April is Sexual Harassment and Assault awareness month. But those terms are already so loaded, so difficult to talk about. Often in media representations, we see grotesque sexual violence – think of shows like Criminal Minds or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. When it comes to sexual harassment, the image that comes to mind is too often something along those lines, or at the very least something like a flasher jumping out of the bushes. In reality, sexual harassment is much more nuanced.

Discussing the video series on The View, David Schwimmer explains that his friend and Israeli filmmaker, Sigal Avi, sent him a series of sexual harassment PSAs that she had made in Israel, asking what he thought of them. He was so impressed, he was determined to recreate them for American (and international) viewers. And he managed to get some serious star power on board, including the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Grace Gummer, Emmy Rossum and Bobby Canavale.

What struck me so much, watching the video above, is how the woman (played by Grace Gummer) is almost expected to just brush it off, that the co-worker (Joseph Sikora) is just being nice or complimentary. There’s a mentality among men and women that a “cool” or “thick skinned” woman could just accept or laugh off this kind of behavior, and that a woman who would go off against the aggressor is just overly sensitive or a feminazi. Each video addresses a different form of sexual harassment, all of which will feel frighteningly familiar for many people. Just watch Cynthia Nixon and Michael Kelly in The Doctor, an abuse of power that can feel almost impossible to report:

Anna van Patten and Bobby Cannavale perfectly show how difficult it can be in the moment to stop sexual harassment, even with a room full of witnesses.

It can even happen in a friendly, long-term work relationship, as depicted by Cristela Alonzo and Noah Emmerich.

Emmy Rossum and Harry Lennix show a journalist and politician; while the harassment is clear and uncomfortable, it’s something that a politician or public figure could easily deny.

Finally, this one that shows an all-too-common situation in the workplace is masterfully acted by Zazie Beetz and David Schwimmer.

Each of these videos gave me chills for different reasons. Perhaps it was the way the women were stuck in each scenario, or perhaps it was because of how closely some of those vignettes mirrored incidents in my own life. So many men and women struggle to even identify what constitutes sexual harassment; I can only hope that by showing it in high quality videos such as these, that we all understand it a bit better.

Last Updated: April 10, 2017

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Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • konfab

    • konfab

      I think the vast majority of people are quite capable of deciding on how to treat others decently. The fact that you think that most people are incapable of it and need to be “educated” is pretty sad IMO.

      • Zoe Hawkins

        So you would be comfortable in any of these situations? Or a loved one in them? The whole point of an awareness month is to make people realize the scale on which something happens, and sexual harassment is rampant. Videos like these can help people see what sexual harassment really looks like.

        • konfab

          Of course not. But if would make a person feel uncomfortable, then it wouldn’t need a bunch of professional actors to make sure they know what sexual harassment is.

      • If that were the case videos like this would not be needed, they sadly are. I have seen these situations in my office and it is not pleasant and shouldn’t occur at all.

        • konfab

          Did you need sexual harassment panda to tell you that sexual harassment was going on?

          • Wot? You know the biggest excuse that jerks who do this use? They didn’t know, they were playing/joking around. So your reasoning is flawed.

          • konfab

            Do you honestly think that a bunch of youtube videos would have stopped them?

            I suppose we could solve the [insert crime] problem in this country by making a bunch of youtube videos stating that [insert crime] is bad…mkay.

          • Umar

            Always condescending, never helpful. Keep it up..mkay?

          • konfab

            I will just keep quiet then. Obviously you have all the truth in the world.

          • Your ‘argument’ that these videos do more damage than they address has more holes than the socks I am wearing.

          • konfab

            Where exactly did I state that “these videos do more damage than they address?”

          • HvR

            I’m bit with konfab on this, I actually believe these videos “downplay” straight up sexual assault as harassment

            You solve this with a back the fuck up warning, kick to the balls and/or knife to thigh and criminal charge of sexual assault and attempted rape.

            He will quickly learn that that claimed ignorance of the law isn’t a valid defence

          • It doesn’t make sense to say that having a video the shows this issue is BAD. How, how is that bad? Having a large source of ‘this, don;t do it’ is BAD? For WHO?

          • HvR

            It is bad in that it gives the impression that straight out criminal act is not a crime but socially unacceptable action.

            It continues to give women and girls the impression that they are effectively defenceless until society change

          • It IS a crime in most cases. They go unreported because people do not speak about it enough to empower the victims. They literally think ‘oh, I am being silly’ Which his exactly what these videos are addressing.

          • HvR

            NO that exactly what it is NOT doing by sticking #Harrassment on it

            Added to that it shows a powerless woman in a situation that the last 3 decades of shown us will not change.

            Having PSA video with the bartender with knife in his leg being arrested is much more powerful message IMHO

          • konfab

            If the people being affected by it don’t care about it, then why do you concern yourself about it.

            People have wildly different assumptions about how they want to be treated. If some woman is happy with a jerk grabbing her ass, then who are you to tell her it isn’t.

  • Tracy Benson

    My blood pressure is through the roof after watching those. So many times I’ve been in similar situations. I’ve had some of those exact phrases thrown at me. Damn those were unsettling.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      YES! the writing is so unsettling because it’s phrases I’ve heard before in similar situations. Also, apparently one of the actors on set got so upset and realized that he had been inappropriate towards women on set – hugging or kissing them and stuff – and he’s a nice guy, never imagined he might be making people uncomfortable. often so normalized that we don’t even realize it’s actually harassment.

  • HvR

    Bit obvious ones feel there should be a #this_sexual_harresment_dumbass tag at the end.

    Common sexual harassment is most of the times a hell of lot more subtle.

    And with is with the bullshit pacifist attitude being preached to women and girls, especially in this fucked up country.

    One preemptive warning then defensive action full stop.

  • Hammersteyn

    Judge : Has the defendant anything to say?
    David : We were on a BREAK!

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