Street Harassment NYC
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Does This Street Harassment Video Really Represent NYC?

There is no doubt that street harassment is a real issue for women, an issue that should be combated whenever possible and not taken lightly or brushed aside. That said, the video about street harassment in NYC that has exploded on the Internet over the last 24 hours made us at Mass Appeal scratch our heads. The title reads “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” but the video itself immediately clarifies the footage was captured in “all areas of Manhattan.” However, with careful scrutiny, we learned that the makers of this film, intentionally or not, focused only on specific neighborhoods, not NYC as a whole. Unfortunately, we believe this confuses the meaning and impact of the point they are trying to make, as street harassment is a serious issue which needs to be considered carefully.

Shot Number Landmark Intersection Neighborhood Area
Shot 1 Pathmark 129th + Lexington Ave. Harlem
Shot 2 Coffee spot Broome + Broadway SoHo
Shot 3 Aldo Broadway + Great Jones Village
Shot 4 Apollo 125th + Adam Clayton Powell Harlem
Shot 5 Manna’s 125th + Madison Ave. Harlem
Shot 6 Canal St. Canal St. Canal
Shot 7 Unknown Unknown Unknown
Shot 8 Heartland Brewery 41st. St. + 8th Ave. Times Square Port Authority
Shot 9 Carmine’s 44th St. + 7th Ave. Times Square
Shot 10 Duane Reade 40th St. + 8th Ave. Times Square Port Authority
Shot 11 Dr. Sandy F. Ray Building W. 125th. St. Harlem
Shot 12 H+M W. 125th St. Harlem
Shot 13 Marshall’s W. 125th St. Harlem
Shot 14 Street W. 125th St. Harlem
Shot 15 Street 125th St. Harlem
Shot 16 Starbuck’s 125th + Malcom X Blvd. Harlem
Shot 17 Gap 125th + Fredrick Douglas Blvd. Harlem
Shot 18 American Apparel 125th + Fredrick Douglas Blvd. Harlem
Shot 19 Starbuck’s 125th + Malcolm X Blvd. Harlem
Shot 20 Construction Underpass 125th St. Harlem
Shot 21 Universal Church 125th St. Harlem
Shot 22 Street 125th St. Harlem
Shot 23 Gap 42nd St. Times Square
Shot 24 Chevy’s 42nd St. Times Square Port Authority
Shot 25 Duane Reade Unknown Unknown

As the pie chart below presents, the makers of this film focused almost exclusively on a small radius in Harlem and a small radius near Times Square. The filmmakers claim to have shot this video while walking the streets of Manhattan for 10 hours, but over half of the shots in the video are actually taken from just one street, namely 125th St. in Harlem. It makes one wonder whether the filmmakers intentionally chose to concentrate their filming on a couple of neighborhoods, or if, out of many locations, these are the only places where harassment occurred. Would the same woman be harassed as often in the Financial District or Chelsea? How about in other boroughs, like Brooklyn and the Bronx?

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This video of a woman being harassed mostly by black and Hispanic men has received strong support from social media as well as traditional media outlets. But would the media remain so supportive if the harassers were white? Take for example the story of Joe, a homeless white millennial who tries to hook up with a different woman every night so that he has a place to sleep. Despite the fact that this guy is taking sexual and financial advantage of women, the media talks glowingly of the “triumphs” of his “epic lifestyle,” and the YouTube video about Joe (below) has nearly 5,000,000 views and over 9,000 likes.

While there’s no doubt that street harassment is a very real issue that effects women every day, it’s unfair to judge the whole of NYC based on the reactions of people primarily from one or two specific races, cultures, or neighborhoods especially given the cultural norms thereof. This viral video can serve as a great introduction to those who don’t believe that street harassment even exists, but it raises a lot of questions about race and culture that need to be answered in order to more deeply understand the issues at hand.

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