TV & Movies

7 Creative, Provocative Responses to Street Harassment

Artists, videographers, photographers and writers are talking about street harassment, a.k.a. catcalling, in thoughtful, conversation-sparking ways

Hey baby, give us a smile. Oh, yeah, that’s it, girl. Mmmmm. The catcall is as ubiquitous as traffic noise, and about as annoying. Its prevalence on city streets may explain why so many women opt to listen to their iPods while walking to and from work. But for whatever reason—I’m going to call it progress—the behaviour (or should we say pathology?) is receiving greater attention lately. And some women are getting downright creative in their responses to the age-old habit. Here, seven of the most interesting, provocative, amusing and controversial reactions to catcalling, a.k.a. street harassment, in recent memory.

Two samplers from Elana Adler's You Are My Duchess collections (Photos: Elana Adler)

Two samplers from Elana Adler’s You Are My Duchess collections (Photos: Elana Adler)

1. Artist Elana Adler’s catcall samplers
Samplers traditionally record homespun sayings in tasteful embroidery. Not Adler’s. The Brooklyn-based artist has created a virtual gallery of catcall samplers that display such heartwarming sentiments as “Bye Yum Yum” and “Take care of that ass sweetheart.”

2. 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman
Actress Shosanna B. Roberts endured more than 100-plus incidences of street harassment for this video created in collaboration with Hollaback, a non-profit aimed at ending street harassment. The video brought its own controversy, however. Director Rob Bliss has been taken to task for editing out white catcallers (he defends the action, saying “We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera.”)

3. White Man Walking in NYC
You know you’ve made an impact culturally when a parody follows suit. In response to 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, the comedy site Funny or Die created White Man Walking in NYC. During the parody, a white guy endures “100-plus instances of verbal street privilege.” Trust us, it’s funnier than it sounds and obliquely calls attention to the ways in which sex and race play roles in how we experience a brisk walk.

4. The Guardian’s “Get Your Ass out, Mate” video
Back in April, The Guardian reporter Leah Green played a game of reverse sexism. Armed with real catcalls—mined from the site Everyday Sexism, which asks women to post their daily experiences with all forms of sexism—she hooted and hollered at men on the streets of London with impressive brio.The blokes were not impressed. Hmm, wonder why?

5. Hannah Price’s photo gallery of catcallers
The Philadelphia-based photographer Hannah Price took portraits of the men who catcalled her. The ongoing project focuses on the catcallers, rather than on the women getting catcalled. It’s a nice change, don’t you think?

6. “Eight Reasons A Catcall Is Not a Compliment”
Some men—and even women—argue that catcalling is a form of flattery. Buzzfeed writer Arianna Rebolini rebuffs that idea with a list of reasons why catcalling isn’t complimentary.

7. Playboy’s Should You Catcall Her? flow chart
In August, Playboy brought the catcalling debate—should you or shouldn’t you?—to its readers in a clever info-graphic that makes those who fall into the “hell, yeah” category appear to be insensitive solipsistic morons.