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August 8, 2014 2:04 PM   Subscribe

What Men Are Really Saying When Catcalling Women
posted by nadawi (116 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Almost as bad the catcalling is watching guys put on some sort 'hood ghetto' persona that is damn near racist as well.

The video made me squirm in all sorts of uncomfortable ways - it hit the creepy vibe right out of the park. That's good satire.
posted by helmutdog at 2:11 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


"I have no idea what to say to you... SO I'M GONNA GET LOUDER!!!"
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:13 PM on August 8 [8 favorites]


What Men Are Really Saying When Catcalling Women

*.gif of a monkey making aggressive sounds*
posted by Fizz at 2:15 PM on August 8 [13 favorites]


Almost as bad the catcalling is watching guys put on some sort 'hood ghetto' persona that is damn near racist as well.

I thought the brilliant Smile Bitch video was really marred by the fact that literally every single guy in it was black. I told myself that they obviously just got together with a bunch of friends to make the video, and all their friends just happen to be black dudes because white dudes (#notallwhitedudes) are so annoying, but... ugh, it still feels icky. So I was pleased with the relative diversity in this one.

My favorite is "Hey girl wait up! I don't even know why I told you to wait up because I KNOW I don't have the confidence to keep talking to you!" I've had almost literally this happen twice (that I can remember off the top of my head), where the guy is all "HEY HEY HEY!" so urgently that I stop thinking he wants directions or something and then he follows up with some lame line that makes it clear he didn't actually think through what would happen once he got my attention. One was like "...Wassup?" and one said "Are you Korean?" NEXT.
posted by sunset in snow country at 2:27 PM on August 8 [10 favorites]


Honk if you've ever been called "mama" by someone other than your kids.
posted by datawrangler at 2:28 PM on August 8 [13 favorites]


That kiss sound I've heard on the street is grounds for maiming.
posted by datawrangler at 2:28 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


As a woman who deals with street harassment on the daily: It's not as simple as "low self esteem man proves manhood by yelling at woman." In my experience it's also usually low *income* men yelling at women of various socio-economic levels.

The harassers aren't usually stock brokers or college professors (although they may be jeering/hooting at stock brokers or college professors).

There are class -- and in many cases, cultural -- conflicts going on as well. The video made me uncomfortable because I saw a mean-spirited strain of "Let's Laugh At Low-Income Men Yelling At Higher-Income Women". I want a viral BuzzFeed video about structural sexism in the workplace, plz!!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 2:31 PM on August 8 [17 favorites]


Almost as bad the catcalling is watching guys put on some sort 'hood ghetto' persona that is damn near racist as well.

I would be willing to bet a fat stack of cash that the venn diagram of the guys who do that, and the guys who catcall aggressively is like, close to if not a perfect circle.


A friend of mine recently saw a bro-y looking guy, walking down the street answer his phone, and the first words out of his mouth were "what up N***a!". He was white, obviously. And looked like the stereotypical lifted truck hick-bro.

Because yea, there's two stages of this. There's the sarcastic, grey zone but probably racist "YEAA G LETS DO THIS" stuff that seemingly every young white male does, and then there's the stage 2 "the n word is ok if it's soft r duh i'm going to act like a complete minstrel show exaggerated "gansta"".

I like to imagine catcalling bros as almost entirely stage 2, and it's really hard to not assume that's basically always correct when you have tons of anecdata to back it up.
posted by emptythought at 2:32 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


*.gif of a monkey making aggressive sounds*

i always think of this
posted by emptythought at 2:33 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


"I don't have any sisters so it doesn't occur to me how insanely offensive this is."

That one was weird.
posted by mullacc at 2:39 PM on August 8 [9 favorites]


These buzzfeed videos are never funny. Just obvious and rather bland.
posted by dabitch at 2:40 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


In my experience it's also usually low *income* men yelling at women of various socio-economic levels.

I live in car-centric places so my whole experience with cat-calling is men leaning from cars, hollering at me as a pedestrian. I can't classify their income but it does seem to be a wide swath.

I also get aggressively whistled at by union workers all the time, in a job where I interact with union workers. They make more money than me, although sure, there is likely still a class issue there since I work a white-collar job.

Not that I think you're comment is wrong, just that I've experienced a different facet.
posted by muddgirl at 2:42 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


That one was weird.

I'm really really really not a fan of the whole "Why don't you pretend that's your sister/mom/granda/girlfriend?" because i don't think "you should respect all women/this woman as much as you sort of respect some other woman in your life in a cognitively dissonant way" is how this should be approached.

Honestly i'm much more receptive to the "That's a person, why don't treat her like a fucking human ok?" approach.

Because I mean, it can maybe cause some introspection, but even if it solved the problem it wouldn't be a particularly great conclusion IMO. I don't think it breeds actual respect of women.

I'm not really sure how to get from 0 to that end goal either. The way it worked for me, and a lot of other men i've talked to about it was just having friends that you're actually pretty close with, respect, and have deep conversations with... who vent or confide in you how shittily men treat them, and how it effects them. But i don't know how you get from being a shit to that, so that you can keep climbing the ladder of decency.

So yea, i don't know, i thought #yesallwomen type stuff was infinitely better than the whole "You file women in your life in to two separate, but likely both problematic categories. Maybe could you shift them all into the slightly better one?"
posted by emptythought at 2:47 PM on August 8 [15 favorites]


yeah - i also hate that trope. i do like that they also included stuff about "i don't see you as a person" because that feels far closer to the mark for me. at the same time - there are studies that show that men tend towards more feminist positions after they have a daughter, and while i wish they could find some decency before that, i'm honestly glad for whatever the catalyst is if the result is being more supportive of women in general (although, i know plenty of wife and daughter having misogynists, so it doesn't always work).
posted by nadawi at 2:52 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


In my experience it's also usually low *income* men yelling at women of various socio-economic levels.

I think you have to be awfully careful about being too on the nose with that parody, though. These ethnically ambiguous men with an air that's a little more nerd than [insert stereotype here] are sort of generic deliverers of a behavior that everybody recognizes, so that the focus is on the behavior rather than the stereotyping.

This video feels perfectly fine for just taking a little wind out of the sails of people who catcall, and empowering bystanders to see it as stupid and react as if it is a stupid thing - including the women (or whoever) who have to live with it. If one Junior Asshole turns to another Junior Asshole and says dude, you look like those morons in that video, then the video has won. If one guy looks over at a catcaller with the "seriously?" look on his face instead of grinning, that's awesome. This is how you disrupt a pervasive culture.

Let's not condemn the whole thing for the one "sister" line, though, please. Yes, it's less than ideal. But also, it might be the first tiny epiphany for some asshole who thinks it doesn't hurt anybody to harass women on the street.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:54 PM on August 8 [14 favorites]


This is lacking the follow up "you had better act like I am complimenting you and you like it or I may become actively threatening."
posted by maxsparber at 2:55 PM on August 8 [39 favorites]


I CAN'T CONCEIVE OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY BE LOCAL SO I'M GOING TO PLAY A GUESSING GAME OF 'WHERE ARE YOU FROM' BECAUSE YOU ARE A PUZZLE AND NOT A PERSON
posted by divabat at 2:57 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


This video is great. Relatedly, I would like to know why I have been creepily hit on at the thrift store at least once a month for the last three months, after years of blissfully creeper-free thrifting.

Yesterday I got fed up and asked "Is this a successful strategy for you? Have you ever actually landed a date by staring at a lady for ten minutes and then hitting on her creepily?"

He slunk away, which was satisfying. The weird one was a while ago, when I asked a dude "Does your mother know you talk to women this way?" and he replied with "I don't have a mother." Touché, creepy guy.
posted by nonasuch at 2:58 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I TAKE IT PERSONALLY WHEN A WOMAN TELLS ME SHE IS NOT INTO MEN BECAUSE I SHOULD BE THE EXCEPTION

(I've had this said to me nearly word for word)
posted by divabat at 2:59 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


The video made me uncomfortable because I saw a mean-spirited strain of "Let's Laugh At Low-Income Men Yelling At Higher-Income Women".

Did we watch the same video? The first two guys looked like 1. normal middle class dude leaning out of a newer car in good condition. looks like at least 1/3rd of the guys who went to the recent music festival in my town 2. the door guy at a bar in the "hip" part of town who i vaguely know, or any number of the guys who would be milling around that area who are definitely not lower income/low SES.

The three guys sitting on the truck also didn't strike me as lower income, they looked like the dues i saw outside the freaking microsoft campus.

I also saw the sista line as that "white guy trying to be black in an embarrassing and casually racist way".

I'm just not seeing the slagging on low class guys angles. None of these guys looked like that. They all looked like they probably work at buzzfeed.
posted by emptythought at 3:00 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


YOUR GENDER AMBIGUITY CONFUSES AND TERRIFIES ME SO IT'S EASIER FOR ME TO NOT CONCEIVE YOU AS HUMAN
posted by divabat at 3:03 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I THINK THAT YOU DON'T KNOW THAT YOUR FAT, BECAUSE IF YOU DID YOU WOULDN'T BE WALKING AROUND IN PUBLIC, BECAUSE FAT WOMEN AREN'T HUMAN.

Yeah, the punchline to pretty much any one of these is "Women aren't Human."
posted by muddgirl at 3:10 PM on August 8 [19 favorites]


divabat if you don't have a tumblr or twitter account for those...
posted by boo_radley at 3:16 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


muddgirl: you hit the nail on the head.
posted by grubi at 3:16 PM on August 8


When I was in the Army in the '60s, the ratio of young women to young men in the (US) town that owed its existence to the post was totally lopsided. I felt terribly embarrassed over what women went through there, but other than not participating there wasn't a lot to do about it.

Sorry, ladies.
posted by Repack Rider at 3:17 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I'm just not seeing the slagging on low class guys angles. None of these guys looked like that.

But that's exactly the point. What's creepy is that it's (and it absolutely is) class prejudice acted out as slumming, putting on an accent and a manner that suggest a class background obviously not the performer's own in order to ridicule it — you could call it poorface if the analogy helped but the point is it isn't necessarily or only racially coded. It's not about what the people "look like" in terms of clothes and grooming, since, yes, their grooming and clothes (as well as the general shittiness of their imitation of working/lower-class presentation) obviously mark them as college-educated and at least culturally bourgeois; rather, it's about the performance they're doing and what it suggests. One of the things it's clearly meant to suggest is that middle-class college-educated men should be congratulated for being feminists, while poorer-acting, lower-status men who say "yo" or "baby" are chauvinists and should be reviled.

The way to avoid this carnival of class prejudice, and make a real satire of catcalling itself, would've been to use actors who could more convincingly present themselves as catcallers, rather than as "nice" middle-class guys doing an ugly slumming act. That would've been good, since catcalling sucks and deserves to be mocked, but this video has a whole lot of collateral ugliness to it.
posted by RogerB at 3:19 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


IT'S THE MIDDLE OF WINTER IN NEW YORK CITY AND YOU'RE WEARING SO MANY LAYERS THAT I CAN'T POSSIBLY DISCERN WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE UNDERNEATH THEM BUT ONE OF THOSE LAYERS IS PINK SO YOU GOTTA BE A LADY AND I'M GONNA HOLLER AT YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO BE A LADY IN PUBLIC

(my lived experience, anyway)
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 3:20 PM on August 8 [21 favorites]


They also missed "I wouldn't be doing this if you were walking with a man cause I respect him!"

My husband had a very enlightening time when we were out jogging and he crossed the street and I didn't. Suddenly I was alone, but he could still hear the things people said.
posted by ohisee at 3:22 PM on August 8 [21 favorites]


One of the things it's clearly meant to suggest is that middle-class college-educated men should be congratulated for being feminists, while poorer-acting, lower-status men who say "yo" or "baby" are chauvinists and should be reviled.

I didn't get this from it at all. I'm not a woman but I've seen plenty of catcalling and I've seen it from all economic classes.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:22 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I'm sure that in some neighborhoods there is an element of "putting a rich bitch in her place," but I don't think that encompasses the entirety of the phenomenon.
posted by muddgirl at 3:26 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I get catcalling from everywhere. Where class might play a role is where the catcalling happens - homeless people on the street aren't usually middle/upper class, but that class gets to me in events or parties.
posted by divabat at 3:26 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


The way to avoid this carnival of class prejudice, and make a real satire of catcalling itself, would've been to use actors who could more convincingly present themselves as catcallers, rather than as "nice" middle-class guys doing an ugly slumming act.

But then you get into the problems this woman got into when she recorded herself confronting her catcallers. Most of the guys she confronted and recorded were black and people got on her case for presenting this as a racial thing.
posted by ohisee at 3:26 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


boo_radley: I am tempted, but I am also out of ideas.
posted by divabat at 3:27 PM on August 8


Yeah, I don't like the class/race thing implicit in this video, either. I've had crappy comments, catcalls, exhortations to smile!!!!!, etc. directed at me over the years by self-evidently middle- or upper-middle-class white guys, whether alone or in groups. It may be true that a group of stockbrokers is less likely to punctuate their comments by humping the nearest vehicle, but it doesn't mean they don't actually ever say shitty things to women in public for having the temerity to be women in public.
posted by scody at 3:29 PM on August 8 [8 favorites]


Also, at my white collar job, a hot lady walked by and my white, middle-class coworkers actually got up out of their desks and went outside to watch her walk down the street and loudly discuss her ass with each other and everyone else within earshot.
posted by ohisee at 3:30 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


Okay I'll grant you that I'm an outlier here, and this is all anecdata besides, but I've only ever been catcalled by white bro-y dudes. But then, it's a relatively small town, and it hasn't happened that often in any event. There's always this feeling of "wait, what-- really? Oh yeah, people do that."

I imagine this will be one of the few things I miss when I eventually move to a Real City.
posted by dogheart at 3:47 PM on August 8


Where I worked when I last worked, daily I got catcalls from BMWs, Porches, etc. Definitely not lower-class. One creep followed me around for a half hour in his M3 before offering his business card while hooting about my legs.

I've been street harassed more by white collar guys than by blue-collar or homeless (actually, this one is rare for me but I help the homeless a lot so I might be getting some unknown street protection.)
posted by _paegan_ at 3:50 PM on August 8


I really don't get the people saying "look at all these lower class guys in the video". Is it me or you who has our car-as-socio-economic indicator metric way out of whack? Or is it that they're not wearing suits? Every one of those guys looks like they might be one of my colleagues on their way home from work.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:50 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


One of the things it's clearly meant to suggest is that middle-class college-educated men should be congratulated for being feminists, while poorer-acting, lower-status men who say "yo" or "baby" are chauvinists and should be reviled.

I think you're firing off this entire comment from the assumption and predisposition that the majority, even the vast majority of guys who do this are lower class.

This is simply not true.

I don't think i've ever said this on this site sincerely, but i think the way you've presented this says a lot more about you than it does about the people who made this video, if you're so adamant that this is a lower class only thing that you think they should have gotten better actors who looked the way you imagine a real catcaller looks.

If this is a carnival of class prejudice, its that they're only portraying a certain type of catcalling, not that they aren't portraying a realistic low-class catcaller. Although, from my limited 3rd person experience of catcalling, even the guys in BMWs still chimp-hootle just like this video. I know a guy who if he's not a 1%er, he's damn close, and he makes disgusting comments about women all the time and they sound just like this(usually with his windows closed, but he's making them inside of his mercedes).


I mean we could get into a discussion about what it means that even non low class catcalling guys present their catcalls in this "caricature of a low class catcaller" way, but this video isn't the one injecting that ugliness. Aforementioned affluent dude really does "poorface" his disgusting comments like this, and so do a lot of the other guys i've encountered.
posted by emptythought at 4:00 PM on August 8 [17 favorites]


Yeah like, some of y'all do realize that white bros actually talk like this in every-day life, right? It's a strain of nerdboy that still insists on never using slang but this is pretty much mainstream American dialect these days.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:05 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


putting on an accent and a manner that suggest a class background obviously not the performer's own in order to ridicule it

RogerB, I'm not sure what you think harrassment from, let's say, white middle class men looks like, but it's not, "hello, young woman, may I compliment how nicely your backside hangs in that lovely frock?" It's "daaamn baby I'd like to get me summa that."

For some reason, most guys I've encountered default to a semiliterate brodawg straight thuggin manner of behavior when they want to demean me. It's like as a woman I'm so undeserving of basic respect that they won't even harrass me with their grown up voice.

If you think those fellas are putting on an act to make fun of the socioeconomic class of other men, please take it up with them. I understand what you're saying about the video, I definitely do, but I also want to underscore that it's not just lower income minority men who speak like that.
posted by phunniemee at 4:35 PM on August 8 [31 favorites]


Yeah like, some of y'all do realize that white bros actually talk like this in every-day life, right?

Exactly. Just because a lot of people take on a hip-hop inspired voice when shouting at a woman doesn't mean that it's only poor people who talk like that. Hip-hop and rap have been extremely popular in white suburbs and rural areas for decades at this point and are well assimilated into the mainstream.

I read the video as an exaggeration more than making fun of an economic class or ethnic group. For example, I've never *actually* seen guys humping a truck bed to impress their buddies or start trying to seduce a lady with air thrusting. Maybe it happens? But for the most part, it seemed like it was just taking catcalling behavior to a ridiculous extreme to highlight how stupid it is. When I've had to listen to guys bond over objectifying women, they get all excited like they're dry-humping something and slapping high-fives. I find it odd that that is being read as "poorface," and I guess this says something about me and my assumptions, but it struck me more as making fun of frat boy culture.
posted by ohisee at 4:38 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


I mean, I'm a 28 year old middle class white woman who was educated at one of the top 5 universities in the country and when I saw a dude, Jersey, who works on my floor leave his office today wearing a very well-cut suit, the very first thing that popped into my head was "daaamn, Jersey, looking fly today!"

Of course I didn't say it out loud, but I thought it. It's like it's the language of objectification or something, I dunno.
posted by phunniemee at 4:38 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


These are all 20-something guys dressed as if they are students, working dudes, or (at most) low-level professionals. Whereas the "Smile, bitch!" video carried an implicit suggestion that harassers are (mostly) urban black males, this video carries the implicit assumption that harassers are (mostly) just insecure manchildren.

Many guys who harass women may be some of these things, but just as many men who harass women are none of these things. Men of all ages harass women. Men of all races harass women. Men of all classes and professions harass women. Men in all public settings harass women. Women know that we can get harassed virtually anywhere, by virtually anyone. Videos like this are useful in getting the conversation started (and are often amusing/cathartic in their own right), but as long as they only portray a narrow range of who harasses women, they wind up being inadvertent advertisements for #NotAllMen.
posted by scody at 4:42 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


Also, at my white collar job, a hot lady walked by and my white, middle-class coworkers actually got up out of their desks and went outside to watch her walk down the street and loudly discuss her ass with each other and everyone else within earshot.

I've worked with those guys!
posted by Dip Flash at 4:48 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I think you're firing off this entire comment from the assumption and predisposition that the majority, even the vast majority of guys who do this are lower class. [...] if you're so adamant that this is a lower class only thing that you think they should have gotten better actors who looked the way you imagine a real catcaller looks

This is some crappy assume-the-worst attempted mindreading or misreading, and so now I feel like I need to go on record to say that you're totally misunderstanding me, though perhaps that's deliberate. I'm not at all assuming what you have assumed I'm assuming; I'm saying that that is how the video presents it, not that that's how it is in the real world. I'm saying they should have gotten actors who could deliver a performance that didn't have the crappy class coding that this one does, or better, chosen to create a different picture of catcalling with more varied class coding, not that what this video shows is accurate — duh.

Lots of people in this thread are much better qualified (sadly) than me to talk about the fact of street harassment as they've experienced it, and as it occurs every day in the world, and I'm very happy to let them talk about the real-world phenomenon — that's why I didn't say anything about it at all.

some of y'all do realize that white bros actually talk like this in every-day life, right?

I'd be very surprised if some of the actors in this video drop their "g"s in everyday life, for instance. Some of them are really noticeably not good at speaking the dialect they're trying to speak. Maybe it's a black-belt master-level subtle move and they're consciously depicting middle-class guys doing code-switching in order to catcall in their "bro" voice, but that's very much not how it looks to me.

as long as they only portray a narrow range of who harasses women, they wind up being inadvertent advertisements for #NotAllMen.

Right, exactly. This is like NOT ALL MEN, the movie.
posted by RogerB at 5:35 PM on August 8


I understand what you're saying about the video, I definitely do, but I also want to underscore that it's not just lower income minority men who speak like that.

But I'll add my voice to the commenters who've experienced harassment from seemingly middle/upper-class white men putting on that "voice." Walking down the street in the Lower East Side, I heard, "Hola, mamacita! Who's a pretty vanilla ice cream cone today?" I turned around and found two mid-20s white boys in suits, hanging out of the passenger side windows of a black hirecar -- the one in the front making that V-tongue sign. I put my head down and kept walking and one of them yelled, "HEY. SNOWFLAKE. MAMACITA." I threw up the double bird and ducked into the bodega on the corner, and watched the car crawl past.

There's something super gross there about white dudes adopting the language of "others" to harass women (I won't get into what I look like because EFF THAT) but there's no doubt it happens.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 5:36 PM on August 8 [9 favorites]


My question is: gender aside, how do you get that rude?
posted by Trochanter at 5:46 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the punchline to pretty much any one of these is "Women aren't Human."

It's scary how many guys fall into this or similar beliefs that women are just less than. A lot of men - well actually, society in general does a pretty decent job of making plentiful the message that women are less than. When men do these things, for me it's almost like the social structure itself is speaking.

My question is: gender aside, how do you get that rude?

My own personal experience is that men get around other men and decide it's manly to be idiotically male (as society defines that). Guys say the most ridiculous shit, it's unreal. But there are societal rewards for acting that way, and a lot of guys take that route, in my experience.
posted by cashman at 5:50 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


There's something super gross there about white dudes adopting the language of "others" to harass women (I won't get into what I look like because EFF THAT) but there's no doubt it happens.

Yea, and i think if we're gonna get into that this video should kind of be left out of it as anything but a fairly accurate example of the behavior.

It's like, white men see this kind of harassment as something primarily minorities do, and then "ironically" do it that way to somehow distance themselves from the actual act.

There seems to be some kind of weird "Well they started it, and i'm just kidding anyways" thing to it, as if 100% of the blame lies on minority men.

The weird thing is, as far as i can tell this has been completely taken over by white men. Every time i hear, see, or hear of someone doing it at least in my city it's a white guy. And yea, with the exception of a few random hobos they all do it like this.

They literally sound like the adult version of middle school kids imitating south park when i was younger though. It's like they're repeating some "joke" they already heard, but with an underlying racist element. If you remember the whole "Is dat sum chicken?" thing being an internet/offline meme(oh god the number of stupid white boys i heard say/yell that), then this reminds me of that... but that, plus sexual harassment.
posted by emptythought at 6:06 PM on August 8 [11 favorites]


I can't decide whether this is serious or a satire. Poe's Law and all that. It could be just a very poorly executed attempt by Buzzfeed to jump on the anti-harassment campaign. Or it could be a satire of Jezebel.com-style clickbait.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:19 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I can't decide whether this is serious or a satire.

Well, I thought it was funny, and I think there are some very clear signifiers that it's a joke.
posted by ohisee at 6:25 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Well, I thought it was funny, and I think there are some very clear signifiers that it's a joke.

I think you're underestimating how badly Buzzfeed does serious topics. But perhaps I am overestimating.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:30 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


My question is: gender aside, how do you get that rude?

People not telling you it's rude.

Or, whenever they do try, other people come in to weight the conversation down with tangents about whether it's a class-based or race-based thing, and other times other people come in to say "not all guys do that", and still other times other people come in to say "come on, that doesn't really happen, does it?" and so you never get the memo that actually, a lot of people think it's rude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 PM on August 8 [11 favorites]


It didn't work for me...the adopted personas aside, it actually asks me to feel a little too sorry for catcallers, who are portrayed as so sad and lost and confused about women. Nope. I don't believe they are sad and lost. I think they see the world, or their sidewalk/corner of it as their space and women as intruders on it, who must be challenged/harassed. Sexual comments are the most common way to put women down, so that's their weapon of choice, but it has almost nothing to do with their insecurity around women, because they don't even see the women they are harassing, not really. They are harassing Women as a gender, not a specific woman, though they may comment on a specific woman's appearance/reaction, or target only certain women. (and may also use similar techniques on people they think are gay, or trans, or who are not white.)

It's clearly for the benefit of other members of their group, or for their own self-image as the rightful male owners of public space, and not really about the people they are harassing at all.

The drive-by ones are even more cowardly, because they don't even take the extremely low risk of someone face-to-face confronting them or arguing with them.

Which is why they get so mad when you don't play the part; you are challenging them in their role and not acting in a properly subordinate way.
posted by emjaybee at 6:42 PM on August 8 [21 favorites]


I think you're underestimating how badly Buzzfeed does serious topics. But perhaps I am overestimating.

I think that I get how Buzzfeed works. This is serious topic and they're using humor as a way to make a point in order to get clicks and shares on social media. I think there are extremely explicit signifiers that it's a joke, although, I'm not 100% sure I would classify it as satire, but that's splitting hairs.

I think what I don't get is you calling in Poe's law, which, according to your link is defined as "Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

I'm missing the extremism aspect. Is calling out catcalling extremism? Is catcalling the extremism?
posted by ohisee at 6:59 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I thought it was funny.
posted by Peach at 7:00 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Nope. I don't believe they are sad and lost.

Something felt off about this video, and I couldn't put my finger on it, and this is it. It reminds me of the low self-esteem theory of bullying behavior.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:21 PM on August 8 [9 favorites]


I think they see the world, or their sidewalk/corner of it as their space and women as intruders on it, who must be challenged/harassed.
Which is why they get so mad when you don't play the part; you are challenging them in their role and not acting in a properly subordinate way.

I agree with this. And society rewards this. I definitely don't think guys who choose to perpetuate these messages deserve any sympathy. The messages are there - masculine "alpha" guys control everything around them, all space and people are at their command. If you're a guy's guy you can command anyone to do anything. You make the rules. You are better than everyone.

The messages are out there. Guys - just get a woman's attention, and go from there. From what I see, that's the message. It's in movies, television shows, you name it. It's all about just getting a woman's attention, no matter how you have to do it. No consideration of the woman as a person.

One of my favorite things as of late that is a decent example of reinforcing male idiocy and the drive to treat everyone like you command them, and especially women, is sports. Somewhere along the lines, perhaps since the 90's, guys who play professional american sports are asked who they think the best person is at their position. Increasingly guys proclaim themselves as the best. Because it would be a sign of "weakness" to do otherwise. Guys mimic people from years gone by and talk about always wanting the ball in their hands at the end of a game, even when you can see right through them because they say it, again, as if it's the social structure itself talking.

And guys who choose to be this type of asshole often get rewarded with things because society decides that aggressive, vocal, overconfident assholes who are "alpha" are what is to be rewarded. I know I'm not saying anything new for a lot of people. But it took me a while to see it, and I know a lot of people I play and talk sports with still don't see it.
posted by cashman at 7:24 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Nope. I don't believe they are sad and lost.

Something felt off about this video, and I couldn't put my finger on it, and this is it. It reminds me of the low self-esteem theory of bullying behavior.


This, exactly this. Being lonely, not being able to pick up on social cues, feeling insecure about approaching women -- none of these result in catcalling unless it is combined with a lack of respect for women as equal human beings. And when that is present, I honestly don't care if you're lonely or not.
posted by telegraph at 7:40 PM on August 8 [11 favorites]


I don't think the point is to pity the catcallers because they're lonely. Rather this is almost a form of bystander intervention delivered through Buzzfeed. They are acting as the third party that is giving guys who harass women the side-eye and telling them that no one is impressed. Because if you are trying to be the dominant male, having other people mocking you for being so sad, inept and lonely is pretty much the opposite of what you're going for.

I don't know, I normally am not that into Buzzfeed videos, but I thought this one worked well.
posted by ohisee at 7:47 PM on August 8 [12 favorites]


ohisee, exactly, this isn't "These guys are pathetic, let's pony up some money for therapy", it's much more like "These guys are pathetic, knock it off and get your shit together."
posted by leopard at 7:51 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I agree with emjaybee's point. Cat calling is not only perceived as threatening, I'm sure it's often meant that way too. "I'm the boss here."
posted by dabitch at 8:14 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


there is the part where the dude says something like, "i see you're confident so i'm going to demean you to feel powerful," which i think speaks to "i'm the boss."
posted by nadawi at 8:45 PM on August 8 [9 favorites]


> Yeah, the punchline to pretty much any one of these is "Women aren't Human."

The worst in humans comes out when we decide the person we're dealing with "aren't human". When we dehumanize another, we create an excuse to treat them badly.

This happens in war. This happens with race. This happens with sexuality. This happens with bullying. This happens with obesity. When we lose track of the humanity of each other horrible things can happen.

I rarely get cat-called, but it's still disturbing. My more frequent experience with scary dehumanization is as a cyclist. Occasionally car/truck drivers decide I literally deserve to die because I'm a lycra-wearing weirdo.

Hopefully this isn't too much of a derail. I see a whole spectrum of dehumanizing behaviors that share similarities.
posted by sarah_pdx at 8:53 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


I am intimidated by you, so I will demonstrate that I am not intimidated by you.

I am attracted to you, but I know that you will not be attracted to me, so fuck you, bitch.

I am frustrated by your unavailability to me, but I can do this thing to you whether you like it or not.

I am with my male friends, and this is how I show them that no way, absolutely no way, do we know deep down that are you too good for the scummy likes of us, and in no sense do I feel the yawning void of absolute impotence in my gut and my brain.


Catcallers are just cowards with no class.
posted by Decani at 10:09 PM on August 8 [10 favorites]


I am intimidated by you, so I will demonstrate that I am not intimidated by you.

I am attracted to you, but I know that you will not be attracted to me, so fuck you, bitch.

I am frustrated by your unavailability to me, but I can do this thing to you whether you like it or not.

I am with my male friends, and this is how I show them that no way, absolutely no way, do we know deep down that are you too good for the scummy likes of us, and in no sense do I feel the yawning void of absolute impotence in my gut and my brain.


Some of this is certainly true for some men who harass women. But there's a significant amount of privilege and entitlement that's wrapped up in harassing women, too, that this sort of "harassers are just self-hating losers" narrative glosses over. Some guy in a suit in a BMW who hoots at a woman crossing the street isn't intimidated by her. He doesn't think she's unavailable to him or that she won't find him attractive. He doesn't think he's not good enough.

Look, when a bunch of rich kids torment a homeless guy it's not because they're actually intimidated by the poor. The system of Jim Crow was not driven primarily by white Southerners believing, deep down, that they just weren't as good as black people. Someone who harasses immigrants for not speaking English isn't secretly expressing their own personal frustration at not being able to speak Spanish.

All of this is driven primarily by the dehumanization of the person(s) being targeted, and the privilege of living in a society that reaffirms the power of one class of people above another: rich kids don't go to jail for tormenting the homeless, white people tormented blacks with impunity under Jim Crow, anti-immigrant activists get courted by politicians.

Likewise, men who harass women do it primarily because they don't think of women as fully human, and because no matter how low they perceive themselves to be in many ways, they live in a society that tells them in countless ways that at least they're still above women.
posted by scody at 12:24 AM on August 9 [50 favorites]


Some of the most unpleasant and threatening street harassment I've ever received was from white Duke University undergrads driving around Durham in expensive cars. Honestly, college towns are frequently the worst--I also got harassed a lot around the North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh, and walking through Athens, GA as a woman alone can be pretty scary, too. All white guys. All driving expensive cars purchased for them by their parents. Please don't try to tell me that complaining about street harassment is somehow classist or racist. It's about being treated like a human being who has a right to walk down a sidewalk.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:05 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


In my experience, street harassment is worse wherever anyone has decided that he ~owns~ the street or the public space. Then as you walk by you get screamed at to act subservient and to affirm that OH YES HE IS MASTER OF THIS DOMAIN I DON'T BELONG HERE THIS ISN'T MY PLACE. Ugh.

It actually doesn't bother me when some guys drive by and honk or whatever, because in my experience, that often ends up just being playful. There's not *necessarily* an edge of aggression to it, or at least there hasn't been, for me. But the guys who want to "capture" your attention or who want a confrontation of any sort are usually doing it like they're a guard dog of the patriarchy or that corner or whatever, and there's virtually always a real edge of aggression to that. And I HATE HATE HATE having to do a little yes massa massa routine for those pieces of shit whenever they ~compliment~/threaten me or otherwise try to convince me that the public space isn't for me. Because that's apparently the only reply I can give that won't result in escalation/violence or a more earnest and endless-feeling attempt to get in my pants -- some fucked up show of massa massa forelock-pulling subservience. So infuriating.

Anyway, I don't think that it's really about class or race and I haven't noticed a big difference in who harasses women on the street in terms of those things, I think it's about asserting dominance. And the most common attribute that street harassers have in common is that they're male.

Walking down the street in the Lower East Side, I heard, "Hola, mamacita! Who's a pretty vanilla ice cream cone today?" I turned around and found two mid-20s white boys in suits

Have to say that this cracked me up because it's really similar to how I greet my cat when she comes inside. Though when I greet her, it's usually with "hola, mija!" instead of "hola, mamacita," and usually I use some other gushy kind of food-analogy instead of vanilla ice cream specifically (beans and spaghetti are both current favorites). Anyway, now I'm seeing my greetings to my cat in a whole new light (and street harassment, too, actually).
posted by rue72 at 5:29 AM on August 9


It actually doesn't bother me when some guys drive by and honk or whatever, because in my experience, that often ends up just being playful. There's not *necessarily* an edge of aggression to it, or at least there hasn't been, for me.

I am not talking about "playful" honking. I'm talking about stopping the car to yell sexual insults. I'm talking about driving slowly alongside me in a place where I can't get away. I'm talking about whipping U-turns and coming back to do it again and again. I'm talking about having to run as fast as I can in odd directions across parking lots and vacant lots to try to find a way that they can't follow me. I'm talking about never knowing how they're going to escalate, while simultaneously knowing that frat boys in fancy cars pretty much own college towns, and if they do escalate, it will just be another "he said, she said, boys will be boys".
posted by hydropsyche at 5:43 AM on August 9 [14 favorites]


I've absolutely seen what hydropsyche describes in college towns, for what that's worth. It's blatant and open and with entirely no sense of shame, so if things like this video can change that even slightly it would be a big improvement.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:59 AM on August 9


I'm trying to tell myself that this thread being 90% derail isn't part of the problem.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:26 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, guys do the stuff that hydropsyche talks about all the time. Not just in college towns, in general. I've had some of those experiences, too. But I don't really know what this video is going to do about that? Is the video even supposed to be "doing" anything? It seemed to me like it was just a sort of softball joke/social commentary about a really widespread behavior, and not some kind of Mission for Change Rallying Cry or anything. Not that jokes can't be Mission for Change Rallying Cries, etc, just that this particular video wasn't (it wasn't really incisive or bold enough to be taken *that* seriously, imo).

I don't even think it was much of an attempt to shame street harassers in the first place, seeing as it was basically all from their POV, even if it was (pretty gently) mocking that POV as well.

And like I said, the big deal w/r/t street harassment isn't that some random guy is talking to you on the street or from their car (I've had plenty of experiences where guys hollering at you from their car is just some old fashioned "cruising" in the American Graffiti sense and really not a frightening/exclusionary power play at all, too), it's the edge of aggression that there is to street *harassment* in particular. And the aggression comes in because the message that the harassers are trying to send is about them being in charge and about you needing to acknowledge your subservience to them/their dominance (over you/this place/the world).
posted by rue72 at 7:34 AM on August 9


Can I ask why you don't define the "American-graffiti type cruising" as harassment?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Because it doesn't have the edge of aggression or menace to it that street harassment does. It's not about making me feel unwelcome, it's not a power play, and it's not about trying to assert dominance -- it's an actual friendly interaction. As the recipient, you can pretty much tell the difference in the same way I can pretty much tell the difference between a smile and a leer. And being OK with someone smiling at me doesn't mean that I'm OK with someone leering at me or that leering isn't common or that it doesn't exist or whatever. I'm honestly surprised that people are shocked at the idea that getting "hollered at" is a thing that can happen in a genuinely friendly way in some places, with some people, at some times. If that's never happened to you, that's cool, I believe you. I'm just saying that when someone is harassing you, it's *not friendly and innocuous like that.* Even if, on the surface, the harassment looks or sounds a lot like a friendly "holler," if you sense that current of menace, you're probably right, and you're getting harassed. And this video was kind of irritating and not really that funny or insightful to me because it seemed like it ignored the undercurrent of menace or aggression present in harassment and focused on the kind of silly "hollering at" aspects of the behavior. Maybe to the people doing the harassing or hollering it *does* seem like the same thing (or harassers try to convince themselves it's the same thing) and that's why it stood out so starkly for me how this whole video was in the men's POV. Anyway, the way that the undercurrent (or sometimes explicit) threat/aggression/menace in harassment is ignored in this video is basically why I felt like it was really soft and gentle as far as "social commentary" goes and not really worth much than maybe a halfhearted chuckle here or there.
posted by rue72 at 8:10 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I was walking to the Black Cat at 3 in the afternoon a few weeks ago on one of the gorgeous DC days we've been having. This nice BMW tears a left through the intersection, honks a little at me, and swings up in front of me. This older 50-60s guy in nice clothes rolls down the window. I thought maybe he wanted directions or I knew him, so I walked a couple steps closer and lean down to see who it was. I didn't know him, but my friendliness gave him an opening.

Him: Where are you going?
Me: Oh, just a couple blocks
Him (moves some papers off the passenger seat): I will take you. Hop in.
Me: Um, no thanks. It's nice out and I want to walk.
Him: No, get in, I will give you a ride.
Me (walking away): No, thanks.

At this point he was driving the direction I was walking. There was traffic, so I passed him as I walked on. So it wouldn't even have been faster to accept the ride.

I blamed the awesome striped tank sundress that I was wearing. It really flatters me, so I thought he assumed I was a hooker. This is a normal train of thought for me in these situations. These little things I tell myself based on how I'm treated that really do wear down your self worth.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:48 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Oh, and this is to say that catcalling is truly not a class issue.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:49 PM on August 9


rue72 brings up some good points regarding differences in intention of catcallers.

Feminists have fought long and hard to raise awareness that catcalling is aggressive and harmful.

In this 21st-century "post-feminist" (North American) moment, this raised awareness characterizes all catcalling as intending/causing harm, but I do think some people have different experiences of some types of catcalling.

Having received catcalls as a cyclist, a muscular cis-gendered man, and a black, I recognize there is a difference in the types of calls and, often, I respond to "innocuous" or "friendly" callers defensively. Even though upon later reflection I realize "oh that person was just trying to make a connection", I continue to err on the side of self-protection because there's too little time and too much at stake to figure out who's who among the callers.

In other words, the reality of human social interaction is more diverse than our reactionary/progressive models. One of these models is "the catcaller", and I think it's OK if the feelings of "friendly" callers suffer a bit because people are wary of the other 99% of callers who will be hostile if they aren't already.
posted by mistersquid at 2:02 PM on August 9


Feminists have fought long and hard to raise awareness that catcalling is aggressive and harmful. In this 21st-century "post-feminist" (North American) moment, this raised awareness characterizes all catcalling as intending/causing harm, but I do think some people have different experiences of some types of catcalling.

The categorization of catcalling as aggressive isn't just because of "feminism", though.

I mean, I'm glad that rue72's experience of the guys doing the "cruising" kind of thing wasn't scary to her. And I agree with her that the intent of the guys in question probably wasn't to intimidate anyone.

But exactly what was it? Even if it was to just "holler appreciation at someone", exactly why did they think a woman needed to have appreciation hollered at her? What was it about that woman that prompted them to holler something at random to her?

Or, phrased a different way - would these guys be likely to holler appreciation to other guys? ("Whoa, dude, great pecs! Keep up the great workout!") Probably not. And if you accept that they wouldn't be likely to do that to other guys - have you considered why that might be?

Even if the guys in such a situation are "trying to be nice", there is still something different between the way they treat women and the way they treat other men. Even if they do appreciate another guy for some reason if they're driving by him on the street, something stops them from just randomly hollering that appreciation out the window of their car. And yet, this same thing does NOT stop them from hollering their appreciation of a woman out the window of a car.

I don't know about you, but I have my own opinions of what exactly it is that stops them from hollering at other guys, but DOESN'T stop them from hollering at women. And I don't like that there is that thing that prompts men to treat women differently from the way they treat other men.

That is why, even if they're "trying to be nice" or even if their catcalling is "innocent", I still don't like it. I'm not frightened by it necessarily, but I still really don't like it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:23 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I'm not walking down the street to make friends, and someone deciding I have to respond to their "connection attempts" is no different than ordering me to smile.

With the exception of (maybe!) someone stopping me because they've been looking for an item of clothing or equipment I have with me, or to tell me I dropped something or there's a rabid rat up ahead, or to request help, my attention is not there to be demanded and they're not trying to be nice. They're trying to force me to interact with them outside of a remotely reasonable social situation in which that is appropriate.

Honking is an openly hostile act if not meant to draw attention to a hazard.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:01 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Even here in the southeast, where it's not uncommon for strangers to smile and say hey as they walk down the sidewalk, I am not obligated to respond to a stranger if I don't want to. And if that stranger is honking at me or is demanding my attention when I do not want to give it, I'm allowed to be annoyed and uncomfortable.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:26 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to tell myself that this thread being 90% derail isn't part of the problem.

Can you describe in what way you see this? Because it seems to be pretty directly discussing if not the video, exactly what the video was talking about.
posted by emptythought at 6:13 PM on August 9


Or, phrased a different way - would these guys be likely to holler appreciation to other guys? ("Whoa, dude, great pecs! Keep up the great workout!") Probably not. And if you accept that they wouldn't be likely to do that to other guys - have you considered why that might be?
EmpressCallipygos, I'm not going to speak for rue72.

In my experience (very different), very infrequently men do call me out on my legs. It's not the same as the scenario you pose and rue72's experience is probably different yet again.

I only point this out because my experience does tell me that men do occasionally call out other men. (I don't recall ever feeling I was being picked up on, regardless of the call's "feel".)
posted by mistersquid at 7:44 PM on August 9


*facepalm*

So, the fact that there is an exception to what I said, that means what I said is completely invalidated? Is that what you're trying to say?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I only point this out because my experience does tell me that men do occasionally call out other men. (I don't recall ever feeling I was being picked up on, regardless of the call's "feel".)

I have never been catcalled where the feeling was NOT that of being picked up on. Nor has any other woman I know.

Your exceptional experience is doubly exceptional.
posted by RainyJay at 8:42 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


mistersquid, if I was on the street and saw/heard someone say that to you, my immediate assumption would be that it was a hostile act, making fun of you and open to starting a fight. If they were white, doubly so.

(I never feel picked up on when I am shouted at on the street. I don't now because I am not conventionally attractive, but I felt threatened when I was young thin and cute, too. It's not an attempt to get a date, it's a power play. Which is what the original video was trying to say.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:47 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


So, the fact that there is an exception to what I said, that means what I said is completely invalidated? Is that what you're trying to say?

Yea, i really think the people who are going "well it's not ALL bad, so you should calm down" or whatever should really reflect on what they're doing, and who they're defending here and why.

Why do those people need any sort of defense? what's wrong with seeing something that is, the severely vast majority of the time regarded by people receiving it to be a hostile act as one? Why does it make you uncomfortable to regard it as such by default? Why should it get the benefit of the doubt?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself.
posted by emptythought at 9:55 PM on August 9


EC, I'm not sure where the condescension and presumption is coming from. I'm not invalidating what you're saying.

You put rue72's catcallers in an imagined situation where they are presented with men.

I made no comment on that particular situation except to offer a real situation where men have called on men.

If my offering a real situation to your imagined scenario is "completely invalidating" well, then, maybe a facepalm is in order.

Just a thought, but you may be ready to perceive my remarks from an adversarial position which is unnecessary given what I was initially saying is rue72's remarks demonstrate fact that people experience and commit catcalling differently.

And none of this is to invalidate your dislike of such calls, rue72's indifference to some calls, etc. etc. etc.
posted by mistersquid at 10:17 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Lyn Never, not only can I imagine a scene where such calling would be hostile, I have been at times frightened by (no women believe it or not) calling me out.

On the other hand, I've had men shout "nice legs" where the feel is not one of hostility or mockery. (For what it's worth, I do have outsized calves and I've gotten comments and remarks pretty much all my life.)

But I want to emphasize, that almost all catcalls startle me and I am totally down that catcalls are experienced by most women for the acts of hostility they are. (I have talked about my own experience with catcalls and my sense that they are in and of themselves hostile acts nearly eight months ago.)
posted by mistersquid at 10:27 PM on August 9


Yea, i really think the people who are going "well it's not ALL bad, so you should calm down" or whatever should really reflect on what they're doing, and who they're defending here and why.
Just to be clear, emptythought, you haven't identified me as (one of) "the people" who are going "calm down" which is right because that is DEFINITELY not something I am saying.

I am pointing to specific differences in the spectrum of receiving and delivering catcalls and am not pointing to any examples to invalidate them.

At all.

To my view, all the experiences communicated so far are valid.
posted by mistersquid at 10:33 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


correcting faulty link:
(I have talked about my own experience with catcalls and my sense that they are in and of themselves hostile acts nearly eight months ago.)
posted by mistersquid at 10:39 PM on August 9


EC, I'm not sure where the condescension and presumption is coming from. I'm not invalidating what you're saying.

You kind of are. This very "well, you said THIS but here's an example where it was THAT" kind of comment gets used all the time to dispute what women say are their lived experiences. In fact, that is why the "not all men" meme got created, because it happens so damn much.

If you weren't trying to invalidate me, then can I ask why you felt it WAS so very important to contribute something to the discussion which just so happened to contradict what I was saying, as opposed to recognizing the larger point I was attempting to make and letting it be made?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


EC, I did present my factual experience in contradistinction to your imagined one. I don't think that invalidates your point that men in the main do not call out other men because what you said is true.

I also think my experience is true and worth adding.

On another note, going back to that other thread, divined by radio writes a comment that addresses the fact that some callers are not badly intentioned and, wow, what a post.

I think it's worth reading in full. Here's the part I find most relevant to the current thread:
I'd also like to reiterate the fact that after years (decades) of being on the receiving end of such harassment, you do indeed start to develop a "feel" for various types of harassers as well as awful internal flow charts that help you quickly sort through your options in real time. Individual instances of harassment often involve intense psychological calculus, as you try to gain your composure to a degree that will allow you to meaningfully assess possible triggers and map out your escape route. It's obviously much more pressing when you're alone, but you still start planning automatically even if you're in a crowd.

I really can't overstate how insidious and poisonous it is to know, in your deepest heart of hearts, that you could well be assaulted, raped, or even killed if the person who is harassing you decides to try to follow or isolate you, and that you will be blamed for whatever might happen no matter what you do. The myth of the "appropriate response" is an incredibly damaging one.
posted by mistersquid at 11:05 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


If I were to break it down into models and step away from invalidation (even implied, as contradicting stories in isolation often weigh more significantly than they would if everyone else dropped in with their experience) I would say:

"The Catcaller" is typically a male shouting out to a female (underage girl, woman, etc) he finds attractive (but not always) in order to get their attention, while the woman is actively entering the "territory" or "radar" of the catcaller. They might be earnestly "playing the field" but typically their goal is simply to harass, or get attention knowing full well that it makes women uncomfortable.

"The Drive by Asshole" is something I've experienced where someone was "catcalling" my [now] wife while another was making fun of my shorts for being too long while they literally coasted up to a changing light and took off as it went green. The model was different here in that they were more comfortable confronting a couple knowing they were physically moving away in a car.

"The Drive by Catcaller in the Night Life" is something I've experienced as a man, especially in Las Vegas, specifically when walking alone reasonably dressed up. As a man it's so exceedingly rare and unexpected that it is flattering and I don't feel threatened because they are clearly acting in playful earnest, and not persistently trying to make something happen. Going through it constantly while trying to get to work would be a different story, which is why it falls under a different model for me.
posted by aydeejones at 12:05 AM on August 10


Clearly there are more models and it's not that gender-rigid across the board, and it's different when you're part of a smaller "subset" that has less opportunities to meet people who are sexually attracted to you (LGBT, etc) and there are some social signals going on that don't involve having to blindly bother large numbers of people to make the right connection, that's a different sort of thing than catcalling-as-a-negatively-scribed word.
posted by aydeejones at 12:15 AM on August 10


These days I present quite a bit more masculine than I did, oh say, a decade ago, and I do occasionally get drive bys from men perceive me as a man. They are infrequent, and the sexual comments even more rare, but they do happen with some regularity.

There really is no comparison here to the experience of presenting feminine, though. It's a completely different world. Not one I would want to be in.
posted by yeolcoatl at 2:48 AM on August 10


I only point this out because my experience does tell me that men do occasionally call out other men. (I don't recall ever feeling I was being picked up on, regardless of the call's "feel".)

So much water, so close to home.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:06 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I'm not conventionally attractive by ANY means and I get catcalled all the time. Especially when I'm frumpy. So the whole "well I'm not attractive enough to be catcalled" business baffles me.

As for non-hostile catcalling vs hostile catcalling: I've had way too many instances where I ignored someone who was trying to "non-hostile" catcall me, and the sheer fact that I didn't reply made them super hostile and aggressive. So now I can't even trust that people are friendly, because it could very well be a cover.
posted by divabat at 4:10 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Also, and since no that was not directed at you mistersquid but more at that entire framework of replying to these discussions in general... I think it's really sad that I've never ever ever seen a discussion about this anywhere in which a man, or several men didn't bust in to make the point that not all harassment is bad, or it's not all the same, or whatever.

Because regardless of what you think you're doing, in practice you're just attempting to discredit and water down the voices of women trying to discuss the experiences they've had with this.

As was said above, there's no real comparison to presenting feminine.

And, I just don't get what your actual motivation would be to take the thread there. "It happens to men too!" Is a classic, almost platonic derail. I re read all your comments and I can't really find myself thinking anything but "what purpose does bringing that into a conversation about women's experiences with harassment do except derail it and attempt to shut it down?"

Why are these discussions so dangerous to have without a man to jump in and temper it?
posted by emptythought at 11:40 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I think part of the problem here, too, is that arguments that offer a gender-flip like "can you imagine men doing this to other men" are inherently weak arguments without a high level of specificity. We don't live in a perfectly binary world, so yeah, it is possible to imagine men calling out to other men, but the nature of how they are called out is different. For example, men who cross-dress I'm sure get nasty, nasty yells, and men who are perceived as weaker also can get called out, albeit not in a sexual way. So, if the problem that we want to talk about is how a certain subset of men feel they have the right to scream and intimidate people around them, it's just best to focus on what's wrong with those guys. When they see someone who they see as a sexual object, they harass in a sexual way.

I would be surprised if a straight guy was making loud kissing noises at another man's pecs, but that's not because asshole men never harass other men. They just do it differently.
posted by ohisee at 12:44 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


emptythought, my initial post in this thread (in part) highlighted the experience of rue72 (who I believe to be female) who said (in response to a question about "American-graffiti type cruising"):
Because it doesn't have the edge of aggression or menace to it that street harassment does. It's not about making me feel unwelcome, it's not a power play, and it's not about trying to assert dominance -- it's an actual friendly interaction.
I added I have my own experience with catcalling.

I did not do so to say "men get catcalled too" or that catcalling isn't bad or that we should talk about men's experiences instead of women's experiences.

But maybe that is the effect of me, a man, saying anything at all.

I don't believe so.
posted by mistersquid at 1:50 PM on August 10


You believe incorrectly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:20 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


"GIRL YOU THICK" (okay, thanks, I hadn't noticed)
"[pony707 realname] IS A DYYYYYYYYKE" (bi, actually, but sure why not)

And, my personal favorite,

"GIRL LET ME TAKE YOU TO HAYWARD" (has that ever actually worked on anyone)
posted by pony707 at 4:40 PM on August 10


This is completely ignoring the countless "OWWWWWs" and whistles.
posted by pony707 at 4:41 PM on August 10


This happens in war. This happens with race. This happens with sexuality. This happens with bullying. This happens with obesity. When we lose track of the humanity of each other horrible things can happen.

Preach it. This is why the "imagine your mother / sister / niece" thing sometimes works on "bro-dudes" and misogynists in general -- it often tends towards "not working" certainly, but the point is not that women are suddenly more important when you think about the women in your life...the point is that people in the course of every day life treat many of their fellow humans not quite as "inhuman" but as "a human" or "ahuman." Which is to say, you are a person in my life, possibly an obstacle, possibly a source of entertainment or fascination, but not a "person who matters to me."

For whatever reason, women and people who don't form dominant majorities tend to experience the most wicked levels that devolve into dehumanization, not just getting through your day without empathizing with everyone you run into and being their friend (how can you) but by actively tormenting or harassing others or simply being an oblivious asshole about it without caring that it can be seen as torment or harassment.

I rarely get cat-called, but it's still disturbing. My more frequent experience with scary dehumanization is as a cyclist. Occasionally car/truck drivers decide I literally deserve to die because I'm a lycra-wearing weirdo.

I've never taken it to the level of wearing Lycra but the amount of everyday gross hostility you encounter in America is directly to proportional to the amount of time you spend on a bicycle trying to actually get somewhere rather than tooling around your neighborhood for entertainment. It got me to the point of wanting to CCW or even open-carry but I'm not that guy. Trust me, even the most casual cyclists have these violent rage fantasies after a few months of giving a shit about riding a bike...we don't tend to be the type of people who act on them, funny that.
posted by aydeejones at 5:26 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


(male cyclists that I've known I mean, and not hostile males, not stereotypical hardcore cyclists who never drive, just average dudes who want to ride a bike)
posted by aydeejones at 5:28 PM on August 10


Just had a catcalling incident last week. Walked across the street from getting my lunch and 2 guys sitting on the bench near work (not white collar or blue collar; in fact, I don't think they were working--not saying homeless but not working at that very moment--they were in street wear).

Anyway...

so I cross the street and one of them yells "hey bouncy!"

Now I know they weren't talking about a spring in my step.

I so wanted to go to them and say:

"Why thank you for pointing out that I have a very large chest. Everytime I go to the store and pay $60 a pop for a bra, I wouldn't know this. It's not like I've never been at a job where a man stared at my chest or overheard a woman tell her friend "pfft, I bet their fake." I've never been assumed dumb or using my chest to get ahead at a job. So thank you so very, very much for informating me via the yelling of "hey bouncy". Because I would have NEVER known that my chest was large and people make fun of me because of it. I feel all warm, fuzzy, and blissfully happy that you yelled that across the street loud enough for everyone around you to hear what an asshole you are. Because otherwise, without yelling that, we would have guessed you were men of class."
posted by stormpooper at 9:53 AM on August 11


On another note, going back to that other thread, divined by radio writes a comment that addresses the fact that some callers are not badly intentioned and, wow, what a post.

mistersquid, to clarify, my comment in that thread doesn't address "the fact that some callers are not badly intentioned." It addresses the fact that there are different types of people who holler at you on the street, some of whom are more directly confrontational than others. That observation is in no way intended to suggest that I think street harassers who don't, say, actively give chase to people who ignore them are "not badly intentioned," it just means those particular harassers are unwilling to risk a physical altercation in order to continue spouting off at that particular time and place.

There's nothing in my comment about intent, and to be honest, I don't care about intent at all because the effect is the same regardless. My observation was limited to the fact that every individual instance of harassment forces its recipient into an instinctive and exhaustive bout of mental calculus to discern what on earth we should to do next, and an acknowledgment of the fact that women, in particular, will be blamed for whatever a street harasser (or anyone else, for that matter) chooses to do or say to us.

This probably sounds a bit harsh, but I'm really recoiling at the notion of having my words used as a kind of #notallcatcallers defense. There's no way for a person who's just going about their daily business to be able to split-second discern the intent of the street harassment they are receiving, let alone a way for them to know that it is "not bad," whatever that even means. To me, the existence of the harassment itself is all the evidence I need that a given catcaller does not have good intentions. Apparently that's just the price they want women to pay if we dare to visibly exist in public spaces.
posted by divined by radio at 10:08 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Just to underscore the hostility/aggression at the heart of catcalling: Man Knocked Unconscious After Defending Women From Catcallers
posted by scody at 11:47 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I'm linking to Playboy, but this is really cool.
posted by maudlin at 9:47 AM on August 26


I saw that yesterday and wanted to link it as well. But I thought it was kind of an issue that half of the thing is staring at women and evaluating them. "Is That Booty Bangin?" "Does she have those legs that go on for days?" "You wanna get with that"?

I mean I realize that a lot of it is in terms a lot of guys use, and frequently, but for me it stopped just short of being good. I didn't expect it to be perfect. I like the thought though.
posted by cashman at 10:16 AM on August 26


Good point, cashman, but I actually think that helps to short-circuit some potential arguments anyone could have with that - you know, "okay, I get that you shouldn't do it, but she was so fine and I just couldn't help myself, yaknow?" This kind of "evaluating of women", I think, is a way of saying "yeah, we know, but even if she is that hot you still can, and should, stop yourself. Yes, even if she's got awesome legs. Yes, even if she's got a great ass. Yes, even if she's looking like she's really superhot."

You know? I think that this sets up the whole "but she was asking for it" male-gaze thing on its head - where it sets you up to think that the way a woman looks makes it okay to catcall her, but then does a switch on you and says "Nope, the way she looks is no excuse."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


That's a great point. I definitely like the idea, and really for the intended targets, this language is seriously tame anyway.

On another note, has anyone else seen the stuff ESPN has been doing with the little league world series? They're probably getting praise for all the Mo'ne Davis coverage, but really in the background they've undone a lot of that goodwill.

A male player would go up to bat and they'd put up their name and some stat or something, and underneath that, a little factoid they gathered from the kid.

Well for at least 3 players that I saw, ESPN had their factoid as "likes to talk to girls" or "talks to girls for good luck" or "will do anything to get a girl's attention". And of course the announcers read it and laughed and cheered it on. I'm like, aren't these players children? And to me, this is how this shit gets replicated and passed down. Guys - do anything to just get the woman's attention. Comment on her dress, make a rude comment, scare her, anything! Just get her attention.

It's in-between innings with the Old Spice commercials where the mannequin head of a guy, and his legs, fall on top of a woman, or fall on top of a woman's table, and of course the commercial has the woman react in a welcoming and favorable manner. Have you all seen those? I'm interested to know what you think.

Was there an FPP on any of this stuff? I'm positive there is some good writing on these things already out there that I just haven't come across yet.
posted by cashman at 11:52 AM on August 26


Serena Williams just won her opening round match against Taylor Townsend. The match ends and ESPN cuts to Serena with her interviewer. Literally the first question she asks Serena - "You were so focused - I don't know if you heard it, but you actually got a marriage proposal - did you hear it?"

Once again - the message to guys is get a woman's attention, at any cost, no matter what she's doing. No matter if she's a world class - top of the world class at what she is doing. Interrupt that and try to get her attention. It's cute, guys. She'll be flattered.
posted by cashman at 7:58 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


FPP time for the playboy catcall flowchart.
posted by cashman at 8:18 AM on August 27


The Daily Show Tears Apart Sexist Catcalls in Glorious Fashion
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on September 4


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