Words on the Streets

A recent video posted by the organization Hollaback documents a women walking the streets of New York city and being harassed 100 times over 10 hours.

It’s a mark of shame on the city that someone could have no trouble filming that. Creepy men can be found in every corner of the city and they operate with impunity. It’s no crime to be a sleazy jerk.

Catcalls are the calling card of failures. They are the currency of street garbage. It is behavior lower than an animal’s and people who do that should be treated as such. There’s no excuse for that behavior, so let’s stop making it.

There’s nothing manly about it. It’s the mark of a coward to impose yourself on a woman traveling alone. Watch the same women walk around for 10 hours with a man at her side and watch people shut up.

The right thing to do is not acknowledge this at all. What annoys me is to see women smile at these people. That only encourages them. They want to get some kind of reaction.

It happens almost exclusively to women who are traveling alone. Rule of thumb: don’t say anything to a woman you wouldn’t say in front of her much larger and meaner boyfriend, husband or father. Talk to women on the street the way you would if your mother was there with you.

One criticism of the film is that it somehow holds up as negative the normal attraction men feel for women and that it is somehow a covertly radical feminist diatribe against men. This is nonsense.

There’s no gender warfare involved with this, this is an issue of behaving like a decent human being. I oppose catcalls not because I am a feminist (men by definition aren’t feminists), but because I believe in civilization.

There’s a difference between noticing a pretty woman and making it obvious that you’re staring at them. Everyone hates being stared at. If you are an adult man and you haven’t figured out how to discreetly and quietly check out a woman’s ass, you’re an imbecile. Real men learn how to do that by the time we’re 14 at the latest. Not employing this skill makes you unfit for the benefits of an adult male.

There was once a time when men who made those comments towards women were meant to pay for it by the judgment and actions of their peers; it is time for that again.

When they turn 12, I plan to buy my daughters pepper spray and stun guns. But more vital than that, is to make sure they are raised with enough sense of self that they don’t respond to catcalls or give any quarter to people who would behave that way in public. My girls are far above and beyond the kind of people who would harangue women on the street.

The most ridiculous accusation against the film is one of racial bias. There are no “racial politics” involved in the film. The Hollaback group wrongly issued an apology for the “unintended racial bias” depicted in the movie. But there’s nothing to suggest it is not an accurate portrayal of street harassment. It’s as real as real gets.

The accusations of racial bias in the film are groundless. There are indeed white street harassers depicted in the video, and I know this just by watching the short video that is about two minutes long. I have not watched all 10 hours of the video but I’m willing to wager that the racial composition of street harassers depicted over 10 hours will be largely unchanged from the two minute summary video.

The population of street hoodlums does not perfectly mirror the racial makeup of the city, and so no accurate video of New York street life will either. What activists call “racial bias” in the video most New Yorkers know as reality. If you think the video is a vehicle of racial politics you are lacking common sense and completely missing the point.

And the point is that this kind of behavior should stop. There is no excuse for it from any race of people.

Let’s resolve to stand up against inappropriate behavior. New York is rude enough without making it inhospitable to women. If you are a real man, you want all women to feel comfortable in your city. Make it so.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One response to “Words on the Streets”

  1. rajeevgupta says :

    Glad you nailed the race issue in bud for this one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: