Opinion: This is why we're mad, fellas...
By Kyra Kyles
So, in conversations and online exchanges with some fellas, I noted a general confusion about the infamous catcalling video that supposedly awakened all of America to what women go through on a daily basis.
A lot of the conversation has shifted from, “wow, this is what it’s like to be catcalled for 10 hours” to “wow, there is not one White man in the video.” And yes, I agree that editing out White males is a problem.
I also vehemently disagree that White men don’t catcall ( for starters, try walking around any club scene or college campus or tourist trap in America ’round midnight or later with a GoPro if you doubt that).
But let’s get beyond obvious lewd shouts, wolf whistles, growls and howls.
I certainly don’t want anyone to think that saying “good morning,” is the new harassment, but some of the confused gentlemen should consider what it would feel like if you were simply walking around minding your business and perfect strangers felt the need to comment on your appearance, whether or not it is positive feedback. Not once, not twice but the majority of your day.
As my sister, Kozi, pointed out on Facebook…it is not the job of women to be Wal-Mart greeters, favoring every man who feels froggy with a smile or a greeting in return.
Further, you may have belted out your friendly “top o’ the morning” right after some other less polite individual has yelled “smile,” “oooh, good God you’re gorgeous…stop and talk to me,” or made some other lip-smacking sounds more appropriate for heralding the arrival of a plate of hot wings, rather than a greeting for a grown arse woman.
Also consider that there is an inherent risk in just talking to a stranger. This ain’t Mayberry, after all.
You don’t know if this person just left a funeral, is leaving the building after being fired, or worse… So to tell someone to smile or expect them to interrupt their day to address you is a bit much.
And before parting, as I know you are dying to get your point across, imagine yourself– as a man who may rarely (if ever) get catcalled– walking up the street. You come across a friendly and smiling person who says “hi” to you, with clipboard in hand, and you say “hi” back. The next person with a clipboard says hello, but then asks you to donate to a cause. You oblige. Then, you walk a few more blocks and see a clipboard-bearing individual who also ask you to donate. You might begrudgingly oblige, but you might be sick of this by now. I am guessing that by the 10th encounter, you might be dodging anyone with a clipboard…
You feel me, yet?
No matter how well-meaning and nice you think you’re being, you just don’t know how your words will be interpreted. That is really the main takeaway of this thread of the pop culture discussion.
I’m not sure if this video is the tipping point for catcalling. However, anything that causes us to pause and consider how our statements and actions affect others is a good thing. And I do hope this gives you a better understanding of what the big deal is because it’s clear that there is a lot of head-scratching…hopefully a lot less lewd catcalling too.
Just added on 11/3 at 1:45 p.m. CST: And if you still don’t get it, let my girls at CNN help you out: