Why, Thank You, Sir. I Do Have Great Tits.

I was walking along the side of a road in rural Maine, on a hot July day. A rusty pickup truck, its rattle announcing its presence before the man in the driver’s seat became visible, slowed as it approached.

“Hey, big ol’ titties!”

I stood there, shocked, as the car sputtered off into the distance. Not because of what had been said. Because I had spent years living in a big city and it suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time in weeks that something like this had happened.

I moved to Philadelphia in 2008, having bounced from small sheltered hometown to larger, sheltered college town to, finally, a real live city. Philadelphia, a place known for belligerent sports fans and down-to-earth bluntness, was also a place – at least, for me, at this time in my life – that felt incomparably magical and full of promise. I moved into a tiny studio apartment near Broad Street. Within weeks, the Phillies won the world series, Obama was elected the first black president of the United States, and I woke up naked on my twenty-third birthday next to the remnants of a half-eaten cheesesteak. It was gonna be a good year.

The comments felt like part of all that, at first. I mean, sure, I’d dealt with some weird shit before. The creepy old man who hung out near the public library in my hometown. The diner waiter who sometimes got a little too friendly. The customer who asked me, when I was fourteen years old, if I’d blow his son in the back room of the hospital coffeeshop where I worked as a candy striper. At the time, I didn’t even know what a blowjob was.

This felt different, somehow. My walk to work in the morning would take me past the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. At first, dudes yelling at me felt like simply a part of the atmosphere, no different from the annoyance of tourists taking pictures. I would smile back, even when it made me uncomfortable, which it almost always did. I needed to preserve that fairytale for myself. I told myself that being hollered at on the street by strangers was simply one of those things that you learned to navigate when you moved to a city, like learning how the subway worked, or discerning which homeless people needed genuine help and which were scam artists.  After awhile, I started walking to work with headphones, even if the batteries had died and there was no music playing. It was just easier that way.

Recently I wrote a piece on my blog in which I cited two specific examples of street harassment that had happened to me within the past 24 hours. These examples were almost incidental to the point I was trying to make, which is why I was surprised when this appeared in the comment section:

So what is your specific objection to the behaviour of those men in the car and what has it got to do with feminism – as opposed to just ‘the behaviour of people in general’? I mean, it’s not as if men are immune from having annoying things shouted at them by women (and men) – including compliments/ ridicule about their physical appearance / sexual attractiveness. However annoying these men might have been, they were still paying you a compliment (of sorts!) and they were hardly harassing you.

My knee-jerk reaction was anger. Hot flashes of anger. Fuck you. Of course it’s a feminist issue. I don’t even want to bother explaining why. Or why that kind of shit simply isn’t a compliment, and never will be. Go fuck yourself.

Then I waited a few days. I thought about it some more.

Then I decided to figure out if maybe the jackass didn’t have a point.

I posted this on my facebook page:

Informal Poll. WOMEN: Can you cite the last time you were harassed on the street, or your physical appearance was commented upon by a stranger? How often would you say this happens in your daily life? MEN: Can you cite the last time you were harassed on the street, or your physical appearance was commented upon by a stranger? How often would you say this happens in your daily life?  I’m not trying to inflame or provoke with this question, and this is (not yet) a place for discussion. I’m trying to informally collect data. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Okay. So. If you’re on your way to work or have something else going on today, just stop here. This one’s long. I’m sorry. Come back to it later. Or pause and make a snack now. Brew some coffee. Ready? Okay.

I received responses, either directly on that thread or emailed to me privately, from 75 women and 35 men. I was at work that day, my phone vibrating in my purse for hours. I wasn’t expecting the sudden outpouring of comments that occurred, but it felt like floodgates had been opened. There were a lot of stories to tell.

Now, look. I know this is all anecdotal. I’m not a scientist. I’m not a sociologist. I’m just some writer with a blog and a facebook account. There is real data on this out there, and entire organizations that deal with this specific problem. (The fine folks at Hollaback Philly, for starters).

But within this tiny microcosm of that informal facebook poll, the data surprised me.  I think it’s worth talking about.

So let’s start with the ladies.

Of those 75 women, the majority of them were in the age range of 20 – 35, and the majority of those women live in major metropolitan areas. Of the women in those two demographics, the vast majority had replies that included phrases like, “today,” “yesterday,” “just now,” or “this week.”

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The women over the age of forty who replied had different answers. They all remembered experiencing this throughout their lives, it just simply wasn’t an issue for them anymore. “Surprise, surprise, our culture is sexist and ageist!” one woman wrote.

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Of those ladies in the 20-35 age demographic, they are beautiful women of all shapes and sizes.

They all had stories. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes really horrifying stories. The stories told by my smokin’ hot go-go dancer friend are not dissimilar from the stories told by my friend with giant hips or my friend with giant boobs or my friend who is overweight. Their data is the same on paper. Their appearance is commented upon in a sexual and uncomfortable way, by men who are strangers. Routinely.

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Here’s how I can boil down the body type thing: Skinny? You’ll get harassed about it. Big tits? You’ll get harassed about it. Fat ass? You’ll get harassed about it. Overweight? You’ll get harassed about it.

Is some of it disguised as a compliment? Hell, yeah, it is. That’s what makes this so complicated.

Is it possible that some of those comments were genuinely meant to be taken AS compliments? Yup. It is.

Isn’t it also true that there’s a fine line between a catcall, a genuine compliment and a fat joke? Yeah. That’s also true.

And, okay, oh boy. So — what happens if you’re a lady between the ages of twenty and thirty-five who lives in a major metropolitan area and has skin that isn’t white?

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It’s worth mentioning here that my white lady friends occasionally brought up race, but only if they were framing it within a certain context. I.e. “I get called ‘hey, white girl’, but I live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.”

So: if you’re a skinny lady: you’ll get hollered at (and sometimes it’s about your weight). If you’re a fat lady, you’ll get hollered at (and sometimes it’s about your weight). If you’re a lady of any race, you’ll get hollered at (and sometimes it’s about your race).

But, I mean, come on. I bet we’re all doing something to attract that kind of attention. We’re probably giving off some signals. Right?

Oh. Wait. Shit.

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If you smile: you’re encouraging it. If you’re neutral: you’re told to smile. If you’re frowning: you’re a bitch.

From a friend, “I get “gimme a smile sweetheart” a LOT. Which confirms that i walk around with a perma bitch face, something i developed a long time ago to ward off unwanted advances, but clearly it does the opposite.”

Honestly, though: Is that surprising information to you?

It wasn’t for me. Not really. It felt nice to know I wasn’t alone. But it all backs up my own worldview, up until this point. Some stuff made me sad. Stuff like “I feel naked without a backpack on. I need the weight as my security blanket.” 

And some shit is really complicated. Stuff like, “The ‘you’re beautiful’ comments – they’re kind of nice.”

Because, you know. They are. A genuine, non-creepy, compliment like that: I’ll glow all day.

Which is impossible to quantify. And I have no idea how to articulate the difference between a genuine compliment and a creepy and threatening comment, except to say that: we know. We know it when we hear it.

You still with me? Okay. I’m sorry. I warned you. I’d get another cup of coffee now, if I were you.

Back? Alright! Here we go.

Let’s meet the men.

Now, I realize that receiving 35 responses from men isn’t ideal. In a perfect world, there would be an equal sample of male and female respondents. But you know, again: not a perfect world, not a real survey, etc. So here we go.

Let’s look at body type:

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Interesting. So if you’re a overweight guy and a stranger comments on your appearance, it’s probably about your weight.

Let’s look at race:

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So if you’re a guy who happens to be a different race, and you get hollered at, it’s probably about your race.

Let’s look at sexuality.

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Oh, shit. Let’s look at race AND sexuality:

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Oh, balls. (No pun intended).

Okay, so: If you’re a dude who is gay or perceived gay, and someone makes a comment, it’s probably about your sexuality.

Which brings me to the tricky stuff. The dudes who don’t fall into any of those categories. The straight dudes of average build. The guys we’re probably assuming to be part of the problem.

Huh. They have some crazy shit said to them, too.

Granted, with different rules. For example, not a one of them used a phrase like “daily” “on average,” or “routinely.” (Although one did have a story that began with “today.”) Their stories used words like “this one time,” “rarely,” or “last summer.” There were some common themes, though: being challenged, either directly or indirectly, to fight. Being solicited by prostitutes or by johns outside a massage parlor. Their stories tended to use specific places as reference:

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A few of the respondents were nice, non-threatening nerdy guys, the kind I always want to date. Their responses were hilarious, and honest. “Only when I wear my Zelda t-shirt.” “I’ve had girls tell me my dog is cute when I’m walking her. That means they’re into me, right? Otherwise no, never.”

Just one of the male respondents had a story about being the guy doing the harassing. This is an older man whom I have watched play with tiny children, teaching them to blow bubbles with soap and laughing at their jokes. If I could adopt another uncle or grandfather, he’d be the guy. I can’t imagine a more gentle soul.

“When I was a young man I was walking in a park with a friend. A young woman ran past us. I made a comment to her. I don’t recall ever having done such a thing before. It was not of an explicit nature – I thought I was being clever. I remember the moment very vividly. I thought it entirely likely that she would take my comment as a compliment. She did not. She went nuts! She stopped dead in her tracks, turned, approached me and fearlessly screamed into my face. I honestly thought she was going to beat the tar out if me. Instead, having made her point, she walked away. I was shaken. I had the distinct feeling of having ruined both of our days. I clumsily muttered an apology. I don’t know if she heard it. If she did, she didn’t acknowledge it. For me, it was truly a moment of clarity.

I love this story, and I hate this story at the same time. I love it because of the lesson. I hate it because in all the years that shit has been said to me, very rarely have I said anything back. Very rarely have I attempted to turn it into a teachable moment, instead of simply walking away.

*

Of the 75 women who replied to my question, some used humor in their storytelling, but all took the question seriously. Of the 35 men, several gave replies like “happens all the time, it’s hard for me to be so beautiful, lol.” I’m not accusing here, just quietly stating the facts. All of the women acknowledged the issue. I can’t say the same for the men.

This makes me sad because I love men. This makes me sad because my treasured male friendships are so insanely precious and dear. This makes me sad because it feels insane that I have to include this kind of disclaimer, lest my point be misinterpreted as some kind of angry man-hating feminist rant.

I love men. Always have. Always will. I’m so grateful to the ones in my life for being the beautiful assortment of weirdos, scholars, dancers, lovers, freaks, and jackasses you are. And if you’re reading this, and you’ve made it this far, you know I’m not talking about you. I’m not here to say I’m angry with men, in general. I’m here to say that the specific men who are perpetuating this bullshit are the ones I’m furious with.

I love men. Just to clear that up.
But there some bad eggs in the bunch, and those are the ones stinking up the place.

*

When women are harassed: it’s relentless and upsetting. And it’s a problem.
When men are harassed: it’s sporadic and upsetting. And it’s still a problem.

To answer that guy from the beginning of the article:

Is this a feminist issue? Yeah. I think it is.

Is this also a humanist issue? Yeah. I think it’s that, too.

When a stranger gives me a genuine compliment, it feels great. I feel awesome. The complimenter feels awesome. We all leave feeling awesome. In this fucked-up and scary world, a bit of peace, kindness, and goodwill can go a long way. Telling a stranger that they look nice, or that you like their shoes — when meant in a genuine and loving way — is the kind of community goodwill that makes me glad I live here. It makes me a little bit happier to simply be alive.

When it’s a power thing, it’s not okay. When it’s about making me feel shitty and powerless simply for being a woman, it’s not okay. When you say something creepy to me, and I say nothing in return, for fear of retribution or escalation, that’s not okay. When you say something creepy to me and retaliate in the middle of the street, that’s not okay either. That doesn’t make me feel great. It’s deeply upsetting. And I’m tired of feeling that upset feeling, every day, while walking around a city that I love.

It’s a complicated issue. If you’re still reading this far in, you’ve figured that much out by now. There aren’t easy answers, but there are some people out there who are doing beautiful things to fight back. I want to believe it will work. I want to believe that, one person at a time, it’s a learned behavior that, slowly, maybe we can all collectively try to un-learn.

Thank you for reading.

(And, hey. I mean this, in a really genuine and loving way, so please don’t take it the wrong way, but:
You’re beautiful).

 

**

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93 thoughts on “Why, Thank You, Sir. I Do Have Great Tits.

  1. Great article. I really like your writing style and it made me really think about the subject. It is certainly true and unfair that women are subjected to more harassment than men. Could part of the problem be, and this is a legitimate question, that there is such a social expectation upon men to be the initiators of relationships with our potential significant others that some men just say really stupid shit?

    I’m not trying to belittle your point in any manner or make excuses for men, because I hate being widdled down to one aspect of my being as well. But as a guy, we’re expected to make the first move. We’re supposed to have that great opening line. And nowadays we’re told you need to come up with something original or something that’s going to catch the girl off guard and get her attention. This may be a cause to the problem.

    What if as a society we broke that social expectation. We make it ok for girls to ask the guy out and in-fact encourage it. We make it so that those compliments that get mis-interpreted just don’t happen anymore. Then we can take the real harassment and get to the root of the issue. To those people who make this an issue of power and dominance.

    • This is all about power in a male structured hierarchy. Feminism is about sharing power – and yes, the dynamics of all these things would change. And while some men may not ‘want’ the power – they were born with it by virtue of their genitals and women who ‘want’ power have to fight for it by virtue of theirs. Both are outside the norms in our society. Feminism benefits all – not just women. But of course, some will understand that they (men) have to give up something in order to share.

  2. I’m amazed that men do such things. Believe me they are idiots. Pity their poor wives and girlfriends to have to put up with that b.s. And I’m not talking butter scotch there. I grew up in a long while ago and in the south. If my mama had heard some of the stuff you women are hearing coming out of my mouth, I would have gotten my butt whipped, then she would have washed my mouth out with soap. I was taught that a man should not say something to a woman he didn’t want his sister or mother to hear.

    This post brought up memories of the year or so I was regularly accessing Second Life, a virtual online world. I heard stories and experienced some of them as well. Men would say to female friends the most unbelievable sexual suggestions. And women I encountered were no less outspoken. I think part of it was because they were anonymous. They thought they could get away with such dialogue. I was honestly surprised.

    Oh, and another good post.

  3. I loved your article. It was thoughtful and balanced……and I want you to know, I love women in a very wholesome, appreciative, male sort of way. Femininity is just so appealing, don’t you think? Sadly there are a lot of women these days who can’t spell feminine let alone be it…..just as there are a lot of guys who certainly are not gentlemen. When it is right between a man and woman it is a wonderful thing, be they just friends or lovers. Men and women are meant to love each other. When we get along it is SO beautiful…..when we don’t it can be so ugly. There is no excuse ever for bad manners. Some people need to learn to be more mindful in their interactions with people, especially of the other sex…..rediscover the delight in being gracious and graceful…..and bring some genuine fun back into the whole issue of gender. A lot of people are missing out because of their ignorant, brutish attitudes and spoiling it for others.

  4. Wow, this article really hit my soul. When I decide on what to wear, I always make sure to cover my body and look classy, so I just can’t seem to comprehend why some people feel the need to holler at me. I’m not judging or anything, but I know a lot of friends who dress in super revealing clothing. I’m positive that they get hollered at so I have just always thought that acts of that kind are normal and not be over-thought.
    I used to never wear purses because I felt like I could always carry my necessities in my jean pockets. Then I reached my teenage years and I started to grow more into a woman. I can’t imagine what it would feel like now to walk without a purse. (As mentioned in your post and applies to me as well), a purse acts as security blanket. I can’t explain it, but it just does. I used to have amazing posture and over the years I’ve started to relate posture to confidence to harassment. I’m not a supermodel or come remotely close to being one, so if I get harassed, I can’t even imagine what extremely beautiful individuals go through. It might just be that I look like an easy target because I have a baby face, but I just cannot wrap my head around why it happens to me or why people feel the need to act in that way.
    This happens to me too often and I’ve grown to be very paranoid. I’m involved in an internship program in Germany and I’m staying alone in an apartment, by myself, in a foreign country. I don’t even speak German and I’m only 18. Despite what my coworkers tell me, I don’t feel safe even though I’m residing in a safe neighborhood.
    Exactly yesterday I decided to not stay cooped up in my apartment and that I should explore the city. It was 6:30 p.m. and it was still a very sunny day so I wore a loose long sleeved shirt and shorts that stopped mid-thigh. I grabbed my sunglasses, my purse (of course), and I slipped on my, what are now proven to be, the most uncomfortable shoes in the world.
    There is nothing scarier than walking on the sidewalk and having cars slow down just to look at you. Thankfully I was wearing my sunglasses because, in some weird way, they made me feel safer. After what seemed to feel like an eternity of walking, cars slowing down, whistles, and creepy stares, I made it to the plaza only to find out that everything closes at 6. I walked all that way and risked my life for nothing at all.
    Then as I was walking back to the apartment, a car pulled up on the side of the sidewalk a couple of feet in front of me. Literally on top of the sidewalk. I went into panic mode and in the little space there was, I squeezed past the car and walked like a professional speed-walker. All those years of walking home from the bus stop after school were put into good use. I never looked back. I just kept walking. I don’t know what the man’s intentions were but I’m pretty sure that he didn’t stop on the sidewalk to give me an apple pie.
    When I got to the apartment I wanted to cry my eyes out. I can’t even explain how truly horrific that walk was even though I was in a presumably “safe” neighborhood. I’ll never understand why some people do what they do or what they intend to get out of those acts. But it is definitely NOT okay and your post really broadened my mind. I really should not have to worry about the response I’d get if I wanted to look my best.

    • I think it would do your confidence a world of good to take some self defense lessons. If you walk like you KNOW you are a bad ass, and it translates into your body language- then that tends to keep many of the idiots from even considering messing with you. Baby face or not Predators look for what they determine as “weak” and easy prey. Unfortunately the world can be a scary place full of jerks- but there are a lot of great guys out there that aren’t creepy assholes too. I’m glad you were quick and got out of what could have been a dangerous situation.

  5. Well, at work, I was joking with a female collegue. She said I must be gay because, I talk about recipes, cooking for friends, feelings and inter personal relationships as well as personal self image. Then a computor technician arrived to fix our I.T. issues. This guy is 6’4″ and a face like Raffaele Nadal. So I said to my colegue “since I am so gay, I will race you to the hot I.T. guy ” Guess who got the sexual harrassment formal warning. *hint* Not her.

  6. I just found your blog. Thanks for writing this because now I don’t have to. I love men too, and I know not every guy is like this and I know that men have to deal with a lot of gendered bs. too. And I know that our society wants men to be aggressive.
    But this started happening when I was eleven(!!) and was chased down by 4 teenagers and told “turn around bitch” for blocks. I have story after story after story and so does every woman. I don’t even have the energy to flick them off anymore because there will be another car or another group or whatever.
    And sadly, even in my 30s I don’t know how to approach the topic because I feel like it’s the type of thing people think only happens to really beautiful women. So it’s like, no one will ever believe me.

  7. Great post. I got street harassed (didn’t know this was the official term for it!) twice in the space of 5 minutes today walking to the grocery store in downtown Toronto. Once very politely and once in a sexist and derogatory way. It’s odd how it has become something we just accept, or, even more oddly, feel proud of. I don’t think my husband could recall this happening to him once. Crazy world!

  8. Pingback: Street Harassment: Why “Cat Calls” Suck Big Hairy Balls | JulietJeskeblog.com

  9. So well articulated. It stunned me when I went to the East Coast for the first time how commonplace the street harrassment there is. In SF it rarely happens. 9 times out of 10 the kissy noises are to get my dogs attention.

    I’m suspicious the culture difference has something to do with cars. Less people walk here then drive. So if women are in the cars, no one sees them to make a comment, and then the commenting habits die off, maybe? Though I am primarily a pedestrian and still I only get a comment once per quarter year. Whereas NY was near daily.

  10. Hey I can totally relate to this artice… I live in a major city too… and I used to find it quite flattering when random men would hit on me, or honk at me which sounds ridiculous now, because these days I find it quite annoying, and just down-right creepy. Basically because I know that it is not just me that they do this to, it’s to anything with 2 legs and tits. It’s sad actually, especially when they try to start walking with you down the street, or ask “where are you going”. It’s like, who are you to ask me where I’m going? I think it’s a small percentage of men who give the rest of them a bad rap. It’s a shame that women have to put on their bitch face, or headphones, just to walk down the street in peace.

  11. In the UK I have regularly received comments however whilst sexist it’s never been in a threatening way. Normally a car horn with an accompanying shout or a builders wolf whistle. No remarks have ever been derogatory.

    On holiday however is another matter, on several trips to Egypt I’ve been truely terrified walking down the street. In front of my father men would shout the things they wanted to do to me, this abuse increased even more when I was just with my mum (I was 17 last time I went). Even inside the hotels (family based 4* incidentally) I was routinely made to feel uncomfortable by staff comments. I even felt too scared to sunbath by the pool due to the comments I only went outside with my dad after first 3 days.

    It was scary horrible and unfortunately ruined my whole experience, all I can do is feel empathy for any women who dreads comments on a daily basis and feel fortunate that any comment I have received has always been innocent and polite (if briefly hurled from a white van)

    • Good Lord- that is horrible. I can’t imagine anyone being that blatantly disrespectful. And I grew up with truckers and construction workers. Some that back in the day would think nothing of a “complimentary whistle” as a lady walked past- but would also beat a man bloody if they thought they went “over the line”. Maybe that is a regional/ socio-economic thing? Not sure. I do know that when I was a teenager, any man even glanced lustfully my way and My Dad would FREAK. LOL

  12. Very well thought out. Although I do think the cultural mind shift has started- and that for the most part a woman can walk past a construction site without fear now and not hear the lewd shit, only feel the eyes…I think in some ways it has gotten worse. People, both men and women alike, have forgotten how to just be courteous to one another. You factor in the entitled generations and add in the comfort of anonymity from online interactions or shouting obscenities from cars = recipe for disastrous social interactions. Also- due in part to so many people spending so much time separated from real people and doing most of their social engagements only on social media- there is a personal disconnect and serious lack of etiquette. On BOTH sides. It is like we are dehumanizing ourselves in a way. Just a thought, maybe something to add in to the “soup”.

  13. Hiya. I just stumbled upon your blog and I was so pleased to have found it. I like so much that you believe in people and good will. The fact is that a large majority of men and women alike are goodly. The tiny minority of people who engage in such behavior, loudly, obviously, tastelessly, make their ill acts seem ubiquitous. I assure you it is not. I have taken a hard look at my group of friends/peers from college and can see, and long have seen that there is a minority, about 10%, who find it funny, clever cool to be disharmonious and demeaning and sometimes also sexually promiscuous and dismissive. I am referring only to men, btw. The majority are respectful men who like and enjoy the company of women and men alike and are kindly in their demeanor. It’s interesting that being kindly can somewhat open the door to being taken advantage of, and I find that those of lesser character, regardless of sex, will often seek to close that gap with their too aggressive, undesirable behavior. I will say that I often think that women are beautiful and desirable, but don’t make overt comments that can be taken in an insulting manner, even when I just think, “you are so beautiful”. Nice job. You make such a compelling argument for humanism. I like it.

  14. Fantastic article. Big issue to tackle and you did it perfectly, in a non-aggressive and balanced way that means everyone, notably the offenders themselves, will read it….or at least might read it, and so might realise they are part of the problem. I have read many articles on this issue, and while the behaviour makes me angry too, I think writing angry and accusatory articles about it is effectively useless – you end up preaching to the converted because the offenders, those with a lesson to learn, will simply stop (or never start) reading. As far as drawing in the right audience, your ambiguous and seemingly humorous title is brilliant. Very well done. As an aside, I think one of the saddest things about this harassment, which certainly happens a lot here in Sydney Australia, is that women will rarely smile or even make eye contact with men on the street anymore – it’s perfectly understandable, but still sad.

  15. Pingback: Why, Thank You, Sir. I Do Have Great Tits. | Sad life of a Redhead

  16. This is actually something you touched on in your article when you said that the men who responded didn’t seem to take the harassment seriously.

    For the sake of example I’ll ask you to consider the beauty at every size campaign aimed at having women portrayed more realistically in media. This is a fair campaign, honestly, I’m all for it. It’s making amazing headway and I love it because I’ve got three sisters and seeing them try to “keep up with the other girls” growing up was horrible.
    Now here’s the complicated part. Looking through magazines, browsing online or watching movies men are also bombarded constantly with unrealistic expectations in regards to male beauty. Every magazine, book or movie has that guy (or a collection of them) with the sculpted body and the amazing face. Yet even though they are portrayed unrealistically just as often as women are there’s no male equivalent to beauty at every size and no one seems to be asking why.
    I’ve started to think that maybe men and women just don’t have the same idea of what makes an issue an issue. Just for fun on a night out I decided to ask both men and women how they feel about the way their gender is portrayed in the media and two of the responses I got summed up the attitudes of both sexes perfectly. Now, I’m paraphrasing a tiny bit but;

    Her response was; “The women we see now are just on screen so that men can slobber all over them. They’re not realistic at all and it’s disgusting.” The tone of the way she responded was the most striking. She was clearly extremely angry about the whole thing.

    His response was; “Well the guys they put in films are half there just to look pretty for the women, right? It’s not like any guy I know actually looks like that.” His tone was casual, laid back even and when I asked him he actually said he didn’t actually care either way.

    Do you see the problem? Both men and women were saying essentially the same thing about the way that their own gender was portrayed in the media, but, women were far more offended by their portrayal than men even though both genders were receiving the same treatment.
    It almost seems like the line between what is and isn’t acceptable behavior is completely different between sexes and maybe that’s a question we should be asking?

  17. The bottom line is that if you wear provacative clothing that you are using to make people look at you you will be approached. FEMINISTS have never encouraged their followers to take the initiatives on approaching men, because that would involve being brave, taking responsibility. Women who wear conservative dress will not be approached. You of course will say why shouldn’t I dress like a slut?
    Of course you would say things that shame men, you are feminists

    • I’ve been actually propositioned by a stranger while wearing a very conservative gray suit with sensible heels. I dress nicely but not provocatively and am still harassed all the time.

  18. I absolutely devoured this article and was both fascinated and horrified by your results. I’m a not unattractive 6’0″ tall woman with larger than average breasts. I get comments all the time, some scuzzy (“Hey baby, how much?”, “Can I go on a date with your boobs?” and “You shouldn’t wear heels, honey. You’re intimidating the guys.”) some flattering (A guy in the produce section of the supermarket said “You a stallion, girl!” – terminology not correct, but I appreciated the sentiment). Once a guy took it a step further and groped my butt. I instinctively whipped around and punched him in the jaw, knocking him back into a bunch of trash cans. His friends were all laughing, wading in to help him up and I beat a hasty retreat. But being harassed verbally is simply a constant in the world. I try to balance it by frequently complimenting other women on some aspect of their appearance I truly like. I know it makes my day when someone says “Oh, awesome purse!” or “Those are killer shoes!” Your article was insightful and well thought out. Thanks for posting it!

  19. Pingback: Why, Thank You, Sir. I Do Have Great Tits. | vividlyfoxxy

  20. I have a question for people who have experienced catcalling. Is it more sexism or more assholery?

    I have occasionally been yelled at by people in passing cars, but I seldom understand what was they yell, and so do not regard it as a catcalling. I do not recall ever witnessing something I identified as catcalling. So I just don’t know.

    Explication: When in the general vicinity of a pretty or not so pretty woman I often have an urge which is not linguistic, but which should probably be translated as “Grab that ass.” I do not.
    I ask myself, “If I were substantially sexist, would I obey the urge to grope?” & the answer I come to, which may be wrong, is “No.” I ask myself, if I were very rude and mean & generally disrespectful (not of women particularly, but of people in general) would I grope? I think the answer is “if I could get away with it.”
    Clearly, groping is not catcalling. Groping is considered worse, for good reason. I do not use catcalling as an example because I have never experienced an urge to catcall. The urge to grope seems very animalistic/primal/natural. Catcalling, not so much. More constructed.

    So my question, do you think the differential in how often women experience catcalling compared to men is primarily the result of sexism, or the result of more men being assholes, or at least, more men expressing their assholeness in sexually aggressive ways?

    • I would say that it’s a mixture. Not many women catcall men. I’m sure there are some, but I’ve never witnessed it. Since sexism is inherently existent, even with this generations newfound open-mindedness, it plays a part in the catcalling thing. The men that do harass other people like this (and by this I mean sexually), think that they are entitled to do so, and sexism plays a role in that. Also, the men are obviously being assholes by blatantly saying something, or should I say shouting, and making moves that are unwelcome. I say this because if their attention is unwelcome and they KNOW it, then they are being assholes by forcing it upon the subject anyway. Also, most of the time what they say is degrading, and even the comment is “Hey, beautiful” or “Sweet-thing” is usually stated in a lewd manner.

      I myself have been called out to from across a dark street, whistled at, even had my ass grabbed. None of which I took kindly to. I find all the men that harassed me to be assholes.

      I wish more people would be like you and keep their thoughts to themselves instead of making someone feel dirty like they do.

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  22. I can’t believe it! as much as your articles are veeeeery long,i want to read through each of them because i totally relate to your tales.Having to walk with earphones,because i dont want to hear anyone lament on my about my boobs,or ass. men have somehow still managed to spin our world .Talk about women being stripped in Kenya publicly. how worse can it be ?

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  24. Awesome post thank you. You’ve summed up the complexity and sadness around this issue really well. And our love of men! Of course, they rock! It’s really hard to say something “feminist” without feeling like you’re saying something against men, you are not, we are not, and you have not. Peace 🙂

  25. As an 44 year old woman, I would say “almost daily”. Also, I would have to say that I don’t even appreciate the genuine “you’re pretty” comments any more. At this point I see them all as a man putting his hook in the water to see if I’ll bite. I’m sorry, if you’re only interested in me because of my looks, please go away. I am a complex being and my looks are NO PART of that complexity. It really ticks me off. That said, if they want to compliment my outfit or something like that, something that I did on purpose, then I definitely appreciate it. But seriously, after all of these years, I don’t want to hear anything about my looks. Period.

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