Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Politics of CatCalling

Not since the turmoil of the 1960's has the American political culture been more divided, more split, more fractured than of course if you consider the political climate between the sexes from the beginning of time. We here at The Urban Politico discuss a multitude of topics daily before actually bringing you our loyal viewers thorough analysis on said topics. One of those topics was on the issue of catcalling.

Shady_Grady brought this lovely video to our attention: (start at the 4:30 mark)

Girl gets hit on, declines, and goes on to make a video about being hit on and declining because she was still mad that she got hit on. While 4:30 in the morning is not the most appropriate hour for casual conversation on atheism over coffee, I will give props to the man for trying.

I also give props to this man, Richard Dawkins, who called out the woman in the comments on a blog about the video, where he takes the cynical approach and compares the plight of Rebecca Watson to oppressed Muslim women in Afghanistan:
Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don't tell me yet again, I know you aren't allowed to drive a car, and you can't leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep"chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn't lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
I don't think asking a woman to coffee is misogynistic. I think the man may have had bad timing; 4:30 in the morning really... umm no. But bad timing is not and has never been ever misogyny.

So what's the bigger issue here; being asked out, being asked out inappropriately, or just the gall of a man to approach a woman with the idea of getting to know her better and maybe down the road a week or two trying to parlay that love of her mind for seeing how the booty work?

Now fellas don't go off on me for that last statement. You know as well as the ladies know you know that if sex is an option slightly hinted or not, nine times out of ten you're going to go for it. Which brings us to the issue of blatant catcalling instead of the not so smooth "I want to meet your mind" come-on.

Growing up on the southside of Chicago I can recall the numerous times some random dude yelled from across the street, "Hey girl, come here." First thought... "Hell no." Roll eyes keep walking toward bus stop. In high school after a homecoming dance one guy referred to me as "Ms. Thickums." When he saw me one day having car trouble with my mother he couldn't speak to me because of course he didn't know my real name.

I've had friends referred to as "red-bone" and then "bitch" for not responding to the color catcall. On the southside of Chicago or even on my college campus of Florida State University being catcalled was nothing, and a guy getting an attitude because of it was also nothing, just another day in the life of a girl. One time at a club I had a guy approach me and say, "Girl you make dudes nervous to approach you. You got the look like don't even talk to me if your shit ain't together." My response "You're right." Apparently I had my stank face on; the look in the club girls get that says, "Don't talk to me and definitely don't touch me, because I will fight you;" something I've come close to doing when a goon decided he wanted to put his hand on my friend's ass.

From these anecdotes you see the good and the bad sides of catcalling. An issue men can never win just like Republicans in debt limit talks. There is no good outcome for men and there constituent just as there is no good outcome for Republicans and their party.

But flip the scenario and it's almost cute. If you've watched an episode of VH1's newest show Single Ladies you've undoubtedly seen the scene that's used in promos when a fine man jogs by and all three ladies say in unison, "He can get it. All of it!" The same line Andre 3000 rapped in John Legend's "Greenlight" one thing you ain't considered/ I heard you when you told your girl ooh he can get it.

When I met my fiancee at the gym, he walked by and I said, "Damn he's fine!" To this day I don't know if that was said out loud for him to hear, or just loud enough in my head that I thought he heard. If you ask my friends they think I said it out loud.

Other instances of women making the first move, albeit on a grander scale, Janet Jackson's 2001 single "All For You" where she makes it clear all you have to do is approach her and she might ride it tonight. Or Jill Scott's 2011 single "Shame" where she puts brothers on notice you missing out on me.

Women obviously can get away with such brassy and brazen statements of sexuality toward men -- accept for toward Will.I.Am -- because it gets men off the hook of having to approach a woman, and they are then put in the powerful position of rejecting the woman's advances.

Double standard most definitely. But honestly ladies, can you even imagine a man being offended because a woman approached him -- even an unattractive woman -- and said "hey boy, I'm feeling you." Groove Theory wrote a 90's jam "Tell Me" on this very premise. It's considered cute when a woman does something like that but it is a terrible risk to the ego, sometimes, when the situation's flipped.

So back to our damsel in distress at the top of the post; is it wrong for her to have been approached? No. How else is dude going to find out if he has a chance. Is it wrong for her to have made this video chronicling her "harrasment?" Not according to the first amendment. Is it trivial and childish compared to actual misogyny Muslim woman live everyday? Absolutely. Is it inconsequential compared to the woman who endures actual verbal or perhaps sexual abuse? Most definitely. In that light catcalling is not an issue. But in everyday play between the sexes is it an issue that should be addressed?

I'll leave you with this: If you followed Sex and the City you remember the episode when Miranda hadn't had sex in forever and was getting catcalled by the construction worker. When she responded to the tacky come-ons the construction worker backed down. In another episode Miranda thought she was being harassed by a man promoting a sandwich shop, dressed as a sandwich, saying "Eat Me." When she complained to the manager it was only then that she realized she wasn't being harassed and the sandwich man was just doing his job. Then she started to flirt and realized saying "Eat Me" wasn't so bad after all.

It is obvious from the go to TV show of women almost everywhere that catcalling can have one or two, or three effects on women, It can be annoying and you can complain about it, It can be annoying and you show the annoying ones how annoying it is, or it can be annoying but somewhat attractive. The point is fella's you will never win, unless of course you're Michael Jackson in a dark alley singing "The Way You Make Me Feel," or Darius Lovehall showing up at the door unannounced with an Isley brother's CD and some smooth ass line about how persistence will really get you far.

1. Should men not catcall at all?
2. Should women get over men catcalling?
3. Is catcalling appropriate under any circumstance, from either sex, and what is your general reaction to it.
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