In response to my own post yesterday, I wanted to talk about men and clear up confusion (if there was any) on my thoughts on men and catcalling and harassment.
I know that men are not impervious to being sexually harassed or catcalled by women. It definitely happens, and it’s definitely just as vile and inappropriate as when it happens to women, and I truly do not wish to downplay anything a man feels who has been a victim of street harassment. But this is a topic we do need to discuss.
My husband gets catcalled quite often. Overly charged sweeping looks, and commentary from strangers that is sexual in nature. One day, he was having a smoke at work and a girl drove by with her friends. She yelled out the window; “Hey baby! I wanna eat you like a cupcake!”
The statement, while quite vile, didn’t make Matt feel unsafe. Uncomfortable, for sure. Dirty, definitely. It also opened his eyes to what women must feel when it happens to them. But he didn’t feel unsafe.
Now if a man had said this to a woman…she would have likely felt uncomfortable and unsafe. Because we are sort of taught that, aren’t we? That men are to be feared. We are taught that by men, by experiences, by the warnings we’ve been getting as soon as we could walk and talk.
It’s quite rare that a woman will stalk and follow and make over sexually charged commentary toward a man, because most women are afraid the man would act on it. It’s not completely uncommon and it does happen, but it’s rare.
Women are more afraid of men than men are of women.
It has been instilled in us forever that you don’t walk anywhere alone at night, you don’t leave your drinks unattended at a party or bar, you don’t let a guy “get you” a drink, you don’t put yourself in any situation where you could get hurt or raped. Which is, unfortunately, a lot of situations.
But men don’t get the same lectures, and we have to ask…why is that? Why are we not telling men to not go anywhere alone at night? To not leave their drinks unattended or let some girl get them a drink at a party or bar? Why?
Let’s talk about this, let’s find out the “why”. Why don’t most men fear their safety when they are catcalled or approached by a strange woman?
Is it because they know they can defend themselves from an attack from a leering woman, should it happen? Or is it because it’s so uncommon that they just don’t think it would happen to them? They don’t live with the fear that one wrong move – be it taking a short cut to work – could have dire consequences? Is it because men are perceived as “enjoying and seeking sex” while women are perceived as, well…not?
There is a double standard here, there’s no doubt about that. Funny or Die posted this video of “what happens when a man walks the streets of NYC for 10 hours”. It makes light of the video of the woman walking the streets of NYC.
I have a sense of humor…but this video made me sad, and a little angry. It made me feel as if Funny or Die wasn’t taking street harassment seriously. I know, it’s meant to be a joke…but it falls short, to me.
There is fear being instilled at early ages in women about men. But is that fear unjust? Do we stop telling our daughters to keep their guard up around men? After all…not all men are bad. Not all men will sexually assault or harass a woman. But are we safe enough to stop worrying?
The answer is no…we aren’t safe enough to stop worrying. But we would like to be…we really would. We would like to know what it feels like to laugh off a comment like “I wanna eat you like a cupcake” from a stranger of the opposite sex.
There have been a lot of comments from men on those Facebook posts saying “we can’t even say hello to a woman in the street! Or flirt with her!” ….and yeah, I guess that sucks for you. I guess it sucks that she feels unsafe and cornered and doesn’t feel flattered about your sexual advances.
But what can we do about it? How do we make her feel safe out in public?
I have an answer…and it’s pretty crazy…but…how about you stop charging up your comments with so much sexual meaning? Women do not respond well to a stranger tossing sexual remarks at her, that’s been proven.
Now…for the men who have experienced street harassment…I am sorry. I wish you didn’t have to know what that feels like. I wish I could have caught it, because I definitely would have said something to her/them. I would have asked her why she thought it was okay, because I generally want to know. Is it because she has had it happen to her? Is it “the new norm of professing our interest” in someone? Or was she just showing off? Did she know she made him feel uncomfortable and dirty? How does it make her feel to know that she made him feel uncomfortable and dirty?
I’m a firm believe in equality for all, and nobody should have to experience that. Respect and equality, and telling someone you want to “eat them like a cupcake” is not respectful, no matter who says it.