comScore Woman Receives Rape Threats For Street Harassment Video | The Mary Sue
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Woman Who Featured In Street Harassment Video Receives Online Rape Threats

Oblivious, thy name is man.

Yesterday Hollaback, a nonprofit advocating to end street harassment, published a recording of the 100-plus unwanted comments received by actress Shoshanna Roberts during a ten-hour span. The video quickly went viral, receiving over a million views and 27,000 comments in less than a day, as well as its fair share of criticism–Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay had some reservations. Unfortunately, scum-of-the-Earth asshats did as well.

Not long after the recording was posted yesterday, Hollaback was forced to tweet some sadly unsurprising news:

According to AMNY, Hollaback is doing its best to handle online threats posted in response to the video faster than is typically seen on Youtube or Twitter. Despite the nonprofit’s moderation, however (and in an example of the persistence and prevalence of online harassers), the comments posted in response to the video are still a prime example of why we need feminism. Jezebel chose this particularly disgusting comment as an example:

Harassment is defined as unwanted behavior. This woman said NOTHING so how could the guys know that they were harassing her? Fuck this bitch and her campaign to get money to stop men from simply talking to her in public” and “VERBAL HARASSMENT ? WHAT !? This woman should feel good about all these compliments she received. Yeah some guys were acting all weird and creepy but NOBODY TOUCHED HER. Fucking feminists, women these days threat compliments as sexual harassment ?

That pea-brain actually pinpoints a misconception that is really frustrating to me personally as a woman living in New York–although only a relatively small percentage of the harassment Roberts received (that’s a “small percentage” out of over 100, remember) might sound aggressive out of context, even a comment that’s not overtly hostile still isn’t a compliment. “Have a nice day, beautiful” rarely means just that, and all comments doled out by street harassers are aggressive contextually. It’s meaningful to remind victims of harassment that they’re not frigid, ungrateful, or a bitch if, as a man in the video puts it, “someone acknowledging you for being beautiful” feels like a violation and not a compliment.  

That being said, there’s no denying that Hollaback’s video only shows street harassment through a problematically narrow lens. Roxane Gay put it better than I could (obviously): 

Previously in Street Harassment

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