I think this is one of the major aspects of navigating rape culture that mainstream feminism is reluctant to address. I regularly hear white women talk about men of color as if they are predators, or somehow more predatory than their white peers. Beyond being statistically untrue, it’s an idea that is so steeped in racist ideology I can’t help but be defensive when I hear it. A lot of this tension has surfaced in the recent discussion about street harassment. I am sure that most of you have seen the recent viral video of the young white woman walking through New York and being repeatedly harassed. (If not, see it here)
When people began to wonder why the video featured primarily men of color harassing the woman, the marketing agency that created the film addressed the concern by acknowledging: “We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera…The final product is not a perfect representation of everything that happened.”
How is that at all acceptable? Rob Bliss Creative is essentially saying that they did not feel the need to produce an accurately racially representative account of what happened, as if that isn't relevant to the issue at hand. I think that attitude is important to address, because we as a culture have been internalizing these ideas about who sexual aggressors are (men of color) and who they are not (White, middle or upper-class cishet men), and who can be transgressed against (young, usually conventionally pretty white women), and who cannot (inherently sexually available women of color.) The message behind this video seems obvious: “Street harassment is gross, don’t do it,” but it perpetuates these colonial, white supremacist ideals by deciding that the kind of violence demonstrated by men of color was more important to showcase or even more violent and savage than comments made by white men, particularly when directed at a young white woman.