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SMSTMWSSTWOTS* (*Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street)

MenChallenging Case Studies are snapshots of actions and more that challenge gender-based violence. Have a suggestion for a future case study? Questions? Let us know!

Case Study: "Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street," Video on Street Harassment

TL;DR - A YouTube video made on the cheap in New York City in March 2012 that encourages men to challenge street harassment and shows them how.

What

MenChallenging co-founder Joe Samalin, Bix Gabriel, Oraia Reid and Fivel Rothberg and their friends made this video in support of Stop Street Harassment for their first ever Intl Anti-Street Harassment Week in 2012. We wanted to model for men how they could simply interrupt their friends and other men who sexually harass women and girls in public.

"The team that created the video believes that street harassment is flat-out wrong, and that guys have a role in ending it. With humor, the video directly addresses harassers. This powerful action is not about 'brave knights' protecting vulnerable women, but about men holding themselves and other men accountable for both their violence and their silence." - Ms. Magazine Blog
The video was shot on the lower east side of Manhattan, in New York City, arguably the best city in the world...

How

  • We made it fun, the process and the project, so that those volunteering their time would enjoy it.
  • We also infused a bit of humor throughout the video to make it accessible to as broad an audience as possible.
  • With the content we focused on modeling what we want men to do. Not too confrontational, focused on how those intervening felt (as opposed to speaking for the women targeted), and stayed away from problematic responses.
  • We made it super-New-York-City-specific, and included a challenge for other men to make a video local to their hometowns. The challenge is still open! Get on it!
  • We reached out intentionally to friends of different genders, races, and sexualities to make sure we stayed true to those who are most directly affected by the issue, and to ensure a multitude of voices at the table.

One of the directors of the video was actually harassed during the filming. She wrote about it here.

We luckily had some non-profit marketing experts (Take2Services) on board with us! They wrote up some critical tips from the project here (How your video can go viral) and here (Can your nonprofit make a video for the price of a pizza?)!

So what?

It's all about the numbers... not bad for a video made in two weeks for $57!
  1. We hit over 50,000 views on the first day of putting the video on YouTube. As of February 2019 we are just under 475,000 views, with almost 2,500 comments on the video as well.
  2. The video was shared online through social media, and written about by media sources like Ms Magazine and organizations such as Stop Street Harassment.
  3. A number of professors from colleges and universities reached out to us to ask permission to use the video in their classes.
  4. Very excitingly, our challenge to men in other cities worked! Local versions were made in San Jose, California; Cairo Egypt, and Northern Azerbaijan!
We reached out to Stop Street Harassment to discuss our idea before getting started. We built trust and a good relationship, which led to partnership and cross-promotion.

What we learned...

  • Be prepared for success! We should have been prepared with resources and actions for those who watched and shared the video, a handout to download, connections to local resources, something folks could do beyond watching and sharing. To better capitalize on the number of views we hit, and make greater change.
  • Accessibility - we could have included folks with visible disabilities in the video, had folks signing in ASL to stop harassment. Time and resources limited us - but that's an excuse. We used automatic closed captioning which is not accurate, especially for the Spanish language in the video. We needed to do better.
  • Use what and who you know, the skills and resources around you. Friends and family. That's what made this video a success. Whether your thing is art, music, game design, costume design, PR, cooking, nanotechnology, or zoology - use it.
  • Impact - a lot of tracking impact is built into YouTube (views, comments, subscriptions, etc.) but we could have tracked people who contacted us and more.
  • Intersectionality - when creating the video we had a lot of discussion about whether to focus specifically on sexual harassment of women and girls, and not broaden the video to include public harassment of LGBTQ folks or police harassment and violence against people of color in public. While equally important issues, we felt this video called for a more specific focus, and it was important that we had the discussion and were intentional about our choices.
Men in the video are friends, partners, and friends of friends, and more. Paid in pizza and happy to spend a brisk Saturday in the park doing a good thing!
"This video is an example of male bystanders refusing to be silent–a welcome improvement. Speaking out against street harassment chips away at a culture of silence that enables anti-woman and anti-queer violence. Together, we have the power to end street harassment." - Ms. Magazine Blog

Learn more about MenChallenging and how you can support survivors of gender violence and learn how to take action in your community.

For more information on this video or for help making your own, contact MenChallenging.

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