Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative filmed New York-based actress Shoshana B. Roberts walking around New York City for 10 hours and getting harassed by men on the street.
The video quickly went viral. He posted it on YouTube on Tuesday, and at the time of this story, it already has been viewed almost 6 million times in less than 24 hours.
“Things are very, very overwhelming,” Bliss told Business Insider. “This is the most social viral video I’ve ever done.”
Bliss says the response to the video has been incredibly varied. “People are sharing their personal experiences, they’re saying how it’s changed how they look at the issue,” Bliss told us. “[But Shoshana] is also receiving threats which is the really frustrating part.”
But many commenters — most of them men — were confused why this was even harassment at all. Bliss says without a doubt that it is.
“In New York City, you don’t just say hi to random strangers,” he said. “If a guy is asking you how you’re doing, there are motives there outside of just wondering about a complete stranger’s day. Who cares about that? It’s because they have other motives and everyone involved in this situation knows it.”
And for those who still disagree, Bliss says to imagine yourself in this situation.
“Imagine that you are that girl — or, better yet, imagine that you are you,” he said. “And you’re walking down the street and every guy you saw in that video said those exact same things to you. How would you feel? And not only that, add in the fear that you have because you are vulnerable because these men are stronger than you and have the ability to overpower you. That is the real world. So imagine that you feel that vulnerability that these people could overpower you if they wanted to and most of the time you would lose that fight. Ask yourself how you would feel about that.”
Bliss approached Hollaback!, a nonprofit dedicated to ending street harassment, about his idea to film the catcalls that women have to deal with on a daily basis. He said he’d never seen anything like it done before, and that it was something people needed to see.
“For men, I wanted to show them what street harassment looks like because I don’t think they have ever really seen it or been able to experience it,” Bliss explained to us. “And for women, I wanted to empower them and give them the ability to look at it from the safety of their home or their phone and to be able to better understand this issue without being so close to it.”
Bliss filmed Roberts with a hidden GoPro camera strapped to his chest and hidden under his t-shirt for 10 hours total, walking around all areas of Manhattan over the course of a few days for two to three hour shifts at a time. They started in lower Manhattan and walked all the way up to Harlem — anywhere there was a heavy pedestrian presence.
The video captured men saying a variety of things to Roberts, from “have a good day” to “smile” to people shouting “sexy” at her. In addition to the hundreds of instances of verbal harassment, she had men winking, staring, and whistling at her.
This is all while she’s walking down the street, minding her own business, and not saying anything.
One man in the video even followed her for almost six minutes. “That was especially bad,” Bliss said. “What was sad was that I had no idea it was happening until it was over. I can’t imagine how helpless she may have felt especially since I asked her not to respond or react in any way.”
In a world where it’s not unheard of for women to bestabbed,choked,shot, or brutalized for not responding to a man’s advances, it’s important to remember that street harassment is real, and that it happens every day.
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