From CNN: Catcalling: creepy or a compliment?
Naturally, in the above linked article, the woman who argues it’s flattering to be catcalled and looked up and down when she walks on the street is from… wait for it… you can guess this… Los Angeles. (If I start a “help Jenn escape from Los Angeles” fund, would any of you make donations? I’m, like, totally serious.)
I just want to take a moment to expound on something that came up in the comments on this post.
Strange men do not hoot at, yell at, or leer at you because they think you’re hot. They do those things because they think you’re vulnerable and needy. If you think they want you sexually, you need some serious education on power psychology. They want to feel like they’re on top of you, but not in the way you imagine.
When you see someone attractive, it’s natural to look. But not to stare – there are rules against staring throughout the animal kingdom. And you don’t talk unless the person you’re looking at says something to you first, because when you get caught looking, it would be aggressive to follow that up with verbalization. This is something your cat understands, for pete’s sake. Stop reading Cosmopolitan and get in touch with your animal instincts. Discrete looks are flattering because they reflect only a natural aesthetic reaction. Leering – staring overtly at someone who’s watching you stare – signals aggression. Uninvited verbalizations are also aggressive – that’s why when the salesman at the kiosk leaps out to ask you if you ever get split ends, you feel pressured and cornered (until you realize you’re entitled to tell them to back off and leave you alone because they started the hostility and you’re only responding in kind).
If you don’t know the difference between aggression and honest appreciation, you’ve bought into civilization too much for your own good. Ask yourself: why do men typically leer and catcall in packs? Rarely will one man by himself with no buddies around look you over and say something about your appearance. Because they know deep down it’s aggressive, not merely appreciative. Ask yourself: why do they continue to yell daily at women who’ve told them clearly to back off? Because they’re so concerned she understand how sexy they find her? Or is it maybe a little more likely they like pissing her off because it’s a power struggle, not a sex game.
I’ll grant that there can be some disagreement over precisely where the line between appreciation and aggression gets drawn, but my point is: if you don’t draw one anywhere, you have been completely brainwashed by your culture into thinking your meaty deliciousness is something these men give a shit about. It’s not. Especially here in L.A., where beautiful women are in extreme surplus. Men who want to be with beautiful women devote their energy to winning dates with beautiful women. Men who devote their energy to aggression toward strange women enjoy winning fights with women. That’s why they’ve set up a context where she feels cornered and pressured and where their male buddies back them up.
And when you find that flattering, they think you’re pathetic. They think you like having a big strong man be forcible with you. They think you’re a vain, selfish ass who ought to be brought down a peg. They start talking behind your back about the things they’d like to do to you, and those things revolve around humiliation, not simple sexual enjoyment.
Edited to add: Please also see the follow-up post, Why, if you think women should be flattered by your harassment, you are stupid.