Upon reading my fair share of social media posts on the recent viral video of a girl getting harassed over 100 times while walking down the street, I've decided to weigh in before the internet is on to the next viral phenomenon.
There has been an outcry from men defending the harassers saying "They were just saying 'hello.'" If it was just an innocent "hello" or "you're beautiful" then it would be fair to say that those same men also extend the same greetings and compliments to others they see on the street including children, elderly women, and OTHER MEN. It's fair to assume that after that girl walked by, those same men tried to strike up a conversation starting with "Hey handsome!" to a gentleman of a comparable age as he passed by, right?! Surely after telling another man he looks dapper today, they also offered up a few compliments to an elderly woman slowly making her way by with the assistance of a walker as well!
However, if like myself, you think it's a pretty safe bet that these men are not equal opportunity complimenters, then you probably also agree that the "hey beautiful's" they are doling out fall under the harassment category. Their advances should be considered harassment because a young, pretty girl is not looking to befriend random men her father's age off the street, and even a man with an absolute minimum amount of self awareness knows this. These men know, inherently, that this woman is not going to turn around and engage in casual conversation with them, nor is she going to turn around and offer them sex. Their "hello" isn't meant to be a hello, it's an inadvertent way of letting a girl know they've sexualized her in their mind and given the opportunity would absolutely love to take things further in any capacity.
Many of them asked "How are you?" but they don't really care how she is. A fun experiment to prove this point might be to film a girl who takes time to answer the men who ask her. No doubt, these men want to see her stop in her tracks and say, "Well, I was better before my monthly student loan payment got taken out of my checking account, in addition to that I'm re-thinking my choice in roommate and I can't tell if I've gained weight or I'm just PMSing really hard. How are you?"
While most women appreciate a genuine compliment from someone they know, Kara Brown nailed it in her original article when she said, "my self-esteem is not dependent upon the affirmation of strangers." For what it's worth, young girls are hyperaware that gross old (and young!) men think they look good anyway, and would love to be spared the total confirmation they were just eye-raped.
A victim of street harassment myself, I often wonder, If you're a construction worker in the throes of the sausagefest that IS your work site, have you offered up as many niceties to your own wife as you did to me just now? Does your daughter know she's beautiful and has worth outside of her sex appeal? Would you be cool watching her walk down the street and seeing men like you say the same things to her? Of course you would, because you know it's "just a compliment" and there's no way someone's sexualized your little baby girl in their mind and has in the matter of a glance decided that he, given the chance, would indeed engage in intercourse with her.
There has also been an understandable uproar that the men shown in the video are primarily of African American descent and this video was meant to shame a race of people by harrowing in on areas where they reside. I agree that some extremely poor editing choices were made here and the spectrum of men chosen to exemplify her point should and easily COULD HAVE spanned a more vast range of people had she gone to the right places. However, offering up fake compliments and using "Hello, how are you?" as a roundabout way to holler at women you don't know is degrading to us regardless of your race or neighborhood. There's also been discussion regarding the race of the actress, I've read Latina, most people seem to say Caucasian, but as a Non-Black Person of Color I can say with a high degree of certainty that I could've made this same walk and conjured the same footage. While less people would harp on me for trying to race shame, the issue at hand would remain the same.