You’ve probably seen this video. The ‘highlights’ of walking around New York for 10 hours, but not in a good ‘look at all this tourist stuff we visited’
The video troubled me and not just because it seems to be a very narrow selection of choices of the types of men who do interact with her. That could be deliberate, to get more coverage, or it could be as stated, that the majority of comments from white guys were not recorded well. It’s a film by a charity trying to get views and attention, it’s going to do everything it can to get watched and talked about/
It troubles me in two specific ways. The first is my reaction, the not all women reaction. I can empathise with men who use #notallmen in reaction to reports of harassment. it is human nature to want to put things in stories that relate to their own experience, so if it’s never happened to you or people you know, then it is hard to understand. That was my first reaction – in all the time I have lived in New York, doing lots of walking, I never got a commented on at all. So what is different?
You have to move beyond the first reaction, recognise it for what it is and then move to understanding, not explaining and denying. Then ask yourself the question – what can you do to change it.
The second troubling thing is tied into the notallmen reaction. How have we, as a society, for into the situation where good morning is seen as a threat by women or where men can be scared of saying it. Many of the comments on the video are about how can this ALL be harassment when it was lots of general greetings. Because it is perceived as harassment. Because the experience of this woman and many others like her is that the body language, eye contact and tone that go along with the bland comment are threatening. So how can we change both reactions – that men can just demand attention and that women now see that as a threat.