Women

One More Thing About That Viral Street Harassment Video: Its Creators Don't Want to Imprison Catcallers

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Hollaback
Youtube

The release of that viral street harassment video last week prompted all kinds of interesting reactions: some took the strong this-is-awful-and-must-stop position, some agreed street harassment was bad but not everything in the video qualified, others criticized  the problematic racial aspects of the video, while still others wondered what was so wrong with black and Latino men giving compliments to women on the street.

As a libertarian, I had nothing special to say about the video at first—harassment is bad, leave people alone, etc.— but then the conversation took a predictable turn. Should the government ban catcalling and police street harassment more aggressively? Some people think so. The New York Times featured a discussion on the topic. Here was the opinion of one legal scholar, Northwestern University's Laura Beth Nielsen:

The police may largely ignore harassment on the street because men often do not understand how pervasive it can be, but most importantly because there are no laws being violated in such encounters. About two thirds of women report that they hear such comments every day, but men's estimates of the frequency of such remarks is significantly lower. All of the women I interviewed for my researchreported changing their routes, behavior, transportation or dress to avoid street harassment.

I'd propose a law that would prohibit street harassment and would also be consistent with our First Amendment jurisprudence about other kinds of hate speech (cross-burning in Virginia vs. Black) that intimidates, harasses and perpetuates inequality. It would allow states and cities to recognize street harassment for what it is: physical and psychological acts that intimidate, exclude, subordinate and reinforce male dominance over women.

Empower the government to arrest people for giving unsolicited greetings in public? Egads, what a terrible idea! (It's as if Nielsen was cognizant of the fact that libertarians were feeling left out of this discussion and wanted to find a way to include us. That's nice of her, wrong though her opinion is.) New York City cops certainly don't need another reason to arrest black and Latino men on the streets, for one thing. For another, trusting agents of the state to correctly distinguish between protected and unprotected speech is a tall order in the most favorable of circumstances, and would only get worse if a broad new category of speech was outlawed—to say nothing of the unlikelihood of such a law passing a First Amendment test.

"Street Harassment Shouldn't Be a Crime," agreed Lizzie Crocker of The Daily Beast. Crocker chided Hollaback!, the organization behind the video, for supporting efforts to legislatively prohibit such behavior and claimed that "according to Hollaback's mission statement, the group is interested in modifying the law to punish offenders (and raising significant First Amendment concerns)."

I pored over Hollaback!'s website looking for evidence of this claim and was prepared to skewer the group for pushing a pro-censorship and pro-criminalization agenda. Alas, I found nothing of the sort. Hollaback!'s strategy revolves around building a public awareness campaign to shame street harassers into changing their ways. The group does not specifically call for any sort of legislative action, as far as I can tell.

To clarify the matter, I reached out to Emily May, co-founder and executive director of Hollaback! She forwarded me a column written by the group's deputy director, Debjani Roy, about "Finding Effective Solutions to Street Harassment":

When it comes to combating street harassment, increasing criminalization is not the answer.

The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color, as evidenced by more recent policies such as New York City's Stop and Frisk program and other degrading forms of racial profiling. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LBGTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.

So there you have it. Hollaback!—the organization behind the viral street harassment video and primary activist group fixated on this issue—does not support criminalization as an answer to the problem. No one else should, either.

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  1. Can the police unharass?

    1. They cannot.

  2. These people scare me.

  3. …does not support criminalization as an answer to the problem.

    Then what’s the point?

    1. Perhaps they actually do support chipping away at 1A rights, but are too prudent to say that.

      Or perhaps they honestly just want to start a national conversation and shame actual harassers.

    2. Their point is they want to be EVEN MORE OBNOXIOUS than catcallers.

      Bring to mind the fact that the original hostage takers in Iran had no intent on bringing back sharia law, they were just obnoxious college kids. But their actions were co-opted by fundamentalists who edged their way to the forefront of the actions and turned Iran into the mess it is today.

      Fuck the assholes at Hollaback. The results were foreseeable, therefore they cannot claim unintended consequences.

    3. I would think this is exactly the kind of thing libertarians would be happy to see.

      If you want to influence social change without use of government coercion, then social pressure is probably the biggest arrow in your quiver.

      That being said, I really wish they were more vocal on that front and wouldn’t let the SJW statists hijack the narrative and source material.

      1. No, these people ARE SJW statists. They’re just scurrying when the light is shined on them.

  4. It appears that everyone in the world is a shithead. Thanks for the trigger warning.

  5. Clearly the women would not be harrassed if they all donned burqas. If only there were some type of law…

  6. I poured over Hollaback!’s website looking for evidence

    I think it’s more likely that you pored over their website.

    /nitpick

    1. I swear this post wasn’t here when I typed my comment!

      Damn you! 😉

    2. I’m increasingly convinced that my grandkids are going to treat me like the guy in Idiocracy… “You talk like a fag.”

      1. Hey, at least Starbucks will be better.

  7. I’d propose a law that would prohibit street harassment and would also be consistent with our First Amendment jurisprudence about other kinds of hate speech (cross-burning in Virginia vs. Black) that intimidates, harasses and perpetuates inequality

    One of these things is not like the other…

    1. Yeah, she has that “consistent with the First Amendment” lie down pat.

  8. I poured over Hollaback!’s website

    What did you pour over it?

    1. You got the peaches, I got the cream
      Sweet to taste, saccharine
      ’cause I’m hot, say what, sticky sweet
      From my head, my head, to my feet

  9. Men, don’t forget to stand up and be an ally! Shame harassers when you see it happen!

    http://m.nydailynews.com/news/…..-1.1902672

  10. ” I poured over Hollaback!’s website looking for evidence of this claim and was prepared to skewer the group for pushing a pro-censorship and pro-criminalization agenda. Alas, I found nothing of the sort.”

    Yet. IME, feminists are marxists with tits. There is a clear pattern in how they operate.

    Step 1. Raise “awareness”.

    Step 2. Convert awareness into outrage.

    Step 3. Use outrage to demand legislation.

    1. Winner.

      Note that all activists are fine with some other group taking up Step 3 for them.

      1. Yeah, the same point I was going to make. everyone ginning up this ‘awareness raising’* type of material…

        (or, fabricating the impression of out whole cloth that we live in a world full of ‘Ay, chickie mamma!!’-screaming people on every corner)

        …directly aims to create a disproportionate public reaction, while pretending to some moderate position themselves.

        In order to maintain their credibility as ‘awareness raisers’ (and not, you know, blatant propagandists) it is necessary to pretend to be open to “any potential outcomes from a public ‘discussion'”

        …because “Discussion” is what they want… Right?

        “We need a ‘national conversation’!”

        (read: we need to force people who find this sort of thing ‘exaggerated’ or ‘misleading’ to step forward so that the mob can collectively stone them for Failing to Be Properly Outraged)

        Robby’s willingness to take the organizations claims at face value, outside of the context of how these stories play out – or their own history – is incredibly dim

  11. most importantly because there are no laws being violated in such encounters.

    Mikey Bloomberg haz a sad.

  12. I’d propose a law that would prohibit street harassment and would also be consistent with our First Amendment jurisprudence about other kinds of hate speech (cross-burning in Virginia vs. Black) that intimidates, harasses and perpetuates inequality.

    Unsolicited compliments = HATE SPEECH!

    1. The cat-callers don’t want to fuck her, they want to hate-fuck her!

    2. Yeah. Catcalling is extremely obnoxious and annoying, I’m sure. But I don’t think you can call it hateful. Quite the opposite in a way.
      Of course a lot of so called “hate speech” has a lot more to do with ignorance and assholery than actual hate.

  13. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LBGTQ.

    *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*

  14. to the problem.

    Rude people suck and by any estimate you can’t even describe all of the catcallers as rude. You could call them ‘black’, but then any criticism of their behavior would be culturally insensitive or some such nonsense.

    1. I wonder what these catcallers would be doing if it was their sister or girlfriend being catcalled? I seem to remember at least one fistfight in high school over a casual remark about a chick that was made within earshot of the chick’s boyfriend.

      1. Did you actually watch the video? If so, you have a wildly different view of what constitutes catcalling than I do.

        1. Amen. Saying “hello” now constitutes “harassment”.

  15. Someone should film themselves walking around San Francisco to see how many times they get bothered by fucking annoying insane homeless people. Curious if the “ban cat-calling” people also want to ban that as well.

    1. I would love to see that video. That would be hilarious.

      “10 hours of walking around San Francisco dressed as someone with a wallet.”

  16. Making it illegal to talk to a woman in a way that she doesn’t like? Sounds good. I don’t see any problems happening.

  17. Time once again to unleash the gay men.
    “Homophobia is the fear that gay men will treat you the same way you treat women.”

    1. Who wants to start a gay construction company with me and we can stand around cat calling guys?

        1. Now that would make for an amusing video.

      1. When happens when they take you up on it?

  18. So in 10 hours of walking around New York, she was catcalled 100 times. How many people do you pass walking in New York per hour? 1000? 2000?

    Let’s say a 1000. That means .01% of the people she passed catcalled her.

    Only .01% of people in New York are assholes? Sounds like a win.

    Let’s say every catcalled takes about 2 seconds. That means she was catcalled for a total of .005% of her day.

    Why wasn’t the unedited footage released? Because 9 hours and 56 minutes of it wouldn’t have proved a thing.

    1. 100 is 1% of 10,000.

      1. Assholes are up ten-fold!

        1. Wrong again. .01 x 100 = 1

    2. And if you look at the two minutes, it’s pretty damned clear that about 2/3 of the “incidents” are guys smiling and saying hello.

  19. “All of the women I interviewed for my research reported changing their routes, behavior, transportation or dress to avoid street harassment.”

    Some of our South Bay LA reasonoids can probably confirm this, but that observation rings true with my experiences on the Strand going back decades…it’s just that the equation works in the opposite direction.

    It seems to be the case that the places where I hear the fewest cat calls are the places where women are wearing the least. I don’t remember hearing any cat calls on the Strand in LA. I don’t remember seeing them on the beaches of San Diego, either. Don’t remember seeing them in OC.

    Maybe it’s different in Miami or in New Jersey?

    It isn’t just that women are changing their dress to avoid street harassment; it’s also that they seem to wear less when no such harassment is around.

    1. Living and working in an oppressive, southern, wealthy, mainly-Christian neighborhood — one filled to the rafters with privileged, smug, republican, upper-class white males — I had not observed the pernicious catcalling documented in this video. So, I conducted a scientific experiment. I asked the womyn in my office:

      “Are you so attractive that men whistle at you and accost you on the sidewalk, seeming desperate for a moment of your attention, or do NO men ever whistle, greet you, remark, or comment when you pass?”

      Shockingly, almost ALL the women here under 30 reported being victims of the wide-spread, pervasive oppression these feminist social scholars noted. I must admit, due to my gender and/or privlidge and/or education level and/or socio-economic-status, I was blind to the daily harassment these womyn endure. And don’t blithely assume it’s just the pretty ones ? almost half of those womyn reporting catcall-abuse are butt-ugly hags. I guess it’s true what they say: sexual harassment is not about sex? or else these street-harassers have some kind of disgusting fatty fetish.

      1. Where do you live, and what was your original language before you learned English?

      2. Cat-calling seems to be a hispanic thing mostly in my experience.
        I almost NEVER get cat-called by white men.
        I think Hispanic men almost consider it a courtesy to yell compliments at any woman under 40 who wanders past.
        Not telling every single female that they are sexual attractive would be rude.

  20. I’d propose a law that would prohibit street harassment and would also be consistent with our First Amendment jurisprudence about other kinds of hate speech…that intimidates, harasses and perpetuates inequality.

    What a mendacious fuck. How can one not realize that the government classifying speech as ‘hate-speech’, or otherwise harassment, and making it a crime is IN NO WAY consistent with 1A or its respective State equivalents? “Congress”/”The General Assembly” “SHALL MAKE NO LAW…”.

    allow states and cities to recognize street harassment for what it is: physical and psychological acts that intimidate, exclude, subordinate and reinforce male dominance over women.

    NO!. Physical assault IS ASSAULT. “Words” ARE NOT.

    1. Actually, “assault” is to put someone in (legitimate) fear of a battery.

      A battery is an unconsented-to touching.

      Is “Yo! Mama! You’re hot” a prelude to grope/rape?

  21. “Street Harassment Shouldn’t Be a Crime,” agreed Lizzie Crocker of The Daily Beast

    As if any normal person would even feel the need to make such a statement about catcalling, much less write it in print. The very fact that this has made it into the national conversation reveals just how anti-liberty feminism is, and just as occurred in the case of the anti-smoking campaign, the gay rights campaign, and anything else that is dominated by progs, this is an issue that will be used as a stick to beat prog opponents with. Their preference is that there be some change in the status of law to legitimize their stance and punish their enemies, protests to the contrary notwithstanding. They may not favor something as crude as criminalization, but ‘education’ or some other function of government is the answer to their problem as is the case with nearly everything that progs are politically motivated by.

    1. While I understand your point about the anti- smoking campaign and other similar campaigns aimed at reducing the liberty of others, I am not quite certain why you think that gays should have no rights or that they should not fight for them? Of course if gays were to try to stop straight people from engaging in heterosexual sex or stop them from marrying someone of the opposite gender, I could see your point. But most gays merely want the same rights that straight people already enjoy. What everyone should be campaigning for is individual rights- regardless of their sexual preference, fondness for smoking or ingesting other potentially harmful substances. To conflate the two very different types of ‘campaigns’ is to suggest that one group of people (gays) ought to be disallowed their rights and stay in the closet because they make straight people uncomfortable. And by the way, I have no trouble being catcalled and do not want ANY laws created to silence those fellows, especially if it is a good poking guy doing the cat calling!

      1. I don’t think Trousers is saying gays shouldn’t have equal rights. He’s just commenting on the rhetoric.

        In general, libertarians will make the argument that if you support individual rights, then you’re supporting minority rights by the fact that the individual is the smallest minority.

        Many libertarians believe that homosexuals and heterosexuals are treated differently when it comes to marriage. However, they propose a different solution: get the government out of the business of marriage completely. Instead of giving homosexuals the same perks that heterosexuals receive by being married, we should stop giving people perks at all. Everyone’s treated equally.

        By government is involved in marriage, it’s seen as a violation of freedom of association. When terms like “women’s rights” or “gay rights” are used, the implication could be that those groups have a different set of rights from others. Women and gays should have equal rights because they are, first and foremost individuals, not because they are female or gay.

        1. Jep, thanks for the tutoring on libertarianism. Been one for a very long time. Was the 1986 libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of California? 🙂

          1. Wow, the 1986 libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of California?!

            You’re a libertarian candidate for a not-top-of-the-ballot position from 30 years ago, and you’re being ungracious and snarky to someone having a civil discussion. It’s no wonder you’ve faded into obscurity. You sound like Uncle Rico.

  22. I’d propose a law

    Of course you would.

    The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color

    The cynical side of me thinks that, if this were not the case and the cops could be trusted to go after high-income white men as well, they’d be pushing for criminalization. They only opposite criminalization because it would pit two victimized groups against each other.

  23. They backed themselves into a corner. They were increasingly looking like they wanted to arrest black men for whistling at a white woman. In my opinion, this thing kind of blew up in their faces.

  24. Looking at the comment, it sounds to me like they’d be fine with criminalizing it, as long as only white males got arrested. These people are perfectly fine with arresting people. They just got caught and are covering their asses.

  25. changing their routes, behavior, transportation or dress to avoid street harassment.

    So the problem was solved by rather simple individual action. But god forbid people learn to be less childish and self-centered to get through their days with as little hassle as possible.

  26. Hollaback, circa 2014 = “”When it comes to combating street harassment, increasing criminalization is not the answer

    Hollaback, circa 2013 = HOLLABACK! LAUNCHES NEW APP FOR REAL-TIME REPORTING OF STREET HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE TO CITY OFFICIALS

    ” Hollaback! was joined by Speaker Christine Quinn, her wife Kim Catullo, and Council Member Diana Reyna today to unveil a new, targeted system to report sexual harassment to New York City Councilmembers via iPhone and Droid app. Speaker Quinn also released a plan for assessing the safety of neighborhoods across the city, block by block, using community-led safety audits. By gathering information in a coordinated way, the city will be able to better direct resources and more effectively combat harassment.””

    Christine Quinn – who was a staunch supporter of stop and frisk before her mayoral run necessitated a change of tune on the issue.

    yeah, these people TOTALLY don’t want to use the iron fist of the State to enforce their Feminist Safety-Zone

  27. My first reaction to the viedeo was that a lot of the stuff in it wasn’t really harassment. Such as “hey, have a nice evening.” and “How’s it going?”

    Second reaction was “That’s the best two minutes they could compile out of 10 hours of video?”

    I think a lot of this is based on racial/class cultural differences.
    The woman looks latino, possibly mixed race, likely lower-middle-class based on style of dress (tight jeans and t-shirt). Black and latino culture is less reserved – there is more openness to approaching strangers on the street. Thus the woman seems to be in the same racial/ethnic/class cultural group and thus they might feel that she is more likely to be receptive. This type of sexual advance isn’t consider unacceptable in black and latino culture. Only a couple of these things really went over the line. But if she were a blond white woman in a business suit, they would probably ignore her because they would immediately apprehend that she would not be receptive.

  28. First of all just saying hello is not harassment. A lot of the comments were just dumb from guy’s who would never have a chance with her even without the dumb comments. Also this was mostly black and their male culture does this a lot.I don’t think she would get the same thing walking around Wall Street. Ive been walking in a busy area and I never hear white guys doing that to attractive women.

    1. Actually, outside of the lower-class black/hispanic neighborhood, it’s hard to imagine her getting any response. She’s not very attractive and just walking down the street she seems to exude “bad attitude”. If I saw her walking down the street, my first thought would be “here comes trouble” – and not the “good” kind.

  29. Seriously? That’s supposed to be harassment?

    Perhaps women should put their names on a list, with photos and localities, so men will know who they should ignore. Ignore them if they walk by. Ignore them if they ask for directions. If they stop in front of you, just walk over the top of them because to acknowledge their presence would be “harassment”. If they’re run down in the street – just walk past. No, don’t call an ambulance. They wouldn’t want the paramedics (likely to be men) to “harass” them.

  30. They are still FAGGOTS.

    And while we are on the subject, fuck Cathy Reisenwitz.

    http://www.christophercantwell…..Racist.jpg

  31. The hollaback website does, however, refer to “street harassment” as a “crime”.

    If they don’t think it should be criminalized, why do they call it a crime?

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