After the hidden-camera street harassment video "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman" went viral, many asked, "Since when does 'hello' qualify as street harassment?" Author and activist Mikki Kendall created the hashtag #NotJustHello to explain how too often "hello" is just the opening line to lewd comments, threats, and even physical violence.
When it comes to street harassment and conversations surrounding #NotJustHello, here are a few of the responses I've seen and would like to put to rest:
"But this is just one woman's story!"
While there are thousands of women from around the world sharing their stories with the #NotJustHello hashtag on Twitter, out of respect I chose to feature Mikki's not only because she started the hashtag but because I had her permission. Unfortunately, the Internet has a tendency to attack women who are brave enough to talk about sexual violence online, and the last thing I want to do is encourage that by sharing anyone's story without their consent.
"Oh, so now I can't say hello to a woman without her thinking I'm a creep?"
No. Saying "hello" does not mean you're a creep or that you're automatically harassing someone. It's also important to remember that cultural norms are different in different places. In small towns, it's not uncommon to say hello to a stranger in passing, but in bigger cities like New York where everyone's on the go, hello from a stranger might seem kinda odd.
Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with being polite and saying hello to a passing stranger. But it's important to understand that SOME women may not respond because of past experiences with street harassment that followed what appeared to be a polite "hello." Essentially, the creeps have ruined it for the nice guys. It sucks, but this is where we're at.