Catching Catcalls On Camera, Ctd

Many readers are scratching their heads over this video:

Oh c’mon – street harassment? I watched the video, read the posts, and I don’t see what the fuss is all about.  Yes, it is cringe-worthy, especially where the guy walks along beside her for too long, but she is on the crowded streets of NYC.  I never felt any kind of actual fear for her, mainly because none of the comments were really all that threatening.  They appreciated her young beauty, and expressed it, so what’s the big deal?  OK, gee, she felt “uncomfortable”, but so what?  We have all kinds of things to feel uncomfortable about – that’s life in the 21st century.  Deal with it.

Now I’m of a certain age where I can say that I was in the more or less in the first wave of feminism.  I was young, blond and attractive, and all kinds of comments were made to me at school, at work, and while traveling.  They never really bothered me, and I’m certainly not psychologically scarred by it.  As women, being told one is pretty is the least of our problems. Yes, I know, it “objectifies” us, but oh, gee, so do lots of things.

I’m not going to contribute to Hollaback, no thank you. My feminist dollars are better spent at Planned Parenthood, or any of the host of other worthy organizations that support women’s health and well-being.

Another:

I’d love to see the full 10 hours of footage. If all they could get is a boiled down two minutes of mostly guys saying hello, good morning, god bless, it seems like the world is not quite as hostile as they hoped it would be. I wonder how many thousands of men she walked by in that 10 hours that said nothing, didn’t notice her at all.

Granted, that guy following her was creepy as hell, and a minute into it he should have been told to back the fuck off. But really, is all of this honestly sexual harassment? No one grabbed at her; no one physically touched her in any way. No one even said anything overtly sexual. Do we really want to make it a crime to say hello to a stranger on the street?

There are some people in this world who really relish being the victim, it gives them a sense of power. I think that’s what’s behind this video.

Another reader wants the creators to pan out:

To the producers of this video, maybe you can try their little social experiment in perceived unfairness by walking down a street in Bogota, Mogadishu, Baghdad, Kabul, Cape Town or a hundred other places that treat women with genuine, bone-crunching contempt without getting dragged into an alley and killed while people call you an infidel or Sharmuta [whore].  Would that alter your conception of “abuse” in any way?

Another sees the focus too narrow even here at home:

The video really is appalling, mostly because the woman seems largely unsurprised. Maybe it’s acting, but I fear this is really how it is for a woman walking by herself through the city. (I’m sending the video to my girlfriend, and I’m anxious to get her response.) But if you look at the shabby clothes the catcallers are wearing, it’s a pretty fair bet that most are not well-educated. So these guys probably aren’t checking in on feminist blogs every other day, or talking to feminist friends. Which means the feminists who blog or who rant at the independent coffee shop counter really aren’t getting their message out to the demographic that needs it most.

In short, most feminists preach to the choir: to other feminists and their friends, on blogs and on social media, within earshot of the educated straight guys who agree on an intellectual / moral level but feel the terrible weight of their own thought crimes when they see a woman in public they’re attracted to. What good comes of this?

I’ve been waiting for the web’s feminist luminaries to go beyond proving that they have it rough and begin talking about what they’re going to do about it. Isn’t that what a civil rights movement is supposed to do? (To their credit, the organization that made this video seem like they’re interested in real world results.)

Better yet, bring this message to inner city classrooms, public parks and community centers. With their vast supply of creative snark, feminists should be able to come up with some terrific billboards and TV ads that would be seen by the men who commit this kind of harassment. And if the feminists can convey this message without thoroughly shaming a male sexual impulses that are permanently, hopelessly hardwired into the brain, that would be aces. Because we’ve seen exactly how far feminism can go via essays typed on a MacBook Air while waiting for yoga class to begin – and it’s not far enough.

One more female reader sounds off:

Ouch. As a woman, Hollaback’s campaign makes me cringe. It’s so sad to see that in 40 years, feminism has gone from a radical protest movement addressing issues of importance to women in their role as half of the human race, like endless war and oppressive poverty, to a PC crusade by middle class women to make life less uncomfortably “lifey” for women as individuals.

None of the progress of the last half century would have been possible without the unqualified right to free speech, including advances in women’s rights. Free speech means free speech for everyone, including assholes and drunks, and for every kind of statement, including those an individual might disagree with or using words they might find offensive. There is no right to be shielded from unwanted communication, and frankly, life would be less rich if there were.

I can’t believe people are seriously suggesting regulating who can speak to whom in public, let alone calling it a “gateway crime” to chat someone up. I am in no way defending lewd or crass behavior, and have felt harassed myself on many occasions. However, a good chunk of the offenders shown in this video are merely saying hello in one form or another. There are regions and cultures in the US where it’s rude NOT to say hello to passersby, and neighborhoods where a compliment on a street corner is a perfectly normal way to flirt.  In my opinion, many of the interactions in this video don’t rise beyond that level.

Besides, it is simply a fact of life that men and women evolved differently, one as pursuers and one pursued. One result of millennia of conditioning is that in the mating game, guys are expected to make the first move and may end up without partners if they don’t.

What’s most depressing to me is that issues like this one, such as crusading for affirmative consent or against fat-shaming, highlight why the progressive left doesn’t resonate with more independents; taken to this extreme their agenda simply conflicts with our hard-won civil liberties, not to mention common sense and human nature.

Let’s be clear, Hollaback is quite seriously lobbying for public communication to be regulated, for the initiation of an unwanted conversation with a woman to be criminalized. We hear a lot about the right’s so-called “war on women”, but the left doesn’t recognize that proposals like this feel an awful lot like a “war on men” and leave a bad taste in the mouth for fair-minded people of all political stripes.