Stating the clearly obvious

A young woman and a rather liberal media artist work together to create something that is unintentionally hilarious and instructive:
A 24-year-old aspiring actress has been filmed being catcalled 108 times as she strolled around New York City - even though she was wearing a plain T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

Shoshana Roberts, a graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, was captured on a hidden camera by her friend, Rob Bliss, as she walked through the city's streets. 
Over a ten-hour period, she was pelted with dozens of unsolicited comments, including: 'What's up beautiful?', 'Hey baby', 'Smile' and 'Have a nice evening darling'. 
She was even followed by some men for several minutes, with one repeatedly asking her: 'You don't wanna talk? Because I'm ugly?' Others winked at her, whistled and made inappropriate noises. 
The shocking video, filmed in August, was later posted on YouTube and Facebook by Miss Roberts, who describes herself as 'a New York City-based actress with a black belt'. 
Alongside the clip, Miss Roberts wrote: 'This happens daily to so many people. We don't put up with harassment in school, at home, or at work, so why should we have to put up with it on the street?' 
She added: 'Everyone has a right to feel safe.' 
Mr Bliss, who captured the footage via a camera hidden in his backpack, said he was inspired to film Miss Roberts after his girlfriend, Kendal Pektas, complained of being catcalled by men. 
The unwanted come-ons were picked up by two microphones that Miss Roberts was holding in her hand. The pair did not even realise some of the catcalls had occurred until they viewed the footage.

'I was very shocked by the audio devices picking up comments when I was halfway down the block,' Miss Roberts told the New York Daily News
'I didn't even know that they were occurring, which means there are other times people say things I'm not aware of.' 
In the video, Miss Roberts can be seen looking uncomfortable as men catcall her with phrases such as: 'Someone’s acknowledging you for being beautiful' and 'You should say "thank you" more.' 
Writing on Facebook, Mr Bliss explained: 'It's not just one comment, it's a collective weight. 
'Imagine those same guys saying all those same comments to you as you're going about your day, and imagine how you'd feel. 
'You may think saying something is innocent, but your missing the forest for the trees. 
The disturbing video has since been turned into a public service announcement in collaboration with Hollaback!, an organization that tries to combat street harassment.
So basically a young, reasonably attractive woman wearing a tight t-shirt and jeans wandering all over New York City gets cat-calls. And that's supposed to surprise and anger us?

This, by the way, is what Ms. Roberts looks like, according to the pictures in the article:

Not a total loss, then...
Actually, the fact that a cute girl is complaining about the attention that her looks get is really the second funniest thing about this article.

The funniest thing, hands down, is that I actually happen to know Rob Bliss. And through the most unlikely of connections, too.

You see, Rob trains at the same Krav Maga school that I did before I left. I've actually trained with him quite a few times. I was there for his yellow belt test. And I've sparred with him- actually, it's more accurate to say that I punched him in the face several times and then watched with some amusement as he took that as an invitation to go all-out aggro on me. It was quite funny to watch, especially when I let loose with a few hard jabs right to the nose.

(It's worth noting that he didn't show up to the next sparring class.)

So the moment I saw this article, I just started cracking up. It's one of those coincidences that is too absurd and surreal to make up.

Beyond that, there is a serious point to what Mr. Bliss and Ms. Roberts tried to do with this video that they put together.

It's just not quite what they had in mind.

Apparently, Ms. Roberts received something on the order of 108 catcalls during her time traipsing New York's city streets. To me, this illustrates two important points.

First, if you go strictly by the screenshots supplied in the Daily Mail article, the guys making the catcalls generally hail from the same ethnic background. That's right- they're mostly young, black or Hispanic, and dressed in a fashion that the Brits refer to as "lower-class". (Again, we can only go based on the screenshots in the article here.)

The lesson is quite clear. If you are a young, attractive woman, and you insist on walking through "ethnically diverse" parts of any big city- like, say, Harlem or the Bronx or, well, pretty much anywhere in Manhattan other than the very white-bread upper East Side- then don't be surprised if you get unwanted male attention from men who weren't raised to have the same degree of respect and propriety as the Jewish and Caucasian men that you're used to being around.

Second- and this is the important bit- if you are a young woman with as much... er... front as Ms. Roberts there, and you have nothing better to do than traipse about town in a tight shirt that shows off your, um, assets like that, do not be surprised when you draw attention.

I'm not for one moment arguing that some of these catcalls were not way out of line. Given my thoroughly curmudgeonly tendencies, I am very much of the view that people should be left alone to their own business at all times. That applies to women just as much as it does to men. As long as a woman does nothing to draw much attention to herself and comports herself in a dignified, ladylike fashion, there is absolutely no call to disturb her as she goes about her business.

That being said- a woman is responsible for her dress, her modesty, and her behaviour in public. Would Ms. Roberts have gotten even half as much attention, and as many catcalls, as she did in that video that inspired this bit of silly bile from the Daily Mail if she had worn a baggy formless shirt? Very unlikely. She got the attention that she did because she is:

a) Young
b) Shapely
c) Dressed in a manner that makes these attributes clear
d) Walking through neighbourhoods where, shall we say, Momma didn't necessarily raise them right

And now she's upset about that attention?

Colour me sceptical.


  1. So she got attention but it wasn't the attention she wanted. But that attention addiction is clearly stronger than the man wielding the camera, so in order to get more attention, she brings attention to the attention she got.

    Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Denzel, Daniel Craig---just take a whole slew of pretty celebrity boys, replace the cat callers in the video on the street with them, repeat the experiment. Giggles. She'll have nothing but the giggles. We can let Roissy handle the colorful sexual innuendo of the other things she'd have.

    1. Good point- that's the part that I missed, actually. Replace any of those guys with Hollywood A-listers, and the article would immediately have been transformed into a swooning tribute to Ms. Roberts's "stunning looks" and "real curves", etc.


Post a Comment

NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. Anonymous comments will be deleted.

Popular Posts