Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

This is what happens when you do the Catcall video in NZ

When 26-year-old model and yoga instructor Nicola Simpson wandered the streets of Auckland's bustling CBD, some heads turned, but few men did more than look.

Hidden camera footage shot by the Herald on Friday shows the young woman was virtually ignored by passersby. The two men who did approach her did so in a polite and friendly manner.

The footage was shot by the Herald in an attempt to measure the level of street harassment - sexual comments, catcalls and whistles from male strangers on the street - experienced by women in the area.

The experiment follows a video of street harassment in New York going viral on the internet. It showed actress Shoshana Roberts as she silently walked the streets of the city of more than 8 million for 10 hours, wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

The video's creators claim Ms Roberts encountered more than 100 incidents of verbal harassment and she has since received threats online.

In the Herald test, Ms Simpson followed a videographer with a hidden camera around the city for five hours. She found Kiwi men appear to have good manners - a marked change from her experience in New York, where she lived for five years.

"It was nice, it was a change from New York. People were actually quite polite," she said.

"I didn't feel uncomfortable at all."

Though the video shows heads turn as Ms Simpson walks past, she was approached only twice.

Watch: Catcall video goes viral

She said the men that approached her did so respectfully by trying to strike up a conversation. In contrast, New York men would just yell at her, or put their arm around her.

"It was extreme [in New York]. I hate it; I don't want, or like the attention at all. It's not a compliment," she said.

Associate Professor Annabel Cooper from the University of Otago's department of sociology, gender and social work said the kind of harassment seen in that video was not accepted in New Zealand.

"In saying this, you sort of risk saying, 'We don't have problems with rape and violence', and we just so clearly do. But we're conscious that the public ethos doesn't tolerate overt forms of it."

Professor Cooper also noted that in the New York video, heckling men appeared to be loitering on the street and were potentially from a less privileged background.

"There's actually an ethnic dimension there, which strikes me as being about men that belong to a more marginalised group ... asserting masculinity because it is what they have to assert - they don't have other social status to assert."

It would be difficult to recreate the same conditions that allowed the New York video to be made in Auckland, but different times and areas of the city may change things, she said.

"Our guys drunk and our guys sober are pretty different groups."

Professor Cooper said one of the main issues raised by street harassment was the emphasis placed on a woman's appearance.

"Even though we think we're moving to a world where we've got greater gender equality, something that has really risen over the last few decades is the valuation of women primarily on their appearance."

Herald videographer Bradley Ambrose said he was pleasantly surprised by Ms Simpson's experience.

"I saw a lot of people looking at her - both male and female, giving her the up and down and making eye contact, but there was nothing there that worried me at all."

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- NZ Herald

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