If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be catcalled and followed by numerous creepy dudes on big city streets, or, you just want someone else to see what it’s like for themselves, then this week’s video is for you. Heads up: it doesn’t look fun.
“10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” displays actress Shoshana B. Roberts walking through a constant stream of catcalls on the streets of New York as she’s secretly filmed by a GoPro camera directly in front of her. After 10 hours of walking the streets in plain clothes, and without initiating conversation with anyone, Roberts received over 100 instances of “verbal street harassment,” to say nothing of “hey-baby” winks and whistles.
Since its release on Tuesday, the video has racked up over 20 million views and ignited a firestorm of media discussion. Comment trolls immediately flocked to the video, posting remarks ranging the gamut from denying that anything in the video actually qualifies as “catcalling,” to disturbing rape threats against Roberts. Fox News weighed in with a predictably tone-deaf analysis, and Funny or Die even got in on the action with a parody video of their own showing the “verbal street privilege” of a man walking in NYC for 10 hours.
Of course, savvy, impeccably topical viral videos don’t just create themselves. Rob Bliss, a viral video producer and creator of what he describes on his website as “experimental marketing events” created, produced, and directed “10 Hours” (he held the GoPro filming Roberts) to promote Hollaback!, an organization aimed at ending street harassment. With “10 Hours,” Bliss told Mashable that he aimed to expose “what street harassment really looks like” to the world and capture “what it really feels like to experience this.”
2014 is increasingly filled with high-profile stories on misogyny and sexism, from the rawness of the #Yesallwomen campaign earlier in the year, to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s recent karmic-pay-raises-for-women facepalm. In just a few days, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” has already become another powerful salvo in an important, and ongoing cultural dialogue.