Street harassment: epidemic or overblown?

Posted: November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

“Oi, ginger pubes”, “I wonder if the carpet matches the curtain”, “are you sure you don’t need to recharge?” “carrot top”, “gingernut!”

What the hell am I talking about? Well, those are just some of the names that have been shouted at me as I’ve been walking around the town I live. I don’t live in a big city, I live in a small (ish), working class ex-mining town of a few thousand people. These instances are rare, as are instances of women being catcalled. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen men catcall or make inappropriate comments towards women, and vice versa. I actually live on a main road and, sometimes, I look out my window during busy times and, often, men are too engaged in their own lives (phones out, etc) to spend time catcalling women.

Would I consider those insults to be harassment? No, not at all. My understanding of harassment is simple – it’s a repetitive series of events designed to threaten or intimidate. Single instances of strangers spitting out insults does not fit my definition of harassment. Are they annoying? Yeah, of course. Are the people who say them cunts? Yeah, of course. Does it make me scared? Scared of what exactly? Scared I’ll get beat up? No, not really. Why? Well, because, usually, the person who shouts them is over the other side of the road and, despite my looks, I can actually run quite fast. Not for very far, mind, but far enough to get to a safe distance.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve seen the ‘woman walks through NYC for 10 hours and gets constantly harassed’ video and I just thought I’d share my two pennerth, as I do with pretty much everything.

If you haven’t seen the video I’m talking about, it’s here:

Let’s get this clear straight away – harassment is fucking moronic. People who genuinely harass others are sick, and I mean that genuinely. It’s not normal, at least in my eyes, to follow someone around to the point of making them fear for their lives. The people who do it need genuine medical help to sort out their problems. And by harassment, in these instances anyway, I’m talking about stalking to the most extreme degree, or simply just always being there when someone is trying to just live their lives.

I feel similarly about people (not just men) who catcall. Exposing Feminism made a post about catcalling a couple of months ago and it was one of the few times I disagreed with something they’d posted.

For me, catcalling is probably one of the most fucking moronic things you can do. It’s stupid, unnecessary and serves no actual purpose. I’ve genuinely never seen catcalling work on anybody, whether that be a man or a woman, it’s most often met with surprise or bemusement or derision. Catcalling is moronic.

But, do I class catcalling as harassment? If it’s a single, one-off event then no, it doesn’t fit the definition of harassment. If it’s a repeated pattern of abuse, directed by one person at one person then yes it’s harassment.

This is why I don’t think catcalling, in terms of a person saying something to another person in the street, is harassment. Yes, it’s fucking stupid, pathetic and something that only morons commit, but it’s not harassment. The fact that you may get catcalled multiple times doesn’t mean it’s harassment, it means you’ve been unfortunate enough to just be catcalled numerous times.

Now, it’s probably worth mentioning here that I’m an unattractive, cis, white male. That means the catcalling, or ‘street harassment’, I’ve been subjected to probably isn’t on the same scale as an attractive woman, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Offensive? No. Frightening? Not really. Annoying? Yeah, pretty much.

The point of the video is to show, supposedly, how bad street harassment is for women. However, numerous people have taken issue with what has been presented. The main two arguments I’ve seen that claim this video has over-exaggerated the problem seem to be:

  1. Out of 10 hours of walking around, we only get a 2 minute video.
  2. Lots of the comments were compliments, not harassment.

Both points I can actually agree with, to some degree.

Point 1 – There is a note at the end of the video that says it didn’t include all the winks and whistles and that, overall, over 100 pieces of harassment were directed to her. Well, if we consider point number 2, that many of the pieces of ‘harassment’ were not, in fact, harassment, then that lowers the actual number.

So, what was harassment and what wasn’t? Well, the one guy who walked beside her for five minutes, yeah he’s a cunt. The guy, who I don’t think we actually see, who shouted ‘damn’, yeah he’s a cunt. The guys who used terms like ‘baby’, yeah they’re cunts. But, those were only a few of the comments. A lot of the comments were simply ‘hello’ and ‘have a good day’.

So, why am I trying to defend this? Why am I trying to speak for this woman who filmed herself on a 10 hour walk around New York? Well, I’m actually not trying to speak for her and I’m trying to defend the men because I believe that they are being unfairly labelled as harassers.

Why? Well, I think feminism has played its part. And before you think I’m just finding any excuse to label feminism as the enemy, I want you to focus on these two articles, both of which I’ve recently written blogs on:

In both of them, the authors lament the loss of the ‘real man’, the man who will go after what he wants and not stop until he gets it. The authors wonder where the traditional values of masculinity have disappeared, they wonder where the men of old have gone, the ones who will make the first step, take the lead, be the leaders, be pro-active and sweep a woman off their feet with their hyper masculinity.

Now, Matt Walsh is not a feminist, far from it, however the blog I’ve linked to shows, quite clearly, how much he values traditional qualities of chivalry. Men are getting mixed messages, even from feminists. The message is loud and clear – don’t speak to women when out in the street, women have the right to walk down the street without comments being made. But then, feminists also lament the loss of those happenings and then shame men who don’t put themselves out there.

This is what happens when men embody those qualities. The men in the video are forthright, they’re outspoken, they see something they like and make a go for it, they take the lead. Do they all do it in the right way? No, but most of them do. I think the most interesting man is the guy who tries to talk to her as they walk down the street. He asks her if he’s too ugly for her, he asks her if she’s ‘not talking’. He asks her if him giving her his number would help. He’s taking the lead, he’s being in control, he saw someone he liked and he went after her. Yet this video labels him as a harasser, it labels him as the type of unscrupulous man who women don’t want to date. But, a feminist laments the loss of these characteristics, a feminists says that men who don’t take control, don’t go after what they want ‘don’t have balls’. In the article, she states that men’s ego does not let them risk embarrassment. I ask every man out there, would you be willing to talk to a woman in the street if there was a chance she was secretly filming you and would later post the video as an example of street harassment? Yeah, I wouldn’t.

The whole thing is confusing. Do women deserve to be able to walk down the street without being harassed? Absolutely. Was this woman harassed? For the most part, I don’t think so.

It’s simply too confusing to be a man trying to get the attention of a woman nowadays. Let’s dismiss the men who obviously go about it the wrong way and focus on the ones who are simply saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’. Those men are not harassing the woman, they are simply talking to her.

Why? Well, because how else would a woman know you are interested? You throw out a comment, if you get a response, be it positive or negative, then at least you know where you stand. It’s unfortunate that the qualities of manhood that are so desired by so people are so decried and demeaned by others.

Of course, I’m not trying to imply that some women don’t feel uncomfortable, of course that’s not for me to say, I’m simply trying to apply a male perspective. Some of these men, it seems, were testing the waters, so to speak, to see what reaction they would get. If you pay attention to the video, the men who say ‘hi’ and ‘good morning’ do not follow up with anything else, they simply continue on with their day.

Do some women get uncomfortable when men say stuff to them on the streets? Yeah, I’m not denying that, it’s not my place to tell women how they feel, but videos like this are made to serve an agenda and, unfortunately, most people forget that the woman in this video does not represent every single woman on the planet. That’s what feminism does, it takes things like ‘street harassment’ and then assumes every woman thinks the same (you know, because women are too stupid to really know what they want without feminism’s help, or some bullshit like that).

As I said in my last blog, it creates a culture of fear, it tells women that they are always the victim, no matter what. It ignores those women who actively contest the feminist message and either pretends they don’t exist or simply tells them they’re wrong.

Feminism’s constant fear mongering and victim playing leads to scenarios like this:

It cultivates a false feeling of fear in women, it makes them fear men for no good reason, it makes women scared to be women.

Do men suffer harassment in the streets? Let’s have a look:

The answer is yes. Does feminism address this? No, it inflates the problems women face and dismisses the problems men face. What’s the difference between men and women being ‘harassed’? Well, if you constantly tell women to be afraid, constantly tell them that something is a problem then they’re going to start believing it. I said in my last blog how powerful feminism is, this is that power in action. When you can make women fear a man who is simply hurriedly walking to wherever he wants to go that’s a lot of power you wield. Unfortunately, for me, feminism wields this power in a way that is harmful to both men and women.

Yes, some women are uncomfortable with comments made towards them on the street, but what feminism does is turn that attention into something more sinister, to the point that women think every man walking behind them is out to get them.

What happens when women deliberately harass men? This:

The reaction of most men? To laugh or simply ignore it. Why? Because men aren’t constantly told to be victims.

I’m not for one minute trying to diminish the experience of the woman in the video, or claim that she didn’t feel uncomfortable as she was walking around, I’m just trying to put forward a viewpoint that isn’t tainted by the poison of feminism. Someone took me to task for labelling feminism as ‘poison’ in my last blog, I’ll be writing another blog shortly after this one explaining myself, for the time being I’ll continue to refer to feminism as poison.

What I find disheartening is that a video like this is published and people immediately cannot wait to get outraged on the woman’s behalf. A lot of women, a lot, have commented on this video in the numerous places it’s been shared (I’ve seen at least 7 or 8 different Facebook pages share it) and either stated that they don’t think the majority of comments were harassment or that they actually enjoy those kinds of comments. There was even an article a few months ago by a woman who claimed catcalls are compliments and women should love them. Now, I’m not going to go that far, however I will say that the women who contest this video are the ones whose opinions are often ignored.

That’s my problem with feminism, that’s one reason I call it poison. A minority of women (and men) identify as feminists, yet when videos like this appear the majority of women who don’t believe the feminists cries of misogyny, the women who counter popular feminist theory are not the ones who are given a platform to be heard. Instead, we get the feminist minority telling us how this is a problem for all women and how it must be stopped. It doesn’t consider the opposing views, it doesn’t engage with the fact that it doesn’t represent all women, it just ploughs on ahead and speaks for those who have actively denied it.

Then, there’s this picture, which has appeared since the video was released:

It just adds to the whole confusing mess. If she wanted to show an ‘average’ woman’s journey around New York then why is she complaining that the video makes her look unattractive? Surely, the fact she looked unattractive (I actually think she’s a very pretty woman) would have proven her point about this ‘epidemic’ happening to all women, average or beautiful? So, she wants to highlight how women are harassed on the street, but then complains that she doesn’t appear to be very good looking, which would suggest she actually cared about what people thought and, possibly, would enjoy the compliments. Not the morons who decided to act like douches, but at least the comments about being beautiful.

I don’t know, like I say it’s not for me to comment on this one woman’s experience in New York. I live in a completely different world. All I’m saying is that the immediate outrage garnered by this video, probably from people who didn’t even watch it, shows just what happens when you constantly tell someone to be afraid, constantly tell them how everything is a result of hatred, forever tell them that they can’t enjoy something that they aren’t ‘supposed’ to be enjoying.

Men catcall women, women catcall men. It’s a pretty stupid thing to do, but would I call it harassment? Would I say it’s at ‘epidemic’ levels? If this video is anything to go by then I’d say no, and I think a lot of women would agree with me.

That’s not me mansplaining, that’s just me listening to what women have said themselves. Women say they want a man to take the lead, to not give up, to sacrifice his pride on the off-chance something good might come of it, yet those men who do embody those qualities are then roundly shamed in a video by a minority of people who think they speak for everyone.

The sooner we stop listening to the minority the better, the sooner we start listening to every perspective, every opinion, even the ones that contest the mainstream rhetoric, the better. Until then, men will continue to shun relationships and women will continue to wonder why.

Let’s stop treating women like they’re weak, helpless little darlings who need protecting. Let’s stop treating men like they’re mindless, thuggish predators and maybe, just maybe, we might all learn to get along with one another.


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