Face of short film on street harassment Shoshana B Roberts targeted with threats of rape
10 hours in NYC, over 100 cat calls and more
Not long ago, a man named Rob Bliss came up with a unique idea to expose and perhaps combat sexual harassment on the streets of New York City. Bliss was inspired to take up the project after noting the harassment his girlfriend faced regularly on the street.
The plan was to secretly record a woman as she walked along the streets of NYC. This would be done with the help of a camera hidden in a backpack in front of her, which someone would carry unobtrusively. Commissioned by Hollaback, an organization dedicated to ending street harassment across the world, Bliss managed to rope in actress Shoshana B Roberts, who volunteered to be a part of the project.
The actress, in her bio is stated to be “a bubbly and bold New York City-based actress with a black belt,”.
The result: after walking through the Big Apple for 10 hours, she is confronted with over a hundred cat-calls. Apart from this, strangers shout out comments like, Damn”, “Sweetie” or “Nice”, “. Roberts ignores all of them. More noteworthy are some of the offenders who pester Roberts
One man says, “Hey, what’s up girl? How you doing? Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more!” While another says, “You don’t wanna talk? We can’t be friends, nothing? If I give you my number, would you talk to me?”
Another man just walks along with her for 5 minutes, not saying anything but occasionally glancing up at her.
Just a few hours from the publishing of the video, the actress began to receive attacks in the form of comments on the Youtube page threatening to rape her. Hollaback tweeted, “The subject of our PSA is starting to get rape threats on the comments. Can you help by reporting them?” @iHollaback. It worked, the comments are being reported and are being deleted.
Emily May, Hollaback’s director told Newsday: “The rape threats indicate that we are hitting a nerve. We want to do more than just hit a nerve though, we want New Yorkers to realize — once and for all — that street harassment isn’t OK, and that as a city we refuse to tolerate it.”.
The incident puts us in mind of the case of Emma Watsonn. About two months ago, Emma made a speech in the UN claiming she was a feminist and urged men to join in the battle for equality. As a result, hackers on anonymous site 4Chan threatened to leak nude photos of the Harry Potter actress. Emma completely ignored this threat, and rightly so as it yielded nothing. ON the other hand, fiery Bollywood actress, Deepika Padukone, retaliated angrily when her cleavage was zoomed into by a popular news daily. Deepika, Emma and Shoshana have one thing in common: they claim ownership of their own body and refuse to be objectified (read our articles on the issue here)
The battle between the objectifiers and objectified will continue to rage on, and social media only serves to emphasise the ongoing conflict between the two groups. We think the internet is a handy tool when it comes to preventing sexual harassment in the longrun, but can turn into a weapon against the cause like how we saw on the site 4Chan. We hope young revolutionaries are inspired by Hollaback’s concept and take up the cause in India as a way to combat sexual harassment.