Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Receiver I'll Make You

Sometimes, I feel like I've lost my mind. CNN:
Catcalling - creepy or a compliment?

Catcalling a compliment? I'm fucking speechless.
"I call it street abuse," says New York City filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West, 49. "It's unwanted attention and invasion of space."

In her 1998 documentary "War Zone," Hadleigh-West confronted catcallers and filmed their responses. Many of the men literally ran away to avoid talking to her about why they whistled or made a provocative comment. The Department of Defense has used the film since 2002 to train branches of the military about issues surrounding sexual harassment and sexism in general, she says.

"Being in a public space with a strange man who is being sexually aggressive is potentially dangerous," Hadleigh-West adds.

On the other hand, some women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles, who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy. "Yeah, it's objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn't have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I'd think, 'Boy I must really be getting old and dumpy,'" she says.

Oh fuck you, just fuck you, collaborator. And while we're at it, just fuck you for making it a little harder for everyone else. Besides that, fuck you. Guess I'm not totally speechless.
According to existing studies and her own findings, [researcher Holly] Kearl says, some men are simply ignorant about how their behavior is perceived. Kearl, who completed her thesis, "Direct Action, Education, Consciousness-Raising, Activism and the Internet: Methods for Combating Street Harassment," last year, thinks posting on Web sites like HollaBackNYC is preferable to resorting to anger and violence.

"A lot of men have no idea that women don't like being talked to in this way," she says. "It never crosses their mind, and yelling doesn't educate them. If you yell, they often don't understand why you are upset and so they take it personally."

Often, Kearl says, an assertive, clear response can illicit a kinder reaction than one expects.

"A lot of the time, I find guys will just say, 'Oh, okay, I didn't realize it made you feel that way. Thanks.'"

Men don't know what? That women don't like feeling afraid for their safety in public spaces? Of course, men know that. Men who catcall count on it. In two thousand-goddamn-eight, to say that men don't understand the power imbalance that permits them to behave this way is to infantilize and excuse abusers and rapists, so fuck you, too. Fuck CNN for running that fucking headline on that fucked-up article. Fuck that writer for presenting a "balanced" picture of misogyny. I mean, fuck that.

That's enough. I'm going to go drink something decaffeinated and try not to picture myself saying the same thing ten years from now, when douchebags still act surprised that women are human beings.



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