Dear Dr. Darcy:
I just don’t understand women’s hostility toward men. Yesterday I saw a beautifully dressed woman walking down the street and I told her that she looked stunning and she turned around and basically attacked me, telling me that I had no right to speak to her since she doesn’t know me and on and on and on for about a minute (felt like an hour). Finally I yelled back at her and said that I’m not about to get my ass ripped from a woman who a) isn’t signing my paycheck, or who b) I’m not sleeping with. If I didn’t say that, she’d probably still be yelling at me. What gives with women?
You cannot fathom what it feels like to walk down the street and have strange men, of EVERY age, feel entitled to stare at you in an unflinching manner until you’re out of eyesight. It is one of the most disconcerting experiences of my commute to and from work, which is saying a lot given that I live in New York and have to deal with public urination, junkies and bad fashion on a daily basis.
Our society trains boys to feel entitled to objectify women, and perhaps the most egregious expressions of this objectification is the in-person stare down that women have to endure as pedestrians. Ironically, within the cat-call scenario, there is a breach of social norms in that the most verbal and offensive of your gender tend to be those men who wouldn’t feel entitled to approach me in any other context because, well, they probably wouldn’t frequent the same establishments that I do (because they live in different neighborhoods than I do, because the establishments that I frequent would be cost-prohibitive to them, or because men are expected to behave as civilized beings in establishments that I frequent) and if they were, they would approach women who would score similarly to them on an attraction meter (similar physical attraction, similar education, compatible profession). Yet, during my commute, physical attraction, education, career objectives, and all the other factors that typically go into determining who would be an appropriate ‘match’ – these things don’t seem to cross a man’s mind before he opens his mouth to utter any assortment of comments. I seem to be a favorite among delivery boys and Con Ed workers.
Cat-calls make women feel uncomfortable for a myriad of reasons. On the outside chance that I can bestow some wisdom upon you, I’m going to go through the laborious exercise of listing just a few:
- We typically don’t feel entitled to tell you to shut the fuck up. It’s not that we don’t want to tell you to shut the fuck up, rather (much to my chagrin), there is a physical disparity between the genders which renders a physical power imbalance between us. In much the same way that the high school bully is usually a fat fuck whom his skinny victim dares not confront, we are disinclined to defend ourselves for fear of provoking you.
- Your comments embarrass us. If we can hear you, so can others on the street. This unwanted attention is often humiliating.
- Many of us went through great pains to evolve beyond our physical attributes. I, for example, earned so many advanced degrees that I now have the equivalent of a mortgage without the home ownership. When men express themselves through cat-calls, it is as though all those years of education are meaningless because at the end of the day, my worth boils down to my tits and ass.
In closing, I’ll say that the woman who ripped you a new asshole yesterday was probably expressing years of pent up frustration. I would suggest that moving forward, before you approach women on the street, you ask yourself, a) Would I make this remark to the woman who signs my paycheck, and if not, then, b) Is this a woman who I’m sleeping with? If the answer to both questions is a resounding NO, you’re advised to keep your fucking mouth shut.
Writer's Stats: Male, heterosexual.