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NYT slammed for ‘sexist’ Instagram post about viral sucker-punch attacks targeting women

violence against women
violence against women

The New York Times is under fire for an Instagram post suggesting viral video of women reporting being randomly punched on the streets might be “stoking anxiety” about crime in the Big Apple — a take which dozens of commenters viewed as sexist.

The post shared on the @nytstyle Instagram Thursday afternoon linked to an article about the recent spate of videos from young female TikTokkers sharing similar stories of men punching them in the face on the sidewalk.

At least three women claimed on TikTok Monday that they were randomly punched by a stranger on the streets of New York City in broad daylight.
At least three women claimed on TikTok Monday that they were randomly punched by a stranger on the streets of New York City in broad daylight.

“You need to rewrite this whole caption. ‘Men are violently attacking women in NYC,’” one commenter wrote underneath the post, which ran with the headline “Is TikTok Stoking Anxiety About Street Crime in NYC?”

The lengthy caption stated that “high-profile episodes that get a lot of online coverage often have the potential to fuel a misleading impression of how pervasive crime is.”

The snippet also included Mayor Eric Adams’ comments that social media give a distorted picture of the prevalence of random acts of violence in the city.

Readers, however, were quick to accuse the Gray Lady of taking a dismissive and misogynistic view of the incidents, and even gaslighting the assault victims.

“Why aren’t you calling it what it [is]: violent misogynistic attacks by men against women,” demanded one user, who also referred to the post as a “sexist dog whistle.”

“Women are not ~getting punched~ … men are assaulting women,” TV chef Roonam Ribadia commented.

“’Men are Randomly Punching Women in the Face’ @nytstyle That’s the lede here… stop gaslighting women,” another person wrote.

One of the viral posts was from influencer Halley Kate Mcgookin. @halleykate / TikTok
One of the viral posts was from influencer Halley Kate Mcgookin. @halleykate / TikTok

The viewers noted that the Times’ Instagram post seemed to downplay the harm suffered by the victims — including Mikayla Toninato, who told The Post that she was left with a concussion and a black eye after being assaulted near Union Square.

“So people spoke out about being attacked this is a …problem?” one person asked.

“I think the men punching [them] in the face is doing the anxiety but i [don’t know]…” another added.

The backlash around the post also prompted some viewers to contribute their own experiences of being assaulted in New York City.

“I am a woman who was punched in the head in the West Village on Dec 29th,” realtor Beth Gittleman posted.

“I have video from a local business. I didn’t post about it on socials. I was dissuaded from filing a report and left feeling invisible and insignificant,” she continued.

“This is insane bc this happened to me a few months ago but I was embarrassed to say…Insane. I was taking video of a bakery,” former “The Real Housewives of New York” star Bethenny Frankel said in a comment that no longer shows up on the video. Tiktok
“This is insane bc this happened to me a few months ago but I was embarrassed to say…Insane. I was taking video of a bakery,” former “The Real Housewives of New York” star Bethenny Frankel said in a comment that no longer shows up on the video. Tiktok

“How many more women are there like me? I have been wondering about this the last few months. Stop gaslighting and blaming women. We don’t deserve this. We deserve so much more,” she insisted.

“This is a horrible way to address what is going on and what has probably been happening now for years. I was punched in the stomach last year and when I tried to get help and report it nobody cared!” another woman wrote underneath the post.

The Post reached out to several of the commenters, who did not immediately respond to the request for further comment.

The response to the Times’ social media posting, however, seemed to echo the concerns of some of the alleged victims who spoke out on TikTok earlier this week.

School bus aide Dulche Pichardo suffered a broken jaw when she was sucker-punched while walking down a Brooklyn street.
School bus aide Dulche Pichardo suffered a broken jaw when she was sucker-punched while walking down a Brooklyn street.

“I was frozen with fear. I was pretty paralyzed and I just stood there trying to figure out what happened,” Toninato told The Post of her own attack.

The Brooklyn resident posted a video recounting the punch on TikTok after her friends sent her a similar clip from influencer Halley Kate McGookin.

“I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” McGookin, who has 1.1 million followers on TikTok, said in the viral video posted Monday.

The story inspired others to speak out — including “Real Housewives” alum Bethenny Frankel, who claimed she was also randomly punched.

As of Friday morning, one suspect — 40-year-old Skiboky Stora — was charged with assault in connection with the attack on McGookin.

Stora, of East New York, who mounted unsuccessful runs for mayor, governor and city council over the past three years, seemingly runs at least 10 different TikTok accounts viewed by The Post which show him being aggressive with strangers around New York City.

The victims in the videos appear to be mostly women.

Some commenters accused the Times of sexism over the Instagram post. REUTERS
Some commenters accused the Times of sexism over the Instagram post. REUTERS

Toninato said she still lives in fear that her attackers may be at large.

“He [the cop] told me these random acts of violence happen every single day. He was kind of unfazed by it,” Toninato told The Post of her experience reporting the assault.

“I’m falling behind in my classes. I can’t do my work because I can’t look at my laptop. I can’t get paid. I can’t do my job and I have anxiety to leave my house,” she added of the attack’s impact on her daily life.

A law enforcement source who spoke to The Post earlier this week cautioned that victims should file police reports in addition to documenting the incidents on social media.

Women reported not feeling safe after the apparent spate of attacks. @halleykate / TikTok
Women reported not feeling safe after the apparent spate of attacks. @halleykate / TikTok

“They want to complain to TikTok, but not file police reports,” they said.

According to recent NYPD statistics, misdemeanor assaults are up 10% from last year, while felony assaults are up 3%.