When Holly Kearl was researching her master's thesis on street harassment last winter, she was pleasantly surprised that lewd remarks were few and far between. Then spring rolled around.
"Suddenly, it was April, and I was getting yelled at everywhere by men in cars," said Kearl, who has since completed a degree in women's studies and public policy from George Washington University.
As part of her research, Kearl conducted an anonymous, informal e-mail survey of 225 women on the subject. She found that 98 percent of respondents experienced some form of street harassment at least a few times, and about 30 percent reported being harassed on a regular basis.
"For me, anyone who interrupts my personal space to objectify me or make me feel uncomfortable or threatened is harassing me," she says . . .
This article comes at a fitting time, considering I recently had some strong words over here: Maybe it's coz I'm not pretty enough., by Holly at The Pervocracy. You have to scroll down to the bottom for my firm stance on the subject.
But some of the CNN commenters--mostly, but not exclusively male--had things like this to say. Emphases mine, sic implied:
At the risk of sounding crude and sexist, there is a small portion of blame to be placed on 'some' women. While I wouldn't do this (and never have) to any woman, I have seen many cases over the years where it is obviously 'invited' by the woman walking by. A man walking down the street in a speedo would be met with laughter; by other men and/or women. But a woman wearing a form-fitting skirt that barely covers you-know-what, a low cut blouse, and high heels is pretty much saying, "Look at me!" For those women to be offended by comments regarding their looks is ridiculous, and in some ways, offensive to the intelligence of men. As if they are 'wrong' for noticing and bringing attention to, an attractive woman who is obviously trying to draw attention to herself. If people dress for success, and are the victim of truly offensive catcalls, then they are perfectly correct in being upset. If they dress like they walked off a Playboy photo shoot or from a local exotic dance club, then they are obviously doing nothing to prevent, and 'everything' to encourage catcalls. And lets not forget that catcalls have been occuring for generations and only recently, in this PC world we now are forced to live in, has it become such an offensive issue. I, along with the vast majority of men in the world, know that there is more to a woman than just her looks. But I'm sorry that some women feel so offended when ANYONE addresses their looks in a positive way. Before the workday begins, most women spend hours on cleaning, coloring, plucking, shaving, trimming, exfoliating. But once they arrive at work, we're not allowed to offer a compliment for fear of losing our jobs or going to jail. I just don't get it...
I just don't get it either. I look great in a Speedo.
. . . I don't want to hear crap from trampy women who are intentionally dressing like a street hooker in order to get attention. If you're going to dress like a hooker, then there is probably some loser guy who is going to say something to you.
Most women are trying to outdo the other women in order to gain attention of guys [even the lesbians?], regardless of whether they want to admit it or not. But, they're only happy with the attention when it gets the attention of someone they're interested in, and they'll ***** about the attention when a not so attractive guy becomes intersted in them. When they get what they want, their attitude completely changes.
If only I dressed like an indoor hooker instead of those street hookers. Then I'd attract some high class losers.
Get a life...
Conversation is not harassment or invading your 'personal space'. Catcalling as you call it, calls attention to yourself and is instinctive. Spring is a time of mating. Human beings are by our very nature an animal.
Unless there is violence or threat of violence, you are creating a environment of victimization where there is none.
Too much personal space and not enough violence. Now I understand, I understand everything.
Come on, when the weather gets warmer outside, many women wear less and less. The skirts get higher and the tops get tighter and smaller. What do they expect in the way that they dress? Why wear a mini skirt or a tight top? Not all do this, there's a lot of creeps around there, but be fair in your article! Women are to blame too!
What do I expect by wearing mini skirts? Wait, I don't own a mini skirt. Then I must be to blame for my . . . chinos and sensible shoes?
. . . Catcalls are expletives, a natural visceral reaction, not communication. It's a GREAT compliment, and if a woman doesn't like compliments she should dress like FLDS.
Really? FLDS? (I don't think they're buying this either.) I do recall a time when I was at a gas station dressed in jeans, a parka, and loafers, yet the toolio at the next pump saw me as a prostitute. Next time I might employ Vivian's method below:
. . . I just say "Jesus wouldn't act like that!" Usually that leaves them so confused they just shut up.
This one from Brenna is sad; so many women are victims of some form of Stockholm Syndrome:
It's not harrassment unless they touch you. I like the compliment. I get tired of being the smart girl all the time.
I have never gotten tired of being the smart girl. Though I know other people have gotten tired of me. :)
The title of this post came from a comment by MattE, which has somehow disappeared from the comment thread of the the catcalling article. To summarize, Mr. E lamented the fact that these days, women have become less friendly. Therefore he now only speaks to polite elderly women who know their place.
For more equally sensitive thoughts on this article, I refer you to the following:
I’ll Take The Rapists For $500 Alex!, by sherlock (he wishes!) at Bakerstreet, a blog with the subtitle, "Equal Opportunity, Politically Correct, I Insult Everyone Equally".
I am snarky today!
Ed. note 5/15/2008: I found the comment that inspired the post title. It was by MarkE, not MattE.
Ok, so that is why women dress nicely, always make sure their hair is wavy and beautiful, etc. I have noticed a shift in women's attitude in the last few years. They seem to smile less, and are quite frankly getting more rude as time passes. Oh and before you comment ladies, I am the same weight and have not changed much(yes I still have all my hair) in the last few years, so it's NOT that, as I'm sure the ladies would like to objectify. hmm. Anyway, I have stopped speaking to women, I have stopped holding doors, (except for the elderly, which seem to have NOT lost their friendliness) WOMEN, listen carefully, if you want to be equal, then quit whining and grow some. -- and don't expect men to treat you differently. As far as catcalling. all men should ignore women, then we would see complaints.
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