When I started the CHI Fellowship last fall, I had several ideas about projects I might undertake over the course of the year. Serendipitously, on October 28th, 2014, about two months into my fellowship, a video,“10 Hours of Walking as a Woman in NYC,” went viral. The documentary-style video aims to capture the street harassment experiences of a woman walking through NYC. As someone who has not only experienced street harassment in my daily life, but has also studied the feminist and queer rhetorics surrounding anti-street harassment activism, especially storytelling as an organizing strategy, I watched with interest as digital and public discussions about street harassment increased. That interest has resulted in my project,Visualizing Street Harassment, which maps responses to the “10 Hours of Walking as a Woman in NYC.
In its first day online, the original video had over 10 million views and, in its first month, over 37 million views and nearly 140,000 comments on YouTube, and there are hundreds of copycat videos, video responses, blogs, and born-digital media articles about the video. The video was taken up in critiques as a synecdoche for the whole of white, mainstream, feminist street harassment activism. The video suggests a narrative of street harassment as a gendered and heteronormative concept perpetrated by men of color upon cisgender white women.
As I watched the video go viral, what struck my particular interest was the videos that people created using the format of “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman”: filming a person of a particular identity category walking in a city for a particular amount of time, and recording and reporting to viewers how many incidents of street harassment the person received. Like the original, each video also ends with a call to action for the viewer. I became interested in how people took up the video’s format of filming someone walking in public spaces for extended amounts of time to problematize frameworks of mainstream, non-profit , white, feminist anti-street harassment activism.
For the initial phase of this project, I have begun curating, mapping, and describing a small sample of the videos that employ the “10 Hours of Walking…” format. I’m particularly interested in ways in which the video creators’ adapt the “10 Hours of Walking…” meme as a productive way to draw attention to the the complexity of interactions between movement in public spaces and seemingly visible identity markers such as race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality. nationality, and ability.
To create Visualizing Street Harassment, I used two primary tools: Bootstrap and Mapbox. I used Bootstrap to create the front-end framework, including the context and project overview sections. I created the map component of my project using Mapbox. The map includes 13 pins, and each pin is located at the geographical location where a video was filmed. Within each pin is the introductory image from the respective video, linked to its YouTube page, some details about who created it, when it was published to YouTube, and a brief description of the video.
In the next phase of the project, I plan to add more video pins, as well as more details and analysis of each video. There will be a separate page for each video that includes not only the current content, but a more detailed analysis of the video and its relationship to other videos and larger public conversations about street harassment.