street harassment looks like. No one had ever really given the world an ability to, just in broad daylight — without bias or judgment or messaging or anything like that — just be able to watch street harassment take place in the real world. And that was something that I felt needed to be out there. People needed to be able to see it happen in the real world, so that perhaps we can raise awareness about this issue and show people that, you know, there’s something wrong with this. Emily May: We wanted to really show that, yes, if one of these comments happened once every year then street harassment might not be as traumatizing, but look, this stuff is happening day in and day out. You can’t even make it down the street to go to school or go to work without a barrage of comments about you and your body made as you walk down the street. Bliss: I wore a GoPro camera on a chest mount, which I wore backwards on my back. I cut a little hole in my T-shirt for the camera lens to see through. And I dressed up to distract from that. I wore a bright yellow backpack under the camera to distract the eyes. I acted like I was going to the gym because I had ear buds in, sunglasses on, gym shorts, so I looked completely uninvolved from Shoshana. Shoshana B. Roberts: We walked in a lot of neighborhoods. We’d hop on the subway, head to another neighborhood. Midtown, Soho, Harlem, Brooklyn Bridge, South Ferry area. We went just a tad into Queens. The two-minute video couldn’t show all that we did. There was a lot of ground we covered. The video notes that Roberts was wearing “jeans and a crewneck t-shirt.” Roberts: [Bliss] just wanted to make sure that it was something that helps debunk the myth that what you’re wearing matters. It doesn’t matter what you wear — it happens regardless. I’ve been on my way to a religious function in wha