Opinion: ‘Hey, baby’ - the everyday sexism of American streets

Here’s a silver lining to living in a place where few people walk: Women don’t have to put up with as many jerks.

The Hollaback site, which pushes a campaign to end street harassment of women, put together a public service announcement based on video footage of a woman who walked the streets of Manhattan for 10 hours. They recorded more than 100 come-ons, from benign but unwelcome overtures to the intimidating, including a guy who walked with her for five full minutes, and another who tried to badger her into talking with him.

It’s a sobering view of a long, corrosive day in the life of a woman just out for a walk.

The implicit sexism is the pervasive issue. But the acts of intimidation are jarring. Credit to the walker, actress Shoshana B. Roberts, for not responding to some of these clowns (especially since her website says she has a black belt in taekwondo).


The project is simple: Roberts’ boyfriend, marketer and content-creator Rob Bliss walked in front with a camera hidden in a backpack, and Roberts followed him for 10 hours as the camera rolled. Then they edited the footage down into a two-minute video. Yeah, it’s good marketing exposure for Bliss and Roberts, and the initial reaction is to take this with a grain of salt.

But the creepiness of the men who crossed paths with Roberts is undeniable. At more than 100 encounters over 10 hours, that’s at least one encounter – from unwelcome familiarity to the threatening – every six minutes.

Welcome to the world of everyday sexual harassment.

Follow Scott Martelle on Twitter @smartelle.