Many of you probably watched the video that went viral last week that depicted a woman walking the streets of NYC, getting cat-called and harassed over 100 times in the span of ten hours. It’s received a lot of attention–and some condemnation (the video’s producers edited out most of the white guys that cat-called the woman…ick.) We decided to weigh in…tackling sexism, racism, and all the other spiky subjects with traditional wishy-washy, non-PC flair.
Listen to This: Cat – Calling – We Sometimes Like It : What’s Wrong With Us?
Here’s the video in question, in case you’ve been living under a rock, like Maayan was. This woman gets a total of 108 catcalls during her 10-hour time on the streets. One dude follows her silently for up to five long, creepy minutes.
Needless to say, UGH. ICK. Yuck. Much of the world, Anderson Cooper, and others, have responded with righteous disgust and raised up the banner to end street harassment.
In classic fashion, we watched and posed the almost unmentionable question. Was EVERY comment said to this woman SO offensive, so awful? There’s a difference between a “Good Morning!” and following someone in a threatening manner. Still, all of it is unwelcomed. All of it is directed at this woman in an objectifying manner. It makes sense to condemn the behavior as a whole, because it all comes from the same place–treating a woman like a thing, not a human.
With that said, Lauren admits that she’s been cat-called so rarely that it’s actually an ego boost almost every time it happens. Maayan admits there’s a part of her that appreciates it too, depending on her mood and how the comment is said. Would a life devoid of any more spontaneous ‘compliments’ from strangers be a better one? For many women, that answer is a resounding YES. For us….well…it’s complicated. As we discussed in our It’s Time For You To Stop Being A Sex Object episode, it’s probably because we’re so conditioned to seek out approval AS sexually appealing objects to men. Blahhh.
There’s also the sticky issue of RACE. The Hollaback video has already been called into question by the fact that it portrays predominately black and Latino men doing the catcalling. White dudes were edited out. Slates’ Dee Lockett wrote about this, noting, astutely, that it’s not that white men don’t pull creepy shit–they just do it differently:
For all men, harassment of women has more to do with establishing power than it does sexual interest; they do it to control space, both public (the very street you both walk on) and personal (a woman’s self-set boundaries). Men of color catcall vocally and visibly on the sidewalk because they have to—not that there’s ever excuse for harassment. They need the “Sexy!” and “Smile!” to create the illusion of dominance in shared public spaces that social constructs and institutional racism have never afforded them control over.
White men, on the other hand, have no use for that sort of catcalling. They marked their territory centuries ago. So, instead, their sexual harassment is less invasive…and harder to recognize—even when it’s staring you in the face.
There are also different patterns experienced by women of different race. Maayan notes that, being bi-racial, she sees men of color feeling ‘familiar enough’ with her to call out to her, whereas they remain silent when a very blonde, very white woman walks by moments later. Lauren admits that she has walked the streets of New York cat-call free, while other girlfriends seem to get bombarded. Is it because she pale as a ghost and has more angles than curves? It’s a theory.
Whew. That’s a lot to think about and probably ruffled more than one reader’s feathers. Bring on the opinionated comments, folks!
Lauren has a tip. Love espresso? You don’t have to pay Starbucks for it. Seriously, it’s as easy to make as drip-coffee. Nay, easier. Just buy yourself a cute little Bialetti (or whatever brand, but the Bialetti is so adorably Italian and gorgeous) stovetop espresso maker and marvel at how easy and affordable it is to sip coffee like Europeans do. More on this here.
Maayan has her first PONDER ever: It’s about GAME playing in life – ie how it’s impossible NOT to play it. The only solution? Play games that serve YOUR HIGHER SELF. More on that here.