This Video Trains Women How to Finally Deal With Street Harassers

ByMaureen Shaw

Ladies, men are on to you. They've caught on to the anti-catcalling tactic of appearing unhappy, irritated and generally unamused — and they'd like you to stop.

Luckily, the Smile Bitch Training Camp is here to help females turn those frowns upside down!

The "camp" is the brainchild of comedian Janelle James, and provides a hilarious solution to the epidemic of women who have trouble responding cheerfully when random men gratuitously comment on their outfits, physical appearance or ask them to just "smile, baby," a phenomenon often known as catcalling or street harassment. After undergoing "a system of physical and psychological torture," the camp's participants are promised to emerge stronger and "able to smile through any horrible circumstance the world throws at you."

Smiling like a lunatic at all times for the benefit of strangers — because you're a lady! — may seem farcical, but it underscores the very real problem street harassment. And just like in the video, once initially catcalled, women — and other groups targeted based on their perceived identities — often face a second wave of harassment when they don't accept the original "compliment."

But make no mistake about it; street harassment is not a compliment. It is an impediment to equality and a human rights violation. As Julianne Ross noted for Mic earlier this year:

The reality is that street harassment has nothing to do with making the harassee feel good, and everything to do with making the harasser feel powerful. These invasive comments affirm an attitude that men are entitled to publicly evaluate women's bodies and tell them what to do ("Let me look at you!"), and reinforce harmful, already prevalent assumptions that women's worth is related to their ability to please men.

According to a recent study by Stop Street Harassment, harassment in public spaces is a significant problem in the United States, with 65% of women reporting they have experienced some form of street harassment in their lifetimes. Even worse, 41% reported physically aggressive forms, including sexual touching, following, flashing and being forced to do something sexual.

Image Credit: Stop Street Harassment

In a separate study, nonprofit Hollaback! provided a glimpse into the psychological impact of street harassment on harassees: the overwhelming majority of women surveyed felt angry (85%), annoyed (78%), nervous (80%) and disgusted (72%). As's Julianne Ross put it, "it's pretty dehumanizing to have someone speak to your butt rather than your face." 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that women don't always feel like smiling when being jeered at and made to feel like objects for men's amusement. As a woman in the Smile Bitch Training camp video so astutely points out, "maybe it's your fucking face, and you don't feel like smiling."

Image Credit: YouTube