Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh mocked a viral video on Wednesday showing a young woman encountering more than 100 instances of verbal harassment from men as she walks down the streets of New York City, wondering, “what really is the big deal here?”
“I was expecting some really boorish, sexist, dangerous, I was expecting some real real rotten conduct by guys and and I didn’t see that,” Limbaugh stated, adding that while the video did capture some instances of poor behavior, “most of it, it was men being polite.”
He then went on to defend the behavior of the men shown in the video — “You see a pretty woman, you react to it, ‘hey, looking good today’” — before seizing on its selective editing to point out that most of the men were minorities living in undesirable neighborhoods. “In the interest of accuracy, ladies and gentlemen the majority of men that are portrayed in this video are African American and Hispanic and I thought we were supposed to celebrate diversity,” he said. “Most of them are African American and or Hispanic.”
In fact, several commentators have criticized Hollaback, the anti-street harassment organization behind the clip, and the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative for only showing minority men. Hollaback has responded to the accusations by expressing its “regret” for “the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color.” “It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men,” the group said.
Still, research has consistently shown that street harassment is broad based and all encompassing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “non-contact unwanted sexual experiences” — a category that includes harassment on public sidewalks — is the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women. An estimated that 65 percent of women have experienced unwanted attention from strangers on the street.