Here is a video that will surprise only men. In it, a woman walks through the streets of New York City, briskly and silently, eyes ahead. Over the course of ten hours she is approached, catcalled and harassed dozens upon dozens of times, all in broad daylight.
The effect is powerful and useful — “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” is a succinct answer to anyone who asks, incredulously, if street harassment is really that bad. People who couldn’t see for themselves — the ones who needed to, at least — now can.
But the video works in two ways: It’s also a neat portrayal of what it is like to be a woman talking about gender on the mainstream internet. This became apparent within minutes of publication, at which point the video’s comment section was flooded with furious responses. The following are all “Top Comments” as determined by YouTube’s viewers and voting system — this is what outwardly appears, among people who chose to engage with this video, to be a consensus (most dissent is voted into oblivion). It is a VAST MAJORITY. Starting with the very top post:
(The subject of race is handled just as thoughtfully.)
A great number of men, online and off, understand feminism as aggression — they feel as though the perception of their actions as threats is itself a threat. In other words, they too believe that unsolicited public attention is inherently aggressive, but only when that attention takes the form of criticism, and only when it comes from women. They live this belief on the streets, where they are nearly unaccountable, and argue it online, where they are totally unaccountable. And they are everywhere! They are just as bad as people say! You don’t even need a hidden camera to see them.