The Culture of Catcalling

Note: Due to my schedule, some of my posts are written in an area where I can’t post links to social media or certain sites. For that reason, I will sometimes substitute with newspaper articles or attempt to upload links later in the day.

Some of you may remember this video from 2014 where an edited compilation of footage shows a woman being catcalled or receiving street harassment over the course of 10 hours as she walks through Manhattan. I initially wanted to do an article on this video when I first heard about last year but the YouTube comments made it clear that I would be fighting an uphill battle with the other men on the internet.

There were plenty of defences given for the catcalling and I want to address some of them.

  1. How is saying “good morning” or “how are you?” catcalling?

The issue is not the greeting itself in this case. Maybe people will call me a “white knight” for saying this, but this is a situation where you have to view it from the eys of a woman. Most men can’t relate to being catcalled by women daily. There was a response video where a male model walked around a city in his underwear, trying to argue men have it just as bad. However, the guy was definitely better looking than the average guy. Plus, the response video seemed to imply that a man walking around in his underwear is equivalent to a woman walking around in jeans and a shirt.

You can try to offer one ludicrious parallel after another, but I think most men will agree that we are not catcalled multiple times a day by strangers as we walk down the street.

So, with that in mind. Imagine you’re a woman. From the time you reach a certain age, you start getting all this attention from strangers on the street. It’s strange at first, but maybe you find it flattering after a little while. Then after a few years, the same thing happens day in day out. Some people are just saying “good morning” to be polite, the same way you’d say “good morning” to a colleague at work. However, some people use that opening as an attempt to get your number, tell you how hot you are etc. So after a while, you’re a little more guarded or skeptical when someone offers the greeting. Are they just being friendly or is it a preamble for something else? This is a case where a few (or maybe a lot), may have ruined a good thing for many.

2. Shouldn’t girls should be flattered?

Read number one again. The woman who are very flattered by catcalling are likely the ones who aren’t subjected to it that often. I was listening to a “Mating Grounds” podcast by Tucker Max, where he asked a female colleague why women wouldn’t be flattered by catcalling or why comments such as “good morning” would bother them. As the woman points out, it is the accumulation of those experiences that makes you grow tired of it after a while. Maybe it is flattering the first day, first week, first year, first decade etc. If a woman who is regularly catcalled still loves the attention, then she is likely very insecure.

As Tucker Max added, he was used to fans at his book signings asking him if he was drunk. It was funny the first few times but by the time the 50th fan asked him he wanted to punch them in the face.

3. So what, we’re not allowed to talk to girls anymore?

If the only girls you talk to are random ones on the street, you need to get out more. Join groups for activities you’re interested, get to know your classmates in college etc, hang out with these new things called friends and see if they know girls. There are other places to talk to women where they won’t be as guarded due to their previous experiences.

The guys who insist that catcalling is a vital part of being a man always crack me up, since they are also the ones who complain the most about women being “stuck-up” or narcissistic. What do you expect will happen if a woman is reminded multiple times a day of how hot she is by guys on the street, plus guys who comment on all her social media and message her with comments dripping with sexual desperation? Trust me, if men collectively put a stop to these actions, we would collectively have an easier time with women.

With those excuses out of the way, I also want to comment on something else that this catcalling video brings up. Now, I am not trying to say that criticism of catcalling is now invalidated due to this issue. I am only saying that it reveals another dimension of the video that gets overshadowed by the people who can’t even acknowledge that catcalling might not be a good thing.

“The Mating Grounds” podcast illustrated my problem as well. Tucker Max pointed out that a lot of the men in the video were black, and also attributed this to a general culture of catcalling among black men. I don’t want to call Tucker Max a racist since a lot of his other content demonstrates that he acknowledges discrimination such as racial profiling by police. However, I think this comment illustrates some level of ignorance, which this article actually helps to shed light on. Although the company behind the street harassment video claimed that they filmed through many different areas of Manhattan, an analysis of the all the locations in the edited two minute clip reveals that 59% of the shots were in Harlem. For those who don’t know, Harlem is over 60% black. Since the areas we see in the video are mostly black, it makes sense that we will see mostly black people in the video.

There is a chance that black people might not just be more likely to catcall. We won’t know since the video’s creator apparently cut out more footage of white guys since the clips contained too much noise. The reponsible thing to do in that case would be to try and collect more footage without too much noise, in order to get a more representative sample. There are other catcalling videos out there, and they all show a healthy dose of white men engaging in it as well. Let’s not reduce catcalling to something that only (or mostly) black guys do.

 

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