Well, two minutes of catcalls over 10 hours. Still, you get the point — in America’s biggest city, a young woman is never without unwanted attention for very long. Most of this is boorish but seemingly benign, just loudmouths shouting “smile” or “damn” etc. as they pass, but watch for the creep who sidles up next to her and walks along, saying nothing, for five full minutes. Two words, ladies: Concealed carry. (Which, by the way, is basically illegal in NYC.)
In just a day and a half, the clip’s notched nearly seven million views on YouTube, a “yowza” number even by the standards of viral vids. How come? Some of it is the outrage factor, some of it is people wanting to judge whether the catcalling is really as bad as it’s being made out to be, and some of it among male viewers, I think, is just the fascination of seeing something happen that you know goes on routinely but which you rarely witness yourself. The only time I can recall being present when a woman was catcalled on the streets was once a few years ago when I was getting off the subway and a beautiful blonde woman dressed for a night out was getting on. Men stopped in their tracks; someone in the vicinity (no, not me) said, loudly enough for everyone nearby to hear, “Oh yeah, that’s a ten.” Which was true, and about as mild as harassment gets, but it’s a safe bet that woman’s train ride wasn’t as pleasant as mine. Anyway, as a strategy, catcalling is a weird approach — how many women have their romantic interest piqued when strange dudes yell “back that up” or whatever at them as they walk by? Either it’s not a strategy at all or it’s a strategy the way playing the lottery is a strategy: Odds that it’ll pay off are remote, but the investment required to play is so low that maybe it makes sense to some guys.
After you watch, read this timely CNN story ranking 16 major international transit systems in terms of how likely a woman passenger is to experience harassment while using it. The most prone to harassment: Bogota, Colombia. The least prone: New York City, New York.