Using Racism to Excuse Sexism

You’ve probably seen this anti-street harassment video:

It’s part of Hollaback’s ongoing work to empower women by boosting empathy, understanding and change.

But the video has been called racist for over representing men of color.

Here’s what Dr. Brittany Cooper, a Rutgers University professor of women, gender and Africana studies, had to say about that:

I’m tired of men of color using racism as an excuse for sexism.

And this:

I care about the racial politics of this, but women should be allowed to occupy public space.

I think there should be coalition politics were men of color would say, “We are fighting for the right to occupy public space without harassment from the police, so we understand.”

Rutgers Professor, Brittany Cooper

Rutgers Professor, Brittany Cooper

Because the thing is, the fight for equality is much stronger when all of the more powerless parts of society join together.

Instead of attacking each other.

Unconcious bias

Hollaback has apologized for the unintended racism in the video, which over represents men of color in the editing.

Unfortunately, people in this country are bombarded by both sexism and racism. That leaves most of us unconsciously internalizing both, so that we often don’t notice when it’s happening inside our heads.

So we all have work to do.

We’re more sensitive to racism than sexism

Yet our culture is more sensitive to racism than sexism.

Not because we are less racist than sexist. But because women are somewhat divided in the fight against sexism, while people of color are united against racism.

I’ve talked about why that is, before. Here’s a summary:

  • Women internalize the notion of being secondary and put down, so it feels more natural and normal to us than to men, who are taught they’re supposed to be number one.
  • People of color have a memory of something different—a time in Africa or Asia or South America when they were number one. Most don’t know that there have been times and places that lacked sexism, so it seems more natural and normal, and is more accepted.
  • Women fear offending those they love (95% of women have male lovers, after all)
  • Sexism can seem sexy in a society that eroticizes male dominance

So women are less likely to notice or complain about sexism. Leaving us less united, and less likely to protest.

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias

But that makes it easy to use accusations of racism as a means of denying sexism.

Women who stand up for themselves are attacked

Meanwhile, women who bring attention to sexism are attacked.

  • The young woman in the video has been threatened with rape and murder
  • A young woman who has critiqued sexism in video gaming has been threatened with rape and murder
  • Egyptian women fighting for their rights have been brutally raped, and harassment is at an all-time high
  • Rape and sexual harassment are increasing in India as Indian women gain equality
  • In the 19th century US women who fought for the right to vote were jailed and beaten

In each case men who are desperately seeking to uphold a sense of male supremacy and privilege are desperately trying to hold down women who are fighting for equality.

Or as Hollaback put it:

When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 7, 2014, in feminism, psychology, race/ethnicity, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. Does Your Religion Excuse Homophobic, Racist or Sexist Behavior?

    Racism is not a genetic disease. No human being is born with racist attitudes and beliefs.

    • Yes, it’s really important for us to get past our unconscious biases — deal with them. I written a little bit on how to do that:

      Think you’re not racist?
      https://broadblogs.com/2011/02/07/think-you’re-not-racist/

    • Religion is a very difficult area. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion. Also, religion occupies the moral high ground so to speak..

      I have wrestled with this on a personal level in the matter of homosexuality…My religious beliefs are at odds with homosexuality. But, that does not give me the right to hate gay people. Orthodox Judaism contain certain practices that are clearly sexist…As do other religions such as Islam.

      So, must these people ignore tenets and practices of their religion? It is a very difficult thing.

      Here in MD, I voted FOR allowing gay marriage even though it is at odds with my religious beliefs. Many of my friends were outraged. Why did I support it? Because, I did not feel the state has a right to determine who gets married to whom and who does not. I was not endorsing homosexuality because morally I cannot.

      All of these “isms” are acquired. I lived in Bulgaria for several years during communism. Traveled through out the old East Bloc. I was shocked at the centuries old ethnic hatred that existed (still does). This is how we got “ethnic cleansing.” This is how 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda. All of it passed down through generations.

      • re “Here in MD, I voted FOR allowing gay marriage even though it is at odds with my religious beliefs. Many of my friends were outraged. Why did I support it? Because, I did not feel the state has a right to determine who gets married to whom and who does not.”

        I used to be an advisor for a women’s club on campus. And we used to meet with other clubs and ask them their perspectives on things: Jewish club, Islamic club, Christian club, LGBTQ.

        The Christian club said that while they were against gay marriage they didn’t want to support a law against it because they didn’t think it was right to push their religion on everyone else. I thought it was a very interesting perspective.

      • Thank you so much for sharing this valuable theory and approach. I enjoyed reading your response and it was a great educational and learning approach, Thank you again!

  2. “In each case men who are desperately seeking to uphold a sense of male supremacy and privilege are desperately trying to hold down women who are fighting for equality.”

    Yes, I agree 100% with you. No person should be threaten with violent harm or any other means to silence them from their free expression.

    I think people would have responded differently to the video had the overtly racist overtones were not present. I know I certainly would have. Perhaps, this is because I am a Black man. I am particularly sensitive to the matter. But, I am far less sensitive to matters involving race than most Black Americans or even White.

    As for Dr. Booker’e response, I think she is out of touch with reality. The Black community is the most matriarchal society in America. That does not mean sexism, violence against women, and disrespect for women are not present. I think Black people use fascism as an excuse for many things. However, sexism is not one of them.

    The intention of the producers of the video was to make a viral video, not a video that showed street harassment per se. They succeeded at the expense of Black and Latino men.

    See,

    View story at Medium.com

    We have to work together to solve the many problems our nation face. This means, to me, being open to LISTENING and RESPECTING other points of view. Especially if these views are well thought out and can be supported empirically.

    Yes, there is a ton of resistance by men to change. Especially White men. This is a crazy approach. You cannot hinder progress. Threatening women is simply an act of desperation and stupidity.

    Even though I am a very conservative man, one of the best books on our country’s economic problems is by Ariana Huffington, “Third World America” and Noble economist George Stiglitiz, “The Price of Inequality.” They are at the opposite end of the political spectrum. But, I don’t care. They are right. We conservatives are wrong. Simple enough.

    I think you are an open minded person. I think you are very tolerant. I see that you take great pride and interest in helping and being supportive of your students. You are a feminist which is also quite OK. You have a good blog.

    However, your last reply to me and Bob came across like President Bush remarks to the rest of the world in the aftermath of 9/11, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Insisting that a person see the world as you is simply disappointing. Just as my insisting the same is equally wrong. But, it is your blog.

    • I’m sure that the response would’ve been different if the racism wasn’t there — so I’m sure that it wasn’t purposeful, Because that just ends up hurting the cause. And I am glad that they did the right thing: apologize.

      Unfortunately most people have a blind spot when he comes to racism and sexism — most people are more so than they realize, And so things get screwed up like this. Hopefully it will be an incentive to uncover and deal with our unconscious “isms”

      And I suspect that unconscious sexism could have been involved at times too

      I certainly wouldn’t want to come across as President Bush (W) — and usually you and Bob are pretty reasonable, but I felt like I was getting too many comments on this particular post that sounded pretty negative toward women. Without trying to be empathetic. Like you can make a point and not just keep harping on about it over and over again. Because I do think it’s important to make your point so that we can have a dialogue, But at some point it felt quite too much negativity. So I did keep the comments and major basic point, But not the digging in deeper and deeper part.

      And I do appreciate the comments from both you and Bob

      • I do understand where you’re coming from on this. I really do.

        I have never been a man who disparaged women (or any group) or looked upon them as less than me. I grew up in a very close family with very emotionally and spiritually strong women, especially my mother and grandmother. I really abhor how men debase women with the strip clubs……I have always frowned upon this sort of behavior. Even the use of the b***tch word is unacceptable to me.

        I just get so frustrated when just because I disagree with some aspect of the debate, I get accused of being unsympathetic…I don’t mean you. It’s like white people who as soon as they are critical of some aspect of Black behavior (men abandoning women and sticking them with children) they are called racist…It’s wrong and counter productive.

        I don’t know if you saw this on HP. But, it sums up where I was trying to go…

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/07/women-of-color-respond-viral-catcalling-video_n_6123800.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

        As Ms. Myerson of Jezebel stated,

        “The point here isn’t to devalue or minimize the experience of women who strongly identified with this video… it’s to open the conversation.”

        It is the conversation that is critical to progress. Instead of talking at and past one another, we need to speak to one another. We must listen with empathetic ears.

      • Makes sense. So long as it doesn’t shut down one end of the conversation. We need both.

  3. I understand that there is editing involved in the video, not giving us a full span of every single person who catcalled the woman, but I am confused as to how this video — offering no dialogue beyond catcalls and simply of a girl walking down the street — is racist. Sure, there are obviously people of color in this video, not exactly being portrayed in a bad light. But there are also white men in this video harassing the young woman as well. None of the actions made by these men were planned or edited, the happenings in this occurred organically. Therefore, how can we make this is a racial issue? Isn’t it racist in itself to make this video — about a woman being sexually harassed — about race? Isn’t that distracting us from what really is important?

    People act inappropriately and in negative ways all the time, isn’t that what being human is? So just because black, Latino, and white males are all displayed as behaving like lecherous jerks, this does not call for Al Sharpton to give his 2 cents on the matter! Making everything about race is racist in itself. What we should be focusing on is that men were behaving this way, not women. There are cultural factors that led more men into this video than others, but overall I would say this video raises concerns and shines light on the American attitude towards women as a whole.

    Some cultures harbor traits that would lead men to be more aggressive, more inclined to attempt getting the woman’s attention, more entitled to vocalize thoughts about her beauty. Perhaps more awareness within these communities needs to be made about women’s rights and equality. The notion that men in black or Latino communities may be notorious for catcalling is not a racial issue. As we all know, all men are more than capable of partaking in this act, but the prominence amongst certain communities just goes to represent the widespread attitude towards women within them. It is what it is, and is not racist. Considering things from a sociological and anthropological perspective is essential for truly understanding the issues in America — trying to ignore this and paint everyone as completely the same just isn’t realistic. At the end of the day we are all human and behave more or less the same, but where we come from and the cultures that teach us about the world really have a great deal to do with how we conduct ourselves in society.

    • To clarify: Obviously, not everyone who is white or black or Latino or polka-dotted is going to behave exactly the same as other members of their race. People act as individuals based on whatever environment they have been exposed to and various other factors in their lives. While some perceive the frequency of black or Latino men in this video as misrepresentative, and portraying their cultures in a negative way, there are numerous factors that can explain why we see more “colored” men in this video than any other.

      First of all, the woman is walking down the street in the largest urban metropolis in America. This isn’t Smalltown, USA where the population might be more homogenous. There are huge pockets of various racial backgrounds living in NYC, if anything, this video is representative of the ethnic make-up of the neighborhoods she happened to walk through.

      While some cultures may be more matriarchal than others, I think it safe to say that women’s rights are a global issue. Sometimes our rights are exploited more in certain extremes than others, but overall women struggle on a daily basis everywhere.

      • Thanks for the clarification. It’s important.

        My neighborhood is minority white and people say hi to me all the time when I walk around — both men and women — but it’s done in a respectful, friendly way and not like what happens in this video.

    • @Nichole,

      The problem here is the video sought to highlight the daily harassment many women endure in NYC. It’s real. It’s happens. It’s wrong. It occurs not just in NYC but everywhere.

      The way the producer went about it is what made it racist to me. Why? Because, after the fact we learned that the majority of the poor behavior was actually done by white men. This was intentionally omitted. Second, we have learned that nearly 50% of that 2 mins came from ONE area of NYC. So, in their zeal to show harassment, largely poor minority men were tossed under the bus!

      What this video did was to give the greatest offenders (white men) a free pass. It said, “The bad guys are those Blacks and Latino men” As usual, the white guys got away everything. The Black and Latino men were the bad guys.

      Anyone who knows anything about the oppression of women In America knows it comes primarily from white men. Just a fact. So, why put a video out showing 90% Black and Hispanic men? Especially when you have lots of footage with white men.

      If I know the vast majority of rapists and serial killers are white men, why would I do a documentary on rapists and serial killers that depicted 90% of such people as Black males?

      “What we should be focusing on is that men were behaving this way, not women.”

      Ditto!!! Now were talking about the BIG picture.

      Only when we look at the big picture can get to the root of the problem. It’s called sexism. It’s called male superiority. It’s men who feel women are their property and they can do as they please. Men who feel they can disregard and disrespect women at will. Threaten them for exercising free speech. Shame them because they feel women have become too “uppity.” Call them shameful names. Hack their cellphones and post nude pics for the world to see to humiliate and embarrass them.

      Outside of perhaps Scandinavia, women in America have it pretty darn good. But, it’s relative. Because here still women cannot truly be themselves on a daily basis. They are pressured to live in a manner that caters to men. As a guy, if I want to rush out and not shave……no big deal. If a woman has hair on her arms or…….she is judged negatively. Women have to literally put on a silly show for men daily. This causes a lot of problems. They just cannot be and live free from this crap.

      Here is a great example: I was in the neighborhood of an old female friend I had not seen in over a year. I called her to say, “Hey there, I am 5 mins away! Are you home? Can I stop by and say Hello!?” Her reply: “OMG! Yes! But, I have not shaved my legs…” Now, think about this for a moment. Why in the hell should this matter? Really? A 50 year old woman who holds a PhD in Chemistry has to be concerned about her unshaven legs just to see an old friend. Not a an old boyfriend or intimate partner. A dear friend you have known for over a decade or more. No man has to think like this.

      The impacts of these things on women are very very negative. It becomes so bad that women turn on one another. Adopting the same silly attitudes as men. A vicious cycle. All because women have been socialized to please men and to ALWAYS be pleasing. Always be smiling….Always putting on a show for men.

      Most men in America do not see all of this. They are truly oblivious. It’s really sad because men have wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters. So, why would they want their loved ones to be subjected to this? I really don’t know. Just as I cannot explain why men like porn and strip clubs.

      People are best and happiest when they are free to be themselves. We need to allow women to be themselves. Free and happy. This is the best thing men can do for women. Let them be. In the long run men would be happier too.

  4. “My neighborhood is minority white and people say hi to me all the time when I walk around — both men and women — but it’s done in a respectful, friendly way and not like what happens in this video.”

    And some of the men said hi, how are you doing and have a nice evening to this woman in passing and were just trying to get her attention and greet her. You were fine with being greeted, so why is this woman shunning every man even one’s who were friendly and respectful fine?

    • The guys in my neighborhood just say hello, good afternoon, and smile. They don’t comment on my level of sexual attractiveness. So I feel like I’m being seen as a person, not an object that exists for someone else’s pleasure. And it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to get my attention so much as they’re just being neighborly.

      If a guy wants to meet a girl, than trying to get the attention of some stranger on the street isn’t likely to work. It feels threatening to her. And she knows that it often isn’t even about her — it’s often about guys impressing other guys with how hetero they are, and how they treat women like sex objects in a manly way. I’ll be writing more about that later. Although, I may have already written on this topic and can’t remember the title offhand.

  5. Some of them were saying hello or to that extent in the video. Had many women comment on youtube that those they didn’t mind, but the others they did..so…

  6. I think we may be more sensitive to racism because it’s an issue faced by men and therefore considered more serious. Take rap music for example, how it’s accepted to sing about violence against women. We’ve seen reporters, radio hosts and many TV personalities catch a lot of heat and face consequences for using racial slurs but gendered slurs goes unnoticed and excused. NAACP president Anthony Douglas, recently spoke about a case involving a police officer who sexually assaulted low income women of color. ““[People] have not grasped the severity of the case,” Douglas said. “I don’t look at this gentleman as a sex offender or a rapist. I look at him as a racist, because he racially profiled and targeted African-American women.”” Many people were also more upset about him targeting women of color and didn’t recognize that he was targeting women, especially low income women who couldn’t report him to the authorities. The fact that Douglas thinks being a racist is worse crime than a rapist is absurd. I believe these women were his target because they were black and women and it’s unfair to focus on just one. I think the reason why Douglas and many others(all men) were more concerned about the racism involved in the case is probably because they can relate to that but cannot empathize with crime committed against women.

    • “I believe these women were his target because they were black and women and it’s unfair to focus on just one.”

      So important to recognize both. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  7. Watching this video, i feel as though i can relate to this young lady on some type of level. I can understand the humility and fear that cat calling can often bring to a woman. There has been serval times where i would be walking down the street in reglar clothing and men would cat call. There has also been times where men not only cat call but proceed to ask me if i want to take down there number or go on a date. The funny thing about cat calling is that woman are only ofended by it when it is coming from a man they could never see themselves with. You never see a woman complain about being whistled at when its a good looking-clean cut male. Yet, they had yet to show her walking down beverly hills where this could happen. It’s in poverished areas where there is high crime rate that this sort of thing happens. You can’t expect to walk down a community where violence is part of the norm and not expect to get treated like a piece of meat. This isn’t only for woman but for men as well, its just more violent cat calling rather than sexual. I think that this idea of wanting to eliminate street harassment is a wonderful idea, except it often has nothing to do with disrespecting woman, it’s about the way some of these people were raised. If they want to get to the root of the problem they have to start with teaching young children that whistling at a woman isn’t polite(with the exception of certain circumstances). The men shown in this video are already old, and most of them seem to be men who don’t care about where they stand in life, let alone respecting any one around them.

    • Well, I didn’t think these guys were so bad looking. I think that for a lot of women it can just feel threatening regardless of what the guy looks like. Especially when it comes with a lot of men or close in succession. But thanks for your thoughts.

    • @luz,

      “The funny thing about cat calling is that woman are only offended by it when it is coming from a man they could never see themselves with. You never see a woman complain about being whistled at when its a good looking-clean cut male.”

      Well, this is quite universal. These men are always given a free pass by most women. Always.

      You view is right on target. Catcalling is annoying and harassing to women. Even if it is a simple “Hello.” A lot of this has to do with class and socio economic status. The most egregious thing is white men got a free pass on all this. But, we know white men buy the most escorts, use the most cocaine, are the most oppressive to women and others, feel the most entitled……But, Black men are the most despised.

      In some areas it seems as if we have just gone off the deep end here in America. Sheer lunacy. Judaism says love the stranger. All we hear from too many women today is how evil strange men are.

      We all are to be viewed with fear and suspicion….Since women cannot easily discern the 7% of men who ARE dangerous, the other 93% of us must bear the burden.

      Thanks for your most level headed comments. Hopefully, reason and sanity in all this will triumph soon.

      • So men need to work against violence against women. Because women never know who is safe and is not. And catcalling doesn’t make men seem safe.

        But men also have a prejudice in terms of attractive women, versus those are not thought to be so attractive.

        It’s a general problem of lookism in our culture which is superficial and stupid.

      • Yes, I agree we must do our individual work to stem violence, harassment, shaming etc. But, I dont think it will make a huge impact. Some positive impact, yes. Given the state of gender relations today, I am not hopeful. Too many men feel like they are the blame for other mens problems. It has caused too much anger and resentment.

      • So why be angry and resentful toward women — who are only trying to protect themselves, Instead of angry and resentful toward the men who make women fearful?

      • Well, it’s common sense. It is not the other men whom they feel are mistreating them. It is women. Hence, the resentment towards women. We have society which place the individual above the group. Individual rights and free will are paramount. But, when women adopt this ‘kill them all and let god sort them out’ approach it treats all men as high risk and wicked. Why cant women see or understand this? If I saw all women as gold diggers or skanks, would not you be offended and resentful? Did you, as an individual, do anything to be put in this pot? No, you did not. The election results last week saw a huge turnout of white male voters. I think some of it was their feeling of being unfairly maligned. It was simple push back. We dont punish an entire group for the conduct of a few individuals. It’s unAmerican!

      • It is the other men who harm women that make women fear men. Therefore you should be angry at the men who make women fearful, not the women who are protecting themselves.

        I hope that in your next life you were born female. Maybe you will get it then.

        But the amount of anger you have toward women makes me think that it is likely women will fear you because of the way you present yourself.

        Otherwise, it just seems like you’re trying to find excuses to throw anger at women and I won’t approve any more comments like that.

  8. I did watch this clip for few times and I don’t think the verbal street harassment is the nice thing to say. But I also think that in the clip the girl look a little bit depress and the way she walk look like she going to fall forward. That’s gain attention from people around and some man actually want to help her feel better. Some man are try to polite and just want to cheer her up a little bit. Some people actually compliment on her so they think it will enhance her self-esteem and may be they hope to see her smile if she know people think she is beautiful. Some guys try to get close with the creepy way, some try to walk along with her, some try to talk to her and may hope she will pay attention to them. Some people is overly reacted in this clip by using some word such as “ danm mama” or “hey baby”. But sometime it is double standard when a guy try to talk to a girl people feel like it is harass, when a girl try to talk to a guy and he avoid her, people think he is somehow think that guy is racist or impolite, etc.

  9. I also agree that racism is acknowledged way more than sexism even though they are both present in society. Racism is noticed more often than sexism because racism is seen as worse than being sexist. If someone were to yell a racist slur at someone passing on the street it would draw way more attention than if a man were to say something sexist. I think this is because women are used to being treated as less than and therefore see sexism as something that just happens where racism is seen as something that shouldn’t be tolerated. I have been victim to both and honestly found sexism to be more offensive in some respects. Being put down for being a woman hurts just as badly as being called a racial slur. Women need to come together to end sexism just as we have fought to end the battle against racism.

  10. The video of the woman walking in New York and being cat called at by men on the streets was an incredibly surprising video for me. I had been told by some friends of being “hit on” while out in public, but to see a video of a woman subjucated to harassment over an entire day felt draining to watch. The experience looked frightening, not just demeaning, and I don’t know if I could handle that type of treatment daily.
    The blog post revealed some surprising reactions to the video. I didn’t realize that men of color were overrepresented in the video until reading the article. I thought it was significant how the blog post mentioned that anyone can fight against racism with little backlash, but women that stand up for themselves often receive offensive criticism and are attacked. The fight for specific issues, like racism, has not always been as socially acceptable as in current times. Martin Luther King’s struggles for equality came at a time when many were opposed to the idea of racial equality, but in our current culture, far more people are open to the idea. Hopefully feminism becomes an issue that more of the public feels comfortable discussing and supporting so that these attacks on women who want to make a difference end.

  11. Mariela Rodriguez

    Today I experienced something similar to this video. I am Latino and I live in a neighborhood of mostly Latinos and African Americans. I was walking towards my house and wearing a Yoga Pants coming from the Gym. All the sudden a man of color closes in on me on the curb and says ” dam I like that very much! I love it ! I love you” and blows out a kiss. It gave me chills and I felt so disrespected and uncomfortable. I don’t mean to be racist but when I have gone to other neighborhoods where there is mostly White or other I don’t get disrespected.
    When you mentioned that women are being raped and abused more often because they are now fighting for their rights.
    It is said to see that “When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.” I have seen a lot of stories on TV on these kinds of issues and it really frustrates me that this is happening. I ignore whenever I’m disrespected in public but I often do speak up because it does get tiring. Woman can no longer wear what they like because we get disrespected on public or simply by just being women. This was a very interesting topic and I newer though of how sexism is being used as an excuse for racism.

    • Well racism is only used sometimes — not widely — to excuse sexism. The important thing is that all of the less powerful parts of society would be much more powerful by joining together instead of losing power by hating on each other.

      And the fact that you are less objected to this in white neighborhoods probably has more to do with money than race. We have a history of discriminating against people of color which leaves them in the lower class. And people in lower classes tend to have more of a street culture, so that these kinds of comments are made on the street.

      On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of white guys behave this way in companies I’ve worked at. For some reason it takes on a “work culture” thing among the more wealthy and more powerful parts of society. Maybe because they are more likely to be employed having faced less discrimination?

  12. Racism vs. Sexism is something I think most woman witness or go through at least one time in their life. I have too been a woman out running errands or shopping and received the “HollaBack” yells. I’ve tried the pleasant hello just so maybe a man will leave you alone but that only gets more disrespectful slurs. I’ve tried the ignore and keep walking and that got me followed through a store with the slurs of me being stuck up. It’s all pretty pathetic. Why should a woman have to deal with a disrespectful man because of his stupid comments don’t amaze her. In the video the woman did not say one word and yet men all of different races continued to make unnecessary comments, she was even followed for more than 5 minutes. Men feel woman need them to give their disrespectful attention and we as women really don’t. It’s unattractive and degrading to women. It has even gone as far as a woman being beaten or raped which is totally uncalled for. A man who thinks he can beat or rape a woman because she doesn’t obey his spoken request is really a coward. He’s not a man at all.

  13. Just wanted to share this piece. This my friend’s daughter. I was a guest for dinner yesterday. The subject of the video came up.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/13/im-a-beautiful-black-woman-with-a-white-husband-people-assume-im-a-prostitute-all-the-time/

    L’Chaim!!!

  14. Wow, so much food for thought here…so many insightful comments. I am a woman of mixed race (black and white, with some Indian) of Caribbean descent who was born in America. I was very attractive in my early twenties. Street harassment and sexual harassment in general has been a part of my life since I can remember. I won’t share all the details, but many terrible things have been said/done to me.

    I don’t live in New York or DC, two places that are often considered to have high rates of street harassment. But I’ve lived in South Florida all my life and I will say that it is a serious problem here, at least in my experience.
    I would say that both racism AND sexism are still an issue in society today. White women have to deal with sexism which is bad enough, but women of color (and this includes some Latinas, Asians, etc.) must often deal with both racism and sexism. Feminists tend to leave us out of the conversation as if racism is only something that men of color deal with. Women, black/brown/yellow/red, are also victims of sexual violence and harassment quite frequently. And not only do people make advances to us based on sexual stereotypes, they also discriminate against us racially. I’ve even had a drunk white woman fondle me in a casino while her two male friends laughed about it and made crude comments about my big behind!

    I don’t believe that racism and sexism are mutually exclusive…it all comes from a bad place. My theory is that when men of a lower socioeconomic status harass women, there might be several issues at play.

    1) They might feel powerless in a society that views Black/brown men as criminals, lazy, etc…they internalize this and take it out on any woman who passes by, especially if it is necessary to maintain a certain image of having “swag” or “game” or “street cred”. Sometimes group dynamics can influence behavior. The one time a white male called me a “ho” on the street, he was of a lower class and obviously trying to impress his friends, most of whom were Black and Latino. This type of harassment usually happens within a group although it can sometimes happen when the guy is alone.

    2) Most of these men who engage in such behavior either lacked a father figure growing up, or had abusive parents. They might have no understanding that their behavior is inappropriate in some cases because this is what was either modeled to them at home or on the streets. Some of these guys are more aggressive in their approach to women due to poor socialization. This is no excuse, but I will say it helps me to remember this when dealing with these types. Some of them would probably be perfect gentlemen had they been taught from an early age and if they were exposed to the right elements.

    3) I agree that sometimes certain cultures seem to be more heavily influenced by male dominance (patriarchy). Latinos seem to have the machismo issue with intimidating women, while some Black men (no matter where they are from) can become insulting if a woman doesn’t respond to their advances. White men have rarely bothered me, only a few times and in one of those instances the guy said some pretty racist things. It is important to remember that there are desirable and undesirable people of all races who will do/say offensive things. The reason this video tends to show more men of color engaging in the harassment is, however, an indication that she probably encountered more men of color while walking on that particular day and they were the most forward/aggressive in their approach.

    4) Sadly, there is often a stereotype that shy guys are “weak” and lack “game”. So I think that some of these men who engage in harassment feel the need to prove their manhood…albeit in the wrong way. The guy who continued to follow the girl as she walked was obviously seeking attention or some type of reaction. People who persist in that type of behavior have serious issues.
    I would say she handled it very well by holding her head high and refusing to acknowledge his presence, despite his obvious attempt to intimidate her. I also noticed that despite the harassment, no one called her names like “bitch” or “whore”. They moved into her personal space and they did harass her but there was no name-calling or threat of violence that I could see. Sadly, my experiences have been very different. I’ve had men expose themselves to me in public since childhood, I’ve been sexually abused, threatened, followed in cars, spit on, had a bottle thrown at me, called names, had men assume I was a hooker just for walking in public, etc.

  15. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure this. But thanks so much for sharing your experience.

    Yes, racism and sexism are hardly mutually exclusive. Best to join together instead of using one to excuse the other for sure. Otherwise the more powerless groups lose even more power by not joining together.

  16. I thnk the world has just gotten soo use the this idea of portraying women as certain objects that were not realizeing this is just messing us all up in the head. Were so focuesed on other things that the certain problems that should mean somthing are getting pushed aside daily

  17. Ok, am I not getting something? Didn’t the girl in the video use a camera that was hidden, and walk the streets for 10 hours in NY, not the same street but different streets and different neighborhoods? If she did, then how in the world could the argument of racism be used as a defense to the ever apparent sexism that takes place in this video? The girl in a t-shirt and jeans, she also appears to have barely any makeup on, it’s not like she was attempting to gain serious attention, which in my mind is kind of the point. It doesn’t matter what a girl is wearing, sometimes, actually a lot of times, that women are harassed by men they are being harassed just for being a woman and for possessing the physical features of a woman. In the video she is just walking! She is not going to certain neighborhoods on purpose to document how one race can be more sexist than another, it seems to me that she is simply documenting the reality of what women endure on a daily basis just for being a woman. The thing is, if she were to go to a predominately white or latino neighborhood etc, she would most likely experience the same reactions from men. I myself have seen, heard of and personally experienced such walks of discomfort, and it comes from men of all races, cultures and religions. This isn’t a video about racism in the slightest! It’s ridiculous that it was even brought to attention as so, when this video is such a powerful statement towards the sad truth of how women are treated.

  18. The same “experiment” was made with a man walking in New York for 3 hours.
    Not only women but men can experience harassment too

    • They sure can. They probably need to look like that guy to experience it, Though. But it’s common for women to experience it without looking super hot. Seems like this comment would fit better with a different post, But okay.

      You sent another link that made no sense to me. It purported to be about feminism but didn’t seem feminist set all, And I didn’t feel like publicizing the blog so I’ll just make this comment here.

  19. Sophie Grajeda

    I would like to speak on this issue based on a very recent experience I had yesterday. I was at an east bay farmer’s market with a friend. I got up to the window to buy my food and this is how the conversation went:

    Man At Window: Hello baby, what would you like?
    Me: Can I please have three samosas?
    Man: yes, honey, whatever you like!
    (he realized he didn’t have enough change)
    Man: Oh honey, I don’t have any change
    (i had a five)
    Me: Okay, well, I’ll take four and leave a one dollar tip but please stop calling me honey because I don’t like it.

    The man became very flustered and dropped what he was holding. He apologized, but when he did, he said “I’m so sorry honey!”, which of course led to another apology. I just looked straight ahead and didn’t react, and the people he was working with started laughing.

    The man and woman behind me started laughing and the woman told me I was “spicy”.
    I got my food and walked away, but not before I heard the man call the girl behind me “baby” when it was her turn at the window. Of course, everyone got a good laugh out of that!

    I told a family member about the encounter and they literally told me it was “cultural”.
    Well, respect is my culture so I don’t accept this answer.

    Words like the ones that the man used are used to make women feel like lesser beings, and it makes me irrationally angry at times. I had to wonder if the girl would have labeled me “spicy” if I were white. And saying “it’s cultural” is a huge insult to the men AND women who identify with his culture.

    I feel like by accepting objectification by any man of any “race” is accepting a lesser quality of life for the women in their lives, which is not okay. I also knew that if I had been with a man, he may not have called me as such, which also enrages me because the level of respect that I receive should not have anything to do with the presence of a man. And of course, street harassment is never okay and must end.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Racism and sexism are both wrong, But we are so much more sensitive to cultural factors that we don’t even notice sexism.

  20. Oh,really?????Where’s the (white) outrage over unjust shooting of (mainly) black men? (Well,it exists,but not to the degree of outrage over EVERY LITTLE THING that happens to white,middle-class women!!!!Here in Canada,First Nations women are routinely assaulted,even killed with about one-one-hundredth of the media coverage and police followup which would attend the disappearance of blonde,blue-eyed,middle-class white women.Explain THAT for me,please?)

    • I explain that as white, male privilege. And I don’t like either.

      The of session with white women who were kidnapped, raped and murdered is probably less because women are cared about and more because it’s an appeal to prurient interests. And that’s actually not good for women.

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