Tag Archives: cat-calling

Three for the Price of One

Through some combination of laziness and distractedness, I neglected to post three of my most recent Role/Reboot essays. I would write you a long apology letter, but I’m pretty sure none of y’all are holding your breaths. Which is a good thing… this is just the internet and I really hope you have more important shit going on.

But, if you’re curious, here’s what I’ve been up to the last few weeks over at R/R.


Note: In rereading this one, there’s a glaring correction I feel the need to issue post-publish. I hope that I conveyed, but fear that I did not, that I definitely do not think teachers (or nurses, or vets, or non-profit starters) aren’t making an impact on the universe. Duh, they obviously are. Rather, there’s a very specific kind of corporate leadership (think Fortune 500 companies) that is still super-male and super white and still, unfortunately, super powerful. If I think it’s important that business leadership be diverse (which I do), how do I reconcile the fact that I have the tools (i.e. education/access/resources) to be the diversifying agent with the fact that I don’t want to?





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Filed under Body Image, Gender, Media, Republished!

5 Myths (and now a 6th!)

For my new piece on Role/Reboot, I listed five of the most common responses I hear from street harassment defenders.

“It’s because you’re pretty” (plus obvious wardrobe corollary, “It’s because you’re wearing _______”)

“It’s just a compliment!”

“We can’t help ourselves!”

“It’s the only way to get your attention”

“It’s harmless” 

Since I posted the piece on Facebook, another great one has surfaced, “Some women like it!” UGH, such a good addition to this list!

Thought experiment! Since blatant racism is, in most circles, tolerated less than blatant sexism, I think it can sometimes be useful to switch out sexist language for racist language to test our own boundaries. (NOTE: By no means am I equating sexism and racism. Different issues, sometimes related, sometimes not). 

So, to the guy who responded on FB “Whenever I witness it – which admittedly is pretty rare – ladies seem to enjoy the attention half the time,” let’s imagine this is about race, not gender. Let’s say that about half the time, black people you know don’t mind when you use the N-word colloquially. But, the other half of the time when you try to use it, you trigger for your listeners extreme emotional trauma. Would you use it because “half the time” some people might not mind? Would your verbal “freedom” be worth the pain you would cause people to exercise it? And since you wouldn’t know from looking at your audience whether they were black people who don’t mind or ones who d0, you would just not use the word, right? At least, that’s what any person of reasonable empathy would do.

So, even if some women don’t mind, or even appreciate cat calling (and I’m not disputing the fact that some women do), to others, you are causing extreme emotional trauma. You are making them feel unsafe. You are making them feel objectified. You are making them feel uncomfortable. So…. stop. As another commenter put it in response to this dude,

“Women are telling you they do not like this. It makes them uncomfortable. It make them feel like they can’t just go about their day in a way that is totally reasonable to expect without having unwanted attention from strangers. Regardless of the cat-callers’ motivations, or what you might like or how you think you see women reacting. There are women right here telling you it’s not cool. Period. Even if you don’t agree with the gender analysis or the power-play patriarchy stuff. Fine. You don’t have to. It kind of comes down to basic politeness and that should really be the end of it.”

Anyway, read on for more on my original Five Myths About Street Harassment. Can you think of any others?


Related Post: A letter to the guy who harassed me on the street

Related Post: On Ta-Nehisi Coates and street harassment


Filed under Gender, Republished!

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Street Harassment, and “Real Men”

Last week at the Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a piece about male powerlessness, aggression, etc, in the face of racism and aggression. In the final paragraphs, he threw in a line that’s been sticking with me for days:

 Street harassment is a kind of implied violence, a tool most embraced by those who lack the power to set laws, men who are in doubt of themselves. Real men objectify women with dignity and decorum.

I posted that line to FB and emailed it to a few friends to try to parse the relationship between perceived powerlessness and street harassment. Since it’s Coates, the original piece obviously relies on race and class to illustrate empowered vs. disempowered reactions to slights, but given the pervasiveness of street harassment, I think there’s something broader happening with American masculinity. Hence, my subject for Role/Reboot this week:


Related Post: A letter to the guy who harassed me outside a bar

Related Post: Guest Post – A letter to the girl I harassed at a bar 


Filed under Gender, Media, Republished!

Lust Is Not the Problem

As a response to some of the commenters on the street harassment piece from a few weeks back, I wrote this for Role/Reboot:


The general gist can be summed up by one of my favorite SlutWalk signs that reads “Control your desires, not your women.” The idea that I’m somehow responsible for your inability to control yourself is offensive and insulting….to you! Slut-shamers and victim-blamers like to use words like “irresistible” and phrases like “I couldn’t help myself” to justify their bad behavior. The vast majority of men (and women, I might add) are quite capable of being attracted to someone and not making a rude comment to share their desire. Lust/desire/attraction…this stuff is natural. Cat-calling/harassment/assault…this stuff is not.

Related Post: On cyber bullying and internet harassment.

Related Post: Do you find my breasts offensive?

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Filed under Body Image, Gender, Republished!, Sex