Harassment video actress gets death and rape threats
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Hollaback! backlash

Harassment video actress gets death and rape threats

Vicious response to Shoshana Roberts’ viral NYC video is sadly unsurprising for anti-street harassment organization

Amanda Borschel-Dan is The Times of Israel's Jewish World and Archaeology editor.

Actress Shoshana Roberts starred in a video discretely made by man walking in front of her as she walked the streets of New York City and endured dozens of unsolicited catcalls during the course of a single day. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)
Actress Shoshana Roberts starred in a video discretely made by man walking in front of her as she walked the streets of New York City and endured dozens of unsolicited catcalls during the course of a single day. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

Actress Shoshana Roberts, who appeared in a massively viral video against street harassment, says she has received dozens of rape and death threats since its Tuesday release. To date the YouTube video, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” has received 23 million views and 100,000 comments.

The two-minute video, edited down from 10 hours of footage captured by producer Rob Bliss’s hidden camera on his backpack, depicts Roberts simply walking the streets of New York City wearing standard street garb — jeans and a T-shirt — pointedly not interacting with the over 100 men who catcalled or followed her.

This video follows similar projects set in Cairo and Brussels and was produced by Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization.

“My job is working to address street harassment and when I first saw this video, even doing this all day long, my stomach still turned,” Hollaback! Executive Director Emily May told Reuters.

Actress Roberts, who according to the Forward was a member of Hillel and has some proficiency of Hebrew, told Reuters the project is personal to her as someone who suffered a sexual assault in her past.

‘Luckily I’ve built up a much thicker skin, but I am very fearful’

“Unfortunately I have sexual assault in my past, and unfortunately, I relive it when all of this comes up,” Roberts said. “Luckily I’ve built up a much thicker skin, but I am very fearful.”

While the makers of the video have faced criticisms — and a parody by website Funny or Die — about the paucity of caucasian catcallers, Bliss was quoted on Reddit saying that the numbers were “relatively even.”

“We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera. So their scenes were a lot shorter, but the numbers themselves are relatively even,” he said. Bliss donated his time and labor to the project.

“My experience, what we documented, it was from everybody,” Roberts told AP, in support of Bliss’s statement.

On Thursday organization Hollaback! published a statement on its website also addressing the accusations of racial prejudice in the video.

“Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms,” the organization wrote.

‘We believe that by continuing to tell and map these stories, our voices will chip away at a culture that makes gender-based violence OK’

On its website Hollaback! cites research that some 80-90% of women experience public harassment during their lives. A goal of the organization is to publicize these instances and empower women to speak out.

“We believe that by continuing to tell and map these stories, our voices will chip away at a culture that makes gender-based violence OK.”

In the case of what the organization labels “the onslaught of rape and death threats” against actress Roberts, the organization wrote in a statement, “When women are visible in online or offline spaces, they experience harassment. When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.”

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