Thursday, October 30, 2014

Privilege in the Catcall Walk [UPDATED]

[TRIGGER WARNING: STREET HARASSMENT, RACISM]

Maybe you've already heard of the video showing a woman walking through New York while she experiences 108 incidents of catcalling, to varying degrees.

This is one of those feminist projects with good intentions but fails to take into account various forms of privilege. This woman is white, thin, and appears to be cis. Although it's important to show the world how bad street harassment is, it's bad to only show it from a fairly privileged perspective. It would have been better to do the same thing with multiple women of color, a fat woman, a trans woman, and ideally a fat trans woman of color. Street harassment looks different for each group of women that experiences additional forms of marginalization.

The end of the video says that the harassment came from people (I assume they mean men) of all backgrounds. Most of the harassers in the video appear to be black and Latino men. This makes the video appear pretty problematic, especially considering the history of white feminism and harassment only being framed as a problem when men of color do it to white women. It would have been easy to solve this by having women of different races do the same walk. Though I'm sure the 10 hour walk wasn't easy. I hope she had inserts. Anyway.

We white women, and we cis women, and thin or "in between" women need to remember that we have privilege, and that less privileged women experience different and often worse harassment than we do.

Also, for those less educated, don't be fooled by the seemingly innocuous comments and greetings like "how are you today?" or whatever. We women are not naive. We know that shit like this is almost always a precursor to an annoying conversation that we may not have the time or desire for that almost always ends in a proposition of some kind. Then we still have to reject them, and that more often ends in anger because the man put "effort" into forcing us into an annoying conversation and we led them on by not ignoring them. I'd like to see a video showing this as well. Which is sad, because it appears we need to get video evidence of fucking everything since men won't just trust us when we say street harassment happens and it sucks.

And no matter how much video evidence we get, it will never be good enough. But, you know, awareness. Just check the privilege before making the awareness video, please. Thanks.

UPDATE:

So it looks like the creators of this video did edit out the white harassers. They say it was a coincidence that most of them were off camera or drowned out by noise. This may be true, but they should have spotted this and done something about it. I don't care if they had to do extra walks past white men after the initial shoot. And they still should have made the effort to find women from different background to walk.

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