The very popular video shows a volunteer getting “cat called” by several men in a 10 hour time span spent in the city. Since its debut, it has accumulated north of 39 million YouTube views! The PSA has divided viewers on the prevalence of cat calling and street harassment as a singular issue. Its features on major news outlets like CNN, FOX, NBC and CBS has totally blown the issue of cat calling out of proportion, making it seem like an issue worth as much discussion as the recent midterm elections.
Social media provided a home for many women to express why they do equate cat calling with harassment. One Facebook comment on Macaulay Honors senior Carlsky Belizaire’s post says, “As women, our bodies are constantly being commented on and criticized against our wishes and without our consent.” Countless similar views probably linger around Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as women furiously share their interactions with street harassment while agreeing on the immorality of cat calling.
But others, like me, voice opinions that vehemently disagree with the way many women make cat calling seem like a covert attack on us. “[When guys cat call] I just go on with my day,” Brown senior, Chell Burke, 21, says. “If you’re not touching me or following me, then I’m unbothered.” When comedian Sommore stopped by the hit radio show, the Breakfast Club she gave her take on the video. “I get offended when homeless men don’t say nothing to me. I love it.”
Let me talk about my experience with “street harassment.” I developed quite early. Meaning that at 11 years old, I got mistaken for the ages 14-20. So I know of every way that a man can compliment, comment, and express his happiness about the female body. Particularly, a bottom heavy body. From the first time it happened, to last week when I gave a guy my mom’s phone number to send him on his way and so I could laugh at her confusion later; it never crossed my mind to moan and groan about the comments or actions of strangers.
According to a professor, my thought or lack thereof counts as:
counterintuitive – contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but often nevertheless true).
Maybe even also anti-feminist as some friends call me, anti-girl, pro-harassment, misogynistic etc. But like with the comments of my fellow New Yorkers aka street harassers, these epithets mean nothing to me.
I lend more concern to the way that the social media encourages people to over-sensitize non-factors. How many of your parents and grandparents met through “street harassment?” And how often do people receiving Instagram likes, complimentary comments, and retweets complain about cyber sexual harassment? Do we not validate our posts and pictures by how our friends and strangers react to them? Do people not find love through Instagram and Facebook messages from strangers that say the same things as “street harassers?”
We live in an era that makes people less and less receptive to physical social interaction. We do not even know how to ignore people without pressing a block button. Pretty much any kind of verbal communication that does not come from our celebrity crush or cute passerbyer can be labeled as “street harassment.”
No one should get into your personal space, put their hands on you, or follow you in such a way that makes you feel unsafe. When was the last time the comment “You look beautiful today,” made you feel in danger? Or feel harassed in the dictionary definition of the word?
Harassment – aggressive pressure or intimidation.
No, harassment does not mean that he said something about you without your consent or said something that you do not like nor appreciate. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, we do not also have say in the ways someone speaks about anything related to us.
A tough but, factual truth that I hope shoos away all this commotion about random guys on the street, as if their words hold any value greater than the amount of time it takes for them to expel their Oooh’s and Aaaah’s.
Hollaback! clearly does not share my sentiments and they would like to end street harassment with your help through a donation on their website.
I think I have a better chance of waking up like Beyoncé. If you guys would like to donate to that cause, hit my paypal!