The discussion surrounding a video of a woman being catcalled on the streets of New York has a new element to the conversation: Where are the white men behaving badly?
The video was posted by Rob Bliss on behalf of the anti-street-harassment group Hollaback!
Bliss, who was inspired by the experiences of his girlfriend, tracked volunteer Shoshana Roberts as she walked through the city over the course of 10 hours. The video shows her being greeted by mostly black and Latino men with calls like “Hey, baby,” “Damn!” and “What’s up, beautiful?” Some of the men even follow her.
In a Slate article titled “The Problem With That Catcalling Video,” writer Hanna Rosin notes that “The one dude who turns around and says, ‘Nice,’ is white, but the guys who do the most egregious things — like the one who harangues her, ‘Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more,’ or the one who follows her down the street too closely for five whole minutes — are not.”
Bliss told Molly Mirhashem of New Republic that there were white men recorded during the project, but most of the interactions didn’t work for the video because they were too short or there were were problems with the audio and/or video quality.
“We didn’t set out to make this a perfect representation,” he said. “We worked with what we had.”
Some critics have questioned the disparity on social media. One tweeted, “To demonize men of color as the only perpetrators of aggression towards women is patently false and irresponsible. #Catcalling.”
Another person tweeted, “I just got an attitude from an older white male ,I didn’t say good morning. #Catcalling since everyone wants to make this a race issue.”
Rosin points out that Bliss, who heads the marketing company Rob Bliss Creative and told New Republic “I make viral videos for a living,” has been accused of not being inclusive before.
In 2011, a blogger wrote about the Grand Rapids Lip Dub video project, which Bliss hosted. Directed on the streets of the Michigan city, it featured participants lip-syncing the words to Don McLean’s “American Pie” and according to the Grand Rapids Press was one of several community events Bliss organized.
But a blogger identified as “kswheeler” wrote that the result didn’t exactly reflect the racial makeup of Grand Rapids at the time: 57% white, 18.9% black, 13% Latino and 1.62% Asian-American.
“Otherwise, Grand Rapids looks like Oz,” the blogger wrote. “And the people look like they’ve been reincarnated from those peppy family-style 1970s musical acts from Disney World or Knott’s Berry Farm.”
Thursday morning on CNN’s “New Day,” Roberts discussed her experience with the catcalls, noting that because she was carrying two microphones while Bliss walked ahead of her with a backpack camera, “We had great audio.”
As for the racial makeup of the men who attempt to interact with her, she said they were “men of all colors — in my experience every day, men of all colors. It doesn’t matter what size, shape, color.”