The Washington Post called 2014 the year that street harassment became a public conversation. As someone who studies activist rhetorics about street harassment and the impact of digital technologies on rhetorical historiography, I was keeping a close eye on the events that contributed to the rise in discourse around street harassment in public spaces, particularly digital ones, like Twitter and Youtube.
One of those events, was a video called, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” produced by Rob Bliss Creative, and released on YouTube on October 28, 2014 by Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization, self-described as “a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world.” The video is an edited 2-minute clip of a “conventionally beautiful woman” who walked through NYC for 10 hours and experienced over a 100 incidents of street harassment.
In its first day online, the video had over 10 million views and, in its first month, over 37 million views and nearly 140,000 comments on YouTube. There are also hundreds of videos, video responses, blogs, and born-digital media articles that mimic, support, mock, and lambast the video, makers, funders, research methods, subjects, politics, agenda. In short, the video played a key part in the exploding public conversations about street harassment in public and digital spaces.
Watching that public conversation unfold, 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 mainstream, non-profit , white, feminist anti-street harassment activism.
For the initial phase of my CHI project this spring, I use Mapbox Studio as a tool to begin curating, mapping, and rhetorically analyzing a small sample of the videos that employ the “10 Hours of Walking…” format. Some of those videos include “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman in Hijab,” “10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew,” “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a White Man,” and “10 Hours of Walking in Seattle as an Asian.” 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.